2015 Annual Performance
Composer Ben Neill's 2014 Residency featured the premiere of a new work for brass quintet and electronics entitled MANITOGA.
2015 Annual Performance
Presented Saturday September 26, 2015
List of performers:
Todd Reynolds – violin
Ben Neill - trumpet
Damon Banks – bass
Stephen Clair - pulse keyboard/guitar
Joe Dizney – banjo
Julianne Heckert – voice
James Keepnews – guitar
Sara Labriola – sitar
Gwen Laster – violin
Tom McCoy – keyboard with marimba sound
David Rothenberg - sax/clarinets
Umru Rothenberg - percussion
Carole Rowley – voice
John Charles Thomas – trumpet
Peter Zummo – trombone
Contemporary composer/performer Ben Neill led an ensemble of accomplished musicians in a program of contemporary music produced in response to SANCTUARY by Stephen Talasnik. The performance featured violinist Todd Reynolds playing original works as well as a performance of John Cage's Five - one of the composer's later 'Number Pieces'. The concert concluded in grand style with an ensemble of 12 - 15 players performing a spirited version of Terry Riley's landmark minimalist composition In C.
About Todd Reynolds
Todd Reynolds, violinist, composer, educator and technologist is known as one of the founding fathers of the hybrid-musician movement and one of the most active and versatile proponents of what he calls ‘present music’. The violinist of choice for Steve Reich, Meredith Monk, Bang on a Can, and a founder of the string quartet known as Ethel, his compositional and performance style is a hybrid of old and new technology, multi-disciplinary aesthetic and pan-genre composition and improvisation. Reynolds’ music has been called “a charming, multi-mood extravaganza, playful like Milhaud, but hard-edged like Hendrix” (Strings Magazine), and his countless premieres and performances of everything from classical music to jazz to rock‘n’roll seem to redefine the concert hall and underground club as undeniably and unavoidably intertwined. He has just released his double CD set, Outerborough on Innova Recordings, featuring InSide, a collection of his own music, paired with OutSide, music written by a veritable who’s who of contemporary composers.
About In C
In C is considered a seminal work of minimalism in music composition. Composed in 1964, the work just passed its 50th anniversary, while 2015 marks composer Terry Riley’s 80th birthday.
The composition’s instrumentation is open – meaning the type and number of instruments used to perform the piece is up to the ensemble. Riley suggests 35, but smaller or larger groups are welcome as well. The composition itself, seen at left, consists of 53 ‘phrases’ – short instructions in musical notation. The individual instrumentalists are free to repeat each phrase as many times as they like as long as they play all the instructions in order all the way to the end. The entire set of instructions may also be repeated as many times as the instrumentalist wishes. Tying all of this together is a single instrumentalist playing a repeated eighth note pulse of the note C – generally with a marimba, piano, keyboard or other tunable percussion instrument. Each member of the ensemble has complete freedom to play the piece as they see fit. This ‘open instrumentation’ and ‘open composition’ assures the work will be different every time it is played.
As a response to Manitoga and Russel Wright, Ben Neill sees In C as very much a designed work – small pieces mixing and matching for individuals to weave into their own whole. As a response to Stephen Talasnik’s SANCTUARY, Ben notes the ways in which the works' musical phrases weave together when played with the overall structure allowing for chance operations within a designed whole.
About Ben Neill
Composer/performer Ben Neill is the inventor of the mutantrumpet, a hybrid electro-acoustic instrument, and is widely recognized as a musical innovator through his recordings, performances and installations. In 2014, Ben Neill wrote and performed MANITOGA, a composition for brass quintet and electronics, as a part of Manitoga's Artist Residency Program. Neill has recorded nine CDs of his music on the Universal/Verve, Thirsty Ear, Astralwerks, Six Degrees, Ramseur, New Tone and Ear-Rational labels. Horizonal, his new album, will be released on Vienna-based Audiokult Recordings in September 2015. His electronic opera The Demo, created with composer/performer Mikel Rouse, was premiered in April 2015 at Stanford University’s Bing Concert Hall. Other performances include BAM Next Wave Festival, Lincoln Center, Whitney Museum of American Art, Cite de la Musique Paris, Moogfest, Spoleto Festival, Umbria Jazz, Bang On A Can Festival, ICA London, Istanbul Jazz Festival, Vienna Jazz Festival, and the Edinburgh Festival.
He has worked closely with many musical innovators including John Cage, LaMonte Young, John Cale, Pauline Oliveros, Rhys Chatham, DJ Spooky, David Berhman, Mimi Goese, Page Hamilton, Nicolas Collins, and David Rothenberg. ITSOFOMO, his collaborative piece with the late artist David Wojnarowicz, has been presented widely in venues such as The Tate Modern London, The Armand Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, and The New Museum New York. Neill is currently an Associate Professor of Music at Ramapo College of New Jersey. Additional information about Ben Neill can be found on his web site www.BenNeill.com.
Press for Todd Reynolds and Ben Neill
The New York Times
Review: Todd Reynolds, Live and Recorded, at the Jewish Museum
Ben Neill featured on New Sounds with Jon Schaefer
Ben Neill @ Manitoga
The New York Times
The Musical ‘The Demo’ at Stanford Recreates the Dawn of the Digital Age
The Most Epic Demo in Computer History is Now an Opera
Photos: Top and Bottom Meredith Heuer, Todd Reynolds photo by Lynn Lane