Archive for July 14th, 2014

Composers Festival Spotlight: Holly Harrison

Holly Harrison

Holly Harrison is the first-ever MICF resident composer to come from Australia, where she was was born and raised, and currently is studying for a Doctorate of Creative Arts in Composition at the University of Western Sydney. She previously graduated from the University’s bachelor of music program with the University Medal for outstanding academic achievement.

Holly’s music is “driven by the nonsense literature of Lewis Carroll, embracing stylistic juxtapositions, the visceral energy of rock, and whimsical humour.” The first and last of those qualities certainly are reflected in the name of the piece she’s written for Alarm Will Sound to perform at the festival, which is called “Radishes and Strings.”

Another of Holly’s works, “Cabbages and Kings,” recently won first place at the 2014 Young Composers Meeting in Apeldoorn, The Netherlands, resulting in a commission to write a new piece for Orkest de Ereprijs for 2015. “Cabbages and Kings” also will be performed by Orkest de Ereprijs in September at the Gaudeamus Muziekweek in Utrecht.

Her honors and awards have included an Australia Postgraduate Award, three APRA Composition Awards, and the Marianne Rosenberg Musicology Prize. Holly received the Australia and Pacific Prize for the 2014 Zvi Zeitlin Memorial International Composers Competition, and in 2013 was the winner of the inaugural Pyeongchon Arts Hall International Chamber Music Composition Competition (South Korea).

Holly was selected for the 2013 Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music Composers Workshop here in the USA and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra’s 2012-2013 Cybec 21st Century Australian Composers Program. She also was the Australian representative for the Young Composers Competition at the 29th Asian Composers’ League Conference and Festival held in 2011 in Taiwan.

Her music has been performed in Australia, Asia, Europe and the USA by ensembles and soloists including the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Orkest de Ereprijs, Cabrillo Festival Orchestra, Minot Symphony Orchestra, Hwaum Chamber Orchestra, National Taiwan Normal University Orchestra, Ensemble Offspring’s Jason Noble, and Antonietta Loffredo. Holly currently is collaborating with The Riot Ensemble (UK) on a work for two percussionists.

You can hear some of Holly Harrison’s music in the SoundCloud player embedded below.

Holly Harrison on drums in a duo with guitarist Joey Tabua,
recorded in May 2013 at the Workshop Playhouse Theater.

Composers Festival Spotlight: Michael Schacter

Michael Schachter

Michael Schacter is one of eight resident composers at the 2014 Mizzou International Composers Festival, and comes to Columbia from Ann Arbor, MI, where he currently is working towards a Ph.D. in music theory and composition at the University of Michigan.

Originally from Massachusetts and an enthusiastic Red Sox fan, Michael is a pianist as well as a composer whose music draws from “an eclectic brew of influences including jazz and New Orleans, Renaissance polyphony, Jewish liturgy and klezmer, and South Indian classical music.”

He earned his BA in 2009 from Harvard, where he directed the Harvard Chamber Singers and founded and directed the Harvard Jazz Collective, performing in concerts and master classes with Herbie Hancock, Joshua Redman, Roy Haynes, Roy Hargrove, Don Byron, and many others.

As a scholar, Michael’s research interests include the philosophy of music (especially aesthetics, epistemology, and ethics), pedagogy, early music, jazz, New Orleans music, and the classical music of South India. He spent the 2009-2010 academic year in Chennai, India, studying South Indian classical singing and vina playing. He returned there earlier this year to continue his research on melodic structures in South Indian classical music and work on a joint project transcribing and cataloging ragas with vina virtuoso Karaikudi S. Subramanian.

As a composer, Michael has received recognition from BMI, ASCAP, and the American Composers Forum, and his orchestral work “Freylekhe Tanzen” was selected for the ill-fated 2013 Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute.

In 2013, the University of Michigan in partnership with the Gershwin family commissioned him to compose a mash-up of the University’s fight song “Hail to the Victors” and Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.” The resulting “Rhapsody in Maize and Blue” was premiered by Kenneth Kiesler and the University Symphony Orchestra in a concert featuring singer Audra McDonald.

Other recent and upcoming projects include premieres with the New York Virtuoso Singers, the Vocal Essence Ensemble Singers, and the Aurea Silva Trio, as well as collaborations with Subramanian, the Berkeley Community Chorus and Orchestra, the Jameson Singers, bass-baritone Davone Tines, and saxophonist Eddie Goodman.

For the 2014 MICF, Michael has written a new work called “Five-Six-Seven-Eight,” that will be one of eight world premieres performed by resident ensemble Alarm Will Sound for the Festival’s grand finale on Saturday, July 26 at the Missouri Theatre.

“The opportunity to write for an ensemble with the timbral palette of a full orchestra but the locked-in tightness of a Pro Tools session perhaps overly piqued my imagination, and I wanted to use this piece to explore a greater range of textures and ideas than one coherent movement could reasonably accommodate,” he said. “As such, the work consists of four miniatures, each between one and two minutes in length. The title, a reference to the common bandstand count-in, reflects the different dance-inspired characters of each miniature.”

You can hear more of Michael Schacter’s music on his website, and in the videos below.

The world premiere performance of “Three Wallace Stevens Songs”
on March 30, 2014 by The New York Virtuoso Singers

The final three minutes of “Oseh Shalom Bimromav,” winner of the Berkeley Community Chorus & Orchestra’s Young Composer Competition, performed in May 2013 by the BCCO.

“II. Jig, for Cello and Piano” (2011) performed by Schachter (piano) and Pierre Derycz (cello) at 2012 Midwest Composers Symposium at Indiana University, Bloomington, IN.