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Sound Image Gesture Concert 2

Program Notes
Composer Bios
Performer Bios
Staff Bios

May 25, 2024 8pm

The Church of the Covenant
67 Newbury St Boston, MA 

Oliver Caplan - Illuminated by the Light of Two Ships Passing in the Night
Jason Gomez - Dance
Lydia Brindamour° - the empty room (iii)
Vera Ivanova° - Children's Games
Beth Ratay - Prelude
Kyle Rivera° - Invocation of Eternal Voices
Jia Yi Lee - pull
Yangfan Xu* - Make Way for Ducklings

*Winner of the 11th Annual Commissioning Competition, World Premiere
°Winner of the 1st Annual Historically Excluded Composers Competition

Presented by the Boston New Music Initiative core ensemble conducted by John Masko

Program Notes

Illuminated by the Light of Two Ships Passing in the Night by Oliver Caplan

The ephemeral has many forms: two strangers passing in the night; sun-dappled Monarchs migrating South; and all too familiar to us artists, fleeting bursts of inspiration evanescing like shooting stars into the darkness. This piece is an ode to moments of illumination. The title draws from a work of conceptual art by Lawrence Weiner (b. 1942). Weiner started as a sculptor, and in 1968 began to explore language as a new medium for presenting his ideas, creating installation art that consisted solely of words imprinted on white walls. Without binding his ideas to concrete physical form, much is left to the imagination of the beholder.

Dance by Jason Anthony Gomez

Dance was written to be performed by SOLI Chamber Ensemble at the 2018 Alba Music Festival Composition Program. The piece is directly inspired by the 20th century painting La Danse (1910) and the artistic philosophies of its painter Henri Matisse (1869 - 1954).

Matisse constantly chose to seek the beauty and joy in life despite his own personal struggles and pain. His art serves as a reminder to us all that even in the most difficult times when beauty and joy can seem almost trivial, they are worth fighting for and can help us find hope and the strength to persevere.

Dance is my way of channeling these philosophies into music while also trying to translate the bold lines and vivid colors of his painting which are used to convey an almost ancient connection to humanity and joy. I encourage listeners and performers to have as much fun engaging in this piece as I did writing it. Enjoy!

the empty room (iii) by Lydia Brindamour

the empty room (iii) is part of “A series of duets which explore emptiness, absence and loss.” The work investigates the temporality of photography as a model for musical time and form, through a tension between stasis and development.

Children’s Games by Vera Ivanova

How did you imagine your life as an adult when you were a child? And how did it turn out to be? Julien, the main character from the movie, which inspired this piece, “Jeux d’enfants” (“Love me if you dare,” 2003), puts it this way:
“Meet my life at 35. I had everything!
1 wife,
2 kids,
3 buddies,
4 loans,
5 weeks' vacation,
6 years, same company,
7 times my weight in hi-fi,
8 coitions per quarter,
9 times the earth in plastic, polystyrene, and other non-biodegradables,
10 years not seeing my father.

Talking about numbers... My piece is in 6 mini-movements:
1. Tin Box
2. Dare
3. La vie un rose
4. Train
5. Bounneur
6. Dare of Dares
which capture my personal highlights from the movie. The movie constantly switches kaleidoscopically from childhood’s fantasy world to the boredom of adult life, where the most interesting part seems to be the memories of a childhood imaginary world and a longing for perfect unconditional love. And did I mention that you will hear “La vie un rose” played on a hand saw?

Prelude by Beth Ratay

This work was very loosely inspired by Prelude number 10 from Scriabin’s collection of 24 preludes. It imagines a work of similar nature and style but for flute, clarinet and cello.

