Aerocade Artist Showcase Concert in San Francisco
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Aerocade Presents: Elizabeth A. Baker, Post-Haste Reed Duo, Meerenai Shim, and friends

Join Aerocade Artists for an evening of new music, free improvisation, electronics, woodwinds, and good vibrations! Contrabass flute virtuoso Ned McGowan will join the lineup as a special guest.

Saturday, January 5, 2019 @7PM
Center for New Music
(55 Taylor St. San Francisco)

Tickets available online at centerfornewmusic.com and at the venue box office ($20 general, $10 members/seniors/students)
Complimentary refreshments will be served when doors open at 7pm.

Elizabeth A. Baker, composer/performer from Florida, will perform selections from her recent release "Quadrivium," including the West Coast premiere of "Sashay" by Nathan Corder. The Post-Haste Reed Duo (Saxophonist Sean Fredenburg and bassoonist Javier Rodriguez) will perform works from their upcoming release, "Donut Robot!” Meerenai Shim will premiere “This is How I Feel” for flute and electronics by Elizabeth Bayer. Friend of Aerocade and contrabass flute virtuoso Ned McGowan will be visiting from the Netherlands to perform an improvised set.


ABOUT THE PERFORMERS

Eschewing the collection of traditional titles that describe single elements of her body of work, Elizabeth A. Baker refers to herself as a “New Renaissance Artist” that embraces a constant stream of change and rebirth in practice, which expands into a variety of media, chiefly an exploration of how sonic and spatial worlds can be manipulated to personify a variety of philosophies and principles both tangible as well as intangible. Elizabeth has received recognition from press as well as scholars, for her conceptual compositions and commitment to inclusive programming. In addition to studies of her work, Elizabeth has been awarded several fellowships, grants, and residencies, in addition to sponsorships from Schoenhut Piano Company and Source Audio LLC. As a solo artist, Elizabeth represented by Aerocade Music, her first solo album on the California-based label Quadrivium released worldwide in May 2018 to rave reviews. She is founder of the Florida International Toy Piano Festival, The New Music Conflagration, Inc., author of two books, and the subject of a number of scholarly articles, thesis papers, and other academic research. In March 2018, Elizabeth retired from nonprofit arts administration to focus on her international solo career, though she remains committed to the community through workshops and public speaking engagements. Her first motivational book The Resonant Life inspired by her personal experiences as a professional artist will be released in 2019.

The Post-Haste Reed Duo (Saxophonist Sean Fredenburg and bassoonist Javier Rodriguez) has been spreading the beauty and warmth of their unusual pairing of instruments internationally for almost a decade. 

They have worked to increase the amount of quality chamber music literature for saxophone and bassoon duo, and to encourage young musicians to experiment performing in non-traditional chamber ensembles by collaborating with composers towards new works that highlight the capabilities of these two instruments individually and together. When they are not performing together as a duo, Sean can be found teaching at Portland State University in Portland, OR, while Javier teaches at the University of Idaho in Moscow, ID. 

Flutist Meerenai Shim is one half of the innovative flute and percussion duo, A/B Duo, and the a member of the award-winning contemporary flute ensemble, Areon Flutes. Her third solo album, the all-electroacoustic Pheromone, is available on the Aerocade Music label. 

Ned McGowan (1970) is a flutist and contemporary classical music composer, born in the United States, living in the Netherlands. Known for rhythmical vitality and technical virtuosity, his music has won awards and been performed at Carnegie Hall, the Concertgebouw and other halls and festivals around the world by many orchestras, ensembles and soloists. As a flutist he plays classical, contemporary and improvisation concerts internationally and he has a special love for the contrabass flute, in 2016 releasing the album: The Art of the Contrabass Flute

"Macabre Piano Epics and Deep-Space Ambience" - New York Music Daily reviews "Quadrivium"
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“Pianist/multi-instrumentalist Elizabeth A. Baker’s new album Quadrivium – streaming at Bandcamp – is extremely long and often extremely dark. Her music can be hypnotic and atmospheric one moment and absolutely bloodcurdling the next. Erik Satie seems to be a strong influence; at other times, it sounds like George Winston on acid, or Brian Eno.“

Read the rest at New York Music Daily!

Beauty in Black Artistry Blog Interviews Elizabeth A. Baker
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The Beauty in Black Artistry blog on the Castle of our Skins website spoke with Elizabeth A. Baker about being a “New Renaissance Artist” and her influences. Read the interview here.

Castle of our Skins is a concert and educational series dedicated to celebrating Black artistry through music. Read more about the organization here.

"Quadrivium is a nicely sprawling, major dramatically vibrant work"

Grego Applegate Edwards reviewed Elizabeth A. Baker's Quadrivium:

"...after five listens I must say I am mightily impressed with it all.

I must say I do very much love this very living work. It is as contemporary as anything you will hear, and it is not afraid to combine deftly timbral and sound-color beauty in striking ways. The music is visceral. The words are frank yet poetic."

