December 4, 2021
Noe Valley Ministry, San Francisco
bird of paradise
Kinetics: 21 Microludes for String Quartet
1 Episodic, Severe
2 Delicate, Breathing
3 Boiling Over
4 Dry, Disparate
5 Viola Solo/Push and Pull Freely
6 Choppy, Carving
7 Stirring, Lumping
8 Bustling, Fierce
9 Cello Solo/Stretching, Jumping
10 Weighty, Lethargic
11 Shear, Glassy
12 Luminous, Floating for Emily
13 Violin I Solo/Quiet, Fragile
14 Agitated, Trudging
15 Sweeping, Smooth
16 Warm, Woven
17 Violin II Solo/Rough, Resonant
18 Light, Metered
19 Exuberant, Blazing
20 Sloping, Tipping
21 In Synchrony
Seaside Song of Light
2,000 Miles of Space
it was never okay
About bird of paradise
My favorite bird is the bird of paradise. I was watching a nature documentary and I was shocked by its mating ritual. It fans out its feathers into a taco-shaped smiley face and dances around to impress its mate. It’s at the same time goofy and otherworldly in its beauty: it has this iridescent, turquoise breast shield and crown, and long antennae. But even cooler are the sounds it makes, batting its feathers (woosh), screeching, and calling to other birds. So for this piece I created two main motivic elements. One that represents its eerie, alien appearance and birdcall, and another for the goofy dance it does for the ladies.
About Kinetics: 21 Mircoludes for String Quartet
Kinetics, comprised of 21 microludes after Kurtag’s 12 Microludes, is an exploration of the string quartet’s ability to portray different kinds of motion as a unit, as various subsets, and as individual instruments. This exploration of motion unfolds in the form of miniatures, allowing for several disparate characters of music to coexist while 4 solos, based off of similar material, weave a thread of continuity throughout. The piece culminates in the ensemble acting as one, playing the final “solo” movement in unison.
About Seaside Song of Light
"Seaside Song of Light,” explores the figurative and literal representation of images as sound. This piece was conceived as a “place” piece: I wanted to paint a desolate, liminal place, where elements of life are present, but are overwhelmingly derelict and scarce. This is where the seaside came to me — a place that is neither truly on land, nor out in the water. To share the uncanny, disconnected sentiment that drove this piece into existence, I open “Seaside Song of Light” with whispers, which serve two purposes: comprehending the words and noticing the effect of their sound. Then, as the words become scarce, instruments begin a slow and air introduction: seagull sounds, industrial squeaking, some spoken language, some melodic content here and there. This is the part where the piece’s literal-figurative dichotomy becomes complicated because we both hear the characteristic sounds of the ocean while hearing motifs and words that evoke oceanic sentiments (aloneness, melancholy) and developing the overall nature of the setting given the industrial subtext. After this intro, I wanted to explore the melodic fragment alone, and amplify that aspect of our listening/emotional experience. Thereafter, I wanted to zoom out of auditory experience alone, and use a poem to gage our awareness of the audience, of the musicians, of the imaginary setting that I was constructing and the potential characters that may exist in that setting. I found that the music guided me towards a delayed and powerful climax, a wave that wipes out all the layers of perception that I explored and simplifies the listening experience. It came as a wild torrent of sound, and return everything back to the sound of music rather than the sound of the ocean or the sound of human beings. The text for the poem, which I have written myself, is below.
It is at this hour
when the tide and light
reach their critical height
that he comes to be with the landscape,
and this is the song:
it comes from the elements,
it rocks with the rust.
an indulgent melancholy like that of fish or blood,
some or other entoptic phenomenon.
and you? the other onlooker.
What is your time here
about? What critical hour,
where tide and light and bird coalesce,
do you anticipate?
About 2,000 Miles of Space
This piece is an organism. I tried to treat the string quartet as a unit.
The idea of disparate figures mixing together or morphing into each other was compelling me at the time. To do this, I had to create spaces with both recognizable musical artifacts and an evident contour.
In a way this piece is very much influenced by minimalism. While the changes have more to do with tempo shifts and rhythmic games, they are gradual and large change will be noticed on the macro scale.
