Matthew Shlomowitz – Line and Length (2007)
“Line and Length” is composed out of a small number of melodic lines that each has a different length. The lines loop simultaneously, allowing the uneven lengths to produce an overlapping and interwoven texture. “Line and length” is also a cricketing term describing a ball that is bowled just outside off stump on a good length, creating doubt in the batsmen as to whether to play or leave the ball (also referred to as the “corridor of uncertainty”).
Cara Haxo – Exercices (2017)
I first came across Raymond Queneau’s Exercices de style (1947) in a bookstore in Boulder this past spring. Although I did not purchase the book during the visit, I couldn’t get it out of my mind and ended up buying a tattered old copy from Amazon less than a month later. Queneau’s text tells the story of a man on a bus who watches another man interact with one of the other passengers. The narrator later sees the same man getting advice on adding a button to his overcoat. Not content to tell this story only once, Queneau recounts in ninety-nine times, each time in a different style.
This piece has very little to do with Queneau’s narrative. However, my early encounter with the text in the Boulder bookstore sparked the creation of this piece, and Queneau’s reimaginings of the same story somehow reminds me of the two movements of my own Exercices (2017).
This commission is the result of Splinter Reeds’ summer 2017 tenure as Ensemble in Residence at the Walden Young Musicians Program in Dublin, NH. It is a remarkably unique educational environment where Dana had previously taught several times; we were very lucky to be able to join her. Cara, a former student of the program, returned as composition faculty. The two movements are dedicated to Walden friends – “For Danielle” and “For Morgan,” respectively.
Eric Wubbels – Auditory Scene Analysis II (2016)
Auditory Scene Analysis II is the second in a series of pieces drawing on ideas from Albert Bregman's classic text on music perception.
The piece was commissioned by the Barlow Endowment for Music Composition at Brigham Young University, and is dedicated to Splinter Reeds.
Theresa Wong – Letters to a Friend (2017)
Dedicated to Alessia Pugliatti (1975-2016)
Letters to a Friend was composed as a message to a departed friend, Alessia Pugliatti, who passed away on December 31, 2016 of a rare cancer known as Epithelioid Hemangioendothelioma. A self-proclaimed ‘shy exhibitionist’ hailing from Messina Sicily, Alessia was, among many things, a singer, an ardent fan of Brazilian culture, an organizer for the Portuguese Pavilion at the Venice Biennale and a tireless advocate for African immigrants living in Venice Italy.
The piece stems from the poem O Pulsar (1975) by Augusto de Campos (a founding father of the Brazilian concrete poetry movement), which was rendered in an exquisitely austere and ritualistic song by Caetano Veloso. In Letters to a Friend, the Portuguese text is translated into Morse Code, generating a rhythmic structure from the letter patterns. The reed quintet is in essence sounding out the poem letter by letter, transmitting this message to my friend:
Onde quer que você esteja
Em Marte ou Eldorado
Abra a janela e veja
O pulsar quase mudo
Abraço de anos-luz
Que nenhum sol aquece
E o oco escuro esquece.
Wherever you are
On Mars or Eldorado
Open the window and see
The pulsar almost mute
That no sun warms
And the dark hollow forgets.
Made possible through the Musical Grant Program administered by InterMusic SF and supported by the Clarence E. Heller Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and San Francisco Grants for the Arts.
Sky Macklay – Choppy (2017)
Choppy: like the aperiodic, unstable, unpredictable, interference-y waves found on lakes and oceans on windy or stormy days.
Commissioned by the Chamber Music America Classical Commissioning Program, with generous funding provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Chamber Music America Endowment Fund.
Yannis Kyriakides – Hypothetical Islands (2012)
The dream of islands can represent our greatest desires and our worst fears, a pastoral idyll and a nightmare of isolation and loss. Surrounded by its walls of water it embodies the notion of separateness, inaccessibility to those outside and confinement to those inside.The piece traces a journey from a pole to 12 islands and back again. These islands are remote, uninhabited and real but they are rendered hypothetical, as abstract ideas. I don't wish to name them here, because I would like to keep them as fictions, but their bays and rocks are named in the music, encoded in the notes (if anyone cares to decipher them). These names, which are traces of the desires of their one time inhabitants are crystallized in singular microtonal pentatonic patterns, each one slightly different from the other, the tuning being affected by the actual GPS position. 'Hypothetical Islands' is in this way an acoustic atlas, a carto-sonic fantasy on the notion of remote desert spaces.
Splinter Reeds is the West Coast’s first reed quintet, comprising five virtuosic musicians with a shared passion for new music: Kyle Bruckmann (oboe), Bill Kalinkos (clarinet), David Wegehaupt (saxophones), Dana Jessen (bassoon), and Jeff Anderle (bass clarinet). The ensemble is committed to presenting top tier performances of today’s best contemporary composition, showcasing the vast possibilities of the reed quintet, and commissioning new works through collaboration with fellow musicians and artists.
