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Passion in Sound —
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Orchestral Masters Vol. 1

Orchestral Masters Vol 1 CD Cover

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Eight composers of distinct and diverse compositional styles have been selected for the ABLAZE Records Orchestral Masters Volume 1 disc. These composers have won a partially subsidized recording and worldwide disc issue of their compositions performed and recorded by the Brno Philharmonic and Maestro Mikel Toms. The following composers were chosen from a submission pool of over sixty composers from eighteen countries:

Lance Hulme (North Carolina, USA) composed a pulse driven but ‘maximal’ score in his winning work Sirens' Song. The score teems with color, vibrancy, shimmering orchestral edge, luminous textures and most of all a compelling and driven pulse and architecture, which made it a stand out winning work.
Lance Hulme Bio and Sirens' Song Program Note

Federico Garcia (COLOMBIA/Pittsburgh, USA) has written a wonderfully expressive score—passacaglia on the ostinato bass of the Crucifixus from the B minor Mass of Bach. His Passacaglia on a Theme by Bach carries a gorgeously evolving dark coloration carried through the orchestra with tremendously effective counterpoint that is beautifully balanced in bringing this organically conceived, richly textured, evocatively colored and emotionally engaging score to life.
Federico Garcia Bio and Passacaglia on a Theme by Bach Program Note

Rodney Waschka II (North Carolina, USA) is well known for his electronic and algorithmic compositions. For his Belgrade Overture he used a genetic algorithm to compose a pulse driven and effectively orchestrated work that sets a crackling pace from beginning to end. The work utilizes a Serbian folk tune Ajde Jano and positions this within this pulsing and brilliant orchestral world that is effective, infectious and memorable.
Rodney Waschka II Bio and Belgrade Overture Program Note

Paul Siskind (New York, USA) composed an approachable set of traditional dance forms, reinterpreted from a contemporary viewpoint. His Organal Dances is comprised of a fanfare, gavotte, sarabande, minuet, and gigue, with the traditional aspects of modality and organum applied within an orchestral context. At once approachable and assured, with colorful orchestration, the compelling immediacy of Siskind's piece arises from his artful reshaping of familiar historical and iconic materials.
Paul Siskind Bio and Organal Dances Program Note

Craig Morris (New York, USA) composed a short and fetchingly beautiful Lullaby for orchestra. Redolent of Bernstein and Copland, and driven with a sure melodic and harmonic hand, this deeply American score paints a lovely and melodic world that is very effectively orchestrated and affectively captivating despite its brevity.
Craig Morris Bio and Lullaby Program Note

Hiroaki Manaka (Yamato, JAPAN) composed a thoughtful, sensitive and intimate work that reminisces on a long ago trip to the United States. Manaka’s Thought of the Great Plains is an expressively subtle and obliquely structured tone poem whose well crafted and considered orchestration gives a deeply colored voice to the beautifully nuanced melodic curves of this musical reminiscence.
Hiroaki Manaka Bio and Thought of the Great Plains Program Note

Spiros Mazis (Athens, GREECE) composed a work that is modernistic and textural in conception, but vibrant, brilliant and visceral in execution. With broad strokes of deeply textured orchestral color, Mazis’s 10 Dimensions – AEB160 draws on the superb potential of a large orchestra to create this boldly contrasted, dramatic and colorful, yet dynamically intellectual work.
Spiros Mazis Bio and 10 Dimensions – AEB160 Program Note

Joyce Wai-chung Tang (Hong Kong, CHINA) composed a tremendously compelling a beautifully hued orchestral work in her Quicksilver Swirls for orchestra. Quicksilver is another term for mercury and in this work Tang re-interprets mercury’s “silvery color and intense fast motion” to create a work that is vibrant, visceral and immersive. Tang’s music can also be found on ABLAZE Records Millennial Masters Series.
Joyce Wai-chung Tang Bio and Quicksilver Swirls Program Note

Thank you to all applicants who submitted scores. We were very impressed with the standard of craft and musicianship and want to congratulate all of the winners in this first Orchestral Masters volume. We look forward to releasing wonderful recordings of this diverse range of talent later this year.

