Mark Applebaum

Sock Monkey

Innova 706


1. Magnetic North 2006 (14:18)

brass quintet, percussion, soloist

Meridian Arts Ensemble

Mark Applebaum, solo mouseketier



2. The Composer’s Middle Period

2007 (3:25)

oboe, bass clarinet, trumpet,

trombone, violin, cello


Christopher Jones, conductor


3. Theme in Search of Variations I

2004 (3:46)

percussion trio

Florian Conzetti, Christopher Froh,

Terry Longshore, percussion

Christopher Jones, conductor


4. Theme In Search of Variations II

2007 (4:39)

clarinet, percussion, piano, violin, cello



5. Theme In Search of Variations III

2008 (4:33)

flute, trumpet, piano, percussion

Beta Collide


6. Variations on Variations on a

Theme by Mozart 2006 (6:09)

18 prepared pianos

Mark Applebaum, prepared piano


7.    Entre Funérailles I 1999 (2:21)

solo trumpet

Brian McWhorter, trumpet


8.    Martian Anthropology 7 4:21

9.    Martian Anthropology 8 4:39

10.   Martian Anthropology 9 5:03

2006 (14:03)

crackleboxes, samplers, electric guitar,

bricolage drumset, violin, bass clarinet

Paul Dresher Ensemble Electro-Acoustic Band


11.   On the Nature of the Modern Age

2005 (8:53)

piano duo & live electronics

duo runedako


12.   Sock Monkey 2007 (9:22)


Stanford Symphony Orchestra

Jindong Cai, conductor


Magnetic North: 86 Public and Consensual Rituals

Meridian Arts Ensemble

Jon Nelson, trumpet

Brian McWhorter, trumpet

Daniel Grabois, horn

Benjamin Herrington, trombone

Raymond Stewart, tuba

John Ferrari, percussion

Mark Applebaum, mouseketier electroacoustic                             sound-sculpture and live electronics


When we say “north” our tendency is to presume that we are talking about one thing.  But in fact there are three versions of “north” (including magnetic north), each a vector—a meridian—that resides on a different line leading to a different point on the globe.  Specialists use these terms deliberately, but laypersons are content with one generic usage.  Similarly there is a common presumption that music is one thing, made one way.  The stylistic and idiomatic plurality that describes our current cultural landscape is widely acknowledged and celebrated, but the divisions of labor between the composer and performer, the relationship of the audience, the function of the score, the very purpose of music, the presumption that performance fidelity invites exactitude over spontaneous invention, and related issues typically lie beyond the public’s conscious scrutiny.  Indeed it takes a specialist—and usually only an experimentally or philosophically oriented one—to search for, accept, value, or promote alternative musical approaches.

Magnetic North is a piece that aspires—with enthusiasm, absurdity, and maybe even some belligerence—to remind us that there are many ways to make music.  A quick perusal of the score reveals a plethora of notational constructs, including reference to custom-made wristwatches (worn by the ensemble) whose second hands are consulted as they pass over hermetic notational symbols.  The piece includes ritualistic, dadaist activities that seem to serve arcane purposes alongside traditional “complexity” textures made up of rigorous counterpoint.  At various times individual players are asked to stand for no apparent reason.  One measure is repeated x+1 times where x is the number of times it takes two players to stop playing in protest.  In accompaniment of certain solo passages the brass quintet is asked to tap bottles with chopsticks, tear pieces of paper, and drop ping-pong balls.  At one point in the piece the horn player, located stage right, removes a length of aluminum foil from a roll and sets it at the foot of the trombone player.  Later the trombonist will wad the foil into a ball and roll it to the tuba player who, minutes later, places it into a paper bag.  The bag is left at the foot of the second trumpet player who eventually staples the bag shut and leaves it for the first trumpet player, located stage left, to later sign and, checking his watch, date; this assembled object is then employed as a “bag mute” in the trumpet passage in the subsequent measure.


Recent irreverent musical traditions are briefly referenced in the piece (e.g. John Zorn’s improvisational game piece Cobra), alongside concise ironic chorale settings.  In fact, the hectic, mercurial, compressed nature of the discourse is chief among Magnetic North’s procedural attributes.  The virtuosity necessitated by the piece (and demonstrated handily by Meridian) has to do not only with conventionally demanding licks, unreasonable extended techniques, near-impossible ensemble coordination, and the typical chamber music subtleties that embody great musicality: a mellifluously blended tone, synergistic ensemble articulation, communal rhythmic nuance, and a kind of telepathic empathy that defies definition.  Here the players are called upon for much more: to engage in a constantly changing musical ontology mediated by a dynamic relationship to the score.  The enterprise of how and why sound is made changes throughout the piece and even includes the tracking of contingency.  For example, there is a four-second solo toward the end of the work.  In this recording it is played by the trombone; however, this assignation varies from performance to performance according to which player’s wristwatch second hand passes over a star located at the 12 o’clock position during a particular measure played minutes earlier.


