1. The Blue Cloak [21:55]
for sextet &soloist (2005)
sound-sculpturesolo & live electronics
2. DNA [7:47]
for guitar (2004)
3. Landscape [6:08]
for piano trio(2003)
4. Go, Dog. Go! [16:32]
for percussionduo (1999)
Skin & Bones
5-9. Asylum [20:13]
for nonet &percussion soloist (2004)
Berndt Thurner,percussion solo
8.Insight & Interjections [4:57]
9.Cadenza & Relapse [3:11]
Jaan Bossier, conductor
Sabine Warnier, flute
Sabine Uytterhoeven, clarinet
Arne Deforce, cello
Fedor Teunisse, percussion
Yutaka Oya, piano
Stefan Prins, piano interior
Mark Applebaum, mouseketier and live electronics
TheBlue Cloak (subtitled Wimmelbild for Soloist and Sextet) wascommissioned by Champ d’Action for the 2005 TRANSIT Festival and is dedicatedto Serge Verstockt. Champ wasparticularly interested in my original sound-sculpture, the mouseketier, soI took the opportunity to compose a concerto that would feature this unusualinstrument.
Themouseketier is an original electroacoustic sound-sculpture, a musicalFrankenstein made of junk, hardware, and found objects—threaded rods,nails, springs, doorstops, Astroturf, steel wheels, bronze braising rod,ratchets, etc.—that is played with chopsticks, violin bows, knittingneedles, brushes, plectra, and wind-up toys, and whose sounds are grossly transformedin performance by a battery of live electronics.
In TheBlue Cloak, the soloist improvises a cadenza around an active and preciselyscored accompaniment for sextet of flute (doubling alto flute and piccolo),clarinet (doubling E-flat clarinet and bass clarinet), cello, piano,percussion, and a player dedicated to performing on the inside of the pianos(whose lids are removed). Theplural form “pianos” is deliberate: the sextet’s set-up is repeated on both theleft and right sides of the stage, the individual players moving from one sideto the other at orchestrated moments during the piece. Their wanderings are intended to drawattention to sub-ensemble groupings that occur both within and across sides ofthe stage (and as all-purpose theatrical commotion); the stereophonic acousticwas a less deliberate, but equally desirable, consequence. While the ensemble plays mostlydeterminate, conventionally notated figures, the soloist confronts fancifulgraphic notations (that aspire to suggest the whimsical and mercurial nature ofthe mouseketier). The soloist mayinterpret these pictographs rigorously, consult them freely and onlyoccasionally, or ignore them entirely.
Wimmelbild,which means “teaming figure picture,” refers to the tradition of Renaissancepainting in which super-abundant masses of small figures are brought togetherto make one large scene. Hieronymus Bosch’s famous painting Garden of Earthly Delights isan example of the dense, overgrown profusion of figuration and bustlingactivity that coexists in the wimmelbild. The small figures are often finely detailed and expressivelyautonomous. Yet the artist’schallenge is to make a coherent whole out of the busy and kaleidoscopicaccumulation, a scheme to draw in the viewer and direct the eye in a tour ofthe canvas.
Amongthe Flemish painters who worked in this idiom, Pieter Bruegel (ca.1528-1569)was perhaps the finest. Hisextraordinary painting, Netherlandish Proverbs(1559), has been a source of fascination for me for many years. In it Bruegel illustrates a villagescene bursting with characters going about their daily business. But upon closer inspection one findsthat their business is peculiar to the point of absurdity: an archer shoots twoarrows senselessly over a house; a knight clenches a knife in his mouth; apeasant stretches his arms across a table, his left hand on a loaf of bread andhis right hand reaching in vain for another loaf just out of reach; a man atthe side of a river holds an eel by the tail; another man, entering the streetfrom a doorway, carries a large basket of sunlight; a lunatic embraces a pillarwhich he bites rabidly; a worker shovels dirt into a ditch in which floats adead calf; a man pointlessly spoons porridge from the ground into a pail; hugemetal shears are hung menacingly from a window; a person warms his hands overthe fire of a burning house; and, in the distance, three figures walksingle-file along the horizon, each with a hand on the shoulder ofanother.
Thesebizarre acts are only a sampling of the plethora depicted in NetherlandishProverbs. By my count thereare exactly one hundred. Andalthough idiosyncratic, they start to make literal sense when the viewerconsiders that each is an essentialized representation of a particular proverb(or maxim, popular adage, pun, or biblical saying), hence the painting’stitle. Thus we understand that thearcher’s second arrow, shot futilely into the air after the first, mightrepresent throwing good money after bad. Our knight with knife in mouth is armedto the teeth; the peasant who attempts hopelessly to reach between two loavesof bread cannot make ends meet; and the three figuresmarching single-file on the horizon are the blind leading the blind. Other representations make sense inDutch but need cultural conversion to find an equivalent proverb in English: aneel caught by the tail is only half caught corresponds roughlyto don’t count your chickens before they hatch; andbringing a basket of sunshine out into the bright light of day islike taking coals to Newcastle. Bruegel laughs at the fool spooning spilled porridge intothe pail because there is no point crying over spilled milk. And closing the barn door after thehorse has bolted is the English parallel of filling the hole after the calf hasalready drowned.
I wasparticularly fascinated to learn about some of the proverbs which scholars havedecoded but which are no longer contemporary. The pies that grow on the rooftop are a Renaissance sign ofwealth or abundance. Scissorshanging from the window of a shop warn that customers will “get fleeced.” And a pillar-biter is ahypocritical religious fanatic, a person so pious he embraces even churchpillars. And although the specificusage (if not the general concept) of “pillar-biting” is unknown to us today,we are familiar with the secrecy Bruegel suggests by putting a hat on top ofthe pillar—keeping it under one’s hat. In its day, Netherlandish Proverbswould have been considered just as complex in its teaming figuration and asplentiful in its multiplicity of meanings as it is now. But today, as a historical artifact, itis particularly rich and problematic: although some proverbs remain universal,others exist only in Dutch, and several others are simply archaicformulations.