Splinter Reeds’ dynamic instrumentation is an evolutionary detour from the traditional woodwind quintet with the advantages of a more closely related instrument family. The ensemble formed in 2013 with the coming together of colleagues whose collective creative and professional experience spans worlds of post-punk rock, metal, electronica, free improvisation and avant-garde jazz in addition to their conservatory-trained foundations. Their past and ongoing ensemble performance credits also include the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, Alarm Will Sound, Sqwonk, Anubis Saxophone Quartet, Rushes Ensemble, sfSound, Eco Ensemble, and Ensemble Dal Niente, along with numerous other orchestral and classical chamber music engagements.
Distinguishing itself even within the small network roughly 20 professional reed quintets currently active worldwide, Splinter is explicitly committed to the cutting edge of contemporary composition, freely juxtaposing multiple styles and aesthetics in their programming in order to enthusiastically share adventurous new music with the widest possible audience. They have secured commissions thanks to sources including New Music USA, the Barlow Endowment, and Chamber Music America.
Based in Oakland, the ensemble maintains an active performing and teaching schedule at festivals, chamber music series, and educational institutions across the country. Highlights from recent seasons include engagements at Chicago’s Constellation, Festival of New American Music (Sacramento), Stanford University’s CCRMA, Switchboard Music Festival, Blue Sage Center for the Arts (Paonia, CO), Lawrence Conservatory of Music, Northwestern University, BAMPFA, Mondavi Center for Performing Arts, San Francisco Center for New Music, and the April in Santa Cruz Festival of Contemporary Music.
The ensemble’s debut album, Got Stung (2015), features two of their own commissions and four premiere recordings. The self-released album comprises new works for reed quintet by composers Marc Mellits, Erik DeLuca, Ryan Brown, Kyle Bruckmann, Ned McGowan and Jordan Glenn. Their second album, Hypothetical Islands, recorded at Tiny Telephone Oakland, features their commissions from Macklay, Wubbels, Haxo and Wong. Their current season is supported by the Amphion Foundation, the Copland Foundation, and the Ditson Fund, through fiscal sponsorship from InterMusic SF.
Eric Wubbels (b.1980) is a composer and pianist, and a Co-Director of the Wet Ink Ensemble.
His music has been performed throughout Europe, Asia, Australia, and the U.S., by groups such as Wet Ink Ensemble, Mivos Quartet, yarn|wire, Splinter Reeds, Kupka's Piano (AUS), SCENATET (DK), Hong Kong New Music Ensemble, and featured on festivals including Huddersfield Festival, Chicago Symphony MusicNOW, New York Philharmonic CONTACT, MATA Festival, and Zurich Tage für Neue Musik.
Wubbels has been awarded grants and fellowships from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Chamber Music America, ISSUE Project Room, MATA Festival, Barlow Endowment, Jerome Foundation, New Music USA, and Yvar Mikhashoff Trust, and residencies at the MacDowell Colony (2011, 2016), Copland House, L'Abri (Geneva), Djerassi Resident Artists Program, and Civitella Ranieri Center (Italy).
As a performer, he has given U.S. and world premieres of works by major figures such as Peter Ablinger, Richard Barrett, Beat Furrer, George Lewis, and Mathias Spahlinger, as well as vital young artists such as Rick Burkhardt, Francesco Filidei, Erin Gee, Bryn Harrison, Clara Iannotta, Darius Jones, Cat Lamb, Ingrid Laubrock, Charmaine Lee, Alex Mincek, Sam Pluta, Katharina Rosenberger, and Kate Soper.
He has recorded for Carrier Records, hatART, Intakt, New Focus, Spektral (Vienna), quiet design, and Albany Records, among others, and has held teaching positions at Amherst College and Oberlin Conservatory.
The music of composer, oboist, and installation artist Sky Macklay (b. 1988) explores bold contrasts, audible processes, humor, and the physicality of sound. Her works have been performed by ensembles such as ICE, Splinter Reeds, Wet Ink Ensemble, Mivos Quartet, Ensemble Dal Niente, The Da Capo Chamber Players, The New York Virtuoso Singers, and Le Nouvel Ensemble Moderne. Her piece for the Lexington Symphony was the winner of the 2013 Leo Kaplan award, the top prize in the ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Awards. In 2015 her sonic and kinetic installation of inflatable harmonica-playing robots, Harmonibots, received the Ruth Anderson Prize from The International Alliance for Women in Music. She has been commissioned by the Fromm Foundation at Harvard University, Chamber Music America, Gaudeamus Muziekweek, and the Jerome Fund for New Music. Her string quartet Many Many Cadences, recorded on Spektral Quartet’s Grammy-nominated album, also received an ASCAP award. She was a 2015-17 Composers and the Voice Fellow with American Opera Projects and her one-act opera The Surrogate (with librettist Emily Roller) recently premiered at the University of Illinois. As an oboist, she has performed at the MATA and SPLICE Festivals and is a core member of the New York-based Ghost Ensemble.
Originally from Minnesota, Sky completed her DMA in composition at Columbia University where she studied with Georg Friedrich Haas, George Lewis, and Fred Lerdahl. She also holds degrees from The University of Memphis (MM) and Luther College (BA). An enthusiastic practitioner of creative music education, Sky has been a composition and musicianship faculty member at The Walden School Young Musicians Program for nine summers. She is Assistant Professor of Music at Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana.