Read the rest of the review at Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review

Interview: “Elizabeth A. Baker is ready to challenge listeners”
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Ray Roa of Creative Loafing Tampa Bay interviewed Elizabeth A. Baker on the eve of her Album Release Celebration, to be held in St. Petersburg, FL: 

“New perspectives, perhaps, areQuadrivium’s best exports. The album isn’t a conventional listen by any means; the title is a nod at the idea of curricula involving the “mathematical arts” of arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music. ButQuadrivium isn’t burdensome — or laborious, either. It’s an invitation to get focused, unplug from distractions, and take a lap around an extensive work of art. And hopefully learn a little bit about yourself when it’s all said and done.”

Read the rest on the Creative Loafing Tampa Bay website: https://www.cltampa.com/music/local/article/21006494/elizabeth-a-baker-is-ready-to-challenge-listeners-on-new-album-quadrivium

If you’re in the St  Petersburg area:

Elizabeth A. Baker's Quadrivium Album Release

Fri. May 25, 7 p.m. $10.

First Unity Spiritual Campus, 460 46th Ave. N., Saint Petersburg.

More info: elizabethabaker.com

Aerocade Music
Textura review of Elizabeth A. Baker's "Quadrivium"
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"A more than impressive debut..." - Textura

Elizabeth A. Baker's Quadrivium was reviewed in Textura this week, ahead of the May 25th release.

Here's an except:

Anointing herself a “New Renaissance Artist” might seem a bold, even hubristic move on Elizabeth Baker's part, but the choice is legitimated by the contents of her ambitious debut album Quadrivium: two discs of music, the first consisting of minimalist piano pieces and the second ambient-styled settings, spoken word pieces, and electronic experiments. Well-considered, the album title refers to the subjects arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy that when paired with the those of the trivium—grammar, logic, and rhetoric—compose the seven liberal arts. Certainly Baker's diverse range of interests is well-accounted for on the project: along with two hours of musical material, the release comes with a full-color booklet that includes poetry, photography, and illustrations by Baker as well as track-related info and reflections on communication, gender, and other timely issues. Something of a multi-instrumentalist, she augments her piano playing with electronics, voice, guitar, percussion, and toy piano, and she also advocates strongly for the latter: in 2016, Baker established the Florida International Toy Piano Festival to provide a platform for serious toy piano works, and the instrument's prominently featured on the album's otherwise synthesizer-heavy “An Outcast.”

Read the rest at Textura.org.

Listen to a track from The Oort Cloud on The Wiretapper

You can listen to an excerpt of "'Oumuamua" from The Oort Cloud in the latest issue of The Wire Magazine.

All copies of the April 2018 issue of The Wire will come complete with an exclusive free CD attached to the cover, The Wire Tapper 46, the latest volume in the acclaimed series of new music compilations.

As with previous volumes this CD, which has been compiled by Shane Woolman, Gustave Evrard and Astrud Steehouder is packaged in a heavy duty card sleeve designed by The Wire's art director Ben Weaver, with artwork by Clifford Sage, and contains a range of new, rare or exclusive tracks from across the spectrum of the kind of underground/outsider musics covered in The Wire.

https://www.thewire.co.uk/audio/the-wire-tapper/the-wire-tapper-46

A/B Duo's "commitment to widening the repertoire and to fresh, vibrant new music"

This article originally appeared in Issue 40:4 (Mar/Apr 2017) of Fanfare Magazine.

VARIETY SHOW • A/B Duo • AEROCADE 005 (61:41)

MCGOWAN  Ricochet. DICKE  Isla. REINKEMEYER  Wrought Iron. BAKER  Limb. BROWNING  Sol Moon Rocker. FREDERICKSON  Breathing Bridge. RANDALL-MYERS Glitch.

A previous disc by Meerenai Shim on the Aerocade label (001, Fanfare 40:2) was mesmeric and fascinating. Here, Shim is joined by percussionist Christopher G. Jones: Together they fashion a sequence of soundscapes the like of which you may not have encountered before. 

First, a warning. Make sure, if you are listening on headphones, that the volume is set nice and low for the first track. I didn’t, to my cost. The disc announces itself assertively with a conversation between staccato contrabass flute (used in the manner of a percussion instrument) and percussion. This opens Ned McGowan’s Ricochet for contrabass flute, floor tom, three suspended cymbals, three woodblock, triangle, and flexatone. It is worth reproducing the scorings for each piece, as they give some idea of the sounds each one works with. The idea of ricochet evokes both the idea of game and of conversation, although if it is the latter this is a pretty full-on, wide-eyed discussion. Rhythms are fantastically (sometimes frantically) taut. The A/B Duo commissioned this work, a measure of their commitment to widening the repertoire and to fresh, vibrant new music. 

A remix of Isla Ferrari’s Isla de Niños, Ian Dicke’s Isla for flute, vibraphone, and live audio processing takes a line that is itself relaxed and garlands it with a plethora of active, energy-laden lines. The tension between the two elements forms both the starting point and the basis of the piece. Effective use of audio processing in the sampling and juxtaposition of syllables at one point forms the backdrop to a vibraphone solo. 