Despite the superhuman mental demands required to intermingle a theater of esoteric rites with a profuse miscellany of instrumental techniques, Meridian manages to play and not perform the piece.  This is a recent concern—the rehabilitation of playing (as children do) in place of performing (a decidedly adult enterprise).


A soloist is invited to join Meridian’s play, to spontaneously embellish the narrative during improvised cadenzas.  Alternating with the brass quintet, these cadenzas are of prescribed duration, lasting from two seconds to two minutes.  Any instrument may be employed in the solo capacity and Meridian has performed the piece with extra-ordinary artists.  In this recording I perform the solo part on my mouseketier electroacoustic sound-sculpture with live electronics, an original instrument made of junk, hardware, and found objects mounted on soundboards and tapped, plucked, scratched, and bowed with chopsticks, plectra, wind-up toys, knitting needles, brushes, and violin bows.  The mouseketier’s already idiosyncratic sounds are further warped through live electronic transformation.  Meridian’s percussionist, John Ferrari, improvises an optional percussion accompaniment, a sort of “ghost” part that floats around the discourse, making use of his talents as an improviser.  But in performances in which I or another soloist is unable to join Meridian, the piece becomes a concerto for drums, Ferrari undertaking the soloist role at the drum set.  In this manner the piece is a very versatile one in terms of both personnel and sound.


The Composer’s Middle Period


Kyle Bruckmann, oboe

Matt Ingalls, bass clarinet

Tom Dambly, trumpet

Toyoji Tomita, trombone

Erik Ulman, violin

Monica Scott, cello

Christopher Jones, conductor


The extraordinary Bay Area new music ensemble sfSound commissioned twenty composers to write three-minute works to be paired with Webern’s Concerto op. 24 in a concert called Small Packages.  As it was my first piece completed after receiving tenure at Stanford University I settled on this sardonic yet optimistic title, a designation that is irreverently misleading because the work’s aesthetic and compositional method embody no particular fissure with immediately prior works.


The work consists of five materials that each repeat five times (albeit on different durational scales): a literally repeated ensemble outburst notated graphically; a continuous narrative in which moments are the transformed consequence of immediately prior ones (in “exquisite corpse” style); a glissando passage; a section of dense, polyphonic counterpoint made up of overlapping augmentation canons; and a solo violin explosion.  The five sections are repeatedly interrupted by yet another ensemble narrative running at a slightly faster tempo.  None of this is particularly helpful information.  The point is probably more succinctly put thus: various materials of contrasting character reappear at unpredictable tempi and for unexpected durations.


Theme in Search of Variations I

Florian Conzetti, Christopher Froh,

& Terry Longshore, percussion

Christopher Jones, conductor


Theme in Search of Variations II


Matt Ingalls, clarinet, bass clarinet

Christopher Froh, percussion

Christopher Jones, piano

Graeme Jennings, violin

Monica Scott, cello


Theme in Search of Variations III

Beta Collide

Molly Barth, alto flute, concert flute, piccolo

Brian McWhorter, trumpet

David Riley, piano

Phillip Patti, percussion


Although they are autonomous pieces that may be performed on their own, the three Theme in Search of Variations invite musical responses in the form of other pieces—variations that might be performed in succession on a given concert.  Being too long, too rich, and too expressively saturated, these works are probably not ideal “themes.”  Instead they might be more accurately thought of as provocation pieces in search of response pieces. 


The first Theme, a percussion trio, was composed as a challenge to the students of my composition seminar at Stanford University, composers who then wrote individual pieces—variations—of their own.  The subsequent pieces—all strikingly divergent in style and artistic obsession—were later performed together in concert, the theme presented first and later reprised at the end of the concert.


The second work, composed several years later for sfSound and heard here in a live recording of the premiere, reflected a new wrinkle: my students were given exactly one week to compose their responses, a ruthless but pedagogically efficacious challenge that stands in stark contrast to the typical multi-month (and often multi-year) creative ambitus that they find most familiar.  (I too composed the theme in one agonizing week.)  These remarkably diverse works were completed in a timely manner and performed in a concert entitled “The Double Barline Fire Drill.”