I have been interested in utilizing microtonality. The mathematics behind specific resonances interest me but for my purposes I tried to just base microtonal decisions on physical sounds instead of calculations.
Each section is very much a static space. Yet, even within static spaces there is minute movement.
This piece is brisk and cold. You are alone and floating.
About it was never okay
it was never okay is a sort of fumbling attempt to reckon with my musical childhood in the context of an awful year of adulthood. The music of the past is put into a centrifuge and ground down to its component parts. There is helpless anger, deep grief, petty frustrations, Pyrrhic victories, suspect triumphs, delusions of grandeur, magical thinking, digging through garbage, compartmentalization, coping mechanisms, self-deception, decluttering, excision, survival. It was written for the Friction Quartet.
About Carolina Bragg
Carolina Bragg finds inspiration in the strangest of places, from epic poems to distant planets beyond our solar system. Carolina’s latest classical project is a commission from Friction Quartet as part of their Commissioning Initiative II. Her idea for this work sprang from a nature documentary about the birds-of-paradise. With their unique plumage and curious mating ritual, this species inspired her to write a string quartet that sampled audio clips of their birdcalls. Friction Quartet premiered this work on NPR’s From the Top.
Carolina is grateful to her teachers and mentors, who have included Eugene Kim, Paola Prestini, Alla Cohen, and Reena Esmail. In 2018, for Luna Composition Lab, Carolina wrote a piece for string quartet inspired by a particular passage from John Milton’s Paradise Lost in which Satan, the epic’s tragic hero, gazes on the newly formed Earth. Paradise Lost: This Pendant World was premiered at Roulette Intermedium and National Sawdust in Brooklyn, NY. The work received second place in the Community Music School of Webster University Young Composers Competition and was performed in St. Louis in March of 2019.
Carolina’s latest work ventures into the realm of pop, layering her vocals with cello and Foley. Her first work in this style, a collection of 4 songs entitled The Frightening Thing EP, explores young adulthood by diving into the world of scary things, from inhospitable planets to ghosts.
About Kari Watson
Kari Watson (b.1998) is a composer and sound artist working between the mediums of contemporary concert music and electroacoustic music. Motivated by a passion for narrative and musical drama, Watson works to create music that is clear, expressive, tactile, and emotionally driven. With roots in vocal study and performance, her work is informed by the vocal line and often incorporates text. Watson’s work has been premiered in the United States and abroad by several ensembles, including the Axiom Brass Quintet, the Friction Quartet, the Northern Ohio Youth Orchestra, Ensemble MISE-EN, the Rosetta Contemporary Ensemble, and the SOLI Chamber Ensemble, among others.
Watson’s work has been featured on a variety of concerts and festivals, such as in Chicago’s Ear Taxi Festival, the New Music Gathering, and at the Yarn/Wire Institute. She has also received several grants to further her work, such as the Oberlin Conservatory’s Flint Initiative Grant, and the XART award. Watson has also pursued a love of creative communities by participating in and interning at artist residencies, such as the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Arts Letters & Numbers, and the MacDowell Colony.
In recent projects, Watson has also embraced interdisciplinary collaboration, composing music for interactive installations, and multimedia projects. Current projects include setting Sappho as translated by Anne Carson with contemporary response fragments by Kevin Madison for the Ekmeles vocal ensemble and Sandbox Percussion, a set of miniatures for solo harp for harpist Ina McCormack, and a string quartet for Quartet Diotima.
In tandem with her compositional practice, Watson works to promote inclusivity within classical music, both within spaces she inhabits, as well as in larger projects that create infrastructure to support the work of those underrepresented in composition. She is a co-founder of Oberlin’s Women, Trans and Non-binary composer collective, the KOI Collective. Additionally, Watson has taught private composition lessons since 2018 and also teaches private lessons for Through the Staff, an organization providing low income students with private music lessons at no cost.
Watson holds a BM from Oberlin Conservatory in Composition, with a minor in TIMARA (technology in music and related arts) and is currently pursuing a Ph.D at the University of Chicago under Augusta Read Thomas.
