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Sound Image Gesture Concert 1

Program Notes
Composer Bios
Performer Bios
Staff Bios

May 24, 2024 8pm

The Record Co
960 Mass Ave, Boston, MA 

Leah Reid - Cloud Burst
Michael Blazek - The Fallout
Motoki Ohkubo - Kitchen Stream
Liza Lim - Cello Playing ~ as Meteorology
Wajdi Abou Diab* - Tafa'il
Yan Ee Toh° - iridescent shadows
Melika M. Fitzhugh - Lythraceae: Punica Granatum
Heather Savage - Hope Rising
Ingrid Stölzel - Leonardo Saw the Spring

*Crowd Favorite from the 2023 Prismatic Congruency Series
°winner of our 8th Annual Young Composers Competition

Presented by the Boston New Music Initiative core ensemble conducted by John Masko with special guest Kimberleigh Holman, choreographer

Program Notes

Cloud Burst by Leah Reid

A cloud burst is sudden, very heavy rainfall, sometimes accompanied by hail and thunder, which is capable of creating flood conditions. The piece, for amplified piano trio and electronics, is an aphoristic composition that leads the listener into the storm, exploring sounds, gestures, textures, and timbres associated with water and rain.

The Fallout by Michael Blazek

This is a short story of two quarreling phenomena: the Clarinet and the siblings Violin and Cello. They begin on two rhythmically opposing themes, but over time, as the irregular beats of their lives flow, they come closer until they eventually find their convergence.

Kitchen Stream by Motoki Ohkubo

This work uses sounds recorded in a kitchen and the sound of a flowing river. One of the attractions of electroacoustic music is the creation of space through sound. The use of sonic materials connects the kitchen and the riverside, which are two different spaces. Although the two are spatially unrelated, the combination of acoustic textures creates new spaces and connections. The compositional method combines the performance of the sound instrument in the recording, the performance of manipulating the parameters of the acoustic processing, and the construction of waveforms on a DAW. The sections listening to the constructed sounds, the soundscapes, the stories progressing through acoustic synthesis, and the various compositional acoustic events make up the music.

‘Cello playing ~ as Meteorology by Liza Lim

This work began with a conversation in a café with the ‘cellist James Morley centred particularly on his relationship with the ‘cello he plays, the ‘Ex-Robert Barrett’ made in 2004 by Australian luthier Rainer Beilharz on loan from Professor Mitra Guha in memory of her late husband. James mentioned that the ‘cello had lain unplayed for some ten years before he got it and came with a ‘closed’ sound. In the process of working with and playing the ‘cello, it had gradually ‘opened’ and grown in vibrancy.

There is an animacy to instruments that all musicians commune with.

The act of playing the ‘cello involves incredibly complex co-ordinations across human and beyond-human capacities. It is a meeting between two similarly sized bodies, each with appendages or prostheses for touching, stroking and reaching towards the other.

This work is about expanding our thresholds for sensing the vibrancy of things and for sensing the ways in which the liveliness of the body enfolds the world in every inhalation and exhalation. In this work, patterns of respiration guide the performer in weaving an appearing and disappearing path together with horsehair, wooden or carbon-fibre sticks, metal strings and the great curving terrains of the ‘cello body. Sounds and silences, voicings and breaths are traces of this ‘wayfaring through a weather world’.

This thinking is indebted to the writing and ideas of eco-anthropologist Tim Ingold, and of philosopher-theorists Jane Bennett and François Julien, as well as others!

Tafa'il by Wajdi Abou Diab

Tafa'il a piece for piano and tape, based on the sixteen vertical axes of Arabic poetry, translating their subdivisions into music, and deeply examining the rhythm of weighted Arabic poetry, and the division of poetic verses, and linking the classical Arabic language with classical Arabic music by modeling poetry subdivisions in Arabic musical phrases, and introducing the piano as a contemporary Arabic instrument.

In the recorded Tape, we can listen to poetic, melodic, or spoken phrases, as well as recordings of Arabic instruments and electronics, in an attempt to adapt the contemporary music to serve Arabic musical ideas.

iridescent shadows by Yan Ee Toh

iridescent shadows is a work inspired by the subjective and volatile nature of human perspective. It refers to the human processing of memory, particularly the revisiting of unpleasant experiences that are later viewed in a more positive light, as well as the selective filtering of moments of pleasure, joy and/or happiness from an unpleasant experience.

