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Contour Lines

I’m very excited to announce my latest project: Contour Lines!

Contour Lines is a program of contemporary electroacoustic and solo works for saxophone, featuring the newly commissioned piece, Shipbreaking. The project explores the landscape of contemporary saxophone, from avant-garde to classical to pop and jazz influences, with an emphasis on electroacoustic works. Concerts will showcase both established and young composers, including leading spectral composers Gérard Grisey and Fabien Lévy, Dutch composer and culture commentator JacobTV, current Meet The Composer Studio resident Kati Agócs, and past winner of the Look & Listen Festival competition Paul Leary.

Commissioned works by Victoria Cheah, Paul Leary, and Benjamin Taylor will represent the younger generation of composers. Cheah’s Strangeloop (solo bari sax) navigates the tangled hierarchical system of strange loops. Leary’s Number Stations (alto sax and audio playback) blends pop/rock influences with classical training. Taylor’s Shipbreaking (alto sax and processed sound) reflects on the wonderment of accomplishing monumental tasks through simple means. Shipbreaking was commissioned by an international consortium led by myself. Ben will be present at my Boston and Baltimore concerts to talk about his piece and give a hands-on demonstration of the technology used. The talk and performances will be shared on YouTube.

East Coast mini-tour:

April 18 @ 8:00pm – Gershwin Hotel, NYC
April 19 @ 8:00pm – Yes.Oui.Si, Boston (talk/tech demo by Benjamin Taylor at 8pm, concert at 8:30pm)
April 20 @ 9:00pm – Red Room, Baltimore (talk/tech demo by Benjamin Taylor at 9pm, concert at 9:30pm)
May 17 @ 9:30pm – On The Cusp, Jersey City

Fabien Lévy: L’air d’ailleurs-Bicinium
Benjamin Taylor: Shipbreaking – commissioned by international consortium
Gérard Grisey: Anubis-Nout
Victoria Cheah: Strangeloop – commissioned by Zach Herchen
Kati Agócs: As Biddeth Thy Tongue
Katarina Miljkovic: If in a winter…
JacobTV: Billie
Paul Leary: Number Stations – commissioned by Zach Herchen

Contour Lines logo designed by ycArt Design Studio.
This project is funded in part through New Music USA’s MetLife Creative Connections program.

“The News”, reality opera by JacobTV

I just learned that JacobTV (Dutch composer focused on US culture and TV) has been working on a reality opera called “The News”. Check out the trailer above.

From his project site:

THE NEWS is JacobTV’s most innovative and provocative works. A 90 minute reality opera composed for 2 vocalists, 9 musicians, soundtracks and video. Live music is synchronized with non-fiction footage from the international media through the technique of speech melody. The drama is constructed using broadcasts from newscasters, politicians, scientists, televangelists, athletes,, movie stars and celebrities discussing a vast array of socio-political issues, from global warming to the credit crunch, as well as matters of war and peace to trivialities, thus exposing our western society’s obsession with public image, fame, catastrophe and morality.

With media coverage constantly changing, ruminating and updating worldwide, THE NEWS is a fresh approach to music composition, video production and social commentary through live performances. This singular and timely work that marries conventional media material to extraordinary artistry, in the end, will provide the public with a uniquely stimulating experience and catalyst for introspection and dialogue.

Also, if you want to learn more about JacobTV you can read my 2009 interview with him.

Video from YouTube.

AM/PM @ Red Room

I’ve been running around auditioning for DMA programs this past month, but now I’m back in the swing of things. For those of you in the Baltimore area, AM/PM has a great multimedia concert coming up this weekend. We just finished up prep rehearsals in Baltimore (Coming Together pictured above), got all the videos set, and everything is ready to go! Full details:

Saturday, March 12 @ 9pm
Red Room (Normal’s Books and Records)
425 E. 31st Street
Baltimore, MD
$5 door

Thom Limbert: Numbers/Dates (quartet and audio)
Matthew Burtner: Incantation S4=X (quartet and audio)
Jacob Ter Veldhuis: Heartbreakers (quartet and audio/video)

Paul Leary: “I Have A Past Life Memory From The War That Blew The Fifth Planet Into The Asteroid Belt” and other stories from AM Radio (quartet and audio)
Kati Agócs: Hymn (quartet and commissioned video by Eli Stine)
Frederic Rzewski: Coming Together (ensemble and audio/video)

Guest performers: Karin Kilper, Domenica Romagni, Esther Hae-In Choi, and Martha Morrison

Interview with JacobTV

One of my current projects is a series of interviews with people that I am working with, have met, or am just interested in. The focus will primarily be on composers, but I’ll probably branch out a bit. I expect to post a new interview every month or so.

First up is JacobTV! Jacob Ter Veldhuis, born 1951, is a Dutch composer whose compositions often use tape and video components. From his bio:

Jacob TV is preoccupied with American media and world events and draws raw material from those sources. His work possesses an explosive strength and raw energy combined with extraordinarily intricate architectural design. In his so called boombox works, he makes superb use of electronics, incorporating sound bytes from political speeches, commercials, interviews, talk shows, TVangelists, and what have you - ‘urban songs’ with a colorful mix of high and low culture.

I was lucky enough to meet Jacob at his home in the Netherlands while I was working on his piece Billie last year. This interview was conducted over email last fall.

Zach - Many of your compositions draw from genres outside classical music. What is your approach to this blending of genres?
Jacob - It’s a natural thing to do. Bartok, and Beethoven did the same in their days with folk music. I live in this world and listen to all the music that is surrounding me, and has its impact on me. NYC friends say my music is avant pop. I like that. I feel more like a pop composer, like Andy Warhol was a pop artist.