Theme in Search of Variations III, composed for Beta Collide and engendering yet another set of eclectic student responses premiered at Stanford, consists largely of colorful and frenetic, yet intimate and quiet, “sound constellations,” frequently constituted by abundant noise components (as distinguished from focused pitches).  The percussionist, in particular, is called upon to navigate an enormous battery of instruments.  (A map of the percussion setup appears on the following page.)


Musical events in Theme in Search of Variations III occur in three types of sequences: events that are unpredictable in nature (“what will be next?”) and temporality (“when will it be?”); unpredictable in nature but predictable in time (occurrences at a regular rhythmic interval); and predictable in nature (a repeated sound object) but unpredictable in time.  Four interruptions of contrasting material appear, the first featuring solo alto flute, the next a duo of flute and trumpet, the third a trio of flute, trumpet, and piano, and finally a quartet of piccolo, trumpet, piano, and vibraphone.  These interruptions share a common harmonic reservoir (a particular palindromic canon) and progress from monophonic to highly polyphonic, contrapuntal settings.

Variations on Variations on a Theme by Mozart

Mark Applebaum, prepared pianos


Variations on Variations on a Theme by Mozart, commissioned by the Third Practice Festival for the Everglade Records audio DVD [re], is a piece in which new music is bred from an existing muscular intelligence.  As the name implies, the piece borrows from Mozart—his variations on the French melody Ah! Vous dirai-je, maman.  The new piece is a densely layered barrage of 18 pianos all playing Mozart’s exact pitches and rhythms.  As such, this is genuinely a work by Mozart, one that preserves every level of form, from the global sequence of variations down to the note level.  And yet because the 18 pianos have been painstakingly prepared in ways that radically alter—that vary—the timbre of the instrument (as well as its harmonic spectrum and, at times, the resulting dynamic), the listener often struggles to divine Mozart in the fracas.  The new variations, then, are timbral and spectral ones, a Viennese classical world acquiescing to the intrusion of modern bric-a-brac (bolts, wooden dowels, aluminum foil, paperclips, and rubber mutes) that, through transcription of data, spawn a thoroughly new and alien sonic patina.  It should be noted that no synthesis or sound processing is involved; Variations is merely a spatialized recording of a purely acoustic, multi-piano piece.


From the performer’s point of view, chief among its attributes is its economy: the hands already know the Mozart source, nothing new in the way of musical technique or repertoire has to be learned.  (In my own private creative taxonomy I identify the piece as a musical collision through transcription of the subset collisions through neuromuscular economy.)  But the listener, when sporadically aware of the piece’s historic source colliding with the contemporary instrumentation, perceives a genealogic abrasion, a collision embodied in the transformation of history.  Variations on Variations on a Theme by Mozart distorts an antique and is ticklish because of anachronism, revisionism, and rehabilitation.


Entre Funérailles I

Brian McWhorter, trumpet


Brian Ferneyhough’s Funérailles for seven strings and harp requires that its two versions be performed on the same concert but not consecutively.  In this regard my series of solo works, Entre Funérailles, are hypothetical interludes to his two versions; as autonomous compositions, they may also be performed independently.  These pieces are a sort of dual homage and whimsical aesthetic intrusion.

Martian Anthropology 7•8•9

The Paul Dresher Ensemble Electro-Acoustic Band

Karen Bentley Pollick, amplified violin

Joel Davel, mallet sampler and data controller,                                         cracklebox

Paul Dresher, keyboard sampler, electric guitar,                                         cracklebox

Marja Mutru, keyboard sampler, cracklebox

Peter Josheff, amplified bass clarinet

Gene Reffkin, bricolage drumset, cracklebox


Martian Anthropology began as a thought experiment, a game that I would play with my students.  The premise, set in the future, is as follows:


Humankind has obliterated itself in a nuclear apocalypse.  Everyone and everything was instantly and thoroughly annihilated. All records of our ever having been here—buildings, artifacts, the tiniest scraps of evidence—have disappeared.  Martian archeologists later visit the Earth and discover three exceptions, three exclusive objects.  From these three objects their anthropologist colleagues will speculate on our culture, our values, traditions, and customs, leisure activities, intellectual disciplines, artistic and scientific accomplishments, and so forth.  In the same way that we construct “daily life” museum exhibits of early and prehistoric cultures on the basis of a few cave paintings, shards of Minoan pottery, or stone tools, so too must the Martian anthropologists create an “Earth Museum” solely on the basis of these three found objects.

