When asked to describe my music, I typically discuss a dichotomy that has gradually emerged in my composing. There are pieces which are introspective, nostalgic, or delicate, and then there are pieces which are the exact opposite: animated, kinetic, extroverted. Infinite Spinning is an example of the latter category. At the beginning of the piece’s writing process, I was determined to create something euphoric, a joyful burst of sound. As I jotted down a number of sketches and arranged them in various collages on the living room wall, it wasn’t until the twentieth sketch that I found something I felt exciting enough to pursue. The piece developed around this new material, retaining elements of the jubilant character initially decided upon, but began to focus more on its quality of continuous, self-propelling motion.
The working title, Absolute Joy, was scrapped for Infinite Spinning when the work ultimately grew into a perpetuum mobile. Taking its name from the Latin phrase for “perpetual motion,” a perpetuum mobile is a type of piece, or section of a larger musical work, that consists of consecutive short notes, equal in length, performed at a fast speed. The classic example of this is Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumblebee, but other well-known examples are the finales of Samuel Barber’s violin concerto and Frédéric Chopin’s second piano sonata. With the exception of a few moments in Infinite Spinning, the piece adheres to the perpetuum mobile nature, sprinting along through a patchwork of contrasting instrumental colors.
The composition There is only the air between is inspired by one old wooden swing on the beach in Hiiumaa (an island in Estonia), the tape is based on a little recording I did last summer with my phone of this swing (while swinging). Its "cries in the wind" reminds me still this calm and quiet atmosphere of Hiiumaa, sweet and hurtful at the same time.
Kinah is a Hebrew word describing a poem of lamentation. The piece is inspired by the Jewish mourning ritual of sitting at home for seven days after the death of a family member. As the loss of a loved one changes the infliction of the human voice, so is the tone of the instruments changed when they are played in their extreme high/low registers in a tone quality that varies from muted to shrill. This is most notable in the cello part, which is tuned down in the lower two strings. The opening melody is closely related to the baroque lament bass, a bass progression famously found in the aria “When I am Laid in Earth" by Henry Purcell and other works of the period. By making the traditional bass into a melody I wanted to flip the traditional roles of the instruments as my starting point for a piece dealing with loss and change. This motive is then echoed and transformed in a series of lamentations. Each of instrument plays a solo lamentation throughout the piece, which is sometimes clearly heard and understood, while at other times clouded and interrupted by the other instruments in the ensemble. In the end, the acceptance of loss also brings with it a sense of tranquility expressed by the clarinet’s long sorrowful melody in the final lamentation.
Le sourie d´Isabelle H. (The Smiles of Isabelle H.) was commissioned by the Spanish Ministry of Culture (INAEM) for the Instrumental Group of Valencia, (Joan Cerveró, conductor). This work was premiered on November 12th, 2017 at Sala Joaquín Turina Hall (Seville) and performed also in Valencia, (Center del Carme), Zaragoza Auditorium, Bilbao Superior Conservatory and Logroño Professional Conservatory. On March 9 it was performed in Brussels by the Contra Ensemble. The original score is for quintet (flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano) and the pianist can, optionally, recite several quotes from the dialogues of several films starring actress Isabelle Huppert, in which this work is inspired.
A Short Drive Through the Berkshires, composed in 2012, is a piece for clarinet, violin, and piano. It was inspired by a drive from Northampton, MA to Tanglewood to see a concert with my wife. This work received its premiere in 2013 by the Firebrand Ensemble at a concert in Malden, MA.
Structurally, this work is divided into two distinct parts: a slow contemplative section followed by a lively, upbeat section featuring driving rhythms and spirited interplay between the instruments. Although the piece is based on simple pitch sets, the tonal language of the piece is not atonal. Instead it focuses on quartal harmonies and triads, with some inspiration owed to Aaron Copland, Jennifer Higdon, and George Gershwin.
What My Mother Wrote
As a Puerto Rican people expect a sound from you, thus, sometimes Puerto Rican composers are tied to the exotic mold of the artist and the sound of the Caribbean. This piece is my view to that constant struggle that many other Puerto Rican composers have about what it means to make Puerto Rican music, or what things I should talk about, and how it should sound? Based on the rejection of that concept I asked my mother to write anything that she wanted and ex-press whatever she thought that she needed to say. This way I separate my self – the composer - of the story teller, therefore, creating a work that is Puerto Rican, not because it falls into the mold of what elements should be present, but because it treats universal ideas (like the love of a mother) through Puerto Rican lens where the rhythms and elements of the Caribbean are em-bedded in the very fabric of the music, sometimes in a discrete manner and other times as a driving force of the piece. Here is the text that she wrote translated:
I wasn’t expecting you, but when I had you,
it was love at first sight.
