HASS Faculty Concert
Curtis Bahn, Michael Century, Pauline Oliveros, Neil Rolnick, Mary Simoni and Ensemble Congeros directed by Eddie Ade Knowles
A concert featuring compositions and performances by Rensselaer Arts Department faculty and alumni—
Directed by Eddie Ade Knowles
Neil Rolnick Digits, for piano, soundtrack, and video
Vicky Chow, piano
Video by R. Luke DuBois
Pauline Oliveros Tree/Peace
Michael Century, piano
Jonathan Chen, violin
Sam Clapp, cello
Michael Century Within and Without
Michael Century, accordion with electronics
Mary Simoni Eulogy
Jeanine Tesori The Girl From 14G
Kimberley Dolanski, soprano
Mary Simoni, piano
Curtis Bahn Improvisation
Curtis Bahn, rikEsitar, E-sraj and laptop
Seth Cluett, shruti box, laptop, and electronics
Michael Bullock, analog & digital video instruments
About the Music
ENSEMBLE CONGEROS Founded in 2004, by Professor Eddie Ade Knowles, Ensemble Congeros is a group of Rensselaer alumni/ae and current students dedicated to the study and performance of Afro-Cuban, African, and New World Percussion. They will perform new work with special guest artists and music from their 2012 DVD, Ensemble Congeros: Chasing the Rhythms.
NEIL ROLNICK Digits (2005) for piano, soundtrack, and video. Obviously, digits are what we use both to play the piano and to operate computers. This piece makes some fairly extreme demands on both types of digits. The piano part, written for Kathleen Supové, exploits her incredible technique to play a bit more than is humanly possible. The computer, which plays only sounds that originate from the piano, integrates with the live playing in a way which is seamless and, hopefully, a bit magical. Digits is a composition for solo piano and digital processing. The pianist must bring virtuoso technique to the performance, and the processing is designed to amplify the piano’s sound in ways that are both subtle and arresting. All the processed sound comes from the piano. There can also be a video component of the piece. Designed by R. Luke DuBois, using Jitter, the video track processes live images of the pianist’s fingers (her digits) as she performs the piece, and projects them on a screen inside or above the piano lid. The overall effect of the piece is of a classical, virtuoso piano sonata, in which the piano itself has been bent slightly out of shape, amplified, and multiplied, and the images of the player’s fingers are brought directly to the audience and manipulated to complement the music.
PAULINE OLIVEROS Tree/Peace consists of seven sections: The Mystery of Propagation, The Growth of the Seedling, The Full Formation and Maturity of the Tree, The Action of the Seasons, The Magical Nature of the Tree, and The Death of the Tree, Contemplation. The composer notes: The tree metaphor is intended to influence the characteristic dynamics, articulations, and style of the smallest units of Tree/Peace as well as the phrases and sections…[It] is based on attentional strategies which involve listening and reacting acutely in specific ways while shaping the resulting musical performance in relation to the metaphor of an imaginary tree”.
MICHAEL CENTURY Within and Without (2012) I began playing the accordion at the invitation of MFA alumna Ryder Cooley (2008) and then became a serious student of the instrument with the encouragement of Pauline Oliveros. Her pioneering work with electronic-processed accordion is part of the backdrop for this new piece of my own, and I dedicate its first performance tonight to her. Initially I only knew I wanted to use the rich timbral palette of the accordion to “drive” a music of rhythmic pulsation. So I used a common software environment for electronic dance music to begin my explorations, found the modules that fit my purposes and engaged MFA alumnus Holland Hopson (1998) to design a patch in Max/MSP that would boil down my musical ideas to a custom instrument I could program myself. The music is in a popular idiom, and its title refers to the Beatles’ song Within You and Without You, which provides some of the melodic motifs. The electronic modules are the classic filters and samplers that have been around since analogue days, and the central instrumental technique used in the piece is the tremolando effect – shaking the accordion in fast rhythmic repetition – usually synced tightly with the electronic pulsation.
MARY SIMONI’s Eulogy is a musical interpretation of the eulogy that the children of Lewis E. Simoni, the composer's father, delivered at his funeral.
JEANINE TESORI’s The Girl in 14G is a charming stand-alone piece which details the story of a girl moving into New York City and her experiences in her new apartment. The work contains three distinct musical styles; musical theater, opera (with quotes from Mozart’s The Queen of the Night and Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake.) and jazz. Jeanine Tesori is best known for the musicals Thoroughly Modern Millie, Caroline, Or Change and Shrek the Musical.