Tothese three classes we can add a fourth and most vexing class: those proverbsin which the meaning is purely speculative or highly disputed amongscholars. For example, is the manwho warms his hands over the fire of a burning house doing so because he makesthe best of all circumstances—he finds the silver lining in a darkcloud—or is he a heartless opportunist who takes advantage of hisneighbor’s misfortune, caring only that the situation can be used to his ownadvantage? These interpretationsdiffer radically in tone and ethical sensibility. In the lower left corner a woman ties a demon to apillow. Does this mean that awoman could outsmart the Devil? IsBruegel saying that not even Satan can withstand the rampage of a nagging,shrewish wife? Or is this areference to an archaic saying: laziness is the Devil’s ear-pillow? Meanwhile, other depictions are evenmore puzzling. For example, whatis the meaning of the geese that appear in the distance? One scholar argues that Bruegel isdrawing our attention to the fact that the geese walk barefoot, and it followsthat the explanation for the mysterious behavior of nature is that there isa reason for all things. But surely this is a weak interpretation, a stretch of the imaginationin comparison to Bruegel’s clear and puissant representations.
Scholarsdo, however, agree on the interpretation of the two figures at the focal pointof the painting: a woman in a bright red dress who puts a blue cloak over herspouse. In Bruegel’s day, cloakinga husband was a sign of infidelity and deceit—making a cuckold ofhim. And for Bruegel the colorsblue and red were significant: blue was the color of deception and foolishness,red was the color of rudeness and ignorance. Both pejorative, red tends to turn up on characters who areimmoral by choice, blue on fools whose folly is the result of weakness. These colors also loosely correspond tothe culture’s “haves” and “have-nots”: a nobleman, dressed elegantly in red,nonchalantly balances a globe on his thumb (he has the world on his finger);meanwhile, his foot partially impedes the progress of a peasant, crawling onthe ground through a blue sphere in agony (one must crouch to get throughthe world).
TheBlue Cloak is the title of my musical composition, but it is also analternate title used frequently—sometimes mistakenly—for NetherlandishProverbs. The musical work isa sequential treatment of Bruegel’s wimmelbild. During the mouseketier’scadenza, the sextet performs 100 measures of irregular duration, each correspondingloosely to one of the proverbs depicted in the painting. The musical work traces the painting ina spiral fashion, clockwise from the bottom left corner of the painting aroundand around, finally reaching the blue cloak at the center. Instrumental density is determinedaccording to the proverb’s classification into four groups: contemporaryEnglish proverbs; proverbs with equivalent sayings in English; antiquatedproverbs; and highly speculative or lost proverbs with contradictoryinterpretations. Similarly, thecolors red and blue, when they appear, modify the physical location of players;red engenders the movement of one player from the left side of the stage to theright side or vice versa, blue engenders the crossing of two players.
Thesemappings are arbitrary ones. Mypoint is not to express Bruegel’s painting but rather to tap its richness,complexity, madness, and whimsy as a provocation for a musical work composedfor an outstanding ensemble that happens to be Netherlandish.
Wehave more similarities than differences.
Composedfor and dedicated to Magnus Andersson, DNA is a work thatdemonstrates what might be called neuromuscular economy. Beginning in the standard guitartuning, the guitarist plays seven continuous episodes between which six shorttuning passages are interpolated, each corresponding to one of the six guitarstrings. By the seventh episodeall six guitar strings have been retuned, some up, some down, some by a halfstep, some by a whole step.
Althoughthe tuning passages are unique, the seven episodes are almost identicalchoreographic scores for the hands: each note, pull-off, hammer-on, harmonic,glissando, snap pizzicato, and bi-tone is accompanied by an explicit stringnumber and fret number specification. For example, episode two is a precise repeat of episode one, except fortwo important distinctions. First,it begins partway through episode one and continues beyond it. That is, episode two omits the verybeginning of episode one and, at its conclusion, adds a new, brief musicalextension. And second, because ofthe intervening tuning passage (and the insistence that the hands play the samestrings and frets) some of the resulting pitches (approximately one sixth ofthem) are altered.
Thisformal strategy continues for each subsequent episode. Episode three is almost identical toepisode two; it differs only in its omission of the beginning of episode twoand the addition of a short musical extension at its conclusion, and one sixthof its pitches differ as yet another string has been retuned during the priorturning passage. Furthermore, oneobserves that episode three still bears a relationship to episode one, albeit abit more distantly because episode three omits more from the beginning ofepisode one (and more is added to the end, including the extension heard inepisode two). And, as two stringshave changed between episode one and episode three, the pitch discrepancy increasesaccordingly.
Soon,however, the careful listener detects a loop: the extension at the end ofepisode four actually contains the material from the beginning of episodeone. And episode five containseven more of episode one’s material, and episode six is nearly the same asepisode one. By the time we reachepisode seven, the loop is complete: episode seven is, as far as theguitarist’s hands are concerned, an exact repetition of episode one. But because all six strings have nowundergone retuning, the seventh episode’s pitches are entirely different. Only episode one’s iconic rhythms,articulations, dynamics, and gestures remain. Neuromuscular economy, in this case, means that theguitarist need learn only two minutes of complicated, intricate, virtuosicphysical tasks from which the entire seven-minute piece is realized. Indeed, we all have more similaritiesthan differences.
Dawn Harms, violin
Emil Miland, cello
Laura Dahl, piano
Thepiano trio Landscape is a quiet but often dense progressionof overlapping canons—scaled in time a la ConlonNancarrow—consisting principally of extended techniques: subduedscratching and strumming noises, tapping clatter, quarter-tones, and soundsproduced directly on the strings of the piano. The violin and cello strike their strings with the wood oftheir bows; bow rapidly in the direction parallel to their strings to produceshimmering sounds; “hammer” notes on their fingerboards without plucking orbowing; finger notes lightly to produce noisy, semi-uncontrolled pitches; bowabove their bridges and fingerboards and on the short portion of the stringsbetween the bridge and tailpiece; mute pizzicato notes halfway to producethuds; and tap on the body of their instruments with a fingertip or knuckle.