I felt your heart beating.
In my heart a new woman was born,
Sensible, fearful of all the dangers, wary and protective.
Between us there is a dedication, and a disinterested love.
A pure feeling, there is nothing in this world compare to my love to you. You transformed my world.
Chris Neiner (b. 1994) composes music infused with a rich sense of harmony, clarity of ideas, and energy described as engaging, exciting, and fresh. These qualities originate from his passion to foster collaborative works with instrumentalists. His latest collaboration is Playtime, a new work for horn, violin, and piano commissioned by a consortium of collegiate horn professors across the United States. Previous collaborations include New Music for Horns, a multidisciplinary project that facilitated music making between hornists, composers, conductors, and recording artists studying at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.
His works have appeared on programs by the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra, the Minnesota Sinfonia, the Copper Street Brass Quintet, the American Modern Ensemble, loadbang, the Red Hedgehog Trio, the Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies, the Minnesota Symphonic Winds, the Rocky Ridge Music Center, the Cochran Chamber Commissioning Project, the Sewanee Summer Music Festival, faculty of the MacPhail Center for Music, and more.
Neiner is currently pursuing a master's degree at the Cleveland Institute of Music, studying with Keith Fitch. Previously he studied composition and horn performance at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music with composers Claude Baker, Aaron Travers, P. Q. Phan, Don Freund, and hornist Richard Seraphinoff. He is an alumnus of the Oregon Bach Festival Composers Symposium, RED NOTE New Music Festival, Mostly Modern Festival, and New Music on the Point Festival.
Einike Leppik is an Estonian composer and audiovisual artist. She is living currently in Tallinn and teaching audiovisual composition at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre. Leppik graduated from Antwerp Royal Academy of Arts in 2011 and later proceeded her studies at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre in Audiovisual Composition. In 2017 she received her Master’s degree in Classical Composition. During her studies she followed internships at the State Conservatory of Music “Giuseppe Tartini” in Trieste (supervised by Paolo Pachini) and at the Conservatory of Music “Benedetto Marcello” in Venice (supervised by Riccardo Vaglini). Leppik has taken part in different masterclasses and her music and installations has been presented and performed in numerous festivals such as Estonian Music Days (Estonia), Summersound (Finland), Segnali (Italy), Videoformes (France), eviMus and InSonic (Germany), Gaudeamus Muziekweek (the Netherlands).
Leppik has been writing acoustic and electroacoustic music for different ensembles and solo instruments, her special interest is combining the field of sound with other forms of art. She has been composing also for short movies, dance performances, installations and her own audiovisual works. Her main interests in music is its communicative and synaesthetic quality.
Avner Finberg is an Israeli-American composer and violinist. Born in Israel, his musical inspirations include Jewish, Middle-Eastern, Jazz and world music. His music has been described as “refined, mature work of impeccable technique, original voice, and considerable ambition” by Steven Stucky, and hailed as “very funny… hits the spot beautifully” by Carole Di Tosti (blogcritics.com). In addition to his activities as a composer he is a professional violinist and music educator.
His awards and accolades include the 2017 Kirkoskammer Chamber Music Competition, Chamber Music Rochester Award, the Bard Prize, and the 2014 Kol Emet Young Composers competition. He represented Israel at the 2013 ISCM New Music Days in Vienna, Austria, and was a finalist at the 2018 Banaue International Music Composition Competition in The Philippines. Mr. Finberg’s music has been commissioned and performed by Meitar Ensemble, ensemble mise-en, Ensemble Platypus Wien, Cisum Percussion, cellist Kate Dillingham, saxophonist Wonki Lee, the Mannes Orchestra, The Orchestra of the Southern Finger Lakes, and The Manhattan School of Music Philharmonic, among others.
Much of his compositional output is in vocal music including opera, musical theater and art songs. He attended the prestigious Composers and the Voice workshop in Brooklyn, NY, where he developed his first opera, A Taste of Damnation (with a libretto by Edward Einhorn). It was partially performed at the prestigious Frontiers workshop at Fort Worth Opera and received a complete performance at Manhattan School of Music in 2015. A new opera, The Exagogue, written in collaboration with librettist Edward Einhorn, is currently under development for Untitled Theater Company #61.
Born in Tivon, Israel, Mr. Finberg received his first violin lessons at the age of eight. When he was sixteen, he took his first Composition lessons at the Wizo High School for the Arts in Haifa. He studied composition at the Jerusalem Academy for Music and Dance with Ari Ben-Shabtai and Menahem Zur. Continuing his education in the United states, he later studied with Robert Cuckson at Mannes College, and with Susan Botti at Manhattan School of Music. Other teachers include Samuel Adler, Steven Stucky, and Martin Bresnik. He received a DMA in composition from Manhattan School of Music in 2015.