Mikel Toms, conductor
British conductor Mikel Toms studied at Oxford University and is currently Director of Recordings of the Brno Philharmonic Orchestra in the Czech Republic.
Mikel Toms Bio

Brno Philharmonic Orchestra, Besední dům, Brno, CZECH REPUBLIC
The Brno Philharmonic has long been regarded as one of the best orchestras in this CZECH REPUBLIC.
Brno Philharmonic Orchestra

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Lance Hulme Photo

Lance Hulme

Composer Lance Hulme's music has been performed throughout the USA, Europe and Asia, and has garnered both critical and audience acclaim. Compact disc releases of his music include Flame Dance: The Music of Lance Hulme (Albany Records 998), Kindred Spirits (Bridge Records 9260) and The Anthems for the New Century (WWCC-7414) Critics have described Hulme as a "chameleon composer" (Gilles Quental) whose musical oeuvre encompasses a "wide range" (Knowing the Score) of musical genres and styles. His compositional style "cannot be pigeon-holed into one compositional school" (Die Badische Neueste Nachrichten) but rather draws upon the diverse elements of his musical experience to "weave a rich expressive texture." (Die Rheinpfalz Zeitung) His music "reflects the ambience and musical approach of the North American musical tradition. Compositional eclecticism, a conscious, playful and uninhibited attitude with tradition and the crossover between'serious' and vernacular music. All these elements are to be found as well as the most advanced structural and aural techniques." (Die Rheinpfalz Zeitung)

Hulme's music has won many awards including Grand Prize, International Witold Lutosławski Composition Competition, 1st Prize, ASCAP/Rudolf Nissim Prize, Grand Prize, International Trumpet Guild Composition Competition and awards from the Composición Musical Cuitat de Tarragona, Citta di Trieste Orchestra Competition and the Ladislav Kubik Composition Competition. Notable performances and commissions include Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra, the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, Southern German Radio, the State Theater of Baden, the State Orchestra of Magdeburg, West German Radio, the Durham Symphony and Chorus, the Karlsruhe University Chorus, the Raschèr Saxophone Orchestra and others.

Lance Hulme holds degrees from the Yale University School of Music, the Eastman School of Music, and the University of Minnesota. He also studied at the Universität für Musik in Vienna, Austria on a Fulbright Grant

From the beginning, Lance Hulme pursued an eclectic musical career encompassing many different aspects of music making. His career as a conductor began with the premiere of a piece written for his high school orchestra. Throughout undergraduate study, he played keyboards in various jazz bands including the jazz-fusion band Dreamscape. He lived in Europe for seventeen years and during that time was guest artist at the Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie in Karlsruhe Germany. He co-founded and directed Ensemble Surprise, an eclectic chamber ensemble that featured "700 years of new music," of which he was the "Rector Spiritus who knows exactly what to do with such an ensemble" (Die Rheinpfalz). As a solo pianist, he has been described as "a carefully prepared virtuoso" (Die Badische Neueste Nachrichten). An offer to teach brought him back to the USA and he is presently a professor of music at North Carolina Central University.

SIRENS’ SONG

Sirens' Song was composed for the University of Oklahoma Philharmonic under the direction of Mo. Jonathan Shames.

I was already deeply into the composition when the title of William Browne's poem, Sirens' Song came to me as an excellent metaphor for this work. The Odyssey had been much on my mind since I returned to the USA five years previously and after many years of living abroad. I had already composed one work, which alluded to my emotional and aesthetic connection to the Greek epic. Here, the seductive singing of the Sirens, which threatens to drive Odysseus and his fellow mariners onto the shoals, encapsulates the combination of gentle repose and untamable energy inherent in the musical materials I have used. Other allusions to feminine gestalt are also present. The three-part form suggests the traditional Gnostic three affects of womanhood — innocence, energy and wisdom: the opening Sybil-like balance of serene repose within unsettling currents; the vigorous Walküre inspired creative energy of the middle section; and the intense lyrical passion in the last section with its inexorable Yin quality, returning us to where we begin.

Compositionally, this work began with an orchestral gesture, a type of orchestrational color common in many older works but uncommon in contemporary orchestral music. I sketched this idea out long before I had the specific musical materials for the composition. These ideas came about in two ways. Firstly I created specific melodic, rhythmic and structural ideas that were organically suited to the orchestrational format I had conceived. But an equally important generator of the musical materials was the orchestration itself. At many points during the composition, the direction and processes I had set in motion in orchestrating demanded and created specific musical materials. Perhaps this in some way models the wily Odysseus who shapes the cataclysmic events of his journey and controls his own destiny.

