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Five UW-Madison Alumni Composers return in November for performances of their works

In early November, the UW-Madison School of Music will welcome back five graduates of the composition studio who have developed creative,  multi-dimensional careers in a range of fields: acoustic and electronic composition, musicology, theory, audio production, conducting, education, concert management and administration, performance, and other fields as well. The two-day event on Nov. 5 & 6 will feature concerts of chamber music and Wind Ensemble music, symposia on marketing, publicity, and career development, and ample opportunities for conversation.

The composers include Jeffrey Stadelman (BM, 1983; MM, 1985), now associate professor of music composition at the University at Buffalo;  Paula Matthusen (BM, 2001), assistant professor of music at Wesleyan University; William Rhoads (BM, 1996), vice president of marketing & communications for Orchestra of St. Luke’s in New York City; Andrew Rindfleisch (BM, 1987), professor of composition at Cleveland State University; and Kevin Ernste (BM, 1997), professor of composition at Cornell University.

Music will be performed by the Wisconsin Brass Quintet, the Wingra Woodwind Quintet, the UW Wind Ensemble, and other faculty and students. The works being performed by both faculty and students range from standard instrumentations (woodwind and brass quintets) to unusual combinations (piano, percussion, clarinet, and oboe) to solo works performed by some of our most accomplished students.

Thursday, Nov. 5,  7:30 PM, Mills Hall, free concert. Click for program.

Friday, Nov. 6, 7:30 PM, Mills Hall, free concert.  Click for program.

Additional sessions, to be held on Friday, Nov. 6 at the Student Activities Center, University Square:

11:30 – 12:10 Marketing for Musicians
Today, savvy understanding of marketing and pr is a necessity for performers and composers. Learn the basics of building an effective communications strategy to promote and publicize your event, your career, or your new work.

12:15 – 12:55 Publishing for Composers
With power shifting from large publishing houses to individual composers, it’s an exciting time to be a creative artist. Get an overview of the recent history and changes in music publishing and important guidelines on the myriad channels that exist which allow you benefit from the use of your music.

1 PM: Meet Bill Rhoads at CoffeeBytes.


 

All five composers grew up in Wisconsin or Minnesota, and they provide a variety of career models, in both industry and academia, in both live and electronic music, for our student composers and performers. This may be the first time that a university music school has brought together the alumni of an academic composition program, from a period of several decades, for concerts of their music, workshops with current students, and public informational events.

Here are composer biographies along with comments about their works.

Composer Andrew Rindfleisch has enjoyed a career in music that has also included professional activity as a conductor, pianist, vocalist, improviser, record producer, radio show host, educator, and concert organizer. As a composer, he has produced dozens of works for the concert hall, including solo, chamber, vocal, orchestral, brass, and wind music, as well as an unusually large catalog of choral music. His committed interest in other forms of music-making have also led him to the composition and performance of jazz and related forms of improvisation. “Their brass quintet, ‘In the Zone,’  is a pun on the Italian word ‘canzone,’ a style of piece often written for brass ensembles (the works of Gabrieli are great examples),” says Daniel Grabois, professor of horn. “If an old canzone were fractured and reassembled using a 21st century sensibility, the result would sound like this piece. At times it throbs with the wild abandon of a medieval band, and at other times grooves with the rhythmic snap and clarity of a group of Renaissance troubadours.” (Note: The Wisconsin Brass Quintet will perform “In the Zone” on the Thursday concert.) Listen to Rindfleisch’s music on SoundCloud.

Andrew Rindfleisch

Andrew Rindfleisch

Mr. Rindfleisch is the recipient of the Rome Prize, a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, the Aaron Copland Award, and the Koussevitzky Foundation Fellowship from the Library of Congress. Over forty other prizes and awards have followed honoring his music. He has participated in dozens of renowned music festivals and has received residency fellowships from the Bogliasco Foundation (Italy), the Czech-American Institute in Prague, the Charles Ives Center for American Music, the June in Buffalo Contemporary Music Festival, the MacDowell Colony, and the Pierre Boulez Conductor’s Workshop at Carnegie Hall. He holds degrees from the University of Wisconsin at Madison (Bachelor of Music), the New England Conservatory of Music (Master of Music), and Harvard University (PhD).

As a conductor and producer, Mr. Rindfleisch’s commitment to contemporary music culture has brought into performance and recording over 500 works by living composers over the past 20 years. He has founded several contemporary music ensembles and currently heads the Cleveland Contemporary Players Artist in Residency Series at Cleveland State University, and the Vertigo Ensemble at the Utah Arts Festival in Salt Lake City. He has made guest conducting appearances throughout the United States and abroad with many diverse musical organizations; from opera and musical theatre, to orchestral, jazz, improvisational, and contemporary avant-garde ensembles.