About Sofia Belimova
Sofia Belimova was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, and is a student at Amherst College. At seven years old, she started studying piano and violin, and a year later she began composition lessons at the St. Petersburg Conservatory with Sofya Levkovskaya. Sofia's family immigrated to the United States in 2009, and in 2010 she was accepted to the Special Music School at Kaufman Music Center where she studied piano with Natela Mchedlishvili and composition with Robinson McClellan. In high school, she went on to attend the Manhattan School of Music Precollege Program where she studied with Wang Jie and Kevin James of the American Composers Orchestra Compose Yourself! Program. She has participated in the Face the Music ensemble and the Luna Composition Lab where she worked with Missy Mazzoli. Her pieces have been performed at The Roulette, Le Poisson Rouge, Mannes School of Music, Doge Hall at Columbia University, Firehouse Space, The Jazz Gallery, The Metropolitan Museum of Art balcony, Merkin Concert Hall, and others.
About Theodore Haber
Theodore Haber, is a San Francisco Bay Area based composer and violinist. He is a student at the USC Thornton School of Music studying composition with Ted Hearne and Sean Friar. Previous teachers include John Adams, Matthew Cmiel, Samuel Carl Adams, and Robert Yamasato. Haber has participated in the John Adams Young Composers Program summer workshop, The Yellow Barn Young Artists Program, and the soundSCAPE Composition and Performance Exchange. He enjoys collaboration and aims to learn about other art forms through collaborative projects. He has worked with filmmakers, actors, and dancers. He has performed with the Kronos Quartet, in the Other Minds Music Festival, and in the Switchboard Music Festival, and was a member of the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra. His compositions have been premiered by the Baumer String Quartet, The Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, SF Sound, the Friction Quartet, the Now Ensemble, and the USC Thornton Symphony.
About Benjamin Champion
Benjamin Champion is a freshman at The Juilliard School, where he studies composition with Melinda Wagner. Benjamin graduated from Idyllwild Arts Academy (IAA), where he studied composition with Mark Carlson (UCLA), and piano performance with Dr. Jeanette Louise Yaryan (IAA). Ben spent three years in the Young Composer Fellowship program with the Los Angeles Philharmonic lead by Andrew Norman and Sarah Gibson. Ben’s compositions have been performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Master Chorale, the L.A. Percussion Quartet, the Calder Quartet, and Rebekah Heller of I.C.E.. Other highlights in Ben’s career include Boston University Tanglewood Institute (summer 2016), Finalist in the Morton Gould Young Composer Awards (2016, ’17, ’18), Yellow Barn International Chamber Music Festival Young Artist/Composer (summer 2017 and 2018) and Winner/Finalist (2018).
About Isaac Schankler
Isaac Schankler is a composer, accordionist, and electronic musician living in Los Angeles. Their music has been described as “powerful” (Sequenza21), “delightful” (I Care If You Listen), “ingenious” (The Artificialist), “masterfully composed” (Boston Musical Intelligencer), and “the antidote to sentimentality” (LA Times).
Schankler’s recent performances and commissions include works for the Nouveau Classical Project, the Ray-Kallay Duo, Friction Quartet, gnarwhallaby, the Los Angeles Percussion Quartet, Lorelei Ensemble, Juventas New Music Ensemble, flutist Meerenai Shim, and bass-baritone Nicholas Isherwood. Recent honors include awards and grants from Meet the Composer, the National Opera Association, the American Composers Forum, the Atlantic Center for the Arts, and the American Prize. Schankler is a past winner of the USC Sadye J. Moss Composition Prize and the ASCAP/Lotte Lehmann Foundation Art Song Competition.
As a composer for video games, Schankler has written music for critically acclaimed and award-winning independent games, including Ladykiller in a Bind, Analogue: A Hate Story, Hate Plus, Redshirt, and Depression Quest.
As a writer and researcher, Schankler has written numerous articles for NewMusicBox, the multimedia publication of New Music USA, and in 2013 was a winner of the ASCAP Deems Taylor Award for excellence in music journalism. Their writing has also appeared in the International Journal of Arts and Technology, Computer Music Journal, and the proceedings of various international conferences.