The Odyssey, Book 12, 41-58

Square in your ship's path are Sirens, crying
beauty to bewitch men coasting by;
woe to the innocent who hears that sound!
He will not see his lady nor his children
in joy, crowding about him, home from sea;
the Sirens will sing his mind away
on their sweet meadow lolling. There are bones
of dead men rotting in a pile beside them
and flayed skins shrivel around the spot.
Steer wide;
keep well to seaward; plug your oarsmen's ears
with beeswax kneaded soft; none of the rest
should hear that song.
But if you wish to listen,
let the men tie you in the lugger, hand
and foot, back to the mast, lashed to the mast,
so you may hear those harpies' thrilling voices;
shout as you will, begging to be untied,
your crew must only twist more line around you
and keep their stroke up, till the singers fade.

Sirens’ Song by William Browne (c.1591—c.1643)

STEER, hither steer your winged pines,
All beaten mariners!
Here lie Love's undiscover'd mines,
A prey to passengers--
Perfumes far sweeter than the best
Which make the Phoenix' urn and nest.
Fear not your ships,
Nor any to oppose you save our lips;
But come on shore,
Where no joy dies till Love hath gotten more.

For swelling waves our panting breasts,
Where never storms arise,
Exchange, and be awhile our guests:
For stars gaze on our eyes.
The compass Love shall hourly sing,
And as he goes about the ring,
We will not miss
To tell each point he nameth with a kiss.
--Then come on shore,
Where no joy dies till Love hath gotten more.

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Fernando Garcia  Photo

Federico Garcia

Federico Garcia was born in Bogotá, Colombia, in 1978. His musical training began in the Colombian National Conservatory in 1986, and in 2001 he graduated as a composer from the Universidad Javeriana in his hometown. Soon after graduating he moved to the United States to pursue graduate studies in composition with Eric Moe and Mathew Rosenblum at the University of Pittsburgh, where he earned a PhD in Composition and Theory in 2006.

An award-winning composer, his orchestra work Passacaglia on a Theme by Bach won first prize in the Colombian National Competition Prize in Bogotá, 2001. His music has been performed in Colombia, Argentina, Germany, Switzerland, across the United States, and as far away as Thailand. He has participated in festivals such as the Cabrillo Festival of New Music (2010), Music10 with ensemble eighth blackbird, the Dallas Festival of New Music (as featured composer), and the Western Illinois University New Music Festival.

He is Artistic Director and principal conductor of Alia Musica Pittsburgh since its foundation in 2006–7. In that capacity he has produced and conducted over 40 premieres by emerging composers as well as standard modern repertory. In 2012 he curated the Hear/Now Festival of New Sound for the Kelly Strayhorn Theater in Pittsburgh, with artists like Pamela Z, Tim Munro, Dave Eggar, and DJ Spooky. Also in Pittsburgh, he is music director of the East Liberty Community Engagement Orchestra and of Ensemble Ripieno. He is a published author on music typography, and on the music of J.S. Bach and F. Liszt.

Federico Garcia can be visited at www.fedegarcia.net, and his music is available through www.newmusicshelf.com

Passacaglia on a Theme by Bach

The bass of Passacaglia on a theme by Bach was first used by Bach in his cantata Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen, in a chorus that he himself later borrowed, virtually verbatim, for the Crucifixusof his Mass in b minor. It is a deliberate, slow chromatic descent between one note and it’s dominant, in a straightforward but asymmetrical ternary rhythm, with what must have been for Bach (and later for Liszt and others) fascinating tonal possibilities. Here the theme proceeds in a cycle of perfect fourths, with statements in e-flat, then in b-flat, then in f, and so on.

Over this, the higher registers develop a series of freely composed passages, different moods and instrumental sounds. A first emphatic statement of the theme gives way to a lyrical section that gradually builds up in intensity; what seems to be a culminating climax, however, dissolves into a bassoon solo, introducing a hesitant transition toward the second section of the piece. Here the texture is fuller, almost in the manner of a chorale, and with an abundance of consonant sonorities; over a curtain of sound in the strings, the winds weave a contrapuntal fabric, which eventually reaches an almost total but inconclusive fade out. Then the harp, as in the beginning, leads the return of the theme and opens the third section, this one clearly directed toward the true climax of the piece, which resembles the opening statement of Bach's theme, and after which the harp itself and the timpani lead the piece to its conclusion. After a final variation of the theme (taken literally from the one change that Bach himself introduced when reworking it for the Crucifixus), a unison g is the closing pitch.