Meanwhilethe pianist is asked to knock percussively on the body, frame, lid, soundboard,and/or bench; pluck piano strings with a fingernail; scrape low wound stringsin the manner of a guiro; strum the strings; thump them with the palm of anopen hand; trill rapidly with hands on neighboring groups of strings; makeharmonic glissandi by repeatedly articulating a note on the keyboard whilemoving a finger along the corresponding string; and produce lightly fingered,complex harmonics. On top of theseinstrumental techniques all three players execute a tangle of unconventionalvocal sounds such as tongue clicks, lip pops, kissing sounds, whistled notes,and hissing and hushing sounds.
Trulya showcase for a small chamber unit, Landscapepresents rigorous demands of ensemble coordination and chemistry. The trio was extracted from a longerpiece, Jetsam, commissioned by the Harmida Piano Trio, colleagues and warmfriends.
Skin& Bones: Terry Longshore & Brett Reed, percussion
Go,Dog. Go! was commissioned by and is dedicated to the percussion duo ofTerry Longshore and Brett Reed, a.k.a. Skin & Bones. The composition consists of unisonpassages and improvised episodes, all played on high and low wood, metal, andskin instruments, themselves chosen by the players.
Materialin the unison passages consists exclusively of extant rock “grooves” transcribedfrom popular music and set in their original tempi. With the removal of their timbre, pitch, lyrics, productionvalue, and attitude, the distilled grooves are rendered effete andaesthetically impoverished. However, without their original iconicity, a new, abstract syntaxbecomes available. By associatingthese rhythms with their sources, the players can, with little difficulty andgreat precision, locate contextually incongruous tempi without conceiving awkwardmetric modulations. (For example:need to find 135? Try Rick James’ SuperFreak.)
Moreover,for the players, the material is enriched by its familiar historicism so thatan exegesis is immediate and visceral. The assumption, made on the basis of my friendship with the players, isthat we share a common cultural wisdom, that the popular music to which I referare well-known commodities of agreed-upon cachet. (Any percussionist can “play the notes” but there will be avacancy if he or she does not know the Led Zeppelin, James Brown, Jimi Hendrix,Abba, or Spice Girls text from which Go! is hewn.)
Longshoreand Reed have unique abilities as improvisers so I featured this capacity in Go,Dog. Go! The players tradeimprovised episodes whose accompaniments are specified in the score. The accompaniments, again like theaforementioned materials, are transcribed from extant rock grooves. However, their sources are moments fromBartok, Stravinsky, VarŹse, Holst, and Bruckner, appreciated, anachronistically,for their rock groove sensibilities.
The titlerefers most directly to the coda of the piece, a literal setting of pages 6 and7 of P. D. Eastman’s 1961 Go, Dog. Go!—a title withgenerous punctuation, given its brevity. The 17 dogs pictured on these remarkable pages were analyzed accordingto a number of salient features from which musical materials were constituted:white, black, or spotted; collar color; on foot, on a unicycle, bicycle, buggy,or rollerskates. (Obviouslythe number of wheels connoted thematic duration for me.) Other features, such as “not in ahurry,” “tongue out,” and “extremely effeminate,” suggested modificatoryalgorithms used to transform the principal materials.
Ritualfor Solo Percussion & 9 Superegos
Peter Burwik, conductor
Renate Linortner, flute
Daniel Hörth, clarinet
Andrej Kasijan, horn
Mark Gaal, trombone
Lajos Horvath, guitar
Ivana Pristasova, violin
Wladimir Kossjanenko, viola
Attila Pasztor, cello
Harald Jäch, contrabass
Berndt Thurner, percussion soloist
Asylum, forpercussion soloist plus chamber ensemble—a nonet of flute, clarinet,horn, trombone, guitar, violin, viola, cello, and contrabass—is a workthat aspires to illustrate psychological disorders in sound. The ensemble is divided intooverlapping instrumental subgroups, each explicating a disorder—a bipolaroctet, an obsessive-compulsive trio, a narcoleptic quartet, anattention-deficit hyperactivity quintet, a paranoid flutist, a catatonic hornplayer, an anti-social guitarist, a narcissistic contrabassist, a dependentviolist, a Tourette’s octet (who make inappropriate and unexpected outbursts),etc. There are in fact a total of22 disorders, each with its corresponding instrumentation.
Inpreparation for this composition I spent a year studying psychology (a field inwhich I had no prior formal studies), most notably reading the AmericanPsychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of MentalDisorders from cover to cover. I learned that clinical diagnosis is largely a matter of degree. Who has not felt some feelings ofdepression from time to time? Orparanoia? Obsession and compulsionare mainstays in my creative process, but apparently not enough to warranttreatment. Hyperactivity? Despite protestations by my students, Ihaven’t surpassed the threshold to be deemed clinically hyperactive. The work may be seen asautobiographical only insofar as the disorders I selected were ones with whichI felt a kind of kinship or empathy, if not an actual positive clinicaldiagnosis. Necrophilia, for example,didn’t make the cut. But that’sjust me.
Thepiece progresses through five interconnected sections. In each section the percussionsoloist—the subject—operates in a unique relationshipto his menagerie of internal demons. In some sections he is unable to cope with the factors of his psyche,while at other times he controls them willfully; at times he employsconventional percussion instruments, but at other times performs onunconventional ones (such as an antique manual typewriter); he is oftenstationary, but occasionally he wanders peripatetically among theensemble. The degree of hisinsight toward a given disorder is approximated by the physical layout of theplayers who are placed in a deliberately odd formation around the stage andwho, at the premiere, resided on various balconies and staircases at theextraordinary Schömer-Haus in Klosterneuburg, Austria, the venue for which Asylum wasinitially commissioned. Thelocation of the fixed performers, from the audience’s perspective, is asfollows:
Thesections of the piece are as follows:
Thesubject exhibits idiosyncratic and peripatetic tendencies, wandering among theensemble while playing a CrackleBox, a hand-held electronic glitchinstrument. These are celebratedby six parts of his superego who, fashioning a CrackleBox ensemble, are complicitin a conspiratorial collaboration. However, three parts of his superego are neglected: as witnesses to hisidiosyncrasy they germinate into a schizophrenic trio of horn, flute, andviola—catatonic, paranoid, and disorganized states, respectively.