The game invites the players to choose the three objects and to imagine—with delight and horror—what these objects would tell alien observers.  For example: the objects might be a copy of the Gettysburg Address, a recording of the Abba song Mama Mia, and an unopened can of clam chowder.  Or instead it could be a deck of tarot cards, the owner’s manual for a toaster oven, and a tube of Chapstick.  It might be a partly erased hard drive, a business card for an escort service, and a wheelchair.  It might be an angry e-mail message you once sent, a cancelled check that you wrote for a purchase long ago, and the last voice mail message you left a friend.  Perhaps it could even be the remains of Jimmy Hoffa, a city map of Atlantis, and the Holy Grail.


The three objects form a surreal triangle.  They tell a peculiar story, individually and through collective synergies. 


The things we do, make, and consume leave a record of who we are.  For the artist this game suggests a special meaning about making works of art.  It invites us to assume or ignore a weighty, if conceptual, responsibility about what our work might say, not only to our present audience, but to ones that are distant and almost unimaginable.

Martian Anthropology 7•8•9, commissioned by the Paul Dresher Ensemble Electro-Acoustic Band, is the third collection of Martian discoveries.  The first discovery (Movement I) is a mercurial and highly virtuosic duo for violin and bass clarinet bounded by outbursts from a quartet playing crackleboxes—hand-held portable electronic glitch instruments whose wheezes and sputters are generated by unpredictable circuit-bending.  The second find (Movement II) is an atmospheric duo for electric guitar and MIDI controller: the guitarist chooses pitches improvisationally from a non-symmetric matrix of possibilities (chords made up of 2-7 notes) while the controller operator transforms the guitar’s timbre by changing values on a signal processor improvisationally in real time.  The final discovery (Movement III) features improvised cadenzas on an amplified bricolage drumset in which drums and cymbals have been replaced by pizza boxes, egg cartons, bits of aluminum foil, plastic bags, etc., and is accompanied by temporally determinate outbursts whose sounds are arbitrarily selected from a reservoir of 70 recorded household sounds and paired with amplified violin and bass clarinet utterances; thrice during the movement the full ensemble comes into coordination and repeats a mantra-like articulation at regular intervals that are subject to rhythmic deformations—the directive to individual players to attack the note slightly early or slightly late in order to suggest shifts in the viewing perspective of a complex object.


Instead of worrying about the coherence of this multi-movement work, I obsessed over creating a kind of meaningful incoherence.  The music aspires always to delight, baffle, and engage the audience.  If successful, the experience of its diverse juxtapositions will be slightly weird (“what the hell was that?”) but also one of fascination (“can I hear more?”).


On the Nature of the Modern Age

duo runedako: Ruth Neville & Dan Koppelman,                                                      piano duo and live electronics


On the Nature of the Modern Age, for piano duo and live electronics, was commissioned by duo runedako—Ruth Neville and Dan Koppelman.  The work lovingly remembers John Silber who passed away in 2005, a UCSD professor of music, intrepid experimentalist, and compassionate mentor to me, Ruth, Dan, and countless other lucky students.  John taught me how to improvise courageously, invited me to perform in his idiosyncratic and reflective operas, gave me deep insights about what it means to be an American experimentalist, and provided the model for much of my own teaching.  And, during the rough times when the authorities didn’t “get” my work, John got it.


It is always a treat to compose for good friends like Ruth and Dan, comrades who are brilliant and daring musicians.  They requested a piece that incorporates live sampling, hence the work is built on the accretion, transformation, and subsequent attrition of sounds.  Ruth initiates these sounds from the inside of the piano—in an order and rhythm of her choice—and they are electronically looped and spatially diffused.  (Although presented here in stereo, a multi-channel version for audio DVD appears on Everglade Records.)  I also chose to take advantage of Dan’s keen abilities and affinities as an improviser, giving him a solo cadenza built on motives from a rigorously disciplined four-hand keyboard theme played previously and reprised subsequently by the duo.  During Dan’s solo the score invites Ruth to transform the electronic soundscape in an indeterminate manner using digital signal processes selected by the performers.  On the Nature of the Modern Age is thus a very open work capable of producing a near-infinite number of possible realizations while remaining rooted in modest sound sources and scrupulously disciplined actions, a tribute to a few of the wide-ranging qualities that made John Silber a treasure.