Passacaglia was completed in Pittsburgh, and became the winning entry in the 2001 national competition prize in Bogotá, Colombia, with a jury composed of Latin American masters Coriún Aharonián, Mario Lavista, and Alfredo Rugeles. The piece was premiered the following year by the Bogotá Philharmonic, conducted by Olivier Grangean.

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Rodney Waschka II Photo
Photo by Westwood Studios

Rodney Waschka

Rodney Waschka II is best known for his unusual theater pieces and his algorithmic compositions.

Performed worldwide, Waschka’s works have been presented at important festivals and concert halls including the Sound Ways Festival in Russia, the ICMC, SEAMUS, the World Saxophone Congress, the International Review of Composers in Belgrade, the Purcell Room in London, the Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid, Hong Kong City Hall, and many others. Performers of his music include the Radio Television Symphony Orchestra of Serbia, The Nevsky String Quartet of Russia, cellist Jonathan Kramer, saxophonists Phil Barham, Steve Duke, Laurent Estoppey, and John Sampen, the Bremen Clarinet Quartet, pianist Olga Kleiankina, and many others. His opera, Saint Ambrose, premiered in Chicago with Steve Duke as Ambrose Bierce and his opera Sappho’s Breath premiered in New York City with Beth Griffith as Sappho. His trumpet concerto, Winter Concerto, premiered in London in 2010, and the same year Olga Kleiankina premiered his Piano Concerto in Glinka Hall in St. Petersburg, Russia.

The National Endowment for the Arts, Meet The Composer, The North Carolina Arts Council, the Fundacion Valparaiso (Spain), the Texas Composers’ Forum, among other groups and individuals have supported the composition, performance, and recording of Waschka’s works. Published by Borik Press, his pieces have been recorded on a wide variety of labels in the US, the UK, Portugal, and Canada.

Waschka's teachers include Larry Austin, Thomas Clark, Paul Berg, Clarence Barlow, George Lewis, Charles Dodge, Robert Ashley, and Joel Ryan. He received his doctorate from the University of North Texas and also studied at the Institute of Sonology in The Royal Conservatory of The Netherlands, and at Brooklyn College in New York City.

Waschka is Professor of Arts Studies at North Carolina State University where he teaches composition, computer music, and other courses. www.waschka.info

Belgrade Overture

Belgrade Overture, intended as an energetic essay in primary colors, was composed for the Symphony Orchestra of the Serbian Broadcasting Corporation (Simfonijski orkestar Radio Televizije Srbije), also known as the RTS Symphony Orchestra, in 2008. The piece was written using genetic algorithms designed and coded by the composer. Interested listeners can find more information about Waschka’s utilization of genetic algorithms in the book, Evolutionary Computer Music, which features a chapter by the composer. The overture constitutes one work in a long line of pieces Waschka has composed using genetic algorithms since the 1990’s. These compositions range from pieces for solo performer to orchestral music and operas. The middle section of the Overture, in 7/8, features a timpani solo and also quotes the Serbian folk tune Ajde, Jano. The RTS Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Bojan Sudjic gave the premiere performance of the work in the Kolarac Foundation Hall in Belgrade on November 22, 2008 as part of the International Review of Composers festival. Bruce Polay conducted the Knox-Galesburg Symphony Orchestra in the United States premiere of the piece on February 23, 2013.

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Paul Siskind photo

Paul Siskind

Paul Siskind's music encompasses many genres, and has been performed across the US and abroad by ensembles such as the Pittsburgh Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, Omaha Symphony, Arditti String Quartet, New Amsterdam Singers, Counterinduction, Burklyn Ballet Theatre, and mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe. He has received numerous awards and grants, including ASCAP, Meet The Composer, American Music Center, National Federation of Music Clubs, New York State Music Fund, and the McKnight, Jerome, Puffin, and Dodge foundations. His commissions include the Dale Warland Singers, Leif Ericksson International Festival, Orchestra of Northern New York, Monmouth Civic Chorus, Gotham Chamber Orchestra, St. Olaf College Band, and Mi-Bemol Saxophone Ensemble. His work is published by G. Schirmer Inc., Cantando Musikkforlag, and Sweet Child Music, and has been commercially recorded on the Innova, Albany, Ravello, New Ariel, Equilibrium, and ERM Media labels.