Paula Matthusen writes both electroacoustic and acoustic music and realizes sound installations. In addition to writing for a variety of different ensembles, she also collaborates with choreographers and theater companies. She has written for diverse instrumentations, such as “run-on sentence of the pavement” for piano, ping-pong balls, and electronics, which Alex Ross of The New Yorker noted as being “entrancing”. Her work often considers discrepancies in musical space—real, imagined, and remembered. “A pleasant surprise in the Sunday morning program [for the Tanglewood Festival of Contemporary Music] was Paula Matthusen’s piece “of memory and minutiae” (2006), a plaintive, haunting setting of a Norwegian prayer that fragments further with each repetition. Olenka Slywynska gave the soprano line a chantlike quality while cello counterpoint and electronic timbres wove a graceful atmospheric cocoon around it.” Allan Kozinn, New York Times, 2009. Listen to Matthusen’s music on SoundCloud.

Paula Matthusen

Paula Matthusen

Her music has been performed by Dither, Mantra Percussion, the Bang On A Can All-Stars, the Scharoun Ensemble, Mantra Percussion, Dither Electric Guitar Quartet, Alarm Will Sound, International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), orchest de ereprijs, The Glass Farm Ensemble, the Estonian National Ballet, James Moore, Kathryn Woodard, Todd Reynolds, Kathleen Supové, Margaret Lancaster and Jody Redhage. Her work has been performed at numerous venues and festivals in America and Europe, including the Tanglewood Festival of Contemporary Music, the MusicNOW Series of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Ecstatic Music Festival, Other Minds, the MATA Festival, Merkin Concert Hall, the Aspen Music Festival, Bang on a Can Summer Institute of Music at MassMoCA, the Gaudeamus New Music Week, SEAMUS, International Computer Music Conference and Dither’s Invisible Dog Extravaganza. She performs live-electronics frequently, often with Object Collection, and through the theater company Kinderdeutsch Projekts.

Awards include the Walter Hinrichsen Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Fulbright Grant, two ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composers’ Awards, First Prize in the Young Composers’ Meeting Composition Competition, the MacCracken and Langley Ryan Fellowship, the “New Genre Prize” from the IAWM Search for New Music, and recently the 2014 Elliott Carter Rome Prize.

Matthusen has also held residencies at The MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, create@iEar at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, STEIM, and the Atlantic Center for the Arts. Matthusen completed her Ph.D. at New York University – GSAS. She was Director of Music Technology at Florida International University for four years, where she founded the FLEA Laptop Ensemble. Matthusen is currently Assistant Professor of Music at Wesleyan University, where she teaches experimental music, composition, and music technology.


Currently Vice President of Marketing & Communications for the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Bill Rhoads was previously President and Managing Director of Bill Rhoads & Associates, which was promotion agent for several publishing houses, including CF Peters, EC Schirmer, Subito Music and MMB Publishing; and represented the interests of Frank Zappa, John Zorn, Ornette Coleman, Ethel, counter)induction, Fred Ho, and two Pulitzer Prize-winning composers, along with a host of other prominent artists and firms in the music industry. Prior to opening his own firm, Mr. Rhoads was Director of the Concert Music Division for Carl Fischer, LLC in New York.

Bill Rhoads

Bill Rhoads

He has been active as board member of the Phoenix Concerts, the Lotte Lehmann Foundation, Wisconsin Alliance for Composers, and co-director of Composers Concordance and E.A.R. (Elastic Arts Room) in New York City. In addition, Mr. Rhoads served the music industry as Communications Advisor for ICE (International Contemporary Ensemble), Board Member for CRI (Composers Recordings, Inc.), and the MPA (Music Publishers Association), as Honorary Advisory Board Member for The Women’s Philharmonic, and as panel member, speaker and judge on numerous committees for organizations serving the needs of composers, educators, and performers, including ASCAP, MENC, and the League of American Orchestras.

