2016 Performance - BEN NEILL


A great sonic alchemist…luscious, seductive and quite addictive. All About Jazz

BEN NEILL returned by popular demand to re-stage his evocative MANITOGA for brass quintet and electronics on Sunday, October 30, 2016. With Neill were instrumentalists Jason Covey, James O'Connor, John Charles Thomas and Peter Zummo playing Phonemophone Alphabet Horns created by artist Carol Szymanski. They were joined by percussionist Mark Boulanger. In 2014, Neill premiered MANITOGA to a sold-out audience within the natural amphitheater of Manitoga’s central Quarry Pool. 

MANITOGA, the composition, draws upon influences as varied as the Native American spiritual connection to nature, the region’s Revolutionary War history of battle cries and bugle calls, and Mahler’s use of the horn call as a pastorale. MANITOGA, the composition, begins with players widely dispersed in Manitoga’s woodland garden, beyond view of the audience. The music materializes from the sonic landscape as the players gradually move closer to the Quarry pool and waterfall. The musicians play sculptor Carol Szymanski’s elegant brass “phonemophones,” bugles in the form of letters spelling out the word "MANITOGA." Through his electronic mutantrumpet, Neill engages in musical dialogues with them, both acoustically and digitally shaping the acoustic and electronic textures in real time. The piece ends with all musicians playing in a concert arrangement.

A Hudson Valley resident, Neill also draws upon the experience of hearing Taps played from across the river at West Point and his fascination with the rhythmic and melodic processes of insects and birds in the Hudson Highlands. For 2015's Annual Performance at Manitoga, Neill produced, conducted and performed in a 15 piece ensemble that featured an original work by violinist Todd Reynolds and performances of John Cage’s Five and Terry Riley’s groundbreaking In C.

Manitoga Executive Director Allison Cross says of the 2016 performance: “In Russel Wright’s lifetime at Manitoga there was music, dance and community. The Artist Residency Program and Ben Neill’s music reawaken this legacy--bringing back to the site a spirit of life, creativity and constant experimentation.”

The commissioning of Ben Neill's composition MANITOGA was originally funded in part by a 2014 New York State Council on the Arts Individual Artist grant.

2016 Performers: 

Ben Neill, mutantrumpet, composer
Mark Boulanger, percussion
Jason Covey, horns
James O'Connor, horns
John Charles Thomas, horns
Peter Zummo, horns

Phonemophone Alphabet Horns by Carol Szymanski

Press for Ben Neill and MANITOGA

Ben Neill interviewed on WAMC's The Roundtable
WNYC - Rebroadcast on October 28, 2016
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

About Ben Neill

Ben Neill has been called a “creative composer and genius performer” by Time Out NY and a “musical powerhouse, a serious and individual talent” by Time Out London. Neill’s music blends influences from electronica, jazz and minimalism. He has studied with La Monte Young and has collaborated with musicians such as David Behrman and John Cage. Neill has recorded nine CD’s of his music and has performed extensively in a wide variety of international settings. In 2010 his music theater work Persephone was presented at the BAM Next Wave Festival. The recording Songs for Persephone with Mimi Goese was released in 2011 on Ramseur Records to critical acclaim. 

Neill's The Demo, an electronic opera created and performed in collaboration with composer/performer Mikel Rouse, premiered on April 1, 2015 at the Bing Concert Hall at Stanford University. Additional information about the artist is available at www.benneill.com

The commissioning of Ben Neill's composition MANITOGA was originally funded in part by a 2014 New York State Council on the Arts Individual Artist grant. 

Photos: Meredith Heuer