Dr. Siskind is on the faculty of the Crane School of Music, SUNY-Potsdam, where he was voted "Teacher of the Year" three times. He has received the SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching, and a President's Award for Scholarship and Creative Activity. He completed his Ph.D. in Composition at the University of Minnesota, after studies at Queens College, the Crane School of Music, and Tufts University (where he completed a degree in biology and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa). His composition teachers included such diverse figures as Dominick Argento, Thea Musgrave, Pauline Oliveros, Robert Starer, Robert Washburn, Arthur Frackenpohl, Elliot Del Borgo, and T.J. Anderson. Along with teaching, Dr. Siskind has worked as a composer-in-residence for the Education Department of Minnesota Opera, Twin Cities Chapter Coordinator for the American Composers Forum, Music Director of One Voice Mixed Chorus, and as an Auditor for the New York State Council on the Arts.

Organal Dances

Organal Dances had an unusual genesis. In 2005, I approached the Orchestra of Northern New York with a proposition: I would donate the "commission" of a new piece as a fundraising silent auction for the orchestra, in which the person with the highest bid would be invited to direct what kind of piece I should write. The scope of the piece would depend on the amount of the winning bid, and the proceeds would be a gift to support the orchestra. Ironically, there was a tie for the highest bid; so I ended up writing two pieces for the orchestra, garnering twice the amount of money for them. Organal Dances was the first of the two pieces, commissioned by Philip and Eleanor Hopke. It was written in 2008.

When I first met with the Hopkes to discuss what kind of piece they wanted, they immediately stated: "We'd like a piece titled 'Fanfare and Gavotte,' and we'd like it to feature tuba, tambourine, and organ." Of course, they were only joking. After this humorous introduction, we started talking more seriously about the types of music that they like. They wanted something big and bright, but they also like music in minor keys or modes; they also wanted this piece to be melodic and approachable in style. We also discussed the instruments that they like; tambourine and the brass instruments were indeed high on their list. I eventually realized that perhaps they really weren't joking all that much at the outset after all.

I thought it would be fun (and funny) to try to come as close to their tongue-in-cheek request as I could, so my first idea was that the piece would indeed start with a fanfare, followed by a gavotte that features both tuba and tambourine. This then led me to structure the piece as a set of short dances, in the manner of a Baroque dance suite; but unlike Baroque dance suites, these dances are connected in a single movement without breaks. The dances are: Intrada (a processional fanfare); Gavotte (moderate tempo); Sarabande (slow and stately); Minuet (moderate waltz tempo), and Gigue (fast and lively). The opening fanfare theme of the Intrada returns in a modified version as the theme of the Sarabande; it also reappears as a countermelody near the end of the Gigue, thus unifying the piece as a whole.

But what to do about the organ? It is highly impractical to incorporate organ into orchestral pieces (and I've never enjoyed composing for organ); so it was out of the question. However, I realized that I could incorporate a little bit of humorous wordplay into the title. "Organum" is an early musical technique dating back to the 10th-13th centuries. The salient feature of organum is that the musical lines move primarily in parallel motion. The parallel motion and modal harmonies of organal style soon became unifying elements within the piece, helping to tie together the Hopkes' suggestions.

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Craig Morris Photo

Craig Morris

Craig Morris (New York, USA) has composed music since the age of eleven. He studied composition with Shirley Bloom, Kevin Scott and Joelle Wallach and also studied violin, piano and voice. He played violin with the Bronx Symphony Orchestra and presently plays with the Ridgewood Symphony. He has sung professionally as a cantor. His music has been performed by the Bronx Symphony Orchestra, the CETA Orchestra of New York, the North Jersey Symphony, the Fifth International Music Festival of Buenos Aires, the Orchestra Society of Philadelphia, the Chamber Music Society of Formosa, the Amasi Trio, the Gregg Smith Singers and the Nyack College Chorale. His compositions include piano sonatas, piano suites, orchestral suites, a clarinet concerto a concert duet for soprano and tenor, choral compositions and a sacred service for the Sabbath (published in the Journal of Synagogue Music). “Arise My Love” and “The Rubaiyat” were chosen as finalists in the 2010 Meistersingers Choral Competition. Nine choral works were recorded by the Composer’s Choir in Hamden, CT. His CD “Dreams” was released by Parma Records in 2011 to critical acclaim. His music has been hailed as “extremely intelligent, complex and powerful” by Daniel Shaw, artistic director of the Composer’s Choir. Gapplegate Classical Reviews commented “There are times when music may not be ultra-advanced categorically yet be so captivating that one doesn’t care. The composer Craig Madden Morris and his chamber music on the album Dreams (Ravello 7813) gives us such a time. There is lyricism, formal heft, beautifully played parts and an idiomatic craftsmanship/inspiration that makes it all a joy to hear.”