CURTIS BAHN Improvisation—In the spirit of iEAR, Seth, Michael and Curtis will freely improvise using combinations of analog and digital tools for live video and sound. Having a history of performance together spanning over 20 years since the early 90's at Princeton where Curtis was a graduate student and Michael was an undergraduate student. The three improvised together using very different instruments and techniques for many years in Boston prior to Michael or Seth attending iEAR. After attending Rensselaer, Seth attended Princeton for his PhD where he again worked with Curtis through the Princeton Laptop Orchestra (PLOrk), the two also performed in New York at ISSUE Project Room. Michael was Curtis' advisee as the first PhD awarded by the Arts Department. The three have not performed together before using the particular instruments heard tonight which reflect their current interests and research.
About the Performers
Curtis Bahn is an improvising composer involved in relationships of body, gesture, technology and sound. He holds a PhD in music composition from Princeton University, and studies Hindustani classical music as a formal disciple of acclaimed sitarist, Ustad Shahid Parvez Khan. He has taught at Columbia University, Brown, NYU, Princeton and CUNY. His music has been presented internationally at venues including Lincoln Center, Sadler's Wells - London, Palais Garnier – Paris, Grand Theater de la Ville – Luxembourg, as well as numerous festivals, small clubs and academic conferences. He has worked with the Trisha Brown and Merce Cunningham Dance Companies. Curtis recently was named the “Ralph Samuelson Fellow” by the Asian Cultural Council, receiving a grant to study and collaborate with artists in India. Curtis is Associate Professor of the Arts at Rensselaer.
Michael T. Bullock PhD 2010 is a composer, intermedia artist, and scholar based in Boston, MA. His modes of work include electro-acoustic improvisation, live video, and drawing. Bullock performs across the US and in Europe, collaborating with a huge range of artists including Pauline Oliveros, Christian Wolff, Steve Roden, Bhob Rainey and Greg Kelley of nmperign, Mazen Kerbaj, and Theodore Bikel. In 2010 he and Linda Aubry Bullock co-founded Shadowselves, a platform for their new media work. Bullock’s music is available on Intransitive, Important, Winds Measure, Sedimental, Grob, 1.8sec, al Maslakh, and Homophoni. He holds a PhD from the Arts Department from Rensselaer, and has taught and lectured in the US and Europe on location recording and electroacoustic improvisation.
Michael Century is Professor of New Media and Music in the Department of the Arts at Rensselaer, which he joined in 2002. Musically at home in classical, contemporary, and improvisational settings, Century has enjoyed a varied career as university teacher, new media researcher, inter-arts producer, and arts policy maker. He studied piano with Reginald Godden in Toronto, where he received his artist diploma from the Royal Conservatory, and theory/composition with Nadia Boulanger in Paris. His academic degrees are in musicology, from the Universities of Toronto and California at Berkeley. Most recently, his musical passion is playing the accordion.
Jonathan Chen PhD 2012. Jonathan’s work comprises composition, improvisation, and installation. Many of these areas encompass one another. Some works have a conceptual focus out of which materials emerge, while other works are born out of experimentation with the actual materials involved in the work. Chen’s work has been performed or installed in the U.S. and internationally. He has performed with many notable artists including Tatsu Aoki, Anthony Braxton, Nic Collins, Jamie Kempkers, Alvin Lucier, Pauline Oliveros, and Marina Peterson among others. Recent collaborations include a trio with Guillermo Gregorio (clarinet) and Steve Swell (trombone), and an electronics trio with Doug Van Nort and Joseph Mills. He received his MA in Music Composition from Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT, in 2006, and his MM in Violin Performance from Northwestern University, Evanston, IL in 1999. He has released work on the Asian Improv, Interval, and Striking Mechanism record labels.
Canadian pianist Vicky Chow has performed extensively as a classical and contemporary soloist, chamber musician, and ensemble member, and has been described as “brilliant” (New York Times), “a monster pianist” (Time Out New York) “virtuosic” (New Jersey Star Ledger), “sparkling” with a “feisty technique” (MIT Tech) and “new star of new music” (Los Angeles Times). She is the pianist for the New York based eclectic contemporary sextet, Bang on a Can All-Stars and has performed with other groups such as Wordless Music Orchestra, Opera Cabal, Wet Ink Ensemble, ai ensemble and AXIOM. Her passion has propelled Vicky to work with an A-to-Z of leading composers and musicians such as John Adams, Louis Andriessen, Nik Bärtsch, Don Byron, Bryce Dessner (The Nationals) Michael Gordon, Glenn Kotche (Wilco), David Longstreth (Dirty Projectors), David Lang, Steve Reich, Terry Riley, Lee Ranaldo (Sonic Youth), Julia Wolfe, Evan Ziporyn.