The piece also seeks to explore the concept behind iridescence, where surfaces appear to undergo a gradual shift in colour by varying our angle of perspective due to multiple reflections from two or more semi-transparent surfaces which overlap, interfere, and cause a modulation of light. In this work, the Flute and Bass Clarinet interact through series of convergence forming a collective timbral colour, and divergence of voices into separate entities. The music also undergoes constant movement, driven by the shifting between timbres and episodes of tension and release.

Lythraceae: Punica Granatum by Melika M. Fitzhugh

In two parts:
The beginning:

  • elaboration of the open fifth E-B, with shimmering harmonics in the strings coming from nowhere
  • sense of expanse, of the eternity in which growth happens almost unnoticed, unremarked
The end:
  • relentless journey through that which was created in the beginning
  • fruit bursting its skin, unrestrained, uncontainable, irrepressible
Lythraceae Punica Granatum is the family, genus and species classification for pomegranate.

Hope Rising by Heather Savage

There is so much pain and heartbreak in the world, both on a personal and public, even worldwide, level. So often it seems I can only stand back and helplessly watch the news or occasionally donate an insignificant sum towards an enormous problem. I wanted to express my empathy for those who are suffering the way I would if I could sit with them. I wanted to write something like an elegy, but not an elegy. A piece that would give space for people to process their grief, but not package it neatly with a sad melody and a little bow. The piece starts in the darkest mode, Locrian, but little by little lightens to Dorian. Hope Rises as we make our way through grief, yet is still punctuated with sighs, sobs, and flurries of memory and emotion.

Leonardo Saw the Spring by Ingrid Stölzel
I. Leonardo Saw the Spring
III. Leonardo Loved the Still

Many of my compositions have been inspired by poetry. Many poets in turn have been inspired by visual art, creating what is called ekphrastic poetry in which vivid and often dramatic descriptions of visual works of art form the basis of the poetry. To have both, the poetic interpretation and the visual art upon which it was based, created another inspirational layer to my creative process. “Leonardo Saw the Spring” takes as its inspiration the ekphrastic poem “Drawing of Roses and Violets” which in turn was inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s Studies of Flowers. The poem was published in 1892 as part of a collection of thirty-one poems depicting paintings exhibited in European art galleries. The collection entitled “Sight and Song” was published by Michael Field which was the joint pseudonym of collaborative poets and lovers Katherine Harris Bradley and Edith Emma Cooper. In the preface the authors state: “The aim of this little volume is, as far as may be, to translate into verse what the lines and colours of certain chosen pictures sing in themselves; to express not so much what these pictures are to the poet, but rather what poetry they objectively incarnate.” This too is my aim with “Leonardo Saw the Spring” – to find the music that is innately embedded in the lines of the poetry and drawing.

“Leonardo Saw the Spring” was commissioned by flutist Sophia Tegart with support by a Washington State University New Faculty Seed Grant.

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Composer Bios

Leah Reid

Leah Reid is a composer, sound artist, researcher, and educator, whose works range from opera, chamber, and vocal music, to acousmatic, electroacoustic works, and interactive sound installations.

Winner of a 2022 Guggenheim Fellowship, Reid has also won the American Prize, first prizes in the International “New Vision” Composition Competition, the KLANG! International Electroacoustic Composition Competition, and Musicworks’ Electronic Music Competition, Sound of the Year’s Composed with Sound Award, IAWM’s Pauline Oliveros Award, and second prizes in the Iannis Xenakis International Electronic Music Competition and the International Destellos Competition. She has received fellowships from the Copland House, Hambidge Center, MacDowell, VCCA, Ucross Foundation, and Yaddo.

Her compositions have been presented at festivals, conferences, and in major venues throughout the world, including Aveiro_Síntese (Portugal), BEAST FEaST (England), Espacios Sonoros (Argentina), EviMus (Germany), ICMC (USA & Chile), IRCAM’s ManiFeste (France), LA Philharmonic's Noon to Midnight (USA), the Matera Intermedia Festival (Italy), NYCEMF (USA), Série de Música de Câmara (Brazil), the SCI National Conference (USA), the SMC Conference (Germany), the Tilde New Music Festival (Australia), and WOCMAT (Taiwan), among many others.