Arapid and mercurial illustration of the subject’s psychological disordersensues: schizophrenia, stuttering, obsessive-compulsive disorder, dissociativefugue, paranoid personality disorder, bipolar disorder (with separate manic anddepressive episodes), borderline personality disorder,attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, sleep terror disorder, intermittentexplosive disorder, dementia due to head trauma, delusional disorder (withsuperimposed manifestations of grandiose, somatic, erotomanic, jealous, andpersecutory behaviors), narcissistic personality disorder, avoidant personalitydisorder, dependent personality disorder, narcolepsy, schizotypal personalitydisorder, panic disorder with agoraphobia, histrionic personality disorder,anti-social personality disorder, obsessive-compulsive personality disorder,and five instances of Tourette’s disorder. The superego ensemble serve as a council of elders,critically revealing the subject’s faults. The subject suffers from expressive and creativeaphasia. Unable to participate inthe ensemble’s illustration or to execute a musical response, he is relegatedto the position of paralyzed voyeur, typing a transcription of his extensivepsychological inventory—even making a carriage return at the downbeat ofeach successive disorder.
Theinventory rotates chaotically in a complex kaleidoscope of overlappingdisorders. Players start imitatingone another, stealing bits of musical materials in a confused kind of sharedpsychosis and dissociative identity disorder. The asylum itself becomes disordered. The subject attempts to participatemusically but suffers an apraxia that manifests itself in a completelydifferent medium, as a series of absurd Dadaist rituals performed rapidly andobsessively with great intensity and purpose. The rituals consist of four principal types of actions(combining/attaching; mixing/syncretizing; separating/atomizing; andtreating/deforming), all of which result in intended sounds that coexist withthe ensemble’s dense instrumental melee. The soloist’s instructions are as follows:
Ripthe paper (the typed inventory) from the typewriter. Tear it into pieces while walking toward an old, large booksitting on another table. Put thepieces of paper into the book. Slam the book shut. Tapethe book shut with duct tape. Drill a hole through the book with an electric drill. Thread a piece of heavy but flexiblewire through the hole. Twist thewire so that the book is secure and can hang from the wire. Break some sticks and branches. Affix some of the broken sticks to aheavy brick with rubber bands, snapping the rubber bands noisily. Drink some water from a small plasticcup. Smash the cup into pieceswith the brick against a table or the floor, or between two bricks. Place the broken shards into a paperbag. Close the bag, staple the bagshut, and crumple (squash, compact) the bag. Place the bag in a short aluminum tube. Crush/flatten the tube by stomping onit. Place the tube on a large pieceof paper (such as butcher paper). Using a large marker (preferably a noisy, squeaky one), hastily tracethe outline of the crushed tube on the paper. Remove the tube. Using a large, old pair of scissors, hastily cut out the paper along theoutline. Set the paper on atable. Stamp the paper with astamper (such as a library or passport stamper). In addition, lick and affix paper stamps to the paper. Quickly sign or initial the paper andwrite the date with a pencil or pen. Put the stamper and pen into a distinctive container. The container should already containseveral hidden objects: a can of spray paint, a reel of magnetic audio tape,and a bunch of carrots. Close thecontainer and shake it. Open thecontainer, remove the can of spray paint, reel of magnetic audio tape, andbunch of carrots and set them aside. Picking up a manual wood saw, cut a piece of wood from a board. Using a large kitchen cutting knife,roughly cut the carrots on the sawed piece of wood. Place the cut carrots on the center of the (stamped)paper. Fold the paper closed overthe carrots as one might collect objects in a handkerchief. Wind a length of chain around thebundled paper (with carrots inside) and secure it with a padlock. Put the locked bundle inside a woodenbox or crate. Close the wooden boxwith its lid (the sawed board on which carrots were cut). Nail the lid to the box using a hammerand several nails. The last nailshould be especially long and left protruding from the lid. Using the attached wire, hang the bookon the nail protruding from the box. Pick up the can of spray paint and shake it briefly. Spray a spot on the cover of the book. Set the reel of magnetic audio tape onthe protruding nail. Spool offsome audio tape while walking toward two balloons set on a stand. Wind (attach, secure) the end of themagnetic audio tape around the stand. Cut the excess audio tape with the scissors. Pop the two balloons with the scissors. The second balloon secretly contains atriangle beater that will be used to play the triangle at the very beginning ofSection IV.
IV.Insight & Interjections
Theunexpected emergence of a traditional percussion accessory triggers thesubject’s daring escape from his clouded and expressively effete state. He progresses through four musicalconditions—for the first time with traditional musical media: triangles,tam-tams, gongs, and cymbals; woodblocks and metal pipes; vibraphone; anddrums. Each condition is an authenticexploration, an insightful reconciliation of his life and his disorders withoutattempting a cure. The council ofelders interject judgmentally during and after each passage—sometimesmutating timbre by tapping glass bottles and jars with chopsticks, tearingpaper, snapping fingers, or noisily turning pages in books—but they havelost their navigational power over the subject. They become consultants at the service of the subject,sometimes constructive, sometimes irrelevant.
V.Cadenza & Relapse
Thecouncil of elders have been dismissed by the subject. He is now able to act alone, to set his own artistic agendahaving reconciled his chronic conditions. His choice is to play—to improvise a candenza—on a“bricollage drumset;” looking like a drumset and consisting of standard drumhardware, the instruments have been replaced with junk and garbage: an eggcarton in place of a snare drum, milk cartons and plastic juice bottles inplace of tom-toms, a shoe box instead of a kick drum, plastic bags and stripsof aluminum foil for cymbals, cardboard pizza boxes as a hi-hat, etc. Still, a relapse occurs thatdemonstrates the tenuousness of the subject’s autonomy: memories of theensemble’s inventory, echolalia, and interjections are revisited, each precededand proceeded by sweeping sounds from left to right, bottom to top, right toleft, and top to bottom. Nevertheless, the subject responds to the setback where he left off,improvising in the present in order to make a future.
