BEARTHOVEN // TRIOS
Bearthoven brings their unique brand of investigative new music for piano, percussion, and bass to the group's debut record Trios. Over three years in the making, the record celebrates a community built around performers who play new music and the composers who write for them.
Brooks Frederickson - Undertoad
From Brooks: When the guys of Bearthoven told me they were going to start a group together, I knew immediately that I wanted to write for them. They are three great people whose playing I really admire. Knowing them as players, I decided to write a piece that tests their acute sense of rhythm, and pits them against each other - like three clocks set to different speeds.
Composer Brooks Frederickson writes patient music that is grounded in long lines of slowly evolving textures with understated rhythmic drive. His music has been present as part of the Bang On A Can Marathon (2014), and the Contagious Sounds and Columbus // New York Exchange series. Interested in the interaction of movement and sound, he has also collaborated with the Spark Movement Collective and choreographer Annette Herwander.
As an advocate for education and community, Brooks is on the faculty at the Special Music School where he teaches both theory and composition. In addition, he facilitates the annual Composer-Performer Speed Dating session at the New Music Gathering.
Brooks has had the opportunity to work with many excellent teachers and composers including: Michael Gordon, Julia Wolfe, Justin Dello Joio, Michael Schelle, Frank Felice, James Aikman, and Alison Kay. Brooks holds degrees in composition from from Butler University (BM), and NYU Steinhardt (MM). www.brooks frederickson.com
Anthony Vine - From a Forest of Standing Mirrors
From Anthony: Soon after composing this piece, I serendipitously stumbled upon Maguy Marin’s choreographic work “Umwelt”. In this static, Beckett-inspired world, dancers move between networks of overlapping mirrors, slipping in and out of sight. During these fragmentary entrances, the dancers perform repetitive, mundane activities, from changing clothes to eating food. A monolithic soundtrack of white noise envelops the scene. I began to find a number of parallels between Marin’s piece, and the music that I had just composed. Like Marin, my work deals with reflection and stasis. My piece is comprised of harmonic pillars, built from the sound of five pitched gongs. Throughout the piece, these vertical sonorities are subjected to what can be thought of as varying degrees of reflection and fragmentation. Due to the fragility of the materials, this seemingly repetitious musical surface becomes an ever shifting profile that seems to move spontaneously and unpredictably.
Anthony Vine is a composer and guitarist currently living in San Diego, California. His work is characterized by carefully sculpted fragile landscapes, static networks of microtonal harmony, and influences from visual artists and choreographers. Vine’s music has been performed by Alarm Will Sound, Bearthoven, Bozzini Quartet, Ensemble Modelo62, Ensemble SurPlus, Minnesota Orchestra, [switch~ ensemble], Trio SurPlus, and Yarn/Wire. Honors for his music include the 2016 Gaudeamus Prize, 2015 Jerome Fund Commissioning Award, 2015 Salvatore Martirano Memorial Composition Award, and NPR/Q2 Radio Top Composers under 40 (2011). Vine holds degrees from the University of Washington and The Ohio State University. He is currently pursuing a PhD in music composition at the University of California, San Diego. www.anthonyvine.com
Ken Thomson - Grizzly
From Ken: I wrote Grizzly largely on a deck overlooking a lake in New Hampshire in August 2014. Normally I don’t write on vacation but I was behind on a lot of deadlines, and big life changes were on the way. But I figured, if I were going to write on vacation, I might as well enjoy myself; and when I hear this piece now, I think back to that New England late summer optimistic glow. This piece came fairly easily -- once I realized what everyone’s role was and how the arc would work, it was just enjoyable to move forward and write, as opposed to the often-agonizing process of putting notes on the page. Admittedly, it helped to be writing for my friends.. and this piece has that nice balance of pushing these guys with some tricky stuff but also enjoying hearing them play this fairly bubbly and upbeat piece. As far as the bass, well, sorry about that -- it was a bit of poking Pat in the eye, but I actually enjoy hearing instruments scream, and the bass gets a really good wail up there. I emailed the three of them from the deck to ask if “Grizzly” had already been taken. Luckily not, so I grabbed it.
Ken Thomson, a staple of New York City’s contemporary music and jazz communities, is widely regarded for his ability to blend a rich variety of influences and styles into his own musical language while maintaining a voice unmistakably his own. Embracing the combination of complexity in harmony, rhythm, and form while adding a punk-rock aesthetic, Thomson stands alone in his unique corner of today’s multifaceted musical world.
As a performer-composer bridging jazz and contemporary music, his latest release with his group Slow/Fast was called Settle. It was praised by The New York Times for its “intricate long-form compositions,” and garnered a five-star review in All About Jazz. The Chicago Reader wrote, “Thomson’s pieces breathe and emanate an infectious energy, with every wend and wind hurtling the music forward rather than showing off the band’s chops.” He has released a CD of his compositions for the heralded JACK Quartet, entitled Thaw, on Cantaloupe Music, which was called the #1 Classical CD of 2013 by Rhapsody.com, and was featured in NPR’s “10 Songs Public Radio Can’t Stop Playing.” His most recent disc, Restless, released October 2016, focuses on two major works for cello and piano performed by Ashley Bathgate and Karl Larson, released digitally and on vinyl. It garnered a 7.9 Pitchfork review and received Top of 2016 accolades from writers Seth Colter Walls, Steve Smith (The Log Journal) and AnEarful blog, who wrote, “No album in 2016 in any genre did more with less than Restless, featuring two huge-sounding chamber works composed by Thomson.”