Schankler is the artistic director of the concert series People Inside Electronics, and holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in composition from the University of Southern California, as well as Master of Music and Bachelor of Music degrees in composition from the University of Michigan. Schankler is currently Assistant Professor of Music at Cal Poly Pomona, where they teach composition, music technology, and music theory.
Next Concerts on our season
March 18, 2022 | Old First Presbysterian, San Francisco | Guest Artist Melinda Martinez Becker
May 20, 2022 | Old First Presbysterian, San Francisco | World Premiere la terre est comme une orange by Geoffrey Gordon
Premieres Concert No. 3
January 30, 2020
San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Concert Hall
I. News Feed
The Criterion Collection
A Clowder of Nuns
Le Tombeau de Leland Palmer
Tape Music/Clapping Music
HAL’s Requiem (My Mind is Going)
Doris Day Étude
Big Wheel Étude
— intermission —
About Erik DeLuca:
Erik DeLuca makes sound installations that are essays, writes sculpturally, and teaches as a kind of performance. He has published writings on politics of listening related to settler colonialism in Perspectives of New Music, Leonardo Music Journal, Organised Sound, Public Art Dialogue, Marfa Sounding Research, and Sonic Field. He has lectured, performed, and exhibited at a variety of places including MASS MoCA, Emily Carr University of Art + Design, Art Basel (Miami), School of the Arts Institute Chicago, The Contemporary Austin, The New School, Nýlistasafnið (The Living Art Museum in Iceland), Columbia School of the Arts, Skowhegan School for Painting and Sculpture, CalArts, Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, Issue Project Room, Fieldwork: Marfa, Danspace Project at St Mark's Church, and Yale University School of Art. He received a PhD in Music Composition and Computer Technologies from the University of Virginia, was recently an American-Scandinavian Foundation postdoctoral fellow, and worked in Yangon, Myanmar with the support of an 2018 Asian Cultural Council grant. DeLuca lectured at the Iceland University of the Arts from 2016 to 2018 and is currently Visiting Assistant Professor of Music and Multimedia at Brown University.
About Mario Godoy:
Mario Godoy (b.1988 Riverside, CA) is a composer, saxophonist, sound designer, and music educator based in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Godoy’s compositional style has been described as "rhythmically brilliant" and "imaginatively colorful.” He has written works for soloists, chamber ensembles, voice, wind ensemble, works with electronics, and music for film and video games. Groups he has worked with include Friction Quartet, Mobius Trio, The Living Earth Show, Akropolis Reed Quintet, Nomad Session, and the Del Sol String Quartet among others. Current projects include a second full-length quartet for Friction Quartet, as well as several film, game, and sound design projects.
As a saxophonist, he has performed professionally across the gamut of musical genres having played with the Redlands Symphony Orchestra, multiple chamber ensembles, jazz big bands, jazz combos, and rock bands. His most notable performance project was as the saxophonist and live electronics player for the Oakland-based experimental pop band, Makeunder.
He holds a Master of Music degree in composition from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music where he studied under David Garner and Dan Becker. He also holds a Bachelor of Music Degree in Saxophone Performance from the University of Redlands where he studied saxophone with Dr. Eddie Smith and composition with Dr. Anthony Suter.
He resides in Oakland, CA where he teaches private and group lessons to musicians of all ages. He currently teaches Scoring for Film and Media at Las Positas College in Livermore, CA, as well as Music and Spanish at Maybeck High School in Berkeley, CA. He also teaches composition through Crowden Music Center's John Adams Young Composers Program.
About Nicole Lizée:
Called “a brilliant musical scientist” (CBC), “breathtakingly inventive” (Sydney Times Herald, Australia), and lauded for “creating a stir with listeners for her breathless imagination and ability to capture Gen-X and beyond generation” (Winnipeg Free Press), award winning composer and video artist composer Nicole Lizée creates new music from an eclectic mix of influences including the earliest MTV videos, turntablism, rave culture, Hitchcock, Kubrick, Alexander McQueen, thrash metal, early video game culture, 1960s psychedelia and 1960s modernism. She is fascinated by the glitches made by outmoded and well-worn technology and captures these glitches, notates them and integrates them into live performance.