Dr. Morris is a child psychiatrist and an assistant professor at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. A native New Yorker, he lives in New City, NY with his wife, Nancy.

Lullaby

Craig Morris composed the brief yet fetchingly beautiful Lullaby. It was conceived as a short orchestral overture to be played at the opening of a concert. It was premiered by the Bronx Symphony Orchestra on November 17, 1996 with Kevin Scott conducting. Although scored for full orchestra including celeste, Lullaby’s quietly lyrical ambience and gently rocking motif is nonetheless suggestive of an intimate cradle song. The music highlights the various wind players with brief engaging solos, adorned and highlighted by simple, yet poignant orchestral colors. Evocative of Bernstein and Copland, and driven with a sure melodic and harmonic hand, this deeply American score paints a lovely and melodic world that is both effectively orchestrated and affectively captivating despite its brevity. Minor revisions to the original music were completed in 2013.

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Hiroaki Manaka Photo

Hiroaki Manaka

Hiroaki Manaka was born on May 28, 1943 in Kobe, Japan. After having graduated from Waseda University in Tokyo in 1966, he studied advertising at University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana in 1968–69 (M.S. in advertising, 1968–69) and long worked as advertising strategist for various agencies in Tokyo.

Manaka is a late-emerging composer. Up until his retirement at 65, as one of his personal interests, he experimented with music composition whenever he had time at home. Though he had not previously undertaken formal music studies, he recently began private lessons with professional composers in Tokyo, Messrs. Satoru Ikeda and Mitsuhiro Nagano. This private instruction intensified his interest in musical line, contrapuntal textures and rich orchestral color.

Thought of the Great Plains
Thought of The Great Plains was made up of the composer’s recollections of the New World on his first visit to the USA many years back, in the sixties. Memories in particular, of the Great Plains he saw on his way to Illinois from West Coast by Greyhound Bus are still pulsating in his mind like an incident of yesterday.

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Spiros Mazis Photo

Spiros Mazis

Spiros Mazis was born in Greece. He holds a Degree in Composition with Distinction and First Prize from Athens, with Iannis Ioannidis, and PhD in Music Composition with Thomas Simaku at York University, England. He attended composition seminars with Theodore Antoniou and Iannis Xenakis in Greece and Tristan Murail and Marco Stroppa in Hungary. He also attended Computer and Electronic Music seminars, with David Waxman and Andrea Szigetvari.

Seven of his works have been distinguished in composition contests:
Barrier for 15 musicians, in the competition of the House of Fine Arts and Letters in Athens, 1987; With the stream of the Nile for solo piano, at the International Composition Competition of Paris Concours de Composition Prix Voya Toncitch, 1987; Pindar’s Hymns for lyric soprano, mixed choir and orchestra in the Musical Olympics competition 2004. Also, Phlyax for solo cello was selected and performed by Rohan de Saram (cellist in Arditti Quartet); Ouk Estin Piston Ouden, for seven performers and Ialemos for solo horn were selected and performed by Chimera ensemble; while Gazing into Infinity for string quartet was selected by the Kreutzer Quartet at the University of York.

Works for orchestra have been performed by: Athens State Orchestra; Greek Orchestra of Colours; Bulgarian String Orchestra Beograska; Italian Symphony Orchestra of Meran; American String Orchestra of Charleston; Louisiana Symphonietta; German Symphony Orchestra of Marburg; Helvetian Orchestra Santa Maria; German woodwinds orchestra from Langenargen; German Symphony Orchestra of Neckarsulm; and Bavarian Classic orchestra.

His research is based on exploring the harmonic series and the relations among their partials in a manner that he calls Multiharmonic Mode or Multispectral Mode. He has invented a system of new fingerings for microtonal intervals for brass.

He is the Director of the Classical and Contemporary Music Conservatory, in Athens and member of the Greek Composers Union.