Asylum wasrecorded live during its premiere at the Vienna Modern Festival. It was commissioned by the EsslCollection and the Wien Modern Festival 2004 for Ensemble XX. Jahrhundert. The work is dedicated to Karlheinz Esslwith thanks to Peter Burwik and the intrepid players of his Ensemble XX.Jahrhundert who brought it to life.
MarkApplebaum (b. 1967, Chicago) is Assistant Professor of Composition andTheory and John Philip Coghlan Fellow at Stanford University where he receivedthe 2003 Walter J. Gores Award for excellence in teaching. He received his Ph.D. in compositionfrom the University of California at San Diego where he studied with BrianFerneyhough, Joji Yuasa, Rand Steiger, and Roger Reynolds. He received his baccelaureate, magnacum laude, from Carleton College where he studied composition with PhillipRhodes and completed a senior thesis that took him to Mexico City to interviewConlon Nancarrow.
Hissolo, chamber, choral, orchestral, operatic, and electroacoustic work has beenperformed throughout the United States, Europe, Africa, and Asia with notableperformances at the Darmstadt Internationale Ferienkurse für Neue Musik, theBourges Festival in France, ICMC in Beijing and Singapore, Italy’s FestivalSpaziomusica, the Young Nordic Music Festival in Sweden, Sonic Circuits in HongKong, Amsterdam’s Great Virtuoso Slugfest, NIME at IRCAM in Paris, SEAMUS,strictly Ballroom series at Stanford University’s CCRMA, the WoodstockhausenFestival in Santa Cruz, ISCM, the BONK Festival, the College Music Society, theSoutheastern Composers League, NWEAMO, the Florida Electro-Acoustic MusicFestival, the Northwestern University New Music Marathon, the Digital ArtsConcert series at the MidAmerican Center for Contemporary Music, the KansasCity Electronic Music Festival, Piano Spheres, SIGGRAPH, the Time CanvasFestival in Antwerp, the North American Saxophone Alliance, Stockholm NewMusic, the Harvest Moon Festival in Montreal, the Minneapolis SPARK Festival,the American Composers Orchestra’s OrchestraTech in New York, UC Berkeley’sCNMAT, Music for People and Thingamajigs Festival in Oakland, DartmouthCollege’s Hopkins Center, the Essl Museum in Austria, the Unyazi Festival inJohannesburg, South Africa, Belgium’s TRANSIT Festival, the Kennedy Center inWashington, D.C., at Electronic Music Midwest where he served as the 2002visiting artist, as featured composer at the 2004 University of MichiganEclectronica Microfestival, and as featured composer at the 61st Festival ofContemporary Music at Louisiana State University.
Hehas received commissions from Betty Freeman, the Merce Cunningham DanceCompany, the Vienna Modern Festival, the Paul Dresher Ensemble, Zeitgeist,MANUFACTURE (Tokyo), the St. Lawrence String Quartet, the Harmida Trio, duorunedako, Belgium’s Champ d’Action, Festival ADEvantgarde in Munich, the ThirdPractice Festival, the Meridian Arts Ensemble, the Jerome Foundation, and theAmerican Composers Forum, among others. His music has been played by the Arditti String Quartet, Speculum Musicae,Musica Nova, Zeitgeist, newEar, SONOR, inauthentica, Piano Possible, exxj— Ensemble XX. Jahrhundert, red fish blue fish percussion ensemble, theNorthwestern University Contemporary Music Ensemble, the University of IllinoisNew Music Ensemble, the NYU New Music Ensemble, the Stanford Symphony Orchestra,the Callithumpian Consort, Skin & Bones, players under the direction ofHarvey Sollberger, Mark Menzies, and Dennis Russell Davies, and some of thefinest solo artists of our time, including Steven Schick, Irvine Arditti,Gloria Cheng, Craig Hultgren, Helen Bledsoe, Magnus Andersson, and BertramTuretzky. Performances of hischamber music can be heard on his Tzadik CD Catfish andhis Innova CD 56 1/2 ft. His orchestral works appear on the Innova CD Martian Anthropology, andsolo acoustic works appear on the Innova CD Disciplines.
In1997 Applebaum received the American Music Center’s Stephen Albert Award and anartist residency fellowship at the Villa Montalvo artist colony in NorthernCalifornia. He has engaged innumerous intermedia collaborations, including That Brainwave Chick (with neuralartist Paras Kaul), Archittetura Redux (with film-maker Iara Lee, CaipirinhaProductions), Concerto for Florist and Ensemble (with florist James DelPrince),The Bible without God (with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company), AphoristicFragment (with animator Anna Chupa), Interactive Sound Pavilion (with architectDavid Perkes), Spring Migration (with choreographer Brittany Brown), andprojects with the laptop DJ ensembles Digital Cutup Lounge (Hong Kong) and TrickyOL (Japan).
Since1990 Applebaum has built electroacoustic instruments out of junk, hardware, andfound objects for use as both compositional and improvisational tools. This research is described at length inhis forthcoming article for New Music and Aesthetics in the 21st Century. His latest instrument—theMouseketier—is a musical Frankenstein consisting of threaded rods, nails,combs, doorstops, springs, squeaky wheels, ratchets, a toilet tank flotationbulb, and other unlikely objects which are plucked, scratched, bowed, andmodified by a battery of live electronics. Mousetrap Music, a CD of sound-sculptureimprovisations can be heard on the Innova label, as well as the double CD TheBible without God that includes a 2005 collaboration with the Merce Cunningham DanceCompany. Also on Innova is TheJanus ReMixes: Exercises in Auto-Plundering, a CD of elevenelectronic works whose source material corresponds exclusively to recordings ofthe eleven acoustic compositions that constitute his Janus Cycle(1992-1996). Hybrid piecesfeaturing both acoustic and electronic instrumentation can be heard on the 2003Innova CD Intellectual Property, a recording that alsofeatures his piece Pre-Composition that earned the 2005 secondplace emsPrize from Electronic Music Stockholm.