Andrea L. Reinkemeyer’s Wrought Iron for flute, vibraphone, bongos, tambourine, triangle, china cymbal, and splash cymbal is a musical response to a building, the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall. In a rather neat conceit, the various shapes used in the hall itself determine the types of instruments used: triangles are the obvious instance, but circles also (cymbals, bongos, tambourine) and rectangles (vibraphone). The architect also tried to make metal look like stone, and in the spirit of referencing others, the composer invokes the ghosts of Beethoven and Chopin, both of whom are to be found within the confines of the hall itself. There is an intricacy to the players’ interactions that seems, to the present writer at least, to invoke or reflect some sort of physical design. Ensemble between the two players needs to be particularly tight in this piece, and the result is indeed magical. 

Drew Baker’s Limb for flute/piccolo, vibraphone, Thai gong, wind gong, and three crotales, finds cymbal evoking the crashing waves of the ocean. It opens quietly, hesitantly. The work is a response to the “scribble line drawings” of Sol LeWitt. Both LeWitt and Baker are involved with what Baker refers to as sensuality of gesture, and through simple but effective means Baker draws up an imposing, and imaginative, soundscape. As the booklet notes, state, “this piece is exceptionally soft and loud.” And although the track has been compressed “to save your eardrums,” it is still worth pointing out that you have been warned. If you wish to serve your masochistic side, there is an uncompressed version available by request and the email address is given in the documentation. Simple but effective, the piece paints gestures over relatively large durations. 

Scored just for flute and vibraphone, Sol Moon Rocker by Zack Browning is another A/B Duo commission. It has a philosophic basis, the dynamic between yin and yang, between Moon and Sun. Intriguingly, the second part of the work is generated by applying Feng Shui principles to the birth dates of both present performers. It gets deeper still: the section “Meerenai’s Moon Flight” is generated also by the Magic Square of the Moon; “Sol of Chris” has a similar basis, using the Sun Magic Square. References to relevant popular music are there, too: It’s a Man’s World (James Brown), Ladies’ Night(Kool and the Gang), and The Sun and the Moon have Come Together by The Fourth Way. It’s quite the tapestry, and it works brilliantly. There is actually a spirit of joy that suffuses the musical surface of Browning’s piece; quotations have a sort of exuberance about them. The final section offers a synthesis between male and female. The idea is wonderful: One wonders if some elements of alchemical theory could have been worked in there also? 

Scored for flute with glissando headjoint, glockenspiel, and vibraphone, Brooks Frederickson’s Breathing Bridge carries an entreaty: “If you’re ever in Brooklyn, listen to or imagine this piece while walking on pedestrian bridges around Red Hook.” On this bridge, one feels viscerally the vibrations of passing vehicles; lines in Frederickson’s piece represent the bridge’s structure. There is much delicacy here; the performance is simply beautiful. If one were to make that walk (no opportunity to research that; I’m afraid as I’ve never been to even America, never mind anywhere as specific as Brooklyn), one can only imagine an altered experience, a different and enriching way of experiencing the environment. 

Finally, there comes Brendon Randall-Myers’s Glitch for flute, vibraphone, and drum set. In contrast to the lulling aura of the preceding track, Glitch is colorful. Written for the A/B Duo’s “quirkiness, virtuosity, humor and groove,” it imagines a “prog-punk video game music cover that can’t decide what tunes to play or what tempo to play at” resulting in some “bizarrely hilarious musical collisions.” That promise is certainly lived up to in this rather garish ride. It does rather sound as if the players are having fun, too. The notes make a point of announcing that Christopher G. Jones plays the vibraphone with his left side and the drum set with his right side. Patting one’s head and rubbing one’s tummy at the same time? There is a slower, more shaded section that provides contrast, as if offering cool shade before re-entering the bright sunshine. 

The booklet notes for this disc can be found at both abduo.net and aerocademusic.com. Colin Clarke

Q & A with Nick Norton and Jonathan Morgan

Nick Norton & Jonathan Morgan's single Elegy II is out today! To celebrate, we are happy to share our little interview with composer Nick Norton and violist Jonathan Morgan.

 Nick Norton (photo: Lindsey Best), Jonathan Morgan (photo: Star Foreman)

Nick Norton (photo: Lindsey Best), Jonathan Morgan (photo: Star Foreman)

How did the idea for Elegy II come about?

NN: Well, the circumstances are unfortunate. Jonathan and I were both studying at UCSB when the Isla Vista shootings occurred in 2014. Isla Vista, for those that don’t know, is where the large majority of UCSB undergrads live. Six students were killed, and the campus was deeply affected - some of my students were literally on their way to one of the restaurants that got shot up when it happened.

Anyway, the music department decided to put on a memorial concert, and I wrote the piece for that. It was a kind of hard choice - the families of some of the victims were there, and I felt a major sort of “who am I to present something here?” After a lot of talks with friends about it - especially Marc Evans and my teacher, Joel Feigin - I became comfortable enough to say this isn’t telling anyone how to feel, but if music is the way I express and experience things and interact with the world, then I’d almost be doing a disservice not to write something. I was having very strong feelings, after all, and this is the exact thing we train for as composers - writing music that might matter.

