I'm signing off to return to the pedal, time to make some new loops. Have a great day!
Hello friends, it's been a while since I've blogged or posted anything new. One could blame it on winter hibernation, enough snow already! But the truth is I've been hunkering down and getting ready to go into the recording studio. Which I did!
This weekend was spent in the Princeton recording studio with the amazingly talented Zach Herchen, Alex Dowling, and Emma O'Halloran. I laid down 4 tracks in all. 3 to be released on my upcoming debut album "A Beautiful Mess". This weekend's tunes were by Alex, Emma, and Ben Hjertmann. There will be 7 more pieces coming in the next few months from the other Banglewood fellow composers of summer 2013.
So far the process has included some wonderful collaboration and travel, and I look forward to hearing what the rest of them come up with! I will be crowd sourcing in a few months in hopes of getting a little assistance finishing the album so be on the lookout! And then you can hear a sneak peak of what is to come.
I'm signing off to return to the pedal, time to make some new loops. Have a great day!
If you have been following my posts on facebook or on this site over the last month or so you may have noticed a trend, I keep talking about my loop pedal. Yes, it is a love affair, and one I don't think I will be ending anytime soon. I have only started to scratch the surface of its capabilities, but that doesn't stop me from sharing my fun with all of you.
I have completed my first "Song Cycle." The songs in order of creation are "Song K" "Song J" and "Song E." I call them a cycle, despite their being separate entities because they were all inspired by the same topic. I am pouring years of frustration, hurt, pain, sadness, longing, all that and more into this pedal. Maybe now that this cycle is complete I can move onto other sources of inspiration, but for now I hope you enjoy the complete cycle which can be found on my listen page.
Please feel free to email me commentary and critiques should you care to listen! I love feedback no matter what the angle. Yours, K.
Hello my dear friends, I'll keep this one brief so you might go to the Listen page next and check out my latest recording currently titled "Track K". But a brief explanation to start with. I have been obsessed with loop pedals for a long time and if you follow my blog at all you know I got one finally! I have been playing around with it for a while now, doing a combination of things with saxophone, vocals, and whatnot. And thought I would share some of it.
The track up is vocals only, but I will put up something eventually that includes saxophone as well. And hopefully the recording quality will improve over time too! I have already come so far and gained new technological skills that I envisioned were beyond my simple mind. I know there's still room to grow and ask that you stick with me while I do it. Hope you listen!
Like many of the bang on a can fellows I left feeling energized, recharged, and ready to do lots of projects. After 3 intense weeks of music surrounded by an amazing community of people I will admit I felt a little at a loss. I miss everyone terribly, so of course of all the projects floating around in my brain I picked the one that would reconnect with as many of them as possible.
I have been talking about buying a loop pedal for over a year, after seeing many amazing performances including them, and after years of wishing I had picked a non wind instrument so I could sing while playing. Well, enter the loop station to solve many of my problems.
I am in the process of commissioning the 10 composer fellows to write works for tenor sax, loop pedal, and voice. The project will take me many places, as I intend to play it almost everywhere the composers are located. And for the first time I'm considering recording an album, a thought that had never entered my head before. I always thought it was too high and lofty for me, but bang makes you dream big, and it's not as difficult these days as I hear it used to be back in the dark days of cassettes and prior.
I officially began the adventure over labor day weekend at Princeton with the lovely and talented Alex Dowling and Emma O'Halloran.
Alex, Emma, and I poured over the boss rc-300 manual for hours, trying things that were supposed to be possible, and often making them work. I have never been very patient with technology so thank god for their determination and curiosity to see what this baby was really capable of.
I'm also grateful that we got to spend hour after hour in a studio at the university recording our every idea for future use or study. The facilities there are amazing and it was nice to have a place to go get work done again. It's one of those weird little things you appreciate after not being in school and always practicing in your home, when you don't have a space other than your bedroom to do it.
I look forward to many more reunions and adventures in the coming year!
Week 3 of the Bang on a can summer festival was by far the busiest. It was jam packed with even more performances, magical moments, and bittersweet "good-byes" that I prefer to think of as "see you soons". So let's dive in.