Applebaumis also active as a jazz pianist. He has concertized from Sumatra to the Czech Republic, most recentlyperforming a solo recital in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso sponsored by the AmericanEmbassy. In 1994 he received thejazz prize of the Southern California Jazz Society and in 1999 the MarkApplebaum Trio performed in the first Mississippi arts event broadcast liveover the World Wide Web. Atpresent he performs with his father, Bob Applebaum of Chicago, in the ApplebaumJazz Piano Duo. The duo made itsTunisian debut at the Municipal Theater in Tunis. Their first studio recording, The Apple Doesn’t Fall Farfrom the Tree, is available on Innova.
AtStanford Applebaum also serves as the founding director of [sic]—theStanford Improvisation Collective. Prior to his current appointment, Applebaum taught at UCSD, MississippiState University, and Carleton College where he served as Dayton-HudsonVisiting Artist. He has beeninvited to give lectures and master classes at various institutions, includingHarvard, Princeton, Columbia, Dartmouth, Wesleyan, Oberlin, Duke, theUniversity of Chicago, Northwestern University, Brooklyn College, the EastmanSchool of Music, the New England Conservatory of Music, the Kansas CityConservatory of Music, Hong Kong University, the JML/Irino Foundation in Tokyo,the Bruckner Conservatory in Linz, Austria, Aalborg University in Copenhagen,Queen’s University in Belfast, Ireland, the Universities of Toronto, Michigan,Illinois, North Texas, Oregon, Minnesota, California at San Diego, Berkeley,and Davis, San Francisco State, Bowling Green State University, LawrenceUniversity, DePaul University, the College of Santa Fe, the Janacek Akademie,Czech Republic, the Banff Center in Canada, the MATRIX Institute in Belgium,and at the San Francisco Commonwealth Club. Additional information and announcements of upcomingperformances may be found at www.markapplebaum.com.
Champd’Action was founded in 1988 by Flemish composer Serge Verstockt. It was the first ensemble in Flandersto focus on contemporary music. During its early years the ensemble was dedicated to the performance ofFlemish composers, both internationally acclaimed ones—such as Belgianserial music pioneer Karel Goeyvaerts—and unknown or emergingcomposers. Champ d’Action alsocommissioned composers abroad, such as a 1993 collaboration with Finnishcomposer Kaija Saariaho which led to a subsequent Champ d’Action recording ofher works on Mode Records that received critical acclaim, including a 4-starrating from the BBC.
Theinternational reputation of Champ d’Action grew swiftly through their artisticprofile, intense character, and the unique musical quality of theirconcerts. The ensemble gavecritically acclaimed concerts in the foremost contemporary music festivals andtoured Japan and Brazil. Yearafter year, Champ d’Action was awarded the title “Cultural Ambassador ofFlanders” and received an important distinction from the University of Leuvenfor its work. Together with theUniversity, the group produced a widely admired series of CDs of the music ofGoeyvaerts.
In2003, after a hiatus, Serge Verstockt resumed the role of artistic director ofChamp d’Action which continues to occupy a pioneering role in the contemporarymusic world. Today the ensemblecultivates an artistic agenda without preset guidelines, and always with acritical ear. Its enthusiasticdevotion to experimentalism in the 21st century stands alongside an abidingcommitment to the important works of the 20th century. The group selects conductors for eachproduction on the basis of their particular expertise, such as JonathanStockhammer and James Wood, and documents their many collaborations andpremieres on their own CD label ARCHIVE SERIES. Champ d’Action also initiates new creative processes throughresidencies with visual artists, architects, writers, and philosophers, as wellas composers.
Recenthighlights include a performance of Dick Raaijmakers’ eight-hour HeiligerDankgesang-Kwartet with guest violinist Irvine Arditti at the Holland Festival, and Screens, acollaborative work by Serge Verstockt and architect Werner Van dermeerschpresented in ten outdoor performances during the summer festival Zomer vanAntwerpen. In 2004, Champ d’Actioncreated a new electronic program for Luigi Nono’s Quando Stanno Morendo,diario Polacco 2° and performed it with a Dutch adaptation by actor Josse DePauw. In 2005, together withCollegium Vocale, Champ d’Action performed selections from Philip Glass’ Einsteinon the Beach at the KlaraFestival. Upcoming projects include a program of Flemish premieres at the WienModern Festival.
MagnusAndersson has long been a leading contemporary guitarist. Probably more than anyone else, he hasbeen instrumental in the creation of the guitar’s modern repertoire having hadmany works written for him by today’s leading composers. His close collaboration withsignificant Italian composers is particularly noteworthy and includes new worksby Claudio Ambrosini, Aldo Clementi, Franco Donatoni, Luca Francesconi,Maurizio Pisati, Stefano Scodanibbio, and Fabio Vacchi.
Anderssonis known equally for performing diverse, extremely demanding repertoire and fora profound relationship with his material and audience. His playing has been enthusiasticallypraised by the international press. The London Sunday Times said “his virtuosity held an audiencespellbound—a victory for cultural intelligence in the broadestsense.” The Gramophone hailedAndersson’s range: “breathtaking projection of violence and utter delicacy.” Journal de GŹneve acclaimed the“incomparable mastery of his instrument” and Uppsala Nya Tidning summed upAndersson’s artistry as “a virtuosity not heard since Segovia.”