She is currently an Assistant Professor of Music Composition at the University of Virginia and BNMI’s artistic director.

Michael Blazek

Michael Blazek, originally from Slovakia and currently residing in Austria, is a composer dedicated to contemporary classical music and visual arts. He studied under the renowned composer and conductor Konstantin Ilievsky.

Among his achievements, Michael Blazek has twice been a laureate of the prestigious Konvergencie festival in Slovakia.

Additionally, he has received recognition in the Ardenza Fondation competition in Bulgaria.

His composition "FOMO" was selected for the ISCM New Music Days 2023 in South Africa.

Motoki Ohkubo

Motoki Ohkubo (b.1988) is a Japanese composer, an audio engineer and a part-time teacher at Nagoya University of the Arts, Aichi Shukutoku University and Soai University. He uses technologies, such as audio engineering, programming, video into musical composition. His works extend a musical form with wide range expression, electroacoustic, algorithmic composition, chamber music, dance music, installation, video. His works won ACSM116 award at Contemporary Computer Music Concert 2010 and Sony special award at Wired Creative Hack Award 2019. His works are selected several competitions and concerts, symposium such as "Sound walk"(2010) and "Close, Closer"(2013) of Musica Viva Festival(Portugal), "Sound deperture:LIFE LIKE LIVE" at 3331 Chiyoda Art Festival 2014(Japan), Muestra Internacional de Musica Electroacustica 2014(Mexico), Future City Yokohama Smart Illumination Award 2014(Japan), "RAW" Acousmatic for the People III(Sweden), 21st International Symposium on Electric Arts(2015, Canada), 22nd Campus Genius Award(2016, Japan), Sound Performance Platform 2019(Japan) and Voyage 2021 "Beyond Ripples"(Japan).

Liza Lim

Liza Lim (b.1966, Australia) is a composer, educator, and researcher whose music focusses on collaborative and transcultural practices. Beauty, rage & noise, ecological connection, and female spiritual lineages are at the heart of works such as Sex Magic (2020) for flutist Claire Chase; the orchestral cycle, Annunciation Triptych: Sappho, Mary, Fatimah (2019-22), and Multispecies Knots of Ethical Time (2023) for gestural performer, film and ensemble. Her work Extinction Events and Dawn Chorus (2018) has found especially wide resonance internationally. She is interested in the plural creativities of collaborating with the ‘more-than-human’ and in speculative questions around the sentiency of things including time, notation and of music itself. Widely commissioned by some of the world’s pre-eminent orchestras and ensembles, Lim is Professor of Composition and Sculthorpe Chair of Australian Music at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Her music has been published by Ricordi Berlin since 1992 and is released on 40 CDs including 10 portrait albums with Kairos, HCR_NMC, WERGO, Hat Hut, ABC-Classics and others.

Wajdi Abou Diab

Wajdi Samir Abou Diab, composer, musicologist, and music educator, draws inspiration from his dual cultural background in Arabic Levantine and Western classical music. born in Lebanon in 1991 and graduated from the Lebanese National Higher Conservatory of Music (LNHCM) in Piano and Music Composition, and currently pursuing his Master’s degree in “Musicology of tradition” in the Antonin University.

"He masterfully succeeded in transposing Middle Eastern lyricism into the classical Italian operatic form” as described by The Gaetano Giani Luporini prize. The international music community has recognized him through numerous accolades from several competitions, as well as receiving honorable mentions and being selected for various calls for scores.

Wajdi's works were performed by the Taipei Civic Symphony Orchestra, the Lebanese Philharmonic Orchestra, the Lebanese Oriental Orchestra, the International Contemporary Ensemble, the Talla Rouge Duo, the Red Cedar Chamber Ensemble, the Austrasia Quartet, Moscow Contemporary Ensemble, Du Vert a l’infini quartet, the Tunisia 88 Honors Choir, among others. Wajdi was chosen as a music ambassador for his country at the World Music Conference (2021-2023).

Yan EE Toh

Toh Yan Ee is a Singaporean composer whose music fuses elements of spontaneity and organicity. Yan Ee’s music deals with dichotomies within nature - both the phenomena of our physical world, as well as the nature of things. Her works explore gestures through the amalgamation and morphing of timbres and harmonies.