Sock Monkey

(Transcription of a Little Girl Running Around the House)

The Stanford Symphony Orchestra

Jindong Cai, conductor


Sock Monkey was composed for Jindong Cai and the Stanford Symphony Orchestra during a particularly focused two-week period straddling the end of 2006 and the beginning of 2007.  I attempted, at first, to compose a short, five-movement work constituting autonomous, concise, aphoristic orchestral statements.  Soon it became clear that these movements wanted to be connected into a single continuous discourse, with three primary sections (I, III, & V) joined by two “bridge” ones (II & IV).  The logistical circumstances of the composition involved many pieces of paper on many tables in many rooms of my house.  Wherever I would relocate in order to concentrate on the project, my 18-month old daughter Charlotte would follow peripatetically; occasionally she would sit quizzically/inquisitively on my lap while I composed, but more often she would bounce off the walls in her characteristically exuberant, playful, and mercurial manner.  Her energetic “distractions”—far more entertaining than my music—were always accompanied by her ubiquitous pink sock monkey.

Mark Applebaum (b. Chicago, 1967) is Associate Professor of Composition at Stanford University where he directs [sic]—the Stanford Improvisation Collective.  He received his Ph.D. in composition from the University of California at San Diego where he studied principally with Brian Ferneyhough.  His music has been played at numerous prestigious festivals in rigorous places like central Europe, and commissioned by fancy, impressive A-list players and ensembles—prominent ensembles.  Some of his music is composed according to painstaking and thorough, if dreary, techniques defended by sober, sensible, and defensible logic resulting in characteristics like authenticity, integrity, depth, merit, and seriousness, qualities that tend to make modernists happy, or at least comfortable.  And awards: there are some awards.  Blah, blah.

Recent works, however, tend increasingly toward absurdity.  In retrospect (or historical revision) Applebaum’s aesthetic relies on acts of musical collision.  “Collisions of Media” include his Concerto for Florist and Ensemble, as well as his penchant for tap dancing while playing jazz piano.  “Sensory Collisions” include his piece Tlön for three conductors and no players, and his obsession, since 1990, with building electroacoustic sound-sculptures out of junk, hardware, and found objects, instruments intended equally for their visual allure.  “Collisions of Notational Construct” include 56 1/2 ft. for chamber orchestra, a piece which rapidly vacillates among a plethora of determinate and indeterminate specifications, Wristwatch: Geology in which players tapping stones read from custom watches by following the second hand as it passes over glyphs, and S-tog in which players meticulously consult the Copenhagen subway map and timetables.  “Collisions through Transcription” include That Brainwave Chick in which neural data taken live via EEG is transformed into sound, and Go, Dog. Go! for percussion duo in which “impossible” metric modulations are accomplished through mental association with tempi established authoritatively in popular music recordings.  “Genealogic Collisions” include his various remixes, such as the Janus ReMixes: Exercises in Auto-Plundering that mine past recordings (in a brutal ritual of narcissism and self-loathing).  “Collisions of Identity” include his Pre-Composition for 8-channel tape in which eight composers (inner “voices”) debate about an 8-channel tape piece to be written, and Asylum for nonet and percussion soloist in which 22 psychological disorders are illustrated in sound.  The taxonomy of collisions continues, but the aforementioned examples are sufficiently tedious.


His music can be heard on CDs on the Innova, Tzadik, Capstone, SEAMUS, and Everglade labels.  From the liner notes to 56 1/2 ft. he writes:


Lewis Rowell, in his mostly clever book Thinking about Music: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Music, argues that “a musical composition is more likely to deserve a rating as…less than excellent if—it resists perception as a unified, coherent structure; its structure is obscure or disproportionate; it is incomplete and unfulfilled; it is unhierarchical; it is unfocused; …it is self-contradictory…”.  Indeed his assertion is probably true for many listeners of classical music.  And my first inclination is to agree, probably because I have been brainwashed to celebrate the implied counter-virtues.  But on second thought, I am struck by the fact that I actually love all of these “vices.”  Frankly, I try deliberately to build these qualities into my music.  I generally find unified things to be boring; coherence strikes me as unnecessarily restrictive; structural clarity and proportion can be tediously mind-numbing and unimaginative while obscurity and imbalance are usually stimulating and problematic (a good thing); completeness seems like a cruel and unusual ideal, neither the essence of how I experience the natural world nor a welcome panacea (the proper work of insulting political leaders and religious zealots); hierarchy seems like a hegemonic, counter-revolutionary plot; focus is overrated (the job of photocopiers); and self-contradiction, it should be plain from all things paradoxical, inconsistent, anarchic, and/or absurd in my work, is my most trusted gravitational center.


