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Posts tagged 'Ken Ueno'

New Works on PSNY: Wollschleger, Ueno and Cerrone

PSNY is pleased to announce the addition of several major works from three of our composers, ranging from pieces for solo clarinet to a new work for piano and string orchestra. Four of these new works by Scott Wollschleger, Ken Ueno and Christopher Cerrone were composed and premiered within the past year. 

Scott Wollschleger's Soft Aberration No. 2, for piano and viola, explores Wollschleger's concept of a "broken echo"—imitation between instruments that is refracted and softened by the act of communication in performance. Meditative and insightful, this work illustrates the diffusion of tonality with expressive, lyrical harmonies in the piano that are echoed in the viola's muted melodies. 

As in Soft Aberration No. 2, Wollschleger's Meditation on Dust presents the listener with a transfigured aural landscape of tonality through expressive, gestural motifs—though in this piece the piano is accompanied by a full string orchestra. Wollschleger imagines Straussian tone-poems petrifying in the desert, taken out of their fin-de-siècle Viennese context and into the future, where they still sound through a layer of dust. This isn't a "dusting" of tonality; rather, it is expressive tonality rendered into granules—pulverized, decayed, transfigured into an enigmatic refrain. Check out a video of pianist Karl Larson with the String Orchestra of Brooklyn premiering the work in June: 

In addition to these works by Wollschleger, we're very happy to make available three works by Ken Ueno, all of which embody Ueno's innovative use of extended techniques, multiphonics, and bold compositional voice. Ueno's Watt, for baritone saxophone, percussion, and CD Boombox, is an early example of Ueno's journey into multiphonics. Taking inspiration from John Coltrane's late albums such as Interstellar Space (1967), Watt shows Ueno's reconciliation of multiple symbolic, timbral, and functional systems into a kind of "flow", which he likens to a "manifold—like playing Scrabble and Mahjong at the same time."

Another work that features a reed instrument, this time a solo amplified Bb clarinet, is I screamed at the sea until nodes swelled up, then my voice became the resonant noise of the sea. The title of this piece comes from lore from the Korean tradition of Pansori singing, in which it is said that singers develop their trademark vocal timbre by screming at the sea until they develop nodes in their vocal chords. Ueno's work explores this idea through the clarinet, developing new techniques for overblowing, multiphonics, and the limits of humans and machines. 

Ueno's interest in reed instruments, multiphonics, extended techniques, electronics, and the limits of sound, all come together in his stunning 2015 concerto for violin and chamber ensemble, Zetsu. This work not only asks its performers to push the boundaries of what is possible with their instruments—it also asks them to play new instruments designed by the composer, such as percussion idiophones tuned to the microtonal intervals particular to the piece's harmonic spectrum, and the "hookah sax"—a saxophone with a 7-ft length of plastic tubing that extends its range. Check out a video of the premiere below:  

Finally, we are pleased to publish Christopher Cerrone's new song cycle, The Naomi Songs, in two versions: for voice and piano, and voice and 11 players. This cycle sets the poetry of Bill Knott, an enigmatic poet whose works were often short, metrical, and deeply self-depricating. In 1968, two years after announcing his own death, he published The Naomi Poems, a short volume that he often gave away for free and circulated via mimeograph. Cerrone's settings of these deeply personal poems matches their affect: the Naomi Songs are unified by the key of F, though their mode switches, and each song expresses a different aspect of joy, melancholy, longing, and desire. Check out an excerpt below: 

All-PSNY Concert at the University of Memphis

Kamran Ince, composer and professor of Composition at the University of Memphis, recently led a concert of the U of M's Contemporary Chamber Players at the Rudi E Scheidt School of Music. The program included Ken Ueno's Visible Reminder of Invisible Light, Alex Mincek's Subito: No. 2, Timo Andres' I Found It By The Sea, Adrian Knight's Vain Attempts, and Keeril Makan's Tender Illusions. Check out this playlist of some of Kamran Ince's own compositions below, which were recently performed in a composer portrait concert by Milwaukee's leading new music organization, Present Music

Opera News from PSNY Composers

Our PSNY composers are keeping busier than ever, and we'd like to share three projects that are making headlines across the nation. Starting with a bi-coastal collaboration, California-based composer (and librettist) Ken Ueno is working with Boston-based Guerilla Opera on a new project entitled Gallo [Chicken], directed by Sarah Meyers. Premiering at the end of May, this evening-long chamber opera "investigates how the landscape and man shape and transform each other, and addresses the fundamental question of ontology: 'the chicken or the egg?'" 

A week earlier, in Washington, D.C., David T. Little's Soldier Songs will be performed at the Atlas Performing Arts Center. Recently featured in The Washington Post, this work is a tour-de-force multimedia event, bringing out Little's signature compositional voice and disturbing subject matter. Check out Little's Last Nightfall, for soprano and ensemble, to get a taste of Little's powerful, political writing. 

And, for those who haven't heard, Kamran Ince has premeired a new monodrama, entitled Abandoned, as a part of Opera Memphis' "Ghosts of Crosstown"  festival. Writing through "the perspective of an abandoned building speaking to the sun at night," this work inhabits the world of the Sears Crosstown Building in downtown Memphis, abandoned in 1993. 

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