Samuel Clapp is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Architectural Acoustics at R.P.I. Born and raised in Chicago, Sam started playing the cello at the age of 9, studying with Marc Johnson of the Vermeer Quartet and Richard Hirschl of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and performing in Midwest Young Artists. He graduated from Williams College, where he double majored in music and physics, studied cello with Nathaniel Parke, and performed in the Berkshire Symphony. For several years Sam worked as the Publicity Associate at Young Concert Artists, an organization devoted to launching the careers of young classical musicians. In addition to performing with the Rensselaer Contemporary Music Ensemble, he also plays regularly with the String Orchestra of Brooklyn in New York City.
Seth Cluett MFA 2003, is a Troy, N.Y. native. He is an artist, performer, and composer whose work ranges from photography and drawing to video, sound installation, concert music, and critical writing. His "subtle...seductive, immersive" (Artforum) sound work has been characterized as "rigorously focused and full of detail" (e/i) and "dramatic, powerful, and at one with nature" (The Wire). Exploring the territory between the auditory and other senses, Cluett's works are marked by a detailed attention to perception and to sound's role in the experience of place and the working of memory. The recipient of grants and awards from Meet the Composer as well as the Andrew W. Mellon, Naumberg, and Malcolm Morse Foundations, his recent work is documented on Line, Radical Matters, Sedimental, and Winds Measure recordings. This fall, Cluett joined the faculty of Contemporary Arts at Ramapo College of New Jersey where he teaches courses in audio recording as well as electronic and experimental sound practices.
Kimberley Dolanski is the most recorded soprano for early American Musical Theater and Operetta and can be heard in the Victor Herbert and Jerome Kern recordings located in the Library of Congress, the New York Public Library and other areas across the nation. In May 2011, Kimberley received her first Lincoln Center credit, as Rosalina, in Giordano’s Opera, Il Ré. Kimberley has performed with numerous symphonies including Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Detroit Chamber Winds, Flint Symphony, and the Grand Traverse Symphony Orchestra where her performance of Marten aller Arten [possessed tremendous skill, great musicianship and the flair of a showman] as stated by Joe Rice of The Record Eagle. Directors, Conductors and coaches include: Joan Dornemann, Maestro Leonard Slatkin, Martin Katz, Patrick Young of Covent Garden and Kevin Rhoades. Having placed first in the Harold Haugh Light Opera Competition in 2005, Kimberley is sought after for numerous light opera and operetta performances across the nation. You can visit Kimberley’s website at www.kimberleydolanski.com.
Eddie Ade Knowles is an accomplished musician and Professor of Practice in the Arts, with over 40 years of performance, residency, workshop, and recording credits, as a percussionist. Ade’s artistic focus is on African, Afro-Cuban, and New World Percussion, and he has performed and/or, recorded with many well known artists, including Gil Scott-Heron, the Last Poets, and Kim & Reggie Harris. Presently, Ade is the Artistic Director of Ensemble Congeros, a group of Rensselaer alums and current students dedicated to the study of African, Afro-Cuban, and New World percussion. The Ensemble was founded in 2004, as an outgrowth of the interest and passion of Rensselaer’s students who excelled in Dr. Knowles’ course, “Introduction to Afro-Cuban Percussion.”On March 30, 2012, Ade celebrated the release of their first DVD entitled, “Ensemble Congeros: Chasing the Rhythms.” It is a lovely testimony of the Ensemble’s unmistakable talent, dedication to each other, and the making of music.
Pauline Oliveros (1932) resident of Kingston NY is widely recognized as one of America's most important composers. A leader of the avant-garde and a pioneer of improvisatory music, alternate tuning systems, contemporary accordion playing, electronics and multi-media events, Oliveros is a vital force through continuing compositions, performances, teaching, and through Deep Listening®, a lifetime practice fundamental to her work. Currently she serves as Professor of Practice at Rensselaer in Troy NY, Darius Milhaud Artist-in-residence at Mills College, Oakland CA and as Executive Director of Deep Listening Institute, Ltd. in Kingston NY.
Composer Neil Rolnick pioneered in the use of computers in musical performance, beginning in the late 1970s. Since moving to New York City in 2002, his music has been receiving increasingly wide recognition and numerous performances both in the US and abroad. Rolnick has often included unexpected and unusual combinations of materials and media in his music. He has performed around the world, and his music appears on 16 CD’s. Though much of Rolnick’s work has been in areas that connect music and technology, and is therefore considered in the realm of “experimental” music, his music has always been highly melodic and accessible. Whether working with electronic sounds, improvisation, or multimedia, his music has been characterized by critics as “sophisticated,” “hummable and engaging,” and as having “good senses of showmanship and humor.” Rolnick is Professor of Music at Rensselaer, and was founding director of the iEAR Studios.