Theresa Wong is a composer, cellist and vocalist active at the intersection of music, experimentation, improvisation and the synergy of multiple disciplines. Bridging sound, movement, theater and visual art, her primary interest lies in finding the potential for transformation for both the artist and receiver alike.
Her works include The Unlearning (Tzadik), 21 songs for violin, cello and 2 voices inspired by Goya's Disasters of War etchings, O Sleep, an improvised opera for an 8 piece ensemble exploring the conundrum of sleep and dream life and Venice Is A Fish, a collection of solo songs. She has also composed commissioned works for Splinter Reeds, Vajra Voices and Del Sol string quartet. At the heart of her work is a desire to expand the sonic possibilities of materials and to explore their potential in many modes of performance.
She collaborates with many singular artists, including Fred Frith, Ellen Fullman, Luciano Chessa, Annie Lewandowski, Chris Brown, Søren Kjærgaard, Carla Kihlstedt, conceptual artist Jonathon Keats and filmmaker Daria Martin.
Wong has presented her work internationally at venues such as Fondation Cartier in Paris, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, Cafe Oto in London, Festival de Arte y Ópera Contemporánea in Morelia, Mexico and The Stone and Roulette in New York City. She is the recipient of grants from the Center for Cultural Innovation, American Composers Forum, San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music and Meet The Composer. Wong is a Civitella Ranieri Foundation Fellow and has also been awarded artist residencies at the Headlands Center for the Arts and Yaddo. She currently works and resides in the San Francisco Bay Area.
As a child, Cara Haxo (b. 1991) loved listening to her father read stories out loud to her. Today, she loves finding ways to incorporate these stories, poetry, and artwork into her music. Haxo was awarded the 2013 National Federation of Music Clubs Young Composers Award, the 2013 International Alliance for Women in Music Ellen Taaffe Zwilich Prize, and second prize in the 2012 Ohio Federation of Music Clubs Student/Collegiate Composers Contest. Her works have been performed by the PRISM Quartet, Quince Contemporary Vocal Ensemble, Splinter Reeds, clarinetist James Shields, the Wooster Symphony Orchestra, and the Pacific Rim Gamelan, amongst other ensembles.
A native of Massachusetts, Haxo earned her Bachelors of Music in Composition at The College of Wooster, where she studied with Jack Gallagher and Peter Mowrey, and her Masters of Music in Composition at Butler University, where she studied with Michael Schelle and Frank Felice. Before Wooster, Haxo spent six summers studying at The Walden School Young Musicians Program in Dublin, New Hampshire. She has returned to Walden as faculty in recent years, teaching classes in composition, theory, and graphic notation. Haxo also taught private piano, theory, and composition lessons through the Butler Community Arts School from 2013 to 2015. An avid Francophile, Haxo studied film, literature, and archeology at The Institute for American Universities in Aix-en-Provence, France, during the summer of 2011.
Haxo is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in composition at the University of Oregon, where she studies with Robert Kyr and David Crumb and works as a Graduate Teaching Fellow in Music Theory. After graduation, she hopes to teach at the college level. When she is not composing, Haxo enjoys baking muffins, going on long road trips, and reading Harry Potter in French.
Yannis Kyriakides was born in Limassol, Cyprus in 1969, emigrated to Britain in 1975 and has been living in the Netherlands since 1992. He studied musicology at York University, and later composition with Louis Andriessen and Dick Raaijmakers. He currently lives is Amsterdam with his wife and two sons.
As a composer and sound artist he looks for ways of creating new forms and hybrids of media that problematize the act of listening. The question as to what music is actually communicating is a recurring theme in his work and he is often drawn to the relation between perception, emotion and language and how that defines our experience of sound. In the last years his work has been exploring different relations between words and music, both in concert compositions and installations through the use of systems of encoding information into sound, synthesizing voices and projecting text to music. The latter work has led to about 20 music text films that play on the idea of imagined or inner voice.
Yannis has written over a hundred compositions, comprising mostly of music theatre, multimedia and electroacoustic works for chamber groups and large ensembles. His work has been performed worldwide at many of the prominent music festivals, and by many leading contemporary music ensembles. His opera an ocean of rain, opened the Aldeburgh Music Festival in 2008. He has been featured composer at both Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival 2007 and November Music 2011 (NL). Recently his sound installation work has been receiving more exposure and he contributed two works for the the Dutch Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2011.
In 2000 he won the International Gaudeamus Composition prize for his composition a conSPIracy cantata. The CD Wordless, recieved an honorary mention in the Prix Ars Electronica 2006, and his recent CD, Antichamber won a 2011 French Qwartz Electronic music award. Other prizes include the Dutch Toonzetters prize for best composition of 2010 for paramyth, the Willem Pijper Prize for dreams of the blind and the International Rostrum of Composers Prize 2014 for words and song without words. Together with Andy Moor and Isabelle Vigier he founded and runs the CD label for new electronic music Unsounds. He is a founding member of the ensemble Maze, and teaches composition at the Royal Conservatory of Music in The Hague.