I still feel slightly weird releasing a single and music video reacting to a school shooting, though. If people were to accuse us of trying to get notice off of a tragedy, I’d understand that. Hell, I worry about that view myself. But Jonathan loved the piece and plays it beautifully, and he and others really thought that people might take some comfort hearing it. It’s been performed a couple of times since that first concert, and someone invariably comes up and says “thank you for writing that.” So, okay. If it does that for some listeners, I am very happy to have it out in the world.

Did you two work together before this project? Do you have other projects coming up?

JM: Yes, we worked together in 2013 when Nick wrote a piece for my group, the Now Hear Ensemble. I'm a huge fan of Nick and his music, so I hope to perform more of it in the future. I think we are both exploring some promising ways to make that happen, so we'll keep you posted!

NN: Ditto! I loved Jonathan’s playing from the first time I heard it. When we met he wasn’t nearly as into new music as he is now (read: he is now very very into new music), but his tone and interpretations and stage presence on more traditional rep blew me away. It’s been such a joy to watch him explore, and seriously, he kills it. Plus we’re close friends and all, so I can’t imagine that this will be the last time we do something together.

What was the inspiration for the video and whose idea was it?

JM: Initially I was the one who pushed for a video of the piece, because I think engaging more senses of an audience can increase the message of hope around which Nick has crafted his music. Our friend Gaby Goldberg runs a boutique film, graphic design, and videography/animation studio, and was gracious enough to work with us on this project. She sent us a video of violinist Charlie Siem (whom I adore) that she really liked, as a starting point for the video.

NN: I’d only add that we were adamant about keeping it simple. It’s probably worth noting that the video idea came before deciding to release the audio as a single. Nick Tipp’s mix of our extremely basic recording setup for the video was so good, though, that we couldn’t not release it too.

What's your big project for 2017? (Individually or together)

JM: my individual projects include a recital tour of California, performing music by several composers I have worked closely with who have written pieces for me, many of which are responses to political and social struggles of our time - Norton's Elegy II counted among them. I'd like to share what I love with the LGBT community in California and beyond, so if you are part of your local LGTB center, you'll be getting a call from me! I'm also teaming up with other musicians to perform retrospective concerts of Clarence Barlow's music in Fullerton, CA, Santa Barbara, CA, and at LA's REDCAT in late January, late February, and early April. As a member of the Now Hear Ensemble, I will be part of collaborations with composition students from UC Irvine who are writing works for us. Now Hear Ensemble will also produce concerts inspired by mirrors, for which we have commissioned works from Dan VanHassel and Florent Ghys.

NN: My big project is to have a big project, ha. I keep writing 4 to 6 minute pieces for chamber ensemble or piano. I don’t want to get comfortable, and I find larger scale pieces very challenging in a way that I enjoy. I suppose the two most specific things on my mind are to turn my piece Mirror Smasher, which I wrote for HOCKET, from a 9 minute thing into a 30 minute thing, and to finish my band Honest Iago’s record, which is always slow because we live in multiple cities. I’m also finishing up a chamber arrangement of my teacher Joel Feigin’s opera, Twelfth Night. There are always more ideas, though. I’ve always wanted to write a piano concerto. I have a couple of pianist friends who said they would do it, so we are looking for an opportunity for that. I’ve also got a one-act opera plot and a librettist, but it’s too early to talk about that.

Nick, you are a man of many trades and skills. Your bio says that you "enjoy craft beer" but isn't that a bit of an understatement? Please give us a short pitch for Barly.

NN: Gladly! Barly is an app some friends and I built to recommend craft beer to people. It’ll also show you what is on tap at bars or restaurants near you. The thing the separates it from other beer apps is that you don’t have to know anything about beer to use it - it asks what flavors you like in general terms, like “sweet” or “bitter” or “sour” and then recommends things the same way Netflix does - red stars for how much it thinks you’ll like a beer, yellow stars you set that are taken into account for future recommendations. We particularly think novices to the beer world like it, because if you search for ratings on a site for connoisseurs, crazy hoppy beers are going to be rated highest, and newbies tend not to like those. Getting someone from “I hate beer” or “Bud Light is good” to “I didn’t know beer could taste like cherry wine” or “White Rascal is way better than Bud Light” is way more exciting to me than helping a beer expert find Pliny The Younger. But we do that too.

I think that excitement about introducing people to beer they’ll love comes from the same place my excitement about music comes from. I love playing tour guide, and my favorite experience in life is probably when I show someone something - almost anything - and they say “oh, I didn’t know about that” and get into it. It’s why I do my best to introduce my more classically-minded friends to interesting rock and vice versa.

Jonathan, what are some of your hobbies? What kind of activities would you seek out if all your musical instruments were in the shop for a couple weeks?

