Leading up to the Phonochromaticism concert on May 29th at the Center for New Music we will be talking to our composers and performers to get an idea of how their brains work and releasing one or two per day leading up to the show.
Per usual, the composers will initially be anonymous, but you are welcome to read this (spoilers!) and give yourself a competitive advantage in guessing before the official announcement!
Who are you? Where did you get your start?
Benjamin: I grew up in Boston and later went to Bard College Conservatory, which is where I connected with Allegra. I studied composition with Joan Tower and George Tsontakis, and also did a degree in philosophy.
Allegra: I began playing piano at the age of six. My parents got our family an upright on a whim and I refused to stop smashing the keys, so they decided to give me lessons. I fell in love with it right away and, though I had some flirtations in college with non-profit work, I haven’t stopped since. I did most of my studies in New York, at Bard College Conservatory and at Juilliard, and then came back home to the Bay Area to do a one year post-grad degree at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. I’m so happy to be back in the Bay Area and working with wonderful people!
If you had to describe your writing style to a would be listener, how would you do it?
Benjamin: I write expressive music with an inner conflict. I think great music needs a convincing emotional argument at its core (usually deriving from the big structure), and also some sort of beauty in the surface detail.
Why did you want to be a part of this GCG project?
Benjamin: Allegra is an old friend and I trust inpretty much anything she’s involved with. We’ve worked together before, but I think this is the fist time I’ve written something specifically for her – so it was a good opportunity. It’s also nice to get out of Boston and be heard in a different city.
Allegra: I’m part of Phonochrome and this is our second large-scale project together. We’ve been wanting to do a commissioning project since we started and were excited to work with GCG on this. The project is a kind of playful exploration on our name and a way for us to work with fabulous composers. We’re also thrilled to be playing with our two wonderful guest artists – Anne Rainwater and Pei-Ling Lin.
What color did you choose? What does it mean?
Benjamin: I chose green. It’s stuck between the warm and cool colors. It’s associated with nature and environmentalism on the one hand, and with money, jealousy, and envy on the other. There’s a complexity to these evocations – a contradiction to capture in music
What events do you have coming up you’d like folks to know about?
Benjamin: After this concert, I head up to the Vancouver International Song Institute for their Art Song Lab. I also have a new piano sonata being premiered internationally by Thomas Hecht this summer. And I’ll be back in San Francisco at the next opportunity!
This concert is generously sponsored by Gyre Music:
Gyre Music was founded in 2000 to promote the compositions of Frank Wallace, which are called “contemporary musical emancipation” by NewMusicBox.org. Gyre has published over 100 songs as well as dozens of solos and chamber works for guitar with flute, clarinet, mandolin, violin, English horn, cello, viola and piano. Scores are available as PDF downloads or fine Printed Editions with art work and design by Nancy Knowles. Many recordings of Wallace’s works are also produced by Gyre and are consistently praised for their sonic beauty. Gyre Music is at www.gyremusic.com.