in: Reviews

November 19, 2011

Electroacoustic Finalists, Round 2

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“Sound in Space Festival: The Art of Interpretation of Music” at the Fenway Center in Boston continued into the evening of Friday, November 18, with “Finalist Concert 2.”  Following “Interpretation Workshop 2,” held earlier in the day (see my previous three reports here, here and here), I found myself still a bit more informed and better prepared for this second round of student compositions.

Harvard Professor Hans Tutschku, key festival organizer and composer, welcomed a larger audience on a comic note by reading one of the sentences from the last page of the Sound and Space brochure, which went something like this: “H ansT utschkuha sb eenwo rkinga sc ompositionp rofessor nd director oft hee…” The printing error, placing spaces in different places, seemed coincidental with the emphasis given space throughoutSound in Space Festival. I could not help but recall John Cage giving the Harvard Charles Eliot Norton Lectures of 1988-89, in which the avant-garde composer randomized words of American writers, namely Thoreau. Tutschku made a crazy sentence sound as if it were some kind of new German dialect.

Then the “Harvard University ‘Hydra’ Speaker-Orchestra” was once in again in place when the lights went out in Fenway Center and the sounds began, this time with Finalist Concert2. Anagoge by Andres Babock, Villusions by Simone D’Ambrosio, and La Lechuga by Ana Dall’Ara-Majek, all began to sound much alike, generic electroacoustic compositions relying too much on similar sounds, but more especially obvious crescendos and diminuendos, harsh unsurprising slashes, groans and drones we’ve already heard, all too many times. Putting these three on the same program bore their generic quality out all the more. While I could admire their utter sincerity and seriousness of purpose and their evolving craft in a sphere into which too few dare to tread, much more discretion, fewer bombardments, and less insistence on what seems to be  “electroacoustic  tempo” would have helped to create lasting power and meaning. Anagoge had clarity going for it. Villusions had some nice timbres akin to bells and rain. La Lechuga was corny and altogether too loud — time for ear plugs.

About the finalists in the 2011 Sound and Space Electroacoustic Music competition open to students enrolled in North American universities:

Andrew Babcock, currently working towards his PhD in composition at the University of Florida in Gainesville, has worked in New York City as a composer and sound designer for television, radio and film. Hi words have been feature internationally and at festival such as Sonorities, ICMC, NYCEMF and SEAMUS.

Adam Basanta, composer and media artist, is currently an MA candidate at Concordia University. His work has been presented at concerts, conferences and festivals in North and South America, Europe, Asia and the UK. He has been awarded a SOCAN prize three times, the Metamorphoses Acousmatic Biennale, 2010, Belgium, VII International Contest of Elctoracoustic Minatures 2009, Spain.

Martin Bédard is currently a lecture and a PhD student in electroacoustic composition at Université de Montréal. He also teaches at the Conservatoire de Musique de Montréal. His works have been presented in more than fifty national and international events and festivals, and he is winner or finalist of eleven international competitions, including “Award of Distinction” from Ars Electronica 2010.

Simone D’Ambrosio, born in Prato, Italy, is currently pursuing electroacoustic composition at Université de Montréal. In 2008, he completed an experimental course in music and new technologies at the Conservatory of Florence, “L. Cherubini.” A drummer, his music explores various styles from the Florentine scene to pure rock, to electronic grooves.

Ana Dall’Ara-Majek, harpist and composer, studied in France at Pantin’s Conservatory and University of Paris VIII and currently is studying composition “mixte” at Université de Montréal (Maîtrise and Doctorate) and was awarded the Sacern national scholarship in France. She is co-founder of the KM Pantin in France, association she leads to promote electroacoustic creations.

Chester Udell is a candidate for the PhD at the University of Florida in music composition. His outside studies are in electrical engineering. Honors include first prize in SEAMUS/ASCAP student commission competition and nominee for the Prix Destellos. His music can be heard on the SEAMUS and Summit labels.

The winner will be announced Saturday night at a reception at the Goethe-Institut Boston.

David Patterson, Professor of Music and former Chairman of the Performing Arts Department at UMass Boston, was recipient of a Fulbright Scholar Award and the Chancellor’s Distinction in  Teaching Award. He studied with Nadia Boulanger and Olivier Messiaen in Paris and holds a PhD from Harvard University. www.notescape.net.

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