10 Dimensions – AEB160

The work 10 Dimensions – AEB160 is inspired by the scientific theory of the 10 dimensions. Some theories in physics, including string theory, suggest that there may be additional spatial dimensions, and certain of these theories propose that there may be a specific number of these, such as 10.

In my work, I’ve been exploring the harmonic series and the relations of the intervals among their partials, in a way that I name multi-harmonic, multi-spectral modes, which take shape if we combine different harmonic series. If we bind two, three, or more harmonic series together, then new shaping of sounds takes place vertically and horizontally.

I tried to represent the ten dimensions musically by multiplying the first 16 partials of an harmonic series by 10 (16*10 = 160), and I imagined that each dimension would contain the first 16 partials. I used three harmonic series whose fundamentals are A, E and B (separated by 5th); the letters in the title of the piece (AEB 160) indicate that there are three harmonic series, each of which contains 160 partials.

Due to the fact that it was almost impossible to perform all these micro-intervals, especially on brass instruments, I studied the brass instruments mathematically and I used logarithms to discover new fingerings by means of which the performers would be able to play the partials of harmonic series more accurately.

The work uses a form that is produced by mathematic roots. The unit of measurement is the crotchet (quarter note) or second (1’); there are 576 crotchets or seconds, which are divided into 24 micro-sections (24 is the square root of 576).

The entire piece (576 crotchets or minutes) is divided into four movements, each part of which has 144 crotchets; these are each divided into six equal micro-sections, each of which contains 24 crotchets.

In the first micro-sections, the harmonic series on A with 160 partials is used. I chose partials freely or by means of mathematical calculations; in the latter case I decided whether or not accept the results, only after hearing them.

The work begins in the 5th dimension with high frequencies in the violins, using partials 64, 65, 67, 71, 76, 78 and 80. These are first presented in micro-section 1 in long durations and in micro-section 2, which is on the same dimension, they take on a rhythmic character.

By multiplying and subtracting the partials, the sounds enter from one dimension to the other as for example in micro-section 3 in which the partials of 2nd dimension are used. The new partials are 16,17,19, 23, 28, 30 and 32; they are derived from the previous partials (64, 65, 67, 71, 76, 78, 80) by subtracting the number 48.

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Joyce  Wai-chung Tang Photo

Joyce Wai-chung Tang

Hong Kong based Joyce Wai-chung Tang's compositions have been widely performed and broadcast throughout the world. Her recent works include a chamber piece Aurora (2008), which won a place on the Millennial Masters Series Vol. 2, Ablaze Records in 2011; There's a Certain Slant of Light (2009) for a cappella mixed chorus; Images, Colours (2010-2013) for pianist Mary Wu; Dadra (2012) for tabla and mixed ensemble; The Half Moon Shows a Face of Plaintive Sweetness (2012) for pipa and string quartet; and a percussion concerto Illuminance (2012) for Thierry Miroglio. Joyce Tang has recently been writing music for drama and theatre, including a film score Behind the Screen (2010) for Charlie Chaplin's silent movie; music scored for drama adaptation of Jane Austen's Emma (2012) and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's The Song of Hiawatha (2013), and William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing (2013).

Many of her works have also been jury-selected for performance in major contemporary music festivals/conferences, such as the International Society for Contemporary Music (ISCM) World Music Days; International Computer Music Conference (ICMC); International Rostrum of Composers, Journées d'Informatique Musicale (JIM); Percussive Arts Society International Convention; Asian Composers' League Contemporary Music Festivals; Hong Kong Arts Festival; Shanghai Spring International Music Festival; Hell Hot! Music Festival; and Musicarama Festivals. She was one of the featured composers in the 2010 Hell Hot! New Music Festival in Hong Kong and the 2012 Manhattan Hong Kong Music Festival.

Joyce Tang obtained master's degrees in both composition and electro-acoustic music at Hong Kong Baptist University. She received a PhD in musicology at The University of Hong Kong. Website: www.joycewctang.com

Quicksilver Swirls


Quicksilver Swirls (2006) was commissioned by the Hong Kong Sinfonietta with sponsorship from the CASH Music Fund. The title 'quicksilver' is another term for 'mercury,' which I chose because of its silvery color and intense, fast motion. This piece is also partly inspired by the flashy reflection of lights from different schools of silver fish undersea, in particular their sudden change of directions and speeds when interrupted by another school of fish.