Meridian Arts Ensemble

For over twenty years, Meridian Arts Ensemble has been one of the leading brass and percussion ensembles in the world.  Now as faculty at Manhattan School of Music for its Contemporary Performance Program, the band has brought its aggressive and ambitious musical approach to the conservatory.  Performing a living room concert for Frank Zappa and winning his approval for their renditions of his music was only the beginning of Meridian’s ongoing quest to broaden the scope of music for brass.  They went on to commission new works by Milton Babbitt, Su Lian Tan, Mark Applebaum, Elliott Sharp, Tania Leon, Hermeto Pascoal, Nick Didkovsky, David Sanford, The Common Sense Composers’ Collective, Stephen Barber, Ira Taxin, Kirk Nurock, John Halle, and many others. Meridian’s catalog now comprises ten critically acclaimed CD recordings on Channel Classics and 8bells Records labels.  More information can be found at



sfSound is a collective that creates and performs its own original music, commissions new work, performs avant-garde repertory, and develops highly creative “radical transcriptions” of modern masterpieces.  Its roster of virtuoso performer/composers has expertise in extended instrumental techniques, performance art, electronic sound, computer audio programming, and free improvisation.  Since being awarded a “Verge Residency” in 2005 from the ODC Theater, sfSound presents seven to eight concerts per year in San Francisco featuring music by an extraordinarily diverse range of composers, including premieres of over thirty new works written specifically for sfSound.  In 2006 sfSound undertook their first national tour, performing at Merkin Hall, New York City, and a three-day residency at Wesleyan College.  With support from Meet the Composer, Amphion, Argosy, and Zellerbach Foundations, the 2007 Season Finale epitomized the mission of sfSound, a concert in which twenty composers were commissioned to write three-minute pieces inspired by Anton Webern’s miniature masterwork, Konzert, Opus 24.  Many recordings of past concerts, as well as featured works on upcoming concerts, can be heard on sfSoundRadio through their website


Christopher Jones

Christopher Jones is a composer, pianist, and conductor dedicated to the creation of unusual contemporary music.  He has given performances in North America and Europe including appearances at the Darmstadt Ferienkurse, the Ictus International Composition Seminar, Brussels, Merkin Hall, New York City, and the Milwaukee Art Museum.  Jones has given many premieres and enjoys working closely with composers.  He brings his interests in composition, performance, and improvisation together through his work as pianist, conductor, and co-director of sfSound, an innovative ensemble and concert series that is redefining the boundaries of new music in the San Francisco Bay Area.


Florian Conzetti

Florian Conzetti has performed as a percussion soloist, chamber music collaborator, and orchestra member in Europe and the United States.  He studied at the Konservatorium für Musik in Bern, Switzerland, the Eastman School of Music, and the Peabody Conservatory where he earned a doctorate in music as a student of marimbist Robert Van Sice and musicologist John Spitzer.  He has appeared at [email protected], the Stanford Lively Arts, and Cal Performances, and performed with Alarm Will Sound, Meridian Arts Ensemble, the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, and the Bern Symphony Orchestra.  Conzetti has recorded for Albany and Innova Recordings.  He is an Assistant Professor at the University of San Francisco.


Christopher Froh

Committed principally to influencing and expanding the repertoire for solo percussion through commissions and premieres, percussionist Christopher Froh is a core member of the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, Empyrean Ensemble, ADORNO Ensemble, sfSound, and San Francisco Chamber Orchestra.  His many guest appearances include performances with Alarm Will Sound, the Honolulu Symphony, and Gamelan Sekar Jaya.  Known for his energized performances, Froh’s solo festival appearances stretch from Rome to Tokyo to San Francisco.  He is currently on the faculty at the University of California, Davis.


Terry Longshore is active as a performer, composer, and educator of percussion, and has performed both internationally and throughout the United States.  He completed his doctoral degree at the University of California, San Diego where he studied under percussion virtuoso Steven Schick. He has studied Indian classical music extensively under tabla maestro Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri and sitarist Kartik Seshadri.  He performs regularly as a soloist and with several ensembles: Skin & Bones, Caballito Negro, Sonoluminescence, Conundrum, and Alba Flamenca.  Longshore serves as Associate Professor of Music, Director of Percussion Studies, and Chair of the Department of Music at Southern Oregon University.  He is a Yamaha Performing Artist and an artist endorser for Remo drumheads, Vic Firth sticks and mallets, and Zildjian cymbals.