Bornin Stockholm in 1956, Andersson received his first guitar instruction fromRoland Bengtsson. He studied inSpain at Catedra de Segovia in Santiago de Compostela, at Trinity College ofMusic, London with William Grandison, with Angelo Gilardino at the GB ViottiMusic Academy in Vercelli, Italy, and undertook a short period of study withSigfried Behrend. He has touredand given masterclasses across Europe and in the United States, Australia,Mexico, Uruguay, Japan, and Korea. Andersson has performed as soloist with major orchestras in Sweden,Denmark, Germany, Poland, Switzerland, Italy, Russia, and Korea. In 1984 he founded the guitar class atthe Darmstadt Internationale Ferienkurse für Neue Musik where he taught until1996.
Anderssonwas awarded the 1983 Composers Union Interpreter Prize and the 1984Kranischsteiner Prize in Darmstadt. He received the Swedish Grammophone Prize in 1985 and 1986, and wasnominated for a Swedish Grammy in 1992. His most recent CD of Italian contemporary music was called “completelymesmerizing” by The Wire and chosen as CD of the month in Seicorde who said “itbrings the guitar to completely new dimensions of real art.” Andersson’s many recordings includeperformances of works by Hans Holewa, Sven-David Sandström, Xavier Benguerel,Brian Ferneyhough, Franco Donatoni, Vinko Globokar, Richard Barrett, and BarryGuy, and performances with Leif Segerstam and the Swedish Radio Orchestra. In addition to his devotion to notatedcontemporary music, he has explored improvisation with his group Ensemble Son.
The HarmidaPiano Trio, founded in 2000, is building a reputation as a uniquelypassionate and accomplished ensemble on the American chamber music scene. Its members bring years of artistry andexperience to the trio. The groupcelebrates the standard trio literature and also maintains a commitment tocommissioning and performing new works. Recent commissions include the Times of Day forpiano trio and voice by Jake Heggie and Mark Applebaum’s piano trio Jetsam. The Harmida Piano Trio’s recentperformances include critically acclaimed appearances at San Francisco’s Musicat Meyer Recital Series and the Other Minds Festival. Upcoming projects include a new work by composer ShinjiEshima, a recording of Heggie’s Times of Day forWarner Bros. Records, and a Russian concert tour including Moscow and St.Petersburg.
ViolinistDawn Harms is a member of the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and the NewCentury Chamber Orchestra. Shealso performs as co-concertmaster with the Oakland Symphony and the Santa FePro Musica Chamber Orchestra. Harms is the founder and conductor of the Elixir Chamber Orchestra,co-founder and music director of the Music at Kirkwood chamber music festival,and a member of the faculty at Stanford University. Harms is a former member of the Harrington String Quartet(winner of the Fischoff and Evian International competitions) and the StonyBrook Trio, with whom she made her Carnegie Hall debut. A strong advocate for children’s musiceducation, Harms designs and performs educational concerts and is the formerconductor and music director of the Amarillo Youth Orchestra. Her solo recordings include TheBlack Swan (violin and harp) for the ATOL label, and The Hot Canary. Harms was a student of Dorothy Delayand Josef Gingold.
CellistEmil Miland is acclaimed internationally as both a soloist and chambermusician. A masterful interpreterof traditional repertoire, Miland is also an ardent champion of new works andhas given the premieres of compositions written specifically for him by ErnstBacon, David Carlson, Shinji Eshima, Andrew Frank, Andrew Imbrie, Lou Harrison,Jake Heggie, Robert Helps, James Meredith, Dwight Okamura, and TobiasTenenbaum. His recordings includeCarlson’s Cello Concerto No. 1 on New World Records, and TheFaces of Love: The Songs of Jake Heggie on RCA Red Seal. As founding principal cellist of theNew Century Chamber Orchestra he introduced Carlson’s Cello Concerto No. 2for Cello and String Orchestra and Lou Harrison’s Suitesfor Cello and Strings. A member of the SanFrancisco Opera since 1988, Miland made his solo debut with the San FranciscoSymphony at age 16.
PianistLaura Dahl has performed at Carnegie Hall, the Berlin Philharmonic, DaviesSymphony Hall, the Henley Festival, the Carmel Bach Festival, the TanglewoodMusic Festival, and the San Francisco Stern Grove Festival. The first musician to be named a GermanChancellor’s Scholar of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (Germany), Dahlis currently a member of the music faculty at Stanford University. A graduate of the New EnglandConservatory of Music, Dahl has taught at the New National Theatre Young ArtistsTraining Program in Tokyo, Japan and is a former music associate of the SanFrancisco Conservatory of Music. In association with the San Francisco Opera Center, Dahl was anAssistant Conductor for Western Opera Theater and a member of the Merola OperaProgram. She is the founder andartistic director of the A. Jess Shenson Recital Series at Stanford Universityand the Chamber Music by the Mountain festival in Northern California.
Skin& Bones (Terry Longshore and Brett Reed) is the dynamic percussion duoknown for its exciting and engaging performances utilizing an arsenal ofexotic, found, and newly created instruments. Whether generating ambidextrous jazz on vibes and marimba,collaborating with visual artists and choreographers, or hammering outpolyrhythmic textures on the kind of junk one might find in Dr. Seuss’s garage,Skin & Bones brings a new dimension to contemporary music. Actively composing, improvising, andperforming since 1994, Skin & Bones has performed throughout the United Statesand Mexico. Their acclaimed debutCD Boom has received rave reviews from national publications. Their exciting second CD, Mixmaster, isforthcoming.
TerryLongshore is active as a performer, composer, and educator ofpercussion. He has performed throughoutthe United States, as well as in Sweden, Mexico, Canada, Brazil, India, and theU.K. Longshore performs regularlyas a soloist and with the percussion trio The Rhythm Method, the new musicensemble SyZyGy, and the multi-media ensemble Sonoluminescence. He has appeared on numerous recordings,most recently the work of Mark Applebaum and William Kraft. Longshore’s composition Crash, acymbal trio for solo percussionist, is published by Go Fish Music. He earned the master’s and doctoraldegrees in contemporary music performance from the University of California,San Diego where he studied under percussion virtuoso Steven Schick. He currently holds the position ofAssociate Professor of Music and Director of Percussion Studies at SouthernOregon University. Longshore is aYamaha Performing Artist and an artist endorser for Vic Firth mallets andZildjian cymbals.