Invocation of Eternal Voices by Kyle Rivera

August 24, 2019. February 23 2020. March 13, 2020. May 25th, 2020. On each of these days, a light was permanently erased from existence. Human beings who loved and were loved perished at the hands of hate and those who hated. Racism, the poison of humanity, brought forth the destruction of these four souls and countless others. Every day, racism bleeds its way into the foundation and reaches of our society to strip away beauty, life, and joy. While the names and voices of those extinguished ring forever in our ears, their cries will always scorn the senselessness of their deaths. They died not to be heroes, martyrs, or symbols of injustice. Their deaths have no meaning. Their deaths are the result of monstrous cruelty and unfathomable brutality. As we call to those voices looking for meaning in their eternal demise, we hear nothing in response other than "Why?"

pull by Jia Yi Lee

pull explores the concept of attraction and repulsion, forces seen in magnets, through the gestures of percussion playing. In regular percussion playing, an open stroke is done by hitting and immediately lifting off a surface – which could be seen as “repelling” the surface; while a dead stroke seems to be “attracted” to the surface. This piece explores these basic gestures, using different mallets and objects, as well as prolonging the sound through friction. Visually, the percussion set-up is split into two sides (one for each hand), with a suspended metal sheet in the middle, in which both sides seem to gravitate towards the middle towards the end of the piece. The metal sheet serves as both a barrier, separating the two sides of different resonances, as well as a meeting point of attraction between the two.

Make Way for Ducklings by Yangfan Xu

by the Boston New Music Initiative, "Make Way for Ducklings" draws inspiration from the cherished American children's tale by Robert McCloskey and the beloved statue by Nancy Schön located in Boston’s Public Garden. Rather than musically retelling McCloskey's narrative, this composition delves into the playful tradition of dressing the duckling statues in festive attire for holidays and seasons, a practice that has cemented these figures as endearing symbols of cultural celebration in Boston.

Through exploring images shared on social media under the hashtag #makewayforducklings, I want to capture the whimsical, adventurous, and spirited essence of Boston, a city often typified by more somber and scholarly attributes. This work is a vibrant musical homage to the city’s ability to embrace joy, playfulness, and communal spirit, celebrating the lighter, more mischievous aspects of Bostonian life. "Make Way for Ducklings" invites audiences to experience the charm and delight of a beloved local tradition through a fresh, imaginative musical lens, encapsulating the heartwarming intersection of art, community, and celebration.

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Composer Bios

Oliver Caplan

Award-winning American composer Oliver Caplan writes melodies that nourish our souls, offering a voice of hope in an uncertain world. Inspired by the resiliency of the human spirit and beauty of the natural world, his music celebrates stories of social justice, conservation and community.

Mr. Caplan’s works have been performed in over 200 performances nationwide. He has been commissioned by the Atlanta Chamber Players, Bella Piano Trio, Bronx Arts Ensemble, Brookline Symphony Orchestra, Columbia University Wind Ensemble and New Hampshire Master Chorale, among others. Winner of a Special Citation for the American Prize in Orchestral Composition, additional recognitions include two Veridian Symphony Competition Wins, the Fifth House Ensemble Competition Grand Prize, eight ASCAP Awards, and fellowships at Ragdale, VCCA and the Brush Creek Foundation. Recordings of Mr. Caplan’s music include his 2017 release You Are Not Alone, which has been featured on Apple Music’s Classical A-list and streamed over 200,000 times; 2021 album Watershed; and tracks on Trio Siciliano’s Exploring Music (2018, U07 Records) and the Sinfonietta of Riverdale’s New World Serenade (2016, Albany Records).

A leader in the field of contemporary classical music, Mr. Caplan is the Artistic Director of the American Prize-winning Juventas New Music Ensemble, the only professional ensemble of its kind devoted specifically to the music of emerging composers. He also serves on the Ragdale Foundation’s Curatorial Board and is a voting member of the Recording Academy.

Mr. Caplan holds degrees from Dartmouth College and the Boston Conservatory. He resides in Medford, Massachusetts.

Jason Gomez

Jason Gomez is a composer from Bakersfield, California. His experience as an orchestral violinist and his affection for pop/jazz genres influence his attention to tuneful melodies and syncopated, driving rhythms.

In 2018, Gomez was a Composition Fellow at Alba Music Festival where his mixed quartet Dance was premiered by SOLI Chamber Ensemble.

Throughout the 2020-21 Covid Pandemic, Gomez created a series of one-minute electronic pieces for release on social media. These “Mini-Tracks” represented an opportunity to learn techniques in an unfamiliar medium resulting in new ways to construct ideas.