In general, Quicksilver Swirls can be divided into three main sections, roughly fast-slow-fast. Each of the sections is also 'interrupted' by music of a different character. Some of the expression markings in this piece suggest different characters of the silvery color, such as 'sparkle', 'swift shining', 'silver-gray', 'flashy', 'silvery', 'plain silver', 'shimmer', and 'glitter'.

 

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Mikel Toms Photo

Mikel Toms, conductor

British conductor Mikel Toms was born in London in 1968. He read Music at Oxford University where he was President of the first Oxford Contemporary Music Festival, conducting a complete performance of Messiaen's Des Canyons Aux Étoiles at the age of 20. He studied subsequently with Peter Eötvös as a member of the International Eötvös Institute Foundation and at the Darmstadt Internationales Ferienkurse, twice being awarded a Patenring Scholarship and also winning the Stipendium Prize for performance. In 1996, he was selected to conduct the Ensemble Modern in a performance of Karlheinz Stockhausen's Mixtur, in collaboration with the composer.

Mikel has been Artistic Director of the contemporary music chamber orchestra Reservoir since 1993. He is a regular conductor and Director of Recordings of the Brno Philharmonic Orchestra and is a consultant to the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra in Prague.

Mikel has performed, recorded and broadcast with many prominent orchestras and ensembles including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, London Chamber Orchestra, Oslo Sinfonietta, Ensemble Modern, Brno Philharmonic Orchestra, Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra, New Prague Sinfonia, Kazakhstan State Symphony Orchestra, Uralsk Philharmonic Orchestra, Czech Film Orchestra, Elision (Australia's national contemporary music ensemble), Apartment House, Oxford Contemporary Music Festival Ensemble, Topologies and Grup Instrumental de Valencia. He has conducted several broadcasts for BBC Radio 3′s Hear and Now programme, has broadcast on Italian, German, Spanish and Irish radio, and has appeared at festivals in London, Bath, Huddersfield, Belfast, Darmstadt, Innsbruck, Sligo, Almaty, Valencia, Dortmund and Berlin.

With Reservoir, Mikel has performed, recorded and broadcast a wide range of contemporary repertoire. The orchestra has released two CDs of contemporary Irish music on the Black Box label and Mikel has also recorded discs of music by Richard Emsley and Michael Finnissy on the Metier label with the ensemble Topologies and of concertos by Schnittke, Langer and Mozetich on Quartz.

With saxophonist Amy Dickson and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Mikel conducted the world premiere recording of Philip Glass's Saxophone Concerto for Sony Music on the RCA Red Label. His recording of Samuel Barber's Adagio was broadcast as part of Fox TV's So You Think You Can Dance series.

From 1997 to 2000, Mikel was Director of British Youth Opera, the UK's opera training company. Mikel was also Founder and Creative Director of the Classical Brit Award-winning label Quartz and is currently Director of the production company First Creative which specialises in producing arts films and videos and also orchestral recordings.

He is a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Arts.

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Brno Philharmonic Orchestra  Photo

Brno Philharmonic Orchestra

The Brno Philharmonic has an illustrious history of music making, its beginnings dating back to the 1870s when its first predecessor, the amateur Czech Symphony Orchestra, was established under the auspices of Leoš Janáček and housed in the purpose-built Besední dům, the present orchestra's magnificent home. Formed in 1956 after the merger of the Radio Orchestra and the Brno Region Symphony Orchestra, the Brno Philharmonic has long been regarded as one of the best orchestras in this country.

The Brno Philharmonic has often been labelled as Janacek's orchestra, and rightly so. Brno, where the composer lived and worked, has always been a lively centre for his music. Since its foundation in 1956, the ensemble has given well over three hundred performances of works by Janáček, at concerts both in the Czech Republic and abroad. It has also recorded Janáček's complete symphonic and cantata works.

The BPO has recorded extensively with Supraphon—a record company boasting a long and distinguished history, and which is nowadays the largest and most prestigious in the Czech Republic—and has also made a number of high-quality recordings with Sony Music, IMG Records and BMG, as well as with a number of other well-known record labels. Most recently, the orchestra has recorded with Music Sales, Classic FM and Sony BMG, Channel 4, Supraphon, Royal National Theatre in London, Ablaze Records and Universal. In 1956, when it was formed, the Brno Philharmonic began to collaborate with Czech Radio, and this relationship has continued up until the present day.

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