Our 2016-17 Cedar Commissions artists Dameun Strange, Zack Baltich, Krissy Bergmark, Bethany Battafarano, Ritika Ganguly and SEE MORE PERSPECTIVE debut their commissions this Friday, February 3rd, and Saturday, February 4th. Read excerpts of artist guest blogs and watch short video spotlights about each of their pieces below.
The Cedar Commissions (formerly the 416 Commissions) is a flagship program for emerging artists made possible with a grant from the Jerome Foundation, and has showcased new work by more than 30 local emerging composers and musicians since its inception in 2011.
Dameun Strange – Helianthus
Helianthus is an afrofuturistic conceptual operetta that will tell the story of Dameun Strange as a composer and time traveler visiting his matriarchal ancestors at points in time when they learned valuable lessons that were then passed down to him
“This thing called music, this Force; is why I am still here. This Force has sustained me through difficult periods of my life. It is how I celebrate. It brings me so much BLACK JOY. And although, I am pretty sure that I would have found my way to music on my own. My relationship to music has so much to do with my relationship to not only the 4 generations of Black women who raised me but to my siblings, as well. When thinking about my relationship to the women who raised me, each of them was responsible for introducing me to styles and genres of music that you can here in my own art as a player and as a composers and each of those styles is represented in my short operetta, Helianthus that I will present as my Cedar Commission piece.”
Read Dameun’s full guest blog here. Helianthus debuts on Friday, February 3rd.
Ritika Ganguly – Osthir
Osthir is a project where poem meets song. It explores the inherent musicality of literature straddling 19th century Bengal to contemporary New Delhi to Victorian England to 20th century Chile.
“It thrills me to be working in Bangla. It is the language I inhabit, my home in the world. I remember how some eighteen summers ago, when my grandma sat me down and taught me the Bangla alphabet, I was mesmerized at the world of music that it unbolted for me. I was training then in a genre of Bangla music that is also simultaneously considered the finest Bangla (written) literature, but I had been transcribing, all this time, the heard Bangla word first into Hindi – the default language taught in schools in New Delhi – and then rendering it into spoken (or sung) Bangla! To experience a word in the written form, and to see it sitting amidst other words, replete with punctuation, rhyme, and line breaks, made the logic of the melody fall into place at once. So many years and cities later, here I am, revisiting once again the relationship between literature and music, thanks to this open-minded music grant that allows musicians to take unique and fresh risks.”
Read Ritika’s full guest blog here. Oshtir debuts on Friday, February 3rd.
Bethany Battafarano – Oda a la paz
Oda a la paz is a collaboration with Peruvian poet Helmut Jerí Pabón and Chilean musicians Vladimir Garrido and Nicolas Muñoz, exploring Western classical and Latin American sounds with a focus on choral and Andean roots.
“As we neared the end of 2016, I was repeatedly struck by how appropriately-timed this project was for me. I first met and read the works of poet Helmut Jerí Pabón more than five years ago, but his words resonate even more strongly with me today. His texts address the environmental impacts of mining, the cancerous greed for the new frontier, worldwide war and violence that continue unchecked even by our wealthiest moral institutions, and corrupt politicians and the fight for justice. One of his poems serves as the namesake for this project — Oda a la paz or “Ode to Peace”
Read Bethany’s full guest blog here. Oda a la paz debuts on Friday, February 3rd.
Krissy Bergmark – The Darkest Timeline
The Darkest Timeline is built upon an intimate, emotional story line created through a “compositional conversation” with dancer Lauren Baker, who exchanged excerpts of music and choreography to create a three movement piece for tabla, cello, electric guitar, fiddle, and dancer
“In my own experience, and after commiserating with my fellow composing musicians, I’ve found this to be true: writing music will tear you apart. Like many creative pursuits, it will make you question yourself over and over again. You’ll question the validity of your work, your own worth, and your ability to produce something worthwhile again, no matter the size of your body of previous work. Always walking to the precipice alone, composers are called to reach in to find the source of their voice, and to build something. This piece has pushed me to the edge of that precipice.”
Read Krissy’s full guest blog here. The Darkest Timeline debuts on Saturday, February 4th.
SEE MORE PERSPECTIVE – Flow and the Bow
Flow and the Bow, a collaboration with cellist Eric Silva Brenneman, experiments around the intersection between hip-hop and classical music, exploring and testing the dynamics between “one cello and a microphone.
“It’s interesting how you can draw from tradition and end up with something you’ve never experienced. How you can carefully construct a blueprint and have so many other influences fill in the framework. How you can take so many traditions that you have such reverence for and create something so…irreverent. The collaboration we came to call ‘Flow and the Bow’ started with a simple enough concept. A cello and a vocalist (specifically an MC/poet). We would draw from the traditions and sensibilities of two genres; classical and hip hop. We’d bring them together in a way that felt authentic to us both. Simple, right? Obvious, no?”
Read SEE MORE PERSPECTIVE’s full guest blog here. Flow and the Bow debuts on Saturday, February 4th.
Zack Baltich – ingress/passage
ingress/passage is a new work for drum-set, bass clarinet, and percussion (marimba, tuned bottles, found objects). Performed in collaboration with drummer Reese Kling and clarinetist Carley Olson, ingress/passage will seek alternative textural possibilities through the use of contact microphones
“ingress/passage started out as a simple idea – to explore what the world of contact microphones can offer the marimba, and to write accompanying parts for drums (Reese Kling) and bass clarinet (Carley Olson). Contact microphones are small microphones that, when pasted to objects, amplify vibrations within the objects themselves (hence the title ingress meaning “the act of entering”). After a lot of experimentation, I found that the best way to utilize this technique is to paste contact mics to only a few bars of the marimba, then run those microphones into a series of guitar pedals, allowing me to alter the sounds and pitches being produced by the marimba. This technique made the marimba a much more malleable instrument. Additionally, I have a mic taped to the bottom of a ceramic bowl filled with water to be tuned to a pitch, also running through the guitar pedals.”
Read Zack’s full guest blog here. ingress/passage debuts on Saturday, February 4th.