In 2022, Microludes for Flute and Bb and Clarinet was selected in a call for scores by Vermillion Duet to be premiered in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Gomez currently performs in a violin/clarinet duet called Air and Water Duo with his partner Kristin Nakagawa. They enjoy a peaceful life together with their not-quite-as-peaceful cat Freddy.

Lydia Winsor Brindamour

Lydia Winsor Brindamour’s work explores cross-sensory perception, embodiment and acoustic properties of sound. She is interested in immersive contexts for live performance, challenging conventions of proscenium performance spaces and providing alternative modes of engagement for the audience. Her practice includes composition, photography and video and she enjoys working in interdisciplinary collaborative contexts.

Lydia has studied primarily with Chaya Czernowin, Roger Reynolds, Rand Steiger and Hans Tuschku. She completed her BA with highest honors in music at Harvard College and received both her MA and PhD at the University of California San Diego. Her work has been performed at a variety of festivals in the US and Europe, including MATA, Mis-en, Wellesley Composers Conference, SICPP, Composit, Kalv, and SoundSCAPE.

Vera Ivanova

Vera Ivanova graduated from the Moscow Conservatory, Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, and Eastman School of Music. Her works have been performed in Russia, Europe and the U.S.A.

After teaching as Assistant Professor of Theory and Composition at the Setnor School of Music of Syracuse University, she was appointed as Assistant Professor of Music in the College of Performing Arts at Chapman University in 2007 where she currently serves at the rank of Associate Professor of Music. Ms. Ivanova is also on the faculty of the Colburn School.

Ms. Ivanova is a recipient of the Sproull Fellowship at Eastman, the Gwyn Ellis Bequest Scholarship at Guildhall School, Honourable mention at the 28th Bourges Electro-Acoustic Competition, 3rd Prize at the 8th International Mozart Competition, 1st Prize in Category “A” at International Contest of Acousmatic Compositions Métamorphoses 2004 (Belgium), the ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composers Award, the André Chevillion-Yvonne Bonnaud Composition Prize at the 8th International Piano Competition at Orleans (France) and the winner of 2013 Donald Aird Composition Competition.

Her music is available in print from Universal Edition, on CDs from Navona Records, Ablaze Records, Quartz Music Ltd., Centaur Records, Musiques & Recherches, and on her web-site.

Beth Ratay

Czech-American composer Beth Ratay is a versatile musician who is able to craft music using a wide variety of styles and techniques. From music possessed of a quiet, understated grace, to music based on mathematical concepts, to emotive and hilarious opera, Ratay's music is engaging, charming and beautiful.

Dr. Ratay received her Doctor of Musical Arts in World Music Composition from the University of California, Santa Cruz and has had works performed around the world by ensembles such as Earplay, West Edge Opera, Coalescence Percussion Duo, the Phoenix Symphony Chorus, Ninth Planet, The Hartford Opera Theater, and the Oregon Bach Festival Composer’s Ensemble. Her studies on the relationship of text to music in the work of Leoš Janáček and symmetric or layered musical structures in the music of Harrison Birtwistle strongly inform her own compositions. Ratay is a vigorous supporter of new music as the President of the Boston New Music Initiative.

Dr. Ratay also enjoys teaching, and currently teaches theory and composition at the University of New Mexico as well as educational outreach with the Active Learning Through Opera (ALTO) and Opera Storytellers program with the Santa Fe Opera. She has previously taught at Bunker Hill Community College, Roxbury Community College, Hartnell College, Gavilan College, and the University of California, Santa Cruz. Beth currently lives with her amazing family including one husband, two sons, and two cats in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Kyle Rivera

The ever-evolving artistic perspective of Kyle Rivera (b. 1996) makes his music a space for intrigue and exploration. Kyle is fascinated by visual imagery in sound and the way it can create windows into his mind. Sound and time are malleable objects with which he sculpts vivid sonic landscapes. He often draws upon the diverse sonic and cultural environments he grew up in to craft the soundscapes of his music. Interests in linguistics, spirituality, and media all influence the way he creates music. One of Kyle’s goals as an artist is to offer a perspective on the world through his personal experiences. Some of his music has focused on topics relating to social justice, equality, and racialized matters. Alongside that, his music explores the conceptual limits of psychology, spirituality, and consciousness in sound.

