new ecoacoustic works for percussion and electronics

The start of winter has brought a flurry of performances of my ecoacoustic percussion music and I am excited to be working with incredible musicians on these projects. I spent the last year writing new solo works including  Sonic Physiography of a Time-Stretched Glacier for Brandon Bell, Glisten of Places for Jeremy Muller, and Ecotones for Garrett Mendelow. Meanwhile other artists are reinventing some of my earlier ecoacoustic percussion pieces in interesting ways. Notably, Omar Carmenates is creating a film of the Six EcoAcoustic Quintets (2010) in collaboration with the Shi Center for Sustainability at Furman Univeristy. And Aaron Butler is presenting the Winter Raven (Ukiuq Tulugaq) (2002) percussion pieces as stand-alone concert music.

GlistenOfPlaces_webThis week, Jeremy Muller gave the premiere of Glisten of Places at the ZeroSpace Conference at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA. Glisten of Places uses soundscapes recorded by the EcoSono Institute over the years. Some of these recordings feature rarely or never-heard places, such as the inside of a fire ant hill, or gas bubbles escaping 
from a molten asphalt lake. The piece includes well over an hour of material in 24 sections and these can be excerpted and arranged by the performer to fit different performance situations. The score also includes a system for the performer to add new movements.  In this way each performer can put a personal stamp on the piece if they wish.  Muller, who commissioned the work, gave a contemplative premiere as the finale of the high-tech ZeroSpace Conference on Distance and Interaction.

Premiere: 12/1/14 ZeroSpace Conference, OpenGrounds, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA

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Brandon Bell gives the world premiere of Sonic Physiography of a Time-Stretched Glacier this December in Houston, Texas. This piece, commissioned by Bell, takes the listener inside a glacier, slowing the sound of the melting ice into a time-suspended (refrozen) world of shimmering harmony. The percussionist plays inside individual droplets of the melting glacier, exploring their unique spectral energy. The piece is scored for vibraphone, cymbals, crotales and an interactive computer program.

Premiere: Rice University in Houston, TX on 12/10/14 

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Tromp International Percussion Competition Prize Winner Garrett Mendelow is preparing for the first performances of Ecotones, a large-kit work he commissioned. Eighteen minutes in duration, Ecotones explores concepts of materiality and human-environment interaction similar to those in my “Six EcoAcoustic Quintets,” but here compacted into a single-movement solo percussion work and overlapped into timbral “ecotones”. The performer plays natural materials such as leaves, water, earth, shells and stones, along with the percussion instruments. We will rehearse the piece together this December in preparation for the premiere performance in Detmold, Germany.

Premiere: Music in the Garden, 6/30/14, Detmold, Germany

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Omar Carmenates, Furman Percussion Ensemble and the Shi Center for Sustainability are working on a documentary and a DVD/CD recording of my Six Ecoacoustic Quintets. (2009). The ensemble will record the pieces this winter and perform them at the Furman Engage festival on April 14 to coincide with the release of the documentary.

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 Performance: Furman University, Greenville, SC, 4/14/15

Aaron Butler and 10-Can Percussion performed the stand-alone premiere of Anugi Unipkaaq (2001) for percussion, percussion trio and wind in Asheville, NC this week. The piece was originally premiered by Morris Palter in 2002 as part of Winter Raven. The group also played Siku Unipkaaq (2001) for two glockenspiel (four players) and computer sound. It is exciting to hear these pieces coming to life as chamber music outside of the two-hour multimedia Winter Raven.

Aaron Butler and his NoBrow Collective gave the PASIC premiere of Spectral Arctic Ice Triangulations (2010) for water percussion and sub-ice underwater recordings from the Arctic Ocean on 11/20/14. The three performers play water with their hands and chimes while the audience is immersed within a three-channel electronic part made from the sub-ice recordings. Spectral Arctic Ice Triangulations is an excerpt from the multimedia work, Auksalaq, and it is available here.

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Song for Low Tree (2011) for solo percussion, tree sonification data and interactive computer was featured at the University of Michigan as part of a lovely recital organized by the Performing Arts Technology Program in Britton Recital Hall in Ann Arbor on 11/22/14. Chris Sies gave an entrancing and meditative performance of this piece which asks the percussionist to sing to a “low tree” in counterpoint with a sonification of tree respiration data. This piece was commissioned by Nick Fox and you can watch his wonderful performance here. Performance materials are available here.

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Percussionists who have the good fortune to live in a place with snow may be interested in performing Syntax of Snow (2010) this winter. This piece is scored for amplified fresh snow and glockenspiel. I wrote a new electronic part for I-Jen Fang‘s recent performance and now the piece can be performed with or without electronics. This piece was commissioned by Trevor Saint and it is available here.

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