Part of the magic of Holland Hopson’s performances lies in the mystery of just how much he has planned out beforehand and what’s being extemporized. He is a rapt listener to his own performances, nuancing each refrain’s iteration with distinctive stresses, pitch bends, additions, and deletions. He began with a piece he used on the BAMA DIY concert reviewed in August, and yet it came off as freshly conceived and decidedly different, as if he’d made it up on the spot.
His set consisted of eight songs. Highlights included Hopson’s intense lament of forbidden queer love, the ballad “Laurel Cove,” and his hazy and weary “Over Yonder’s Ocean,” which yearned for a beautiful heaven “where the sun swings lowest over yonder’s ocean.”Hopson’s vocals were resonant and full of character. He offered his audience a warm, joking presence in between songs and was a consummate storyteller throughout.
On Thursday I’ll be performing my work Comes and Goes with Andrew Dewar, Wendy Richman and Geni Skendo during the opening concert of the third Birmingham New Music Festival. Andrew and I will perform with electronics (modular synth and Max, respectively) while Wendy plays viola and Geni performs on various flutes. We worked up a wonderful blend of sounds during rehearsal last weekend; I think this is going to be a special performance.
Comes and Goes was written for Gates Ensemble and first performed in Austin, TX in 2007. My memory of the performance is a bit hazy. On the day of the show I was packing for a move from Austin to Albany, NY and gashed open the bottom of my foot. After stitches and pain meds, I somehow joined the other musicians on stage to perform with my foot elevated on a nearby chair. The piece is for four or more musicians performing on electronic and/or acoustic instruments. Each movement explores a specific set of sounds derived from the technique of amplitude modulation. Download the score for Comes and Goes.
I’ll also be performing on banjo and electronics with Geni Skendo for two of his compositions.
Thursday 9/22 7:30pm
Birmingham New Music Festival
UAB Hulsey Recital Hall
950 13th Street South
Birmingham, AL 35294
And, a new and wonderful discovery for this reviewer, Holland Hopson set his haunting vocals about a desolate landscape with “no road lead[ing] straight home” against layers of clawhammer banjo woven together via computer processing and a foot pedal.
Tomorrow I’ll be joining friends in the Birmingham Art Music Alliance for a DIY Composers Concert featuring composer/performers playing their own compositions. I’ll be performing music for banjo, live electronics and voice. Also on the program are Raphael Crystal and Gaines Brake, Monroe Golden, Kenneth Kuhn, Kyle McGucken and area newcomer Geni Skendo.
Tuesday August 9 7pm BAMA “DIY” Concert
Unitarian Universalist Church of Birmingham
4300 Hampton Heights Dr
Birmingham AL 35209
DIY = Do It Yourself, of course
DIT = Do It Together (and in this case, Do It Tuesday)
Here are two reviews of Aron Kallay‘s recent performance of A History of Elevators in Film at the MicroFest Beyond 12 concert in Los Angeles. The first is by Paul Muller in Sequenza21 who calls the work
“…an engaging and highly musical work that presents a remarkable variety of moods and colors.”
I wrote A History of Elevators in Film for Aron’s Beyond 12 tour of the Southeast last spring. The piece uses a virtual piano that is retuned on the fly based on choices made by the performer. Below is the complete program for the concert. I wish I were on the other side of the continent next week to hear it.
Kyle Gann – Fugitive Objects Marc Sabat – Intonation after Morton Feldman I, from Les Duresses Eric Moe – The Weasel of Melancholy Johann Joseph Vilsmayr – Partita IV, from Six Partitas Holland Hopson – A History of Elevators in Film Marc Sabat – Two Commas, from Les Duresses Alex Miller – The Blur of Time and Memory
I just saw these videos from a performance of Nine Tas directed by Mike Edgerton
at the University of Malaya. It’s great to hear the music return to this part of the world, since I began work on the piece while traveling in Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.