"It is music that provokes" - Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review
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The Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review says:

“No person is an island and perhaps every piece of music connects in some way to every other piece of music whether local or world-widely, contemporary to ancient. That may be more to chew off on this rainy morning than I can safely address on the blog, but it explains my feeling listening to Because Patterns (Aerocade Music 011). I get a distinct window on experiencing a piece of today that is electroacoustically enmeshed with what has happened in Electronica and the Post-Progressive in Rock, on one hand, soundscaping ambiance, and the whole spectrum of the Modern Contemporary Classical on the other.”

Read the rest of the review here.

Thank you Grego Applegate Edwards for taking the time to listen to and review Because Patterns!

"Because Patterns has it all" - I Care if You Listen

Many thanks to I Care if You Listen and Nick Stevens for taking the time to review Isaac Schankler’s Because Patterns!

Because Patterns has it all: killer liner notes, evocative performances from musical dream teams, and balance between coherence and variety. The impeccable recording, engineering, and mixing by Schankler, Vanessa Parr, Ben Phelps, Scott Fraser, Barry Werger, and others certainly help. Four years and eleven records into its existence, Aerocade Music can claim another victory with this release.”

- Nick Stevens, I Care if You Listen

Read the entire review here.

"The entire album is remarkable listening" - Sequenza 21 reviews Because Patterns

Thank you Paul Muller and Sequenza 21 for reviewing Isaac Schankler’s Because Patterns!

“The entire album is remarkable listening and represents a new benchmark of just how highly evolved the combination of acoustic instruments and electronics have become in the service of musical expression.”

- Paul Muller, Sequenza 21

Read the entire review here.

textura review: "virtuosic performances by Fredenburg and Rodriguez"
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“Anyone doubtful as to the range of creative possibilities a bassoon-and-saxophone duo might offer should come away from Donut Robot! convinced otherwise. Its virtuosic performances by Fredenburg and Rodriguez show the combination to have as unlimited a potential as a violin-and-piano coupling, the significant difference between them the size of the repertoires associated with the pairings. As this recording shows, Post-Haste Reed Duo is doing its part to make that difference smaller.” - textura, April 2019

Read the whole review here.

"Happily recommended." - Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review

Thank you Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review for recommending Donut Robot!

“There are album concepts and cover illustrations that grab my attention and I will admit that the art on Donut Robot! (Aerocade Music 010) by the Post-Haste Reed Duo is a favorite.What's wrong with a bit of outlandish humor? Nothing at all as far as I am concerned. All the better of course if the music turns out to be very much worth our ear-time. That is the case here as limber-timbred saxophonist Sean Fredenburg and bassoon stalwart Javier Rodriguez take us on an imaginative journey through six compositions and compositional suites.”

Read the rest of the review on the Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review site.

Isaac Schankler Album Release Concert in Los Angeles

Equal Sound presents:
Isaac Schankler Album Release & The Furies

April 4, 2019
8:00 pm
Art Share L.A. (801 East 4th Place, Los Angeles, CA 90013)

Equal Sound’s First Thursdays series at Art Share presents an album release concert for Isaac Schankler’s Because Patterns in a performance featuring collaborations with Vicki Ray, Aron Kallay, and Scott Worthington. Intersectional feminist performance art violin duo The Furies join the bill with their project A Cure For Hysteria, featuring the music of Elizabeth A. Baker, Eve Beglarian, Olga Neuwirth, and ThunderCunt.

All attendees will receive a free download of Because Patterns.

Tickets: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/isaac-schankler-album-release-with-special-guest-the-furies-tickets-54837916685

Program

OLGANEUWIRTH ad auras...in memorium H.
THUNDERCUNT Incidental Music I
ELIZABETH A.BAKER A Cure For Hysteria
THUNDERCUNT Incidental Music II
EVEBEGLARIAN Well Spent

ISAACSCHANKLER Because Patterns

Interview with Isaac Schankler

We welcome Isaac Schankler to the Aerocade Music roster!
Read more about Isaac
here.