His work was influenced by his early experiences as guitarist in several rock bands, his training as an audio engineer and producer, background in philosophy and aesthetics, immersion into the experimental music scene of NYC, and composition studies with Stephen Dembski, Joel Naumann, Joseph Koykkar, John Corigliano, George Rochberg and John Harbison. It has been performed and recorded by ensembles throughout the U.S., including Sequitur and Composers Concordance in New York City, May in Miami Festival, Present Music in Milwaukee; and Bach, Dancing, and Dynamite and Oakwood Chamber Players in Madison. “Written idiomatically, even brilliantly, for the instruments at hand, Scherzophrenia springs from the “and now for something completely different” school of composition. Like John Zorn, its best-known practitioner, Rhoads quick-cuts snippets of familiar styles: cartoon illustrative music, lofty trumpet calls, Brahmsian piano trios, cheesy waltzes, clarinet horselaughs, rim shots. Rhoads wrinkle if to bring back his materials in different contexts – to remix them, as it were.” Tom Strini, music critic, The Milwaukee Journal, 1994. Listen to “Slam,” recorded in 2004.


With deep roots in American modernism, composer Jeff Stadelman has developed over the past 30 years a complex, lyrical musical language that suggests no obvious counterpart.  Five CDs containing his compositions have appeared since 2007, including the solo monographic CD, “Pity Paid” (Centaur Records). Los Angeles Times critic Josef Woodard called the music “painterly . . . , deftly dispersed in time and glazed with a dry wit” while Jay Batzner, of Sequenza 21, describes it as a “powerful, caged beast … barely contained by its enclosure.” Listen to Stadelman’s music on SoundCloud.

Jeffrey Stadelman

Jeffrey Stadelman

Stadelman sees his music as “obsessed with <i>reference<i>, drawing deep sustenance from the classical works of past and present that most richly exploit possibilities for building associative structures of great beauty.”

Stadelman has received commissions and invitations for compositions from, among others, the Fromm Foundation and Boston Musica Viva, Nuove Sincronie, Concert Artists Guild, Trio Italiano Contemporaneo, Phantom Arts, Bernhard Wambach, Elizabeth McNutt, Jon Nelson and UW-Madison. Grants and awards include those from Meet the Composer, Harvard University, Friends and Enemies of New Music, and the Darmstadt Summer Courses.

Originally from Wisconsin, Stadelman serves as associate professor of music composition at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York, as well as Department Chair. He studied composition as an undergraduate with Stephen Dembski at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and then with Donald Martino and others for his Ph.D. at Harvard University. His most recently recorded project is a large orchestral work entitled “Messenger,” which appeared in January 2013 on the Navona label. Stadelman writes, “My music tends to be up-tempo and syncopated, with emphasis on independent instrumental lines interacting energetically. People have pointed out that there often seems to be an ironic glaze over the proceedings, and in any case I favor what classical music calls “scherzoso” attitude — playful, even joking. However when my music gets serious, it’s _very_serious indeed. I am always interested in conjuring referential clouds of various sorts, where any particular musical
utterance is heard to ring of, or rhyme with, several others from other sections of the same piece. This music is generally in dialogue with one or more models from the past, and melody always comes first. Very recent works have focused on creating linked canons (rounds) between the instruments, with the actual chords looking backwards historically, but chordal progressions looking in some other direction.”


 Kevin Ernste is a composer, performer, and teacher of composition and electronic music at Cornell University where he is Director of the Cornell Electroacoustic Music Center. He was the Acting Director and lecturer at the Eastman Computer Music Center and Co-director of the ImageMovementSound festival.

Kevin Ernste

Kevin Ernste

His recent music includes Palimpsest for the JACK Quartet–the result of a 2011 Fromm Foundation Commission, presented recently at the Sweet Thunder Festival in San Francisco and the International Computer Music Conference in Athens Greece, Nisi [nee-see] (“Island” in Greek) for hornist Adam Unsworth  released on Equilibrium Records “Snapshots” (CD111), Adwords/Edward, dedicated to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and composed for Google Glass,  Numina for Brooklyn-based Janus Trio (flute, viola, harp) presented recently at the Spark Festival in MN, Seiend for brass quintet premiered by Ensemble Paris Lodron (Salzburg, Austria, Roses Don’t Need Perfume for guitarist Kenneth Meyer (gtr. and electronic sounds, 2009) recently presented by Dr. Meyer on his 2010 Hungary/Romania tour, a piece for saxophone and electronics called To Be Neither Proud Nor Ashamed (recently released on Innova Records), and Birches for viola with electronic sounds for John Graham performed on Mr. Graham’s recent China tour (Beijing, Wuhan, Xiamen, Hong Kong) as well as at the Aspen Summer Music Festival.  Mr, Graham presented Birches again in August 2011 at the International Computer Music Conference  (ICMC) in Huddersfield, UK and again in 2012 at CCRMA for the Linux Audio Conference. Listen to Ernst’s music on SoundCloud.