Beta Collide

Beta Collide is a leading-edge new music organization based in Oregon.  Directed by Molly Barth (formerly of eighth blackbird) and Brian McWhorter (of Meridian Arts Ensemble), Beta Collide focuses on the collision of musical art forms—from new complexity to ambient; lowbrow to highbrow; radically extended technique to site-specific improvisation; popular music to the academy.  Each Beta Collide concert features distinguished guest artists from a broad variety of backgrounds.  Recent projects include collaborations with theoretical physicist Amit Goswami, sound artist Stephen Vitiello, improvising saxophonist Scott Rosenberg, and pianist, inventor, and composer Mark Applebaum.  On this recording Beta Collide includes Grammy-Award winning flutist Molly Barth, experimental trumpeter Brian McWhorter, virtuoso pianist David Riley, and percussionist/nascent viticulturist Phillip Patti.  More information appears at


Brian McWhorter

Brian McWhorter is Assistant Professor of trumpet at the University of Oregon and Professor of Contemporary Music at the Manhattan School of Music.  He has worked primarily in new music with groups such as Meridian Arts Ensemble, Beta Collide, Renwicke, Sequitur, Ne(x)tworks, and Ensemble Sospeso.  He received degrees in music from the University of Oregon and The Juilliard School. McWhorter’s discography spans many genres from contemporary chamber to orchestral, improvised music to pop and rock.  More information appears at


The Paul Dresher Ensemble Electro-Acoustic Band

The Paul Dresher Ensemble Electro-Acoustic Band was formed in 1993 to offer chamber music composers an ensemble that is able to integrate traditional acoustic instruments with the rapidly evolving advances in electronic music technology, and whose musicians possess the ability to perform music rooted in the contemporary classical traditions, rock and roll, jazz, and world music.  The band’s goal is to expand the limits of what is considered chamber music, challenging the boundaries that separate “serious” and “popular” culture, and drawing on musical styles with origins in diverse cultures and aesthetics.  The group’s six musicians have been joined by soloists including pianist-composer Terry Riley, cellist Joan Jeanrenaud, violinists David Abel and Tracy Silverman, and pianist Lisa Moore.   The ensemble has commissioned or premiered works by John Adams, John Luther Adams, Mark Applebaum, Dan Becker, Eve Beglarian, Martin Bresnick, Jay Cloidt, Cindy Cox, Alvin Curran, Anthony Davis, Paul Dresher, Mark Grey, Bun Ching Lam, David Lang, Keeril Makan, Steve Mackey, Ingram Marshall, James Mobberley, Roger Reynolds, Terry Riley, Neil Rolnick, Carl Stone, Lois Vierk, and Randall Woolf.  Many of the band’s performances appear on New Albion, New World, Minmax, Tzadik, Sri Moonshine, CRI, and other labels. More info can be found at their website


duo runedako

duo runedako is dedicated to exploring and expanding the repertoire for multiple keyboard instruments.  From traditional literature for two pianos and piano four-hands, to interactive works for electronics and computer, the duo presents a wide spectrum of concert music.  Pushing the boundaries of contemporary music and pulling from classical, jazz, and electroacoustic traditions, duo runedako often blurs the lines between musical styles.  duo runedako has toured extensively throughout the United States and in Europe and has presented innovative programs in Finland, Ukraine, and the Netherlands.  In residence on a 2008 Fulbright Scholarship Award, the husband and wife team will tour Ukraine with a series of concerts devoted to the music of American composers.  Active in commissioning and premiering new works, duo runedako presented David Gillingham’s Interplay: A Concerto for Piano Four Hands and Orchestra in Prague with Vladimir Valek conducting the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra.  Koppelman’s research on the development of a new tactile performance system for electroacoustic music has led to residencies at the Studio for Electro-Instrumental Music (STEIM) in Amsterdam, the Institute of Sonology in The Hague, and the Center for Research in Computing in the Arts (CRCA) in La Jolla, California.  Neville and Koppelman have recorded with the SONOR Ensemble for CRI, with George Lewis for New World Records, and for Celestial Harmonies, Neuma Records, Capstone, Everglade Records, and C74. 