Monday night was the awesome concert which featured the works that all 10 fellow composers had written for the festival. They were all creative and inspiring works that were performed expertly! The three groups were led by Vicki Ray, Todd Reynolds, and Nick Photinos. My group was conducted by Nick (of Eighth Blackbird) and featured the music of Stephen Feigenbaum, Erik DeLuca, and Finola Merivale. It was a lot of fun working with the composers and the group.
I took part in 2 of the lunch time recitals. The first was Tuesday, playing "In a Day" by Finola Merivale for tenor saxophone and loop pedal. It was so much fun to finally get to play with loop pedal and to work with Finola. She is a very talented composer and a wonderful person, check her out! The second performance involved all 10 composer fellows and 9 of the performers at the festival. It was an Exquisite corpse project. The premise is day 1 a composer writes 10 measures and then passes their last measure onto the next composer who writes another 10 measures and passes their last on, lather, rinse, repeat for 10 days and you have a wonderful piece! You can see the video of our performance on youtube or my listen page. It was a fun way to get to work with a lot of people at the festival. The composers worked really well together and all the performers came in and laid it down solid in rehearsal.
Wednesday was a busy day with the saxophone quartet recital at the 4:30 concert, performing in the space near the octagon room and a concert at the lake that night. In our recital we played works by Ken Thomson, Tim Berne, Michael Gordon, Donnacha Dennehy, and Gregg August. At the lake concert we performed Gregg's "Affirmation." I loved working with Ken Thomson, Zach Herchen, and Olivia Shortt. They are fantastic musicians and wonderful people.
Our morning session for the last week was incredibly exciting and engaging. The orchestra of original instruments was led by Mark Stewart, one of the most musically inspiring people I have ever met. One of his most exciting qualities is his belief that everyone should be allowed to make sound/music and no one should feel excluded. To paraphrase one of his sayings "I believe the word musician is too often used to exclude people from their birth rite as sound makers". In an open and encouraging environment like that anything is possible and music is always fun. He taught us a little bit about Quebecois clogging, we made beautiful sounds whirling plastic ridged tubing, sang and hummed, and got to explore the Gunner instruments which will soon be on display at Mass MOCA.
One of my favorite lunchtime recital moments happened the last week. Daniel Cutchen played "Imaginary Landscapes" by John Cage and beckoned us to come as close as we could for the quiet piece being played over the sounds of the waterfall. Some of us laid down under the piano and it was a beautiful moment, if you've never had the opportunity to lie under a piano while it's being played I recommend it.
And it all came to an exciting end with the marathon on Saturday! A "six hour" (7.5) concert of music we had been preparing together for 3 weeks. Some of the highlights for me were "Fuel" by Julia Wolfe, the Orchestra of Original Instruments, "Almost Truths and Open Deceptions" by Annie Gosfield", "These Broken Wings" by David Lang, and "The Sad Park" by Michael Gordon. For a great review of the marathon check out this article.
I finally got to meet one of my musical idols, Bill Ryan! Pictured below is our ensemble playing "Drive" on the marathon. Bill made the drive (no joke intended) all the way from Michigan with some of his composition students to be there for the marathon. His music inspired me at a very early point in my musical career, and is what brought me to this community in the first place. So it felt very special and appropriate to get to play his music at the festival. It was an honor.
I loved every moment. It was an intense and exhausting three week period. It went by in a blur but by the end it felt like we had lived through years. The relationships we built, the experiences we had, the musical connections and magic we created together, we did in three weeks what normally takes years. I am so grateful to everyone I met, the Mass MOCA staff, the lickety split cafe workers who kept us fed and happy, the bang faculty and staff who made everything in life wonderful, the musicians I got to play with and grow with. They all gave me courage, love, strength, confidence, fun, passion, and of course noise.
Other Great Blogs and Articles about the festival
It's a difficult task to attempt to summarize the amazing and life altering 3 weeks that is the Bang on a Can summer music festival. To include everything would have to be a series that breaks it down week by week. I included an installment about the first week already so I believe I should continue in that vein.