 

This two-day event is sponsored by the UW-Madison Anonymous Fund and the Mandel Foundation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rameau_Traite_de_l’harmonie
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250 Years Later, A Composer Gets His Due

It’s not very often that one receives international recognition 250 years after being placed in the ground. But with help from UW-Madison musicology professor Charles Dill and a host of international scholars and musicians, that’s exactly what’s happening for Jean-Philippe Rameau.

Rameau, a French composer (1683-1764) who lived during the reign of Louis XV, has become famous for his contributions to music theory, his early harpsichord works, and especially his operas. His 1722 Treatise on Harmony is considered revolutionary for having incorporated philosophical ideas alongside practical musical issues. His operas were equally famous for their rich choral singing and elegant dancing.  In the last few decades, interest in Rameau has intensified, with French scholars leading the way and organizing major festivals in Europe. Because of Dill’s renown as a scholar of Rameau and the Baroque, the UW-Madison School of Music will present a series of performances and talks about Rameau during the 2014-2015 academic year.

Charles Dill

Charles Dill

On November 13, the first of these events will kick off with a discussion about the expressive qualities in Rameau’s music (with visiting opera director David Ronis and Professor Anne Vila of the Department of French and Italian), followed by a concert the next day featuring Marc Vallon, UW-Madison professor of bassoon, in a mostly-Rameau concert. You can read the full schedule of events here.

We asked Prof. Dill to tell us a bit about himself and what makes Rameau an important figure in music.

How did you first become interested in Rameau?

“Modern audiences often view all composers of the past as struggling visionaries. This may be true of composers after Beethoven, but it isn’t true—or isn’t true in the same way—for earlier composers, even composers like Mozart or Haydn. They considered themselves to be working at a job. They wrote pieces to suit their performers, and the compositions were ‘disposable.’  If something needed changing, the composer changed it, generally without much grumbling. They didn’t continue to garner attention for decades.

“What first interested me about Rameau, then, was that he revised his operas extensively and these revised versions continued to be performed. This suggests all sorts of remarkable things about him and his works. Notably, he was alert to how audiences responded to his works to an unusual degree, and he felt some kind of obligation toward ‘getting the work right,’ as it were. That’s a very modern way of thinking about music. Because of this attitude, he also took risks as a composer. He was a remarkably creative individual, and he was rewarded for it. His works dominated French opera for a period of fifty years, until well after his death. For his time and place, this truly was an unusual relationship between composer and audience.

“Add to that Rameau’s work as a theorist. Thinkers had been speculating about how music works for as long as music had existed, but Rameau was the first to envision a comprehensive system that accounted for all of its aspects: how keys or tonalities come into being, why some harmonic progressions are more effective than others, how musical knowledge influences performance. We still employ his basic terminology for describing fundamental principles of music—chord inversion, tonic, dominant. There were flaws in his ideas, to be sure, and there have been countless other systems proposed since that make similar claims, but if you imagine music as an organized, coherent system—something we do every day—then you are, to a degree, following in his footsteps.

“And finally, around the year 2000, everyone became much more interested in Rameau, in response to a series of extraordinarily good performances and recordings, many of them under the direction of William Christie. It is no exaggeration to say the world thinks of Rameau differently as a result of William Christie’s work with the group Les Arts Florissants.

How did you become a Rameau specialist?

“I was fortunate to be in the right place at the right time. When I began working in Parisian libraries in the late 1980s, as a graduate student completing my degree, there were only a handful of people studying Rameau. Students from that generation have done influential work. Thomas Christensen explained the development of Rameau’s music theory, Sylvie Bouissou became the general editor of the Rameau edition, and William Christie specialized in interpreting Rameau’s music in performance.

“I was interested in Rameau’s relationship with audiences. Music criticism was still a fledgling enterprise in the eighteenth century, and yet his compositions elicited strong opinions, both for and against. He was one of the first composers to be treated not simply as a commodity, but as a public figure, one of the first to take that role seriously. To an unusual degree, he felt the need to experiment in his compositions, and yet he was also forced by circumstances to consider listeners and their perceptions in everything he wrote. After all this time, I still find this story remarkable.

“Times have changed. Nowadays, France recognizes Rameau as one its most representative composers and devotes time, money, and effort to developing our knowledge of him. A small army of dedicated French researchers is poring over every available source and producing first-rate scholarship. They’re doing wonderful work.”

What contributions have you made to scholarship?