The Stanford Symphony Orchestra

On December 16, 1891, two months after Stanford University opened its doors, the first Stanford Orchestra was organized.  It consisted of eleven members.  More than a century later, the Stanford Symphony Orchestra has grown to a 90-member organization.  The SSO is an on-campus student ensemble, supported by the Music Department and the Associated Students of Stanford University.  Membership is open to all members of the community, although preference is given to Stanford students.  Every year, the SSO attracts a diverse membership ranging from local computer scientists and aeronautics graduate students to English majors.  The SSO rehearses twice a week and presents approximately five concert programs on the Stanford campus each season.  Over the years, the Stanford Symphony Orchestra has premiered the works of numerous Stanford composers, formed the pit orchestra for many operas, and accompanied a variety of artists, including internationally renowned jazz saxophonist Stan Getz.  The SSO has toured the United States, Europe, New Zealand, and Australia.  An upcoming tour will take them to China where they will perform at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.


Jindong Cai

Jindong Cai joined the Stanford faculty in 2004 as the Gretchen B. Kimball Director of Orchestral Studies Chair.  He has held positions as assistant conductor with the Cincinnati Symphony and the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra.  He has also served on the faculties of Louisiana State University, the University of Arizona, the University of California at Berkeley, and the College-Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati.  Cai has guest conducted the Arkansas Symphony, the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, the Cincinnati Symphony, the Louisiana Philharmonic, the Lexington Philharmonic, the Northwest Chamber Orchestra, the Tucson Symphony, and at Lincoln Center’s Mozart Bicentennial Festival in New York.  He maintains strong ties to his homeland and guest conducts several top orchestras in China including the China National Broadcasting Symphony, the National Opera and Ballet Theater of China, the Shanghai Symphony, and the Shanghai Broadcasting Symphony.  Together with his wife, Sheila Melvin, he has co-authored several New York Times articles on the performing arts in China and a new book, Rhapsody in Red: How Western Classical Music Became Chinese.

Magnetic North

commissioned by Meridian Arts Ensemble

recorded at PINK, February 22, 2008

Mark Applebaum, engineer


The Composer’s Middle Period

commissioned by sfSound

recorded at PINK, September 23, 2007

Mark Applebaum, engineer

in loving memory:

trombonist Toyoji Tomita (1951-2008)


Theme in Search of Variations I

recorded at the Braun Music Center,

Stanford University, November 22, 2004

Mark Applebaum, engineer


Theme In Search of Variations II

live performance recorded at CCRMA,

Stanford University, November 13, 2007

Rob Hamilton, engineer


Theme In Search of Variations III

commissioned by Beta Collide with support by The Stanford Institute for Creativity and the Arts

recorded at PINK, March 2, 2008

Mark Applebaum, engineer


Variations on Variations on a Theme by Mozart

commissioned by the Third Practice Festival, University of Richmond, Virginia

recorded at CCRMA, Stanford University, May 17, 18, & 22, 2006; Mark Applebaum, engineer



Entre Funérailles I

recorded at PINK, February 22, 2008

Mark Applebaum, engineer


Martian Anthropology 7•8•9

commissioned by The Paul Dresher Ensemble Electro-Acoustic Band

live performance recorded at Theater Artaud, San Francisco, March 31 & April 1, 2006

Greg Kuhn, engineer


On the Nature of the Modern Age

commissioned by duo runedako

recorded at PINK, July 23, 2007

Mark Applebaum, engineer


Sock Monkey

requested by the Stanford Symphony Orchestra

recorded at Skywalker Sound, May 5, 2007

Mark Willsher, engineer


Tracks 1-11 edited/mixed by Mark Applebaum

Track 12 edited/mixed by Mark Willsher

Mastering: Bob DeMaa

Applebaum photo: Toni Gauthier

Design, layout: Philip Blackburn


innova is supported by an endowment from

the McKnight Foundation.

Philip Blackburn: Director

Chris Campbell: Operations Manager



SPECIAL THANKS:                 
Jenny Bilfield and the Stanford Lively Arts, SiCa, Jindong Cai, Mark Dalrymple, Kristine Burns, Colby Leider, Ben Broening, Paul Dresher, Christopher Jones, Ruth Neville, Dan Koppelman, Brian McWhorter, Charlotte and Kitty, and my intrepid composition students (who drive me crazy and renew me).


Also on Innova:

Mousetrap Music

The Janus ReMixes: Exercises in Auto-Plundering

The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far from the Tree

Intellectual Property

Martian Anthropology


56 1/2 ft.

The Bible without God