Paul Nauert (1966-2019) was a music theorist and composer whose areas of interest included rhythm and meter, music cognition, and mathematical and computer models of compositional resources and procedures. A member of the University of California, Santa Cruz Music Department faculty since 1998, and an affiliate of Digital Arts and New Media, Paul was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) in 2009 and lived with the disease, assisted by his partner and husband Robert, for 10 years. He continued teaching, and was active in the development of human-computer interface software for users with disabilities, until 2014. He continued composing actively until the end, using computer hardware that tracked his eye movements, and software that he helped develop.
After growing up in Columbia, Missouri, Paul earned his bachelor's degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Rochester and in music theory from the Eastman School of Music, and a Ph.D. in music theory from Columbia University. Paul was a beloved teacher, and a rare two-time awardee of UCSC’s distinguished Excellence in Teaching Award. His scholarly work was diverse and impactful, ranging from the perception of rhythmic complexity to harmonic structure, and his computational approaches to the organization of arbitrary time sequences have had a major impact on machine listening technology. A CD of his compositions, A Distant Music, was released by New World Records in 2015; the disc’s liner notes, by Professor Amy Beal, illuminate his approach to composing and the ways it changed in the context of his illness.
Eduardo Soutullo García began his musical education at the «Conservatorio Superior de Música de Vigo». Later on, he moved to Madrid and to Paris completing his studies in Piano, Music Theory, Harmony and Composition. He has studied musical composition with David del Puerto, Jesús Rueda, José Luis de Delás (Köln Conservatory), Isabelle Duha (Conservatoire d´Issy les Molineaux-PARIS XIII), Richard Steinitz (Huddersfield University) and with Cristobal Halffter and Tomás Marco (Villafranca del Bierzo, Spain).
Master’s Degree «La música en España e Hispanoamérica: métodos y técnicas actuales de investigación «at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid.
Doctorat (PhD) in Universidad de Vigo (thesis about spanish contemporary music)
Superior Professor by Santiago de Compostela Conservatory of Music.
He has been professor at the Conservatory of Vigo and Conservatory of Ourense (Spain).
Jess Hendricks (1972) is a composer, theorist, and software engineer based in New England. His compositions have been described as “exhilarating” and “fun to play.” He continued his music studies at the University of Tennessee (M.M. in Music Composition) and the University of Miami (D.M.A. in Music Composition) after receiving his B.A. in liberal Arts at Western Kentucky University. Recently Dr. Hendricks also received a B.S. in Computer Science from the University of Massachusetts. He is an avid performer on the electric bass, which he composes music for as well. Dr. Hendricks previously worked as an Assistant Professor of Music Theory and Technology at CCSU. Dr. Hendricks is currently a Web Developer at Common Media in Massachusetts while composing in his free time.
Christian Quiñones (b.1996) is a Puerto Rican composer, winner of the 2015 PROARTE composition competition. His music has been performed by the Trio Sanromá, Victory Players, Cuban virtuoso René Izquierdo, Orquesta del Conservatorio de Música de Puerto Rico, Young Artist Concert Orchestra (YACO), emerging talents such as Daniela Santos Colón, and Bryan Ojeda. In 2018 he was composer in residence and commissioned by Mt. Holyoke MIFA Festival. He has also been commissioned by The Association of professional dancers (APRODANZA), Young Artist Concert Series, and The Zodiac Trio. This summer Christian will take part in the Zodiac Festival (France), and SONAMENS where a new work will be premiered by the ensemble Sinfonietta del Sur, alongside Master Classes by composers like Tania León, Roberto Sierra, Carlos Carrillo, and Alfonso Fuentes.
His music has been performed at the Sala Sinfónica Pablo Casals, Cannon Gallery by the Puerto Rico Steinway Society, Conservatorio de Música de Puerto Rico, Nueva Esperanza at Connecticut, Sala Sanromá (CMPR), and the prestigious Ateneo Puertorriqueño. His music has been described as "...rhythmic, with subtle touches ... colorful and imaginative" (El Nuevo Día, L. Juliá). Also, Christian has done multimedia work, composing for short films and animations and in 2017 he was a composer for Fox and Hound Studios, a small company focused on making multimedia projects through digital platforms.
In 2019 he obtained his BM in Music Composition at the Conservatorio de Música de Puerto Rico, studying composition and orchestration with Alfonso Fuentes. He also studied conducting with Rafael Irizarry III and theory with Pedro Segarra Sisamone, and Noel Torres. In 2019 Christian was a recipient of the Graduate Studies Fellowship at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he will start studying next fall with composer Carlos Carrilo.