Isaac Schankler (Photo: Gabriel Harber)

Isaac Schankler (Photo: Gabriel Harber)


Meg Wilhoite previewed Isaac’s upcoming album Because Patterns and interviewed them to learn more about the album and their process.

In their aptly-named album Because Patterns, composer Isaac Schankler explores three approaches to creating and manipulating musical patterns, carrying out a full integration of electronic sonic environment, mathematical compositional procedure, and acoustic performance. The overall effect of the title track, “Because Patterns/Deep State,” is that of finespun electronic swells punctuated by the percussive sounds of the piano, performed by the Ray-Kallay Duo, who commissioned the piece. Incorporating a mathematical model called a cellular automaton, the musical patterns begin with a single seed and shift organically according to the rule assigned to it. As the title suggests, there is an element of Deep Listening in this piece—performed by double bassist Scott Worthington—as from minute 17:30 to 20:30 we settle into a sotto voce electronic hum that is present-only, with no sense of past or future. Subtly, quietly the piano returns, a distant echo from earlier in the piece, nestled deep within the electronic texture. 

The electronics and violin in “Mobile I” are interlaced by means of spectral analysis, as the electronic sounds are a reaction to violinist Sakura Tsai’s fragmented statements. The former keen and hum around the latter, creating the sense of a large, open structure in which the violinist is centrally situated. The final minutes of the piece shift to a more active texture, the electronics and violinist merging in polyrhythmic arpeggios. The final track, “Future Feelings,” performed by Nadia Shpachenko, features alternately swirling and languid piano figures overlaid with hissing static and Morse code-like blips panning between the ears. Later on in the piece, the electronics also provide occasional low, reverberant hums. While the piano hints at past styles of lush vibrations, the electronics pull the listener into the noise-filled, pulsating present.

Because Patterns  will be released on May 31, 2019.  Sign up for our mailing list to be notified when Because Patterns comes out.

Because Patterns will be released on May 31, 2019. Sign up for our mailing list to be notified when Because Patterns comes out.



Meg: Is Because Patterns a nod to Feldman’s Why Patterns

Isaac: It's a nod to the title more than the piece or Feldman's music. I always thought “Why Patterns?” was a strange kind of question, because really patterns justify themselves. We can't help but make sense of the world through patterns, through making connections between disparate things. That's one thing people and machines have in common too, and much of our lives is now mediated by patterns created by algorithms, for better or worse. So for a long time I’ve been interested in what happens when there’s too much or not enough information to truly discern a pattern. What happens when a person or machine starts seeing patterns that aren’t really there? So a lot of the piece Because Patterns/Deep State consists of gestures or motives that are moving either too quickly or too slowly to really get a handle on. So you have to make a decision about what's really important, and maybe in the end it's not the patterns? Maybe it's something else.



Meg: What program(s) do you use to make the electronic tracks? I'm particularly interested in the "ongoing spectral analysis" you mention for Mobile I. 

Isaac: I use a variety of things, but mostly Max/MSP for anything involving live electronics. The "ongoing spectral analysis" in Mobile I is basically a glorified pitch tracker that also detects harmonics, but what I liked about it for that piece is that it was a little unpredictable. It wasn't perfect, so sometimes you'd get the correct pitch, but other times you'd get another pitch that was related. So there were these microdeviations that you could use to create textures. If the pitch tracker worked perfectly the piece wouldn't be nearly as interesting. This is something I worry about actually, if the pitch tracker gets updated the piece might become obsolete. It’s also a tricky thing for the violinist to react to the electronics and remain on track, and I love the way Sakura Tsai plays it on the album, how it manages to feel improvisational and polished at the same time.



Meg: At what part of the compositional process do creating the electronics and writing the instrumental parts first meet? Do you generally start with one or the other, or do you develop the two strands concurrently?