Week 2 began with a morning session with everyone of Latin music led by bass faculty member Gregg August. We all got together and read charts and learned clave rhythms for 3 days and then partied it down at the Mohawk, cramming 30+ musicians into a bar to perform together and jam out. The finger was pointed and I was forced into an uncomfortable spot as a soloist, but I'm happy for the encouragement, I think it will shape a lot of my efforts this next year. By the end of the night we had (d)evolved into a full out jam session with random singers and musicians that couldn't be stopped.
For the remainder of the week our extra session was Sound Painting with Todd Reynolds! We had 2/3 rehearsals to learn the language of Todd's hands and then we performed at the Saturday 4:30 concert, starting in the Xu Bing Phoenix exhibit and ending in the Waterfall gallery. It was a remarkable experience of guided group improvisation and communication. At the concert Todd also included the audience and guided them in a bit of their own sound painting. Click the link to see some excerpts from the show. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JWbxMo5RXDE
Week 2 included some predetermined concerts for me as well. On Friday night the BOAC saxophone quartet opened the David Lang concert with a performance of the first movement of his Revolutionary Etudes (click the link to watch a clip). It was a remarkable thing to be a part of. After years of admiring his music I got to be a part of it and it was an honor. I also thoroughly enjoyed playing with Ken, Zach, and Olivia. And it is an amazing thing when a composer of that stature is still so grateful and supportive of the musicians playing his music, David is humble and kind.
If I had to pick a favorite 4:30 concert out of the entire festival I would have to pick Tuesday the 23rd, Music from Japan. The phenomenal Vicki Ray played Incarnations II by Somei Satoh, and the all-stars played Distorted Melody by Akiko Ushijima, Gamelan Cherry Parts 1 and 2 by Mamoru Fujieda, and the 4th movement of SHU (Spells) by Somei Satoh. Although all the works were incredible I was the most moved by the closer. I have never had such a profoundly moving experience (in public) with music before. It was so simple and hauntingly beautiful that I bawled. A moment like this when music so completely takes you over is what I'm always looking for and I am so grateful to the all-stars for sharing this with me.
Hi everyone! I don't have time to go really into depth about anything but I wanted to give a brief update about my experiences here at the Bang on a can summer music festival at Mass MOCA. One of the biggest things I must mention is the incredibly supportive, friendly, and humble attitude of everyone here. That includes the fellows, faculty, guest artists, and Mass MOCA staff.
We all do plenty of bonding activities here outside of the days work, almost everyone goes and hangs out with each other every night. We are all exhausted, but we are all taking advantage of being around all these wonderful people.
Everyone comes prepared. Musical works that would normally take 3 months to learn, dissect, and fit back together are locking together after a week. And that gives us time to have some random fun! And everyone wants to work together and pick up extra projects despite our crazy busy schedules.
I'm learning a lot about technology, and people are willing to share their gear! I currently have 2 loop pedals on my person lent to me for exploration by others. Todd Reynolds will be giving a presentation on Ableton live tonight.
The African drumming was amazing. Lamine Toure of Senegal came in and taught us some calls and rhythms. It was really interesting to learn by ear and to move and dance around. He had a great spirit and made everyone feel his music, not just listen to it. During our performance he had almost everyone up and dancing.
Ok, one last little tidbit. A handful of us participated in Kids can too! on Saturday. Led by Todd Reynolds and Philippa Thompson, we focused on the relationship between color and sound. They had a few people demonstrate some of the cool different things they could do on their instrument. They had a painting projected on the screen, kids picked a shape/color and the performer who would play the shape. We did some group sing/play alongs. Philippa forced me to improvise, which was good since I'm a chicken about it! I was in a game where you have a colored poncho and kids get a matching swatch, when they wave it you play, when they stop you stop. And we ended with a big group play along/jam with Lamine soloing and us playing the beats he taught us, but now on our own instruments, and then jamming out off of that. Although there are a lot of amazing things occurring here, the kids show was definitely a highlight that will stick with me.