He plays clarinet for the Bang on a Can All-Stars, one of the world’s preeminent new music ensembles. He is the musical director for the Asphalt Orchestra – a 12-piece next-generation avant-garde marching band, called “cooly brilliant, infectious… top notch players” by The New York Times. He plays saxophone and is one of the 4 composers in the punk/jazz band Gutbucket, with whom he has toured internationally to twenty countries and 32 states over seventeen years, and released six CDs and a DVD for Knitting Factory, Enja, NRW, Cantaloupe and Cuneiform Records. He is on faculty at the Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival. As a composer, he has been commissioned by the American Composers Orchestra, Bang on a Can, the True/False Film Festival, Doug Perkins, Mariel Roberts, and others, and has received awards from New Music USA, ASCAP and Meet the Composer. www.ktonline.net
Fjóla Evans - Shoaling
From Fjóla: When a group of fish is swimming together as a whole, but still following their individual paths, they are shoaling. Shoaling also refers to the physical phenomenon where a wave grows in height as it hits shallow water. Both of these events describe large groups undulating as a whole, but with independent components. In Shoaling, I wanted the three instruments to sound like they were moving together in multiplying waves, while still remaining separate.
Fjóla Evans is a Canadian/Icelandic composer and cellist. Her work draws inspiration from the behaviours of natural phenomena, and the droning lilt of Icelandic folk music. Commissions and performances have come from musicians such as the JACK Quartet, Bang on a Can All-Stars pianist Vicky Chow, and Quince Contemporary Vocal Ensemble. Her work has been featured on the MATA Festival, Ung Nordisk Musik, and the American Composers Orchestra's SONiC Festival. As a performer, she has presented her own work at Cluster Festival of New Music, núna (now), and at Toronto's the Music Gallery. She has performed with ensembles such as Hotel Elefant, singer/producer Lydia Ainsworth, and Bing & Ruth. Fjóla participated in residencies at the Banff Centre for the Arts, and KulturKontakt Austria, among others. She has studied composition with Julia Wolfe, cello performance with Matt Haimovitz, and is currently pursuing a M.M.A. in composition at the Yale School of Music as a student of Martin Bresnick and Christopher Theofanidis. www.fjolaevans.com
Brendon Randall-Myers - Simple Machine
From Brendon: I'm a semi-recovered sub-elite distance runner and a longtime fan of extreme metal and punk. The attraction to both these activities for me lies in their ability to find transcendental moments in the long-term repetition of individually meaningless, physically uncomfortable actions. Similarly, this piece starts with the shortest, loudest, dumbest gesture I could think of, then repeats it endlessly until it breaks apart and something unexpected spills out.
Brendon Randall-Myers is a Brooklyn-based composer and guitarist, and the co-founder of composer/performer/dramatist ensemble Invisible Anatomy and artpunk band Marateck. Described as "fiercely aggressive but endlessly compelling" (The San Francisco Chronicle), his music amplifies the raw physical and emotional power of bodies creating sound together. Brendon has received commissions from the Jerome Fund for New Music, the Tang Museum at Skidmore College, the Guitar Foundation of America, Ecstatic Music Festival, and MATA, and collaborated with performers such as the Bang on a Can All-Stars, the Omaha Symphony, Friction Quartet, Exceptet, and Sandbox Percussion. He is a member of the Glenn Branca Ensemble and the Dither Big Band, and has also performed with groups such as Ensemble Signal, Opera Saratoga, Magik*Magik Orchestra, and Contemporaneous. Brendon grew up home-schooled in rural West Virginia, and holds degrees from Pomona College and the Yale School of Music. www.brendonrandallmyers.com
Adrian Knight - The Ringing World
From Adrian: The Ringing World is in five short sections (I: long, II: short, III: long, IV: short, V: long) performed without interruption. Harmonically, it is in a new area of the world previously explored in my pieces The Tears, Lisa, and Humble Servant. Formally, it is symmetrically oriented, with each movement being at its heart a rhythmic palindrome, with layers of rhythmically loose material floating in between, forming melodies and tensions that are sometimes resolved, and sometimes left hanging. Each movement contains several transformations of previously heard materials, but in such a way that the surface remains basically unrippled, and the harmonic continuum intact.
The title is borrowed from the official journal of the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers, The Ringing World. The plight of the ringers may be lost on the corpses and the newborn babies, but it points to the greater power of sound as made manifest by physical struggle or human suffering; each sound a small strike against the frictionless vanity of the financial and political hierarchies that make up the bulk of our inheritance and our reality.
More metaphorically, the double bass may stand in for the unknown, and piano and vibraphone two things become one, a union. On the other hand, the bass may be seen as representing the flesh, and the marriage of piano and vibraphone the bells that signal arrivals and departures from this world and the other, the unringing, world.
Adrian Knight (b. 1987, Uppsala, Sweden) is a composer and multi-instrumentalist, and an active member of several groups, including Blue Jazz TV, Private Elevators, and Synthetic Love Dream. His works are published by Project Schott New York. Commissions and performances include pieces for The Living Earth Show, R. Andrew Lee, Minnesota Orchestra, Mobius Trio, Red Light Ensemble, Nonsemble 6, Tigue, Margaret Lancaster and the Yale School of Drama. In 2008 he founded the record label Pink Pamphlet as an outlet for his own and his friends’ recorded work. He lives in Brooklyn, NY. www.adrian-knight.com