“When I began writing about Rameau, there was a longstanding trend to approach composers solely from the vantage point of what they wrote. We could describe this as the ‘great composers’ or ‘great works’ approach. Discussing composers in this way cuts out some of the most interesting material: what audiences believed, how they liked what they heard, how they received the composers, and how composers responded to criticism. My book, Monstrous Opera: Rameau and the Tragic Tradition (1998), which Princeton University Press has recently reprinted as part of its Legacy series, addressed some of these questions. As an eminently public figure, Rameau was subject to intense scrutiny. Some critics distrusted opera as an overly sensual medium, and some regarded Rameau’s colorful music as an especially egregious example. Rameau encouraged these kinds of responses. Where earlier composers generally wrote simple, unobtrusive music, Rameau wrote music that demanded attention. In a way, then, he challenged critics and audience members to define their expectations regarding music openly and publicly. It is telling that, during the period in which he became popular, audiences changed, coming to resemble modern audiences more and more: they began to learn difficult and complex music by heart, they grew more quiet and became more attentive during performances.

“My other contributions have had to do with aspects of his career. My early publications often dealt with the relationship between Rameau’s ideas as a music theorist and his actual compositions. Having an eighteenth-century composer who was so active on both fronts is truly unusual, and it allows us to think more carefully about the relationship between theory and practice. More recently, I’ve been interested in reconstructing Rameau’s intellectual life. He was a bit of a magpie, really, taking ideas from the writers and philosophers who most suited his needs, but given the time and place in which he lived, he could take from the best: Descartes and Malebranche were early sources of inspiration, but eventually, like so many of his contemporaries, he turned his attention to Locke. Among those who collaborated with him on projects were Voltaire, Diderot, and d’Alembert. So I’ve been developing a clearer sense of what he himself actually believed, based on what he drew on from these various sources.”

How does Rameau fit in with other well-known composers of the day?

“Rameau was two years older than Handel and Bach, almost an exact contemporary. Interestingly, although there’s no evidence to suggest he knew their music well, he helped popularize in France the kinds of music they were writing. From the Handel side of things, he took the kind of virtuosic playing and singing we associate with Italian composition, and from the Bach side, he took an interest in complex counterpuntal and harmonic language. To these he added an extraordinary sense of color—few at this time were combining orchestras and voices in such surprising ways—and an endless gift for invention comparable to Bach’s and Handel’s. During the late 1740s, a faction arose at the French court that wanted to set limits on how many operas Rameau could compose, because they felt he was dominating the music scene so completely.

“Rameau was well known internationally. Initially, this was the result of his theoretical ideas, which he began publishing in the 1720s; reviews appeared almost immediately in Germany. By the 1750s, when his theoretical ideas were being popularized, his work was receiving attention in Italy as well. He also became an international figure musically in this period. His works were performed in Italy and Germany, and they were influential among the reform composers of that generation—Traetta, Jomelli, and Gluck. (For example, the famous opening scene of Gluck’s Orfeo et Euridice, which begins in the midst of a funeral procession, was directly modeled on the beginning of Rameau’s Castor et Pollux.)”

What activities have taken place around the world this year, and where?

“Well, as is always the case with composers, there have been performances around the world—in France and, more generally, Europe, obviously, but in the states as well, notably in New York and Washington D.C. In fact, a phone app has circulated in France so that one can follow where Rameau is being performed every day this year.

“Raphaëlle Legrand, who teaches at the Sorbonne, has put together a fascinating year-long series of presentations, open to the public, that combine historians, music theorists, professional musicians specializing in period instruments, and professional dancers specializing in historical dance techniques. This project is called the ‘Atelier Rameau’ and it has an excellent website. It has been especially interesting to have singers, instrumentalists, and dancers working together, because dance is so basic to Rameau’s musical style. Performers quickly developed a new sense of what was and wasn’t possible when they began talking to each other!

“The biggest events, however, were two international conferences that united all of the scholars currently working on Rameau. The first was held last March in Paris. Sponsored by the French national library and CNRS (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique), the French government’s principal sponsor of scholarly research, ‘Rameau between Art and Science’ was held over three days at the Bibliothèque National, the Cistercian abbey at Royaumont (where an important research library is housed), and the Opéra-Comique (which premiered a new production of Rameau’s comedy, Platée). The second, ‘Jean-Philippe Rameau: International Anniversary Conference,’ was held at St. Hilda’s College, University of Oxford, this past September. It was part of a vast research effort, The Rameau Project, which is being overseen at Oxford by Graham Sadler and Jonathan Williams. Both conferences were remarkable.

“Among the surprises, those in attendance learned that we are still discovering eighteenth-century production scores for Rameau’s earliest and most important works, and that Rameau was the composer of the famous round, ‘Frère Jacques,’ which he included in a recently discovered composition manual. I can honestly say that this past year has advanced our knowledge of Rameau and his music in unprecedented ways.”