I just wanted to send out a quick update that I am leaving in less than 12 hours for the Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival! I will be spending 3 weeks making music with amazing people at the Museum of Modern Art in North Adams, MA. Please watch my site for updates to the concert schedule. If you live in the greater Hartford area it's only a 2 hour drive and definitely worth a short day trip to hear some great music and look at some art, and who knows what else is in store there?
I am aware that I am long overdue to post a synopsis about the house concert. But that will have to come later. First, there are some things I have to say about yesterdays Bang on a Can marathon at Pace university. The new location felt a lot different but was great in many ways. The auditorium seating led me to fear that I wouldn't be seated when I had to get there 2 hours late, but we were in luck. The acoustics were definitely better in this space than last years, and it allowed them to include some more intimate works (but I must confess I think I'm mostly going to write about the louder in your face stuff).
It also forced you to sit side by side with interesting strangers. I met a couple very interesting gentlemen in particular. One being Chris McGovern, author of the blog The Glass, which does great reviews of some of the interesting things going on in the city. I recommend giving it a look if you're like me and still trying to sort through the mass of amazing music going on there.
Second, I met an Australian vocalist who is also managing director of a choir that seems to be doing some pretty interesting things in commissioning new choral works. They are The Australian voices, follow the link to listen.
Alright, enough shout outs for my new friends, but seriously, check them out. Where to start with the rest of it? I can't talk about everything or I will ramble for about 50+inches of screen space. I definitely enjoyed everything immensely. I think I'll just say the things that stuck out to me the most, and attempt to limit it.
A composer who should be checked out, Kendall Williams, I can't seem to find a website for him so instead I'll include a youtube link to one of his works, Misconception, what we heard yesterday was the premiere of Conception, which included an old friend from Hartt, Brandon Nestor! The work was great, hopefully someone will put it up on youtube soon?
This was my first encounter with Talk Normal and I've been listening to them all morning. It's amazing how much sound 2 people can produce. That is an incredibly simple observation of what they do but it was powerful and inspirational.
Of course, Julia Wolfe's US premiere of With a Blue Dress on played by Monica Germino was phenomenal. After seeing it live I think I would only want to see it that way, I'm sure it records well enough but you would miss some of the amazing stage presence of Ms. Germino.
I have been in love with Michael Gordon's Yo Shakespeare for a long time now and it was great to finally hear it live. I also love that he has now created a smaller and more manageable ensemble version, for the Bang on a Can All-Stars, but it should make it easier for the rest of us to play it now, if they share it. Although there is something very powerful about the large group that I would still like to be part of someday.
Shara Worden. She gets her own category due to the variety of talents she shared yesterday. From her composition Before the Words to her moving and powerful performance with the Bang on a Can All-Stars of David Lang's work (and also newly released album) death speaks. Her voice is haunting and exquisite.
OK, I know I've rambled on enough already but the last group I have to talk about is the Asphalt Orchestra. So. much. fun! It had an odd sense of familiarity like reclaiming marching band and making it amazing and more fun. I can't imagine hearing/seeing them perform and not having one of the best times of your life. With all the crazy moves they were doing I was always so scared there would be a collision, especially with 2 trombone slides dancing around everywhere. But no, total pros, but remembering to have a ton of fun. I look forward to being surprised by them again someday.
So it seems Massachusetts has more in store for me as I will be spending 3 weeks, starting mid July, making music and attending classes at Mass MOCA as part of the Bang on a Can Summer Festival! I am incredibly grateful for being selected and I'm ready to jam out and party down.
But before then we will have the next installment of Friendly Music here at the Fox Hole. 4 local composers will be featured and this time I'm sharing the wealth and not performing on every single piece!
We will be featuring a good amount of bass with 3 works by Meredith Gilna, 2 for solo bass and the return of Fight/Flight. If you were around last year you heard Fight/Flight by a quartet of untrained voices, but now you get to hear the instrumental interpretation.
I am continuing my quest of works for saxophone and strings with a return to the program of Matt Primm's music, Obsessions 2 which we have been toting around a bit this year and can be heard on his website. And we're work shopping a fabulous new quintet by Jesse Alexander Brown.
And lastly, but certainly not least, a work for indeterminate ensemble and 3 narrators by my neighbor James Nicholson.