JM: Good Friends, good food, and good beer are my salves. By nature, I'm a bit of a brooding loner, so I have to remind myself that I am happier when I am social. I also love being outdoors with my dog Eve, and binging on great science fiction and fact. I'd love to travel more, and hope to be in a financial situation to do so soon - yes, I take donations! ;-)

Do you either of you have a cool/funny story to tell about the other?

JM: Nick is a super cool badass who makes me laugh. I'm lucky to enjoy his friendship.

NN: Same back at you, and I’d add that while Jonathan often calls himself a curmudgeon, he is one of the warmest, sweetest, and most earnest people I’ve ever met. I have no idea how he responds to texts with contextually appropriate drag queen reaction gifs so quickly. He also looks ridiculously hot in shiny gold leggings, and I’m straight.

Post-Haste Reed Duo - a "surprisingly diverse and intriguing combo"

Thank you Oregon Arts Watch for reviewing Post-Haste Reed Duo's album!

Brett Campbell writes, "The unlikely combination of bassoon and saxophones (sometimes with electronic enhancement) makes a surprisingly diverse and intriguing combo on this release by the duo of Sean Fredenburg and Javier Rodriguez."

Read the rest at Oregon Arts Watch.

"first-rate performances" in A/B Duo's Variety Show!

This article originally appeared in Issue 40:4 (Mar/Apr 2017) of Fanfare Magazine.

VARIETY SHOW • A/B Duo • AEROCADE 005 (61:41)

MCGOWAN  Ricochet. DICKE  Isla. REINKEMEYER  Wrought Iron. BAKER  Limb. BROWNING  Sol Moon Rocker. FREDERICKSON  Breathing Bridge. RANDALL-MYERS Glitch.

With this duo release, the Aerocade label continues along its path of presenting excellent recent compositions in excellent sound. I’ll admit to unfamiliarity with the composers whose works are on offer here, but their quality and intrigue is matched by first-rate performances and a very warm but detailed recording. 

One of the most satisfying pieces on this well-filled disc is Ian Dicke’s Isla, composed in 2012. Dicke follows in the footsteps of such composers as Scott Johnson and Pierre Boulez in that he integrates acoustic and electronic soundworlds quite convincingly into this widely varied piece for flute, vibraphone, and live audio processing. Like Johnson, speech is an integral component, but in this case, it is chopped up into micro-fragments that mirror and drive the instrumental rhythms and timbres forward. The A/B Duo creates an integrated yet somehow also heterogeneous sound, and this is also the case on the rhythmically dizzying Glitch, by Brendan Randall-Myers, composed in 2015 and commissioned by the Duo. There, the electronic world has a direct influence on how acoustic instruments are played, bringing those early Stockhausen visions to some kind of fruition. The electronic soundscapes on which this constantly changing piece is based recall the improvised music of trios such as Phronesis, Meerenai Shim, and Christopher Jones, and the intimate familiarity here with those sounds is like a Classical-era ensemble handling the rhetoric of contemporaneous dance forms, to site only one example. 

If all of this sounds too far afield of the classical music mainstream, take heart, as there’s even some of what Frank Zappa called “a bit of nostalgia for the old folks.” Andrea Reinkemeyer composed Wrought Iron (2012, on a commission from the Albany Symphony and for the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, an acoustically marvelous space I’ve loved for many years). The piece takes on tropes like Debussy and Ravel, and possibly a little Stravinsky thrown in for good measure; it’s hauntingly melodic and fun, dancing and almost running its way forward. There may even be a little Zappa in the syncopation and in the whimsical handling of modes. 

While I single out these works for discussion, every piece in this program is well worth hearing. As with the other discs on this new label, programming is superb, the instrumentation creating unity while variety is maintained by the order of pieces and of composers. I await future Aerocade releases with eager anticipation. Marc Medwin

The Wire Magazine calls The Kuiper Belt "affably perplexing"
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Tristan Bath reviewed The Kuiper Belt by Alchymie & Gregg Skloff in the February 2017 issue of The Wire Magazine:

"The line between the highly respected field of drone and its far less cool cousin new age has oft been smudged. When modern experimentalist Robert Lowe met up with veteran new ager Ariel Kalma last year, they buoyed each other for what became perhaps the most crowd-pleasing release for either party. There was enough sweet synth and water babbling to please the hippies, yet it avoided joss stick chillout just enough for the chin scratching intelligentsia.

This meet-up between nimble improvising double bassist Gregg Skloff and drifting keyboardist Jennifer Theuer Ruzicka aka Alchymie achieves a similar balancing act."

"Fittingly, the title of The Kuper Belt refers to the furthest reaches of our solar system from Neptune outwards: an ample subject for cosmic jazz, drone, or new age alike."

Read the rest at The Wire Magazine.

Another review for Scordatura and "Addario-Berry’s superb virtuosity"

This article originally appeared in Issue 40:2 (Nov/Dec 2016) of Fanfare Magazine.