Nicole’s compositions range from works for orchestra and solo turntablist featuring DJ techniques fully notated and integrated into a concert music setting, to other unorthodox instrument combinations that include the Atari 2600 video game console, omnichords, stylophones, Simon™, vintage board games, and karaoke tapes. In the broad scope of her evolving oeuvre she explores such themes as malfunction, reviving the obsolete, and the harnessing of imperfection and glitch to create a new kind of precision.
In 2001 Nicole received a Master of Music degree from McGill University. After a decade and a half of composition, her commission list of over 50 works is varied and distinguished and includes the Kronos Quartet, Carnegie Hall, the New York Philharmonic, the BBC Proms, the San Francisco Symphony, the National Arts Centre Orchestra, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, l’Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, the Banff Centre, Bang On A Can, So Percussion, Eve Egoyan, stargaze, the Australian Art Orchestra, l’Orchestre Métropolitain du Grand Montréal, CBC, Radio-Canada, NYC’s Kaufman Center, Joby Burgess/Powerplant, Music on Main, Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society, Ben Reimer, Vicky Chow, Tapestry Opera, Standing Wave, Gryphon Trio, MATA Festival, TorQ Percussion, Fondation Arte Musica/Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal, E-Gré National Music Competition, Innovations en Concert, Continuum, Soundstreams, SMCQ, Arraymusic, Megumi Masaki, ECM+, and the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony. Her music has been performed worldwide in renowned venues including Carnegie Hall (NYC), Royal Albert Hall (London), Muziekgebouw (Amsterdam) and Cité de la Musique (Paris) – and in festivals including the BBC Proms (UK), Huddersfield (UK), Roskilde (Denmark), Bang On a Can (USA), Classical:NEXT (Rotterdam), All Tomorrow’s Parties (UK), Barbican’s Sound Unbound (UK), Metropolis (Australia), Sydney Festival (Australia), X Avant (Canada), Luminato (Canada), Other Minds (San Francisco), C3 (Berlin), Ecstatic (NYC), Switchboard (San Francisco), Melos-Ethos (Slovakia), Casalmaggiore (Italy), and Dark Music Days (Iceland).
Nicole was recently awarded the prestigious 2019 Prix Opus for Composer of the Year. In 2017 she received the SOCAN Jan. V. Matejcek Award. In 2013 she received the Canada Council for the Arts Jules Léger Prize for New Chamber Music. She is a two time JUNO nominee for composition of the year. She is a Lucas Artists Fellow (California) and a Civitella Ranieri Foundation Fellow (Italy). In 2015 she was selected by acclaimed composer and conductor Howard Shore to be his protégée as part of the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards. This Will Not Be Televised, her seminal piece for chamber ensemble and turntables, placed in the 2008 UNESCO International Rostrum of Composers’ Top 10 Works. Her work for piano and notated glitch, Hitchcock Études, was chosen by the International Society for Contemporary Music and featured at the 2014 World Music Days in Wroclaw, Poland. Additional awards and nominations include an Images Festival Award (2016), Dora Mavor Moore nomination in Opera (2015), Prix Opus nomination (2013), two Prix collégien de musique contemporaine, (2012, 2013) and the 2002 Canada Council for the Arts Robert Fleming Prize for achievements in composition.
Nicole was the Composer in Residence at Vancouver’s Music on Main from 2016-18.
She is a Korg Canada and Arturia artist.
The system I developed to compose lake was inspired by a month of fieldwork on Isle Royale National Park, an isolated archipelago located inside Lake Superior. One element of this system used a geometric progression to encapsulate a common experiential knowledge that some observe while in the park, a subtle environment that overtime slowly comes into focus. lake exists because of the parks Artist-in-Residence program and has been donated to the Park Service. The silent film that accompanies lake was shot by life lessee Philip R. Gale on 8mm film in 1956.
