"When I was first hired as Creative Leader and WatchNews Editor for the NAWCC, I decided to experience the National Watch & Clock Museum purely as sound. On a quiet Monday morning, alone with my trusty handheld microphone, I slowly meandered through the halls and exhibits of the Museum, trying to capture something that cannot be seen.
I’ve been a fan of Kathleen Supové since my college days in New York City. The very first time I saw her perform was at The Kitchen in NYC on April 17, 1998, in an evening celebrating American composer Frederic Rzewski’s 60th birthday. I remember her stepping out on stage in a see-through camo salopette with flaming red hair and an attitude of total ease and focus. It was sexy and terrifying.
'Putting the eyebrows on it' is no problem for NakedEye; they know how to take Zappa’s knotty rhythmic phrases and propel them forward, creating the drive and excitement associated with a kickass rock band rather than mere metronomic renderings.
Approaching a piece like this is akin to walking into a toy store and picking out your favorite baubles. Except, this particular toy store is whatever you can conjure up from the quirky depths of your imagination.
Writing for solo piano is a daunting task. Not only because of the rich, deep, and revered repertoire it has accumulated over the centuries, challenging any who would dare, to write something better; but also because working with a pianist can be an equal challenge in itself. However, Richard Belcastro was not one to be daunted by the prospect of working with me, and when he told me he was going to write that piano piece, I asked him to make it, well, interesting.
Randall Woolf is one of those persons who, upon meeting for the first time, you want to hug until his head pops off. But even before I met the person, I fell in love with the composer. The first piece to catch my ear was Everything is Green for flute, piano, and track with sounds and a voice narrating David Foster Wallace's short story by the same name. It's a quiet, intense, and devastating tale of love and loss. The music is quiet, intense, and devastating.
As a composer, Richard Belcastro's music has been called "an eclectic blend of melodic and rhythmic elements of Jazz and Rock and Roll with a uniquely contemporary vocabulary." (The NY Concert Review). As a sitarist, Belcastro pursues unorthodox means of utilizing the instrument in a variety of musical contexts for which the sitar is not typically considered to be suited. This inquisitive trait permeates the work of both composer and sitarist.
NakedEye is honored to be added to a long list of prominent commissioners of Zack's music that includes Bang on a Can, PRISM Quartet, and Cadillac Moon Ensemble. Decade of the Dragon pays homage to the 10 long years of the Vietnam War with poignant references to popular images and music that shaped this country's fears and hopes.
I discovered Florent Ghys (pronounced "zhees") on my computer the summer of 2014 while on a hunt for new repertoire. The piece that caught my eye – then my ear – was An Open Cage, written for Bang on a Can. I couldn't resist John Cage reading from Diary: How to improve the world (You will only make matters worse) and the way his voice danced with the instruments.
It's been a little over a year since we received the New Music USA grant for Randall Woolf's Punching the Clock. Randy conceived of the piece very quickly and had the general structure outlined in no time. But then came the long hours of transcribing the seven parts, putting the soundtrack together and fitting it in with the score.
Pierre Jodlowski is a young French composer involved in a variety of artistic fields: composition, improvisation, sound installations, electronic music explorations. His works in France and Europe gained such prominence that in 2005, he was commissioned by the Concours international de piano d'Orléans in France to write a virtuosic piece for the competitors. The result was Série noire, a 10-minute infernal and humorous journey into the movie world of the thriller universe.
Another favorite of NakedEye Ensemble, Jonathan Russell is a superlative bass clarinetist and composer who writes music that engages both the listener and the performer with finely crafted narratives. His music tells stories of our lives and events in thoughtful and thought-provoking ways. Full Faith and Credit is no exception.
Martin Bresnick needs no introduction. He's well-known in the new music world and has recently come out with a new album of solo and chamber music called Prayers Remain Forever. His output is tremendous, both in scope and originality. NakedEye Ensemble began performing his work last year and we've been seduced.
Romancing the atomic bomb is the thread that weaves in and out of five continuous movements that make up the narrative of Ethan Wickman's "Atomic Variations." Written for the unusual quartet of bass clarinet, electric guitar, piano, and percussion, the work's heart beat is the famous Puccini aria "Nessun dorma" from the opera Turandot. Can you hear the melody being played on electric guitar with an all-too-sweet-sounding ebow?
Rusty Banks has been working with NakedEye Ensemble since 2010. Collaborations with Rusty include, among other works, two commissions: Babbling Tower-to-Tower (2010) for toy piano (winner of the 2011 Toy Piano Composition Competition in NYC) and Candy Jones (2013), a theatre work for soprano, guitar and piano. A third commission for full ensemble, Surface Tensions, scored for flute, clarinet, saxophone, cello, e.guitar, bass, piano, and percussion.will be premiered in our upcoming concert on May 11.
We're excited to premiere a new piece by Richard Belcastro for solo piano on May 11, our last concert of the season. "Shouts and Murmurations" is a fantastically quirky and original work that speaks to the rich and fragmented conversations that happen in these multi-tasking, multi-layered lives we lead.