SCORDATURA • Hannah Addario-Berry (vc) • AEROCADE 004 (77:09)

KODÁLY Sonata for Solo Cello, op. 8. B. MILLER Miniatures, Book 3: Koans. A. ROSE Lands End. E. CLARK Ekpyrotic: Layerings IV. JUSTEN Sonaquifer. COONS Myth’s Daughter. LIU Calor

Kodály’s Sonata for Solo Cello dates from 1915. An early twentieth century answer to Bach’s music for unaccompanied cello, it shows the influences of Claude Debussy and Béla Bartók had on him. This sonata also shows the way he used the native Hungarian folk music that he and Bartók loved to work into their pieces. Over a hundred years later on this recording, the solo cello sonata becomes a base that undergirds the varied styles employed by twenty-first century composers of music for the solo cello. The recording is called Scordatura because all of the featured works use the same altered tuning required by Kodály in his solo cello sonata.  Kodály’s music requires the cellist to cover the instrument’s entire range from the highest delicate tones to the strongest bass notes, so this fine rendition of his solo cello sonata gives the listener an idea of Hannah Addario-Berry’s superb virtuosity. Janos Starker, who actually played the Kodaly sonata for its composer, recorded it for Delos in 1992. That is the most definitive recording but, because of technological improvements over the years, not necessarily the easiest one to enjoy. I would suggest owning the Starker for study and the Addario-Berry for simple enjoyment.

Hannah Addario-Berry commissioned each of the six widely varying new works heard on this disc. Composer Brent Miller, managing director of The Center for New Music in San Francisco, describes “koans” in Book 3 of his Miniatures. Koans are stories, dialogues, questions, or statements used in Zen practice to test students’ progress. Miller scores the piece for cello, voice and dice. The text is from The Gateless Gate, a collection of Zen koans and commentary compiled by Chinese Zen master Wumen Huikai.

Alisa Rose’s Lands End is a musical hike along Northern California’s Lands End Trail that leaves city and suburbs for the untamed nature of a dirt trail that skirts the Pacific Ocean. Rose’s rhythmic fiddling has an old time feeling because she uses open strings as drones and drums. Violinist Eric Kenneth Malcolm Clark specializes in new and experimental music. His Ekpyrotic Layerings IV for Solo Cello and Tape requires the cellist not only to change the tuning of the strings but also to place pins on them that give them bell-like tones. The result is a fascinating romp through inventive composition. Gloria Justen’s Sonaquifer makes my mind see a dance of celebration when dusty travelers find a source of clean drinking water for humans and animals in the middle of California’s broiling desert.

If you remember a parent reading a fairy tale to you, Myth’s Daughter will whisper sweet sonorities in your welcoming ears.  Step into the musical garden and it will hold you in its thrall.

Addario-Berry’s final work for this performance is Jerry Liu’s Calor, which is Spanish for heat. Here the cellist mesmerizes the listener with hot rhythms and shows us the beauty of an unrestrained sun. The pristine sound on this Aerocade recording allows cello, voice and percussive sounds to be heard as clearly as if the listener was in a well built recital hall. I enjoyed the variety of compositions Addario-Berry commissioned and hope she will continue to help talented composers get their cello music in front of the public. Maria Nockin

"Shim is a superb soloist, her virtuosity seemingly endless."

Thank you Fanfare Magazine for another review for Meerenai Shim's Pheromone!

This article originally appeared in Issue 40:2 (Nov/Dec 2016) of Fanfare Magazine.

PHEROMONE • Meerenai Shim (fl); 1Jacob Abela (pn) • AEROCADE 001 (44:01)

FIELDSTEEL Fractus III: Aerophoneme. G. C. BROWN Huge Blank Canvas Neck Tattoo. O’HALLORAN 1Pencilled Wings. LAUSTSEN 60.8%. SCHANKLER 1Pheromone. M. J. PAYNE Étude for Contrabass Flute and TI83+ Calculator

This is an all-electroacoustic album. The inspiration was actually the first track, Fractus III: Aerophoneme (2011/12) by Eli Fieldsteel for “flute and live electronic sound”. Replete with extended performance techniques for the soloist and electronic sounds that seem primal in origin (the Supercollider software was used). There is also the feeling of great expanses around the ten-minute mark, while to the present writer at least the subsequent effects around eleven-twelve minutes in seem to evoke some sort of post-nuclear wind. Shim is a superb soloist, her virtuosity seemingly endless.

There is virtually no gap between the end of the Fieldsteel and the wonderfully titled Huge Black Canvas Neck Tattoo by Gregory C. Brown (2014). This piece, for alto flute and digital delay (using Ableton Live software) is, despite the images evoked by its title, much more approachable. Tape loops as used by Stockhausen spring to mind as the lines accrue and begin to interact and co-mingle; the very lowest register of this flute is so resonant it comes across as a bass flute, although only alto flute is credited. The busier sections are remarkably effective, as are the whimsical, flight moments elsewhere. The same software is used in Douglas Lausten’s 60.8% for bass flute and electronics (2014). The title refers to the unemployment rate in Greece and the piece is inspired by the hardship encompassing the Greek nation of late. The ghost of rebetiko music underpins the material, while the Greek flavor is unmistakable.