As a composer, his music has been performed across the United States and internationally in Russia, Thailand, Hong Kong, and China. Past collaborations include the Houston Symphony, Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, Aspen Music Festival, Yale Philharmonia, Albany Symphony, Musiqa Houston, EnSRQ, Tacet(i), KINETIC Ensemble, Houston Grand Opera Co., and the Chelsea Music Festival. Kyle was the 2023 Anne Spencer Fellow with the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. He received a 2024 MacDowell Fellowship and an Aaron Copland House Residency.

Kyle attended the University of Houston and Yale University where he earned the Woods Chandler Memorial Prize.

Jia Yi Lee

Jia Yi Lee is a Singaporean composer whose music focuses on the exploration of sonic and spatial environments through movement, gesture and choreography. She creates imaginative and colorful sound worlds inspired by natural phenomena and processes, challenging the listener's notion of what sound could be.

Jia Yi’s music has been performed by the Singapore National Youth Orchestra, KOU Musik (SG), Duo Tarenna (SG), Ensemble Multilateěrale (FR), Trio SurPlus (DE), Ensemble Phoenix Basel (CH), Ensemble Linea (FR), Ensemble Signal (US), Talea Ensemble (US), Alarm Will Sound (US), Ensemble Ictus (BE), Tacet(i) Ensemble (TH), soloists from Ensemble Musikfabrik (DE), Toolbox Percussion (HK), Carton Jaune (EU) and heard in festivals such as IntAct Festival (TH), Toolbox International Creative Academy (HK), Acadeěmie Voix Nouvelles at Royaumont (FR), Mizzou International Composers Festival (US), June in Buffalo (US), Etchings Festival (FR), soundSCAPE Festival (IT) and Asian Composers League Festival (NZ & VN). She has been awarded the Otto Ortmann Prize in Composition (2021), and 2nd and 3rd Prizes in the Prix D'Eěteě Competition (2022, 2020).

Jia Yi is currently pursuing her DMA at Peabody Institute, Johns Hopkins University, where she is also an Adjunct Faculty, teaching classes in composition and music theory.

Yangfan Xu

Yangfan Xu (b. 1998) holds a deep passion and love for cats. Whenever she hears a string player glissando in the upper registers, she can’t help but think of a cat's meow. In addition to her feline obsession, Xu is a Chinese-born US-based composer who comes from a musical family in Lanzhou, Gansu province, with a spoiled cat who eats better than everyone else. Xu is the winner of the 2023 Boston New Music Initiative Commission Competition, the winner of Society for New Music's 2021 Israel/Pellman Award. Xu was awarded the 1st Prize of the 2020 Hausmann Quartet Quarantine Composition Competition. She won the 2021 New Juilliard Ensemble Composition Competition, and her commissioned work Fantastic Creatures of the Mountains and Seas premiered at the Lincoln Center in a concert by NJE in 2022. Xu has received major commissions from the Impulse New Music Festival, Boston New Music Initiative, saxophonist Kenneth Radnofsky and the New York Choreographic Institute affiliated with the New York City Ballet. Her music has been enjoyed by audiences in cities such as New York, San Francisco, Boston, San Diego, Sydney, Beijing, Paris and more. Her compositions have been performed by many professionals including the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, Sydney Contemporary Orchestra, New Juilliard Ensemble, Friction Quartet, Hausmann Quartet, SFCM New Music Ensemble, Choral Chameleon, Keyed Kontraptions and Ravel Virtual Studios. Her orchestral work Bya was premiered by the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra in July 2023, then Australian premiered by the Sydney Contemporary Orchestra in Australia in October 2023. The same work will be featured again by the New England Philharmonic in June 2024.

Xu studied musicology at the high school affiliated with the Central Conservatory of Music in China. She received a bachelor’s degree in composition at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music studying with Mason Bates. Xu earned her master’s degree in composition at the Juilliard School, studying under Robert Beaser. She is a current DMA student at the New England Conservatory of Music with studio teacher Kati Agócs.

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