Yan Ee has worked with RIOT Ensemble, TACET(i) Ensemble, CHROMA, Orkest de Ereprijs, Salastina, Les Percussions de Strasbourg, Quartetto Maurice, Singapore Chinese Orchestra, and NOISE Ensemble, amongst others. Her music has been performed in 9 countries across Europe, Asia and America. Yan Ee was awarded Winner of the Boston New Music Initiative Young Composer Competition, Concertia Emerging Composers Fellowship, Runner-Up Prizes at the Black Bayou Composition Award and International Composition Institute of Thailand, Special Mention at AMAT Women Composers Competition, and Diploma at the New Music Generation International Composer Competition.

A graduate of the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music under the tutelage of Ho Chee Kong and Adeline Wong, Yan Ee is currently pursuing a Master of Music at the Royal Academy of Music (London), studying with David Sawer. Recent projects include Imposters, a mini-opera with text by Noah McCreadie.

Melika M. Fitzhugh

A native of Stafford, Virginia, Melika M. Fitzhugh (A.B. Harvard-Radcliffe, M.M. Longy School of Music of Bard College) studied conducting and composition with Thomas G. Everett, Beverly Taylor, James Yannatos, Julian Pellicano, Roger Marsh, Jeff Stadelman, and, most recently, John Howell Morrison and Osnat Netzer. Mel's compositions have been performed internationally by the PHACE Ensemble (Austria), Quarteto Larianna (Brazil), the Brouwer Trio (Spain), Sarah Jeffery (Nederland, Sweden), Sylvia Hinz (Germany), the Radcliffe Choral Society (US), Berit Strong (US), John Tyson (US), Miyuki Tsurutani (Japan/US), and Aldo Abreu (Venezuela/US).

Mel was a 2021 Bang on a Can Fellow, the 2020 winner of the PatsyLu Prize for IAWM’s Search for New Music, the 2014 winner of the Longy orchestral composition competition, and has performed with the Radcliffe Choral Society, Coro Allegro, the Harvard Wind Ensemble, the Village Circle Band, and WACSAC. The artist, who has composed music for film and stage, was a member of Just In Time Composers and Players and is currently a member of world/early music ensembles Quilisma Consort and Urban Myth, in addition to playing bass guitar with symphonic metal/progressive band Illusion’s End, the ambient rock band Rose Cabal and the Balkan folk dance band Balkan Fields.

Heather Savage

Heather Niemi Savage is a North Carolina-based composer who writes evocative music to help build empathy between people, strengthen communities, and support wholeness and healing, drawing on her broad background in classical, jazz, musical theater, sacred music, and world music. Heather’s compositions have been performed in several states, featured on the radio programs, “Classical Discoveries” and “Music of Our Mothers,” and professionally recorded. Her piece for string orchestra, “Daughter of the Stars” placed second in the 2020 American Prize for Composition (pops/light music division.) Her work has been performed by ensembles such as the Argus String Quartet, the North-South Consonance, and the Great Woods Symphony, and has been presented at the International Festival of Music by Women, the Impulse New Music Festival and various All-State Festivals. She is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in music composition at Appalachian State University, where she received the Tui St. George Tucker Fellowship.

Ingrid Stölzel

Composer Ingrid Stölzel has been described as having “a gift for melody” (San Francisco Classical Voice) and creating work that is “richly introspective” (BBC Music Magazine) and “downright beautiful” (American Record Guide). Stölzel’s compositions have been commissioned by leading soloists and ensembles, including the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, American Wild Ensemble and Van Cliburn Gold Medalist Stanislav Ioudenich. Her works have been performed in concert halls and festivals worldwide, including Carnegie Hall, Merkin Concert Hall, Kennedy Center, Seoul Arts Center, Thailand International Composition Festival, Vox Feminae Festival (Israel), Beijing Modern Music Festival (China), among others.

Stölzel’s music has been recognized in numerous international competitions, among them recently the Winds Composition Contest Saxony, Accademia Musica Arte Competition, Suzanne and Lee Ettelson Composer’s Award, Red Note Composition Competition, Robert Avalon International Competition, and the Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra Competition. Stölzel is Associate Professor of Composition at the University of Kansas School of Music.

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