Elusive and soft textured, Emma O’Halloran’s Pencilled Wings, also of 2014, features pianist Jacob Abela (on a Yamaha concert grand). The soft-grained stereo playback audio file that underpins it all creates this relaxing ambience. The piece from which the album gets its name, Pheromone by Isaac Schankler (2014) is for flute (standard and bass), piano and electronics (MAX/MSP). The piano’s contribution is initially very gentle, and beautifully managed here; the piece gradually slows to a meditative space before inviting in frenzy.

Finally, Matthew Joseph Payne’s Etude for contrabass flute and TI83 Plus graphing calculator. Shim records audio directly from the calculator. There is a quite involved story of how the piece came to be a half-step lower and slower than the original because of a memory leak bus destroyed the original calculator part before the composer recorded it. What we really need to know, of course, is that the piece is phenomenal fun. Brief and to the point, it is also wonderfully unique in feel. Somewhat otherwordly, some might feel; others may find it links to computer game “soundtracks” (if so they could be called in those days) of the 1980s.

Colin Clarke

"Variety Show" featured in Best of Bandcamp Contemporary Classical

"One of the highlights is “Limb,” by composer Drew Baker, who drew inspiration from the large-scale wall drawings of Sol LeWitt—which were usually completed by hired hands from the artist’s designs. They make for a fitting reflection of the composer/performer relationship—particularly in the sonic evocation of small gestures thickening into dense waves. The rest of the album is equally vibrant and wide-ranging." - Peter Margasak, Bandcamp Daily

Read the rest at daily.bandcamp.com.

Fanfare Magazine reviews Beneath a Canopy of Angels...a River of Stars

Another well-deserved review for Post-Haste Reed Duo and their composers!

This article originally appeared in Issue 40:2 (Nov/Dec 2016) of Fanfare Magazine.

BENEATH A CANOPY OF ANGELS…A RIVER OF STARS •  Post-Haste Reed Duo  •  AEROCADE AM002 (50:12)

HUTCHINSON BioMechanics. ANDRIESSEN Lacrimosa. WICKMAN Confluences. SAMMONS Some Thoughts About Time. STEINMETZ Songs and Dances

This, the debut album of the Post-Haste Reed Duo, comprises four commissions and one arrangement specifically for this Portland-based ensemble.

The first piece, Simon Hutchinson’s bioMechanics (2011) uses an electronic track generated from sampled and processed recordings of the Post-Haste Reed Duo. Hutchinson states that our modern lives “are often a blur of the biological and the technical”; his piece sets out to investigate the interactions between technology, itself created by organic beings (humans) to serve our needs, and those human elements themselves. The opposite poles of freedom (including improvisation) and discipline are explored in a fascinating manner. The soundscape itself is highly varied, from the beautiful to the highly rhythmic. The slickness of the performers is remarkable, as is the imagination of the composer in what emerges as a tour de force.

Dutch composer Louis Andriessen (born 1939) contributes Lacrimosa (1991), originally scored for two bassoons and heard here in an arrangement for alto saxophone and bassoon by Jeff Chambers. Slow moving, the pace offers ample time to relish the composer’s use of microtones, so deliciously rendered here. Using the first names of the present performers to generate musical material, Ethan Wickman’s Confluences (2014) for alto saxophone and bassoon includes a spatial element of “coming together” on the performance space itself that is unavailable in an audio-only recording, but nevertheless there is plenty of interest from a musical surface that is nicely varied. There also appears to be an element of humor here, in the first movement; certainly the composer’s touch is appealingly light. Cast in three movements (“Rogue,” Receding Orbits” and “Beneath a canopy of angels … a river of stars”), this is an interesting piece; the close recording emphasizes the instruments’ conversations in the central panel; the final movement (from which the disc derives its title), a poetic examination of the night sky, is a gentile, if technically tricky, dialog between the two instruments.

The composer of the next piece, Lanier Sammons, also produced the album. His Some thoughts about time (2012) consists of six short movements in no fixed order for sax, bassoon and (intermittently) electronics. The piece seeks to explore theories of musical time: perhaps the super-extended long note of the opening of the initial “Bound” acts as a launch pad for these ponderings. The rather bouncy third movement, “Strata,” is terrifically involving in its complexity; the otherworldly sound of the final “Patience” seems to sum up the strange fascination of this music.

Finally, Songs and Dances (2013) for soprano saxophone and bassoon by John Steinmetz, an outgrowth of some of the composer’s favored music, encompasses a Bach aria, drum patterns from a West African processional, an American folk song (“Long Time Traveler”) and some pop music. The first movement begins like an exercise on speed (and I don’t mean velocity), but with inserted melodies in octaves that invoke the Stravinsky of the Rite. The song-like “Aria/Procession” that follows is absolute delight, as is the staccato of bassoonist Javier Rodriguez; the third movement “Folk Song” is like an outgrowth of that, just more lachrymose. Both players’ phrasing exudes the utmost tenderness. There is something markedly pastoral about the finale, “Dance Song.”