Isaac: I wish it was more tidy, but often it's a kind of back and forth where the electronics will affect the instrumental material and vice versa, so sometimes the process takes a lot longer than I would like. Because Patterns was originally an acoustic prepared piano piece with plinky music box-like material that was composed with the help of some algorithms (specifically cellular automata). It was written for the Ray-Kallay Duo, and it demands a lot of precision and tight coordination from them. Deep State, which was written for Scott Worthington, is almost the opposite. It was originally a somewhat improvisatory piece with low bass drones being frozen and extended by electronics, and Scott provided a ton of valuable input that really shaped the piece. But while those pieces worked great live, they seemed strangely incomplete on a recording. We expect recorded music to saturate the frequency spectrum. Also the pieces seemed to be in dialogue with each other, working out some of the same kinds of ideas but at very different time scales. So I thought it would be fun to mash the pieces together, which made the mixing process vastly more complicated than I anticipated! I added a lot more electronic sounds after the fact, including sampled pianos that would frequently double the recorded pianos, bringing out different aspects of the sound like mechanical key noise, pedal resonance, things like that. For a while I had a lot of inner turmoil about whether or not I was allowed to do this, to ruin the real piano sound with "artificial" samples.



Meg: I'd love to hear more about your compositional process. For instance, in terms of the piano part, “Future Feelings” has a very Romantic vibe in places, particularly in terms of the figuration—how does music of the past inform your process? 

Isaac: That piece in particular is deliberately nostalgic, not just for Romantic era music but also for the time in my life when I was most engaged with that kind of music, i.e. an angsty teenager. At that time I wrote that piece my kid had just been born and it was really surreal to watch him react to music, to essentially discover music, and it brought up a lot of thoughts and feelings about the music that first really moved me. I was also thinking a lot about noise and the soothing effect noise has on babies, and I really wanted to make a quiet, soothing version of noise music. The first part of the piece is based around that, and the Romantic-inflected music gradually emerges from that texture. Nadia Shpachenko, who commissioned and premiered the piece, specializes in this kind of repertoire, and she really makes this part sound incredibly gorgeous. But I'm also suspicious of nostalgia, so there's a moment where that material cracks open, because in the end you can't really go back to that era. I guess it's fueled by a kind of hope and optimism that my kid, and by extension all people younger than me, will go beyond me in ways I can't even imagine. I want to see them break the patterns of the past.



Meg: Earlier you mentioned allowing yourself as a composer to double the pianos in the first track: Over the years as a composer, has there been anything you wish you could go back in time and tell your younger self?

Isaac: Oh geez, so many things! But I think most of all I wish I could tell my younger self to take the advice of my teachers and mentors with a grain of salt, and that it’s okay, even good, to go against their advice sometimes. I realize this is a slightly dangerous thing to say as a teacher myself. But I’ve found that a lot of composers, especially highly successful ones, have never really interrogated their own aesthetics and processes, and assume that they are universal ones. They then try and pass these biases on to students, instead of teaching students to listen to and develop their own instincts. I’m still trying to unlearn a lot of anxieties and hangups I internalized a long time ago, and it’s something that I hope the next generation of composers doesn’t have to deal with.


Meg Wilhoite (Photo: Katie Muffett)

Meg Wilhoite (Photo: Katie Muffett)

Meg Wilhoite is a writer, electronic musician, and former professional organist. For over a decade she blogged about the New York City new music scene, in addition to programming concerts and working with various collectives and ensembles. When she's not listening to and writing about new music she likes to program her beloved synthesizer.

Donut Robot! Review on The Rehearsal Studio
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Stephen Smoliar reviews the new Post-Haste Reed Duo album :

“The album consists of six new works, each by a different composer. In “order of appearance” on the album, the composers are Ruby Fulton, Drew Baker, Michael Johanson, Edward J. Hines, Andres Reinkemeyer, and Takuma Itoh. Perhaps the most salient impression left by this album is how diverse these six contributors are in their approach to composition. However, that diversity is reinforced by the virtuosity of the performers.

That virtuosity is evident immediately through the choice of instrumentation. One might think that a saxophone would overwhelm a bassoon. However, the full extent of the album is matched by a wide dynamic range, with just the right balance of the two instruments at any level of loud or soft blowing. Thus, some of the most engaging moments are the subtle ones, such as the shimmering sonorities of Baker’s “First Light,” in which subtlety emerges through microtonal oscillations that demand seriously attentive listening.”

Read the rest at The Rehearsal Studio.

Listen to the album.

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.