About Attention Economy:
In today's age of never-ending digital content, human attention has become a scarce resource. There are so many things that ask for attention in every moment, but as humans, that attention is finite. This work, Attention Economy, borrows inspiration from this terminology and is a reflection on social consciousness in the age of social media and the 24-hour news cycle. Our access to technology is incredible. We have the power to connect with people all over the world and shop for groceries without ever leaving the house. This access has drastically shifted how we consume media and interact with the world around us. For better or worse, we have become a society of data bingers. Swipe, double-tap, scroll, autoplay, read more, reply all. Repeat. It's the modern-day human experience.
The first movement, "Newsfeed," represents the deluge of information presented to us daily. It's the constantly updating, never-ending scroll that we download into our brains without even really thinking about it. The music is often a cacophony of voices competing for the listener's attention. You can hear thematic ideas echo, bounce around, and morph over time. Every so often, something new may emerge from the texture, but it is quickly lost among the sea of voices.
Movement 2, “Elegy,” was written as a tribute to those who have lost their lives due to violence, accidents, negligence, or natural disasters. It was imperative to me that this quartet about our digital worlds include a moment that honors and mourns the multitudes of people that have been lost. Often, I feel like the only time we slow down, reflect, and come together is during times of tremendous sorrow and tragedy. We feel the ripples that emanate through our society with every loss, and in those moments, we grieve in unison. I have also chosen to have this movement continue without pause into the third movement, representing how quickly those of us who were not directly affected by the tragedy disengage and move right back into our daily routines.
The third movement, “Screens,” is a reflection of how we as a society, interact with technology and the world. For so many of us, screens have become a crucial fixture in our human identity. They are our best friends, our teachers, our baby sitters, our escape. They often seem to know more about us than we do about ourselves. (Hello, targeted ads, I see you.) This movement uses sounds that mimic notifications chimes and phones buzzing. It's a snapshot of the room full of people all staring down at their phones, or the family sitting at home binge watching different shows on different tablets. It's live streaming yourself playing video games, with Netflix on in the background while you're texting your friends during the loading screens. It's the magic and the chaos of screens.
The fourth movement, “Intention,” is meant to be an introspective moment that allows the listener time to reexamine their own relationship with technology and how it affects their daily lives. Technology is undeniably great, and it's not going anywhere. Still, I think we can all use the occasional reminder to take a break and ask ourselves, "what do I need more of in my life?" What daily intentions can you set to enrich your life, relationships, and give you a more vibrant, meaningful community?
Juxtapossession is a multi-media work that examines elements of the arcane and mysterious, and the Satanic Panic of the 80’s. The 1960’s, ’70s, and ‘80s saw a culmination in an obsession with the occult. Bands would hide “subliminal messages” in songs by recording lyrics backward. Blockbuster movies like “The Exorcist” shocked audiences with unforgettable scenes like the infamous head turning around. This feature of backwards-ness in the movie and in the recordings provides a multi-layer springboard for Nicole’s Juxtapossesion. In this piece, Nicole explores small moments in scenes over and over again, looping and playing audio in reverse.
Lizee has long been fascinated with looking back by reviving obsolete instruments and old footage, harnessing imperfections for expressive purposes. She makes this explicit by using physical objects that are often associated as symbols of the occult as musical instruments. In this work, the players will perform using amplified Ouija Boards, pop rocks in their mouth, and will use other non-standard instruments like air spray cans, stomping, parchment paper, and pop snaps.
The video scenes used are a juxtaposition of call-in show on a Christian television network, a scene from “The Exorcist” and original footage shot by the composer that contain visible representations of “hidden messages.” As the work progresses, the music and the scenes will revisit brief moments, creating a fabric of juxtaposed elements that yield a unique artistic experience.
Nicole’s music is like traveling through time. She finds a small gesture or sound in a brief scene and then revisits that moment again and again, slowly morphing it and contrasting it with other morphed sounds. It’s as if she treats a movie scene or recording like a prism that she twists and turns in the light to bring out interesting and perhaps unnoticed features.