Colin Clarke

"Cellist Hannah Addario-Berry is clearly an adventuresome spirit"

Another thoughtful review for Hannah Addario-Berry's Scordatura!

This article originally appeared in Issue 40:2 (Nov/Dec 2016) of Fanfare Magazine.

SCORDATURA • Hannah Addario-Berry (vc) • AEROCADE 004 (77:09)

KODÁLY Sonata for Solo Cello, op. 8. B. MILLER Miniatures, Book 3: Koans. A. ROSE Lands End. E. CLARK Ekpyrotic: Layerings IV. JUSTEN Sonaquifer. COONS Myth’s Daughter. LIU Calor

This disc marks the first chapter of an ongoing project that couples Kodály’s 1915 Sonata for Solo Cello with contemporary works. The six other works here are all directly inspired by Kodály’s masterpiece and were all written for the present cellist.

San Francisco Bay Area-based Canadian cellist Hannah Addario-Berry is clearly an adventuresome spirit, and this is a most enlightened way to hear an established masterpiece in a new light. The title of the disc, Scordatura, refers to the practice of deliberately altering the tuning on a stringed instrument (as Kodály does here). The cello in this piece has the two lower strings lowered by a half-step, which in itself offers a whole shedload of new harmonics to the instrument. Addario-Berry’s idea is to create a repertoire of music for scordatura cello.

The Kodály comes up against quite come competition, including Queyras on Harmonia Mundi (Fanfare 26:1) and the fine, ever-impassioned Alban Gerhardt on Oehms Classics (the latter a sensible coupling with a Bach unaccompanied Cello Suite and one by Britten.) Yet Addario-Berry holds her own in this huge, nearly 40-minute piece, her plangent tone in the first movement highly effective. Her tuning, too, is impeccable, even in those testing, ultra-high passages. But it is in the desperate loneliness of the Adagio (con gran espressione) that Addario-Berry triumphs; the spread pizzicatos over a pedal bass carry huge emotional weight. The finale has huge energy, and there is a feeling of manic dance over some of the higher-pitched sections.

All of the remaining pieces on the disc are World Premieres. It is the scoring of Brent Miller’s 2015 piece “Koans” from Miniatures, Book 3 that intrigues and entices: it is for cello, voice and dice. Unfortunately, the role of the dice is not explored in the booklet note, but we do hear them being thrown at one point so one assumes they determine something about the performance; but we do get to hear some text from The Gateless Gate, a collection of koans compiled by the 13th century Chinese Zen master Wumen Huikai. Addario-Berry’s voice is deliberately slightly recessed at the opening, but turn her up at your peril, as the entrance of the cello is mightily close. Miller’s writing is terrifically expressive, with some gorgeous glissando harmonics; but there are some grating dissonances there, too.

For Lands End (2015), composer Alisa Rose took the topography of a section of the trail from San Francisco’s Lands End Trail that leaves from the city and crosses cliffs, descending down to a rocky beach. The technique is therefore presumably analogous to that used by Villa-Lobos on mountain contours to develop material for his music (try that composer’s Symphony No. 6, “On the Outline of Mountains in Brazil.”) The use of old fiddle bowing techniques by Rose is aurally obvious and works well in highlighting the resonant feel of the tuning used; the rhythms provide the impression of optimistic forward movement.

Eric Kenneth Malcom Clark has composed a series of pieces under the umbrella title of Layerings, each of which asks the soloist to record material several times (including singing), with the inevitable small differences resulting in overlappings. The composer also asks for miniature clothes pins on the strings in this piece, Ekpyrotic (2015); the result is something like a gamelan. Interestingly, the piece Sonaquifer by Gloria Justen of 2015 calls forth memories of the composer of earlier music, including Bach, Bartók and, topically, Kodály. The playful nature of the musical lines is perfectly caught by Addario-Berry, and the piece flows magnificently with a sort of artless grace (the composer actually refers to it as a “flowing, turning dance”.) It would be a perfect encore.

Scored for “cello and projected video,” Myth’s Daughter (2015) by Lisa Renée Coons has Addario-Berry reading fragments from Grimm Fairy Tales. Both www.lisacoons.com and YouTube will furnish the video, which concentrates on the innocence of a child. In performance terms, this is a tour de force, always entertaining; Addario-Berry’s rich, expressive tone tells its own story in conjunction with the text.  Finally, Jerry Liu’s Calor (2015), an adventuresome piece that examines the concept of heat (“calor” is Latin for heat) in terms of flickering flames, smoulderings and “fiery momentum.” The score includes some measures without meter to give some level of freedom to the performer. The close recording only emphasizes the (pardon the incoming pun) scorching intensity of of the performance.

The disc can be further explored (and purchased) at https://hannahab.bandcamp.com. There also is a fascinating recorded interview with Addario-Berry around this disc at http://www.soundnotion.tv/2016/05/soundnotion-233/. A very varied recital. Well worth investigating.  Colin Clarke