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)
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.
Tonight at 6pm I take my turn playing on the Turner Williams Jr. MFA Show. I’ve been bugging Turner as regularly as we run into each other about playing together some day; that some day has finally arrived.
Monday April 25 6pm Turner Williams Jr. : MFA Thesis Exhibition and Performance Series Sella-Granata Gallery
109 Woods Hall
University of Alabama
Come check out Turner’s multi-layered collages and sculptures and his use of video feedback. I’ll be slinging banjo and other electronic implements of destruction/delight. Stay tuned for more musical guests at the exhibition through May 1.
Here’s a recording of the premiere performance of Follows from Hummingbird for 3 or more sustaining instruments. The performers are Hillary Tidman, flute; Brad Whitfield, clarinet; and Laura Usiskin, cello.
I’m so happy with this first performance; the musicians nailed it. My scores often require a period of workshopping—work that reaches beyond typical rehearsal activity to include comparing alternate realizations, discussing timing, and lots of listening—so premiere performances can be risky. These performers, however, really embraced the spirit of the piece and pulled it off with elegance and aplomb.
The work is based on Hummingbirds (1997) a group of small Oil paintings on linen by the artist Enrique Martínez Celaya.
My piece …then carefully unfolded and placed in… receives its premiere performance tomorrow at 2:30 pm. It’s a big work: 6 movements that each function as a kind of canon, a dronal piece that moves from sunny lydian to spacey locrian. The work is scored for any 5 sustaining instruments and is being performed by
Tomorrow I’ll be performing as part of the Cicada Consort Charity Marathon. The music begins at noon and continues until 8pm. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Disease Research. My performances will be in the sixth(!) concert of the day (around 5pm) and will include “Steel Bearing Load” for lap steel and computer, “Windowed Pulses” for transducers and computer (one of my radicans project pieces) and maybe a song for banjo and live electronics. Check out the full program.
Saturday March 26 12-8pm
Cicada Consort Charity Marathon
Moody Music Hall