BrettReed is a performer, composer, and educator specializing incontemporary and improvised music. He regularly performs as a solo percussionist, as a member of severalensembles—including the new music ensemble Crossing 32nd Street, and as ajazz vibraphonist in both solo and ensemble settings. He has performed at numerous festivals, including the BangOn A Can Marathon in New York City and the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s GreenUmbrella Series. Reed has alsoproduced and performed on numerous recordings including the music of composersAnthony Davis, Peter Garland, and Iannis Xenakis. His own compositions for percussion and other ensembles havebeen performed widely. Reed holdsa Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of California, San Diegowhere he studied with renowned percussionist Steven Schick. He is currently Director of CommercialMusic and the Percussion Program at Paradise Valley Community College inPhoenix, Arizona.
exxj— Ensemble XX. Jahrhundert — was founded inVienna in 1971 by conductor Peter Burwik who is its current artisticdirector. The primary mission ofexxj is to acquaint the public with the music of our time. To this end, exxj has steadfastlycommissioned numerous works by contemporary composers over its many years. The ensemble’s repertoire includes acommitment to the music of Schönberg, Berg, and Webern, but it also frequentlypresents works by composers of the “modern classics” such as Berio, Boulez,Saariaho, Stockhausen, Pärt, and Huber. exxj has also presented many exciting “portrait concerts” featuringmultiple works by a single distinguished contemporary composer; exxj’sportraits have included Steve Reich, Vinko Globokar, Morton Feldman, YounghiPagh-Paan, Emanuel Nunes, and Barbara Kolb.
Inaddition to their frequent performances in Vienna at venues such asKonzerthaus, Austrian Radio ORF, and Wiener Festwochen, exxj has performed atthe Brucknerhaus in Linz and at Austrian festivals such as Steirischer Herbstand Carinthischer Sommer. Theensemble has given stimulating performances abroad as well—in France,Belgium, Poland, Germany, Sweden, Cuba, England, Russia, Mexico, Azerbaidjan,and Switzerland, and at numerous international music festivals including theSalzburger Festspiele, the Edinburgh Festival, the Berliner Festspiele, theFestival de Lille, the Hong Kong Arts Festival, the Huddersfield Festival, theWarsaw Autumn Festival, the Biennale Zagreb, the St. Petersburg Musical Spring,and “Musica” in Strasbourg, to name just a few.
Recentactivities include the Metropolis project (Lang, Matalon,IRCAM), concerts and masterclasses at the Dartington International SummerSchool in England, staged versions of Sciarrino’s Lohengrin andSchönberg’s Erwartung at the Vienna Festival 2001, a live,televised concert at the Enesco Festival in Bucharest, and the 2003 premiere ofFranz Koglmann’s opera Fear Death by Water. The ensemble has also concentrated ongenre- and boundary-crossing music projects such as Old Viennese Music, anendeavour encouraging composers of various stylistic positions to treattraditional Viennese folk songs anew.
Aftera journey to Russia in 2004, the ensemble was invited to give concerts inTaiwan and Cuba, and made its Austrian Parliament debut. At present they are giving thepremieres of five commissions in Vienna, Latin America, and New York as part ofthe “Wiener Mozartjahr.”
PeterBurwik, founder and music director of exxj, studied conducting at theWiener Musikakademie as a student of Hans Swarowky and earned his doctorate intheatre history at the University of Vienna. He continued his studies with Bruno Maderna and their closecooperation in Salzburg and Darmstadt contributed equally in great measure tohis musical development.
Burwikhas made appearances as guest conductor with many important internationalorchestras such as the Wiener Symphoniker, the RSO Berlin, the OrchestrePhilharmonique Paris, the WOS Katowice, the NDR-Symphonieorchester Hamburg, aswell as the ORF-Symphonieorchester, the Symphonieorchester of the SF Stuttgart,the Radio Orchestra of Lisbon, and the Orchestre National de Lille. During these engagements he gavenumerous premieres of contemporary works. Also an accomplished interpreter of traditional orchestral repertoire,Burwik concluded his activities as permanent guest conductor of the MoravianState Philharmonic Orchestra (1991-93) with a performance of Mahler’s SecondSymphony.
Since1987 Burwik has taught at the Universität für Musik und darstellende KunstWien, becoming a professor for interpretation of new music in 2004. His recent musical activities includeteaching at the Gustav Mahler Academy in Bozen and at the conservatories inLjubljana and Birmingham, performing concerts in Santiago de Chile and Taipei,and conducting the premiere of a Chinese Chamber Opera at the Hong Kong ArtsFestival.
BerndtThurner was born in Austria. A percussionist of remarkable breadth who is equally at home as asoloist and in an ensemble setting, he also studied jazz andimprovisation. Thurner’s musicalityis influenced by his passionate travels to regions all over the world, voyagesfrom which he returns with impressions and musical instruments alike. He has made appearances at manyimportant European festivals including Wien Modern, the Holland Festival, andIGNM World Music Days, among others. In addition to his performances with exxj, Thurner performs frequentlywith several noteworthy ensembles for contemporary music including KlangforumWien, The Janus Ensemble, Ensemble Symphoid, and Music on LINE.
Recordedat deSingel, Antwerp, Belgium, September 30, 2005.
Engineeredand edited by Maarten Buyl, Peter Swinnen,
Recordedat PINK, May 6, 2005.
Engineeredand edited by Mark Applebaum.
Recordedat PINK, November 13, 2005.
Engineeredand edited by Mark Applebaum.
Recordedat PINK, August 3, 2003.
Engineeredand edited by Mark Applebaum.
Liverecording during the Vienna Modern Festival at the Schömer-Haus,Klosterneuberg, Austria, November 14, 2004.
Engineeredby Karlheinz Essl.
innova is supported by anendowment from the McKnight Foundation.
Philip Blackburn: Director,design.
Chris Campbell: Operations.