REVIEW MATERIALS (2014)
This site serves as an activity page highlighting creative and scholarly research over the past three years. This site also includes a complete list of WORKS, and performances and exhibitions listed on the EVENTS page. There is a page also devoted to strictly academic activities that are either in support of the compositional work or parallel in nature, this can be found at ACADEME.
WORKLIST (from appointment to Assistant Professor to present)
In total, 16 new musical compositions or installations were created over the three year period with a number of significant premieres scheduled for the first-half of 2015.
Details on the Strasbourg Rosace 2014 22’
flute, clarinet Bb/bass clarinet, transduction prepared piano, violin, and cello
Premiere with Voices of Argentina Festival, June 2015.
Christ Church, Oxford, UK.
Electric String Quartet (rev.) 2014 22 minutes
String Quartet and Live Electronics
Premiere scheduled with the FLUX Quartet
Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, February 2015
Palavers 2014 23 minutes
Duo for Two Violins
Premiere scheduled with STRING NOISE
Interpretations Series at Roulette, January 2015
Circadian Rhythms* 2014
wood, metal plates, transducers, wire, stone, sensors, microcomputers, amplifiers. Premiered at the Rituals Festival, Israeli Conservatory of Music, Tel Aviv, Israel, July 2014.
Details on the Strasbourg Rosace 2014 22’
flute, clarinet Bb, violin, cello, and piano Collide-A-Scope Music Commission. Premiered at Thalia @ Symphony Space, New York, NY, May 2014.
Listening Glass 2014
plexiglass, surface transducers, piezoelectric elements, amplifier, internet connection. Premiered at SEAMUS 2013, Wesleyan University, March 2014.
Bass Clarinet Bb and EMdrum
Premiered by Heather Roche, The Green Room, Somerville, MA, March 2014
Fragility of Spaces 2014 12’
Winds (3,3,3,3) Brass (4,3 3,1) Timpani, Percussion (3) Harp, Piano, Strings.
TransVerse 2013 15’
Winds (4,2,8,5,2) Brass (4,4 2,1,1) Timpani, Percussion (3).
Premiered by the Charles River Wind Ensemble, with Matthew Marsitt, conductor. First Baptist Church, Newton Center, Massachusetts, June 2013.
Figuram 2013 9’
soprano, clarinet Bb, percussion, contrabass, and live-electronics
Premiered by the Figura Ensemble, Literaturhaus, Copenhagen, DK, March 2013.
Callings 2013 10 minutes
eight chromatic tuning pipes and megaphones.
Premiered by musicians from Det Frie Gymnasium and DKDM on the Den Røde Plads, Copenhagen, DK, March 2013.
2nd Premiere for 40 trumpets at the Center for Adv. Musical Studies at Chosen Vale, June, 2014.
two 50' flat-screen TV's, ultrasonic rangefinders, and speakers.
Installation presented in the Blågdesgaden Bibliotek, Copenhagen, DK, March 2013.
SVIN 2012 8 minutes
for solo contrabass and laptop.
Premiered by Jesper Egelund at Det Frie Gallerie, Copenhagen, Denmark (DK), July 2012.
Additional Works (completed and in progress)
Border Languages 2014 [in progress]
multi-video projection, continuous.
Ground Resonance** 2014 [in progress]
metal, LF Transducer, piano wire, and drum membrane.
Cell & Sanctuary** 2014 [completed]
metal, plexiglass, magnetic resonators, amplifiers, microcomputer, sensors.
Signals 2013 20’ [in progress]
a radio play for broadcast and installation (as an antique radio)
Nestings 2012 6 minutes [completed]
4 percussionists and amplified nested toy boxes.
Academic Publications (since 2012)
Academic Publications (before 2012)
Q. Kong, A. Sarroff, S. Topel, M.A. Casey "Getting Into the Groove with Hierarchical Probabilistic Latent Component Analysis"In Proc. Of NIPS Workshop, Granada, Spain, 2011.
DETAILS ON THE STRASBOURG ROSACE (2014)
The Strasbourg Rosace (Rose) is a stained-glass window at the entrance of the Strasbourg Cathedral in Strasbourg, France. This particular window structure was designed and built under the supervision of Erwin von Steinbach, who was among three builders who guided the project to a completed state. The Strasbourg Rose is a notable masterwork within the cathedral, and exhibits stunning symmetrical grace, consisting of carefully proportioned transitions of darkness and light. Stone provides a negative space between the glass, which under optimal daylight conditions, produces an intense, pure, color. This composition explores proportions and transitions of fine-grain visual structure within sections of the Strasbourg Rose. Derived from these sections, or details, are musical parameters consisting of temporal harmony, structure, and dynamics, relating to color, position, and luminosity, along specific trajectories within the detail, more information about the work can be found here.
A printed copy of the score is in the Department of Music, and and online version is included here:
DECEMBER 13, 2014
BYCE Season Concert
St. John's the Evangelist
JUNE 20th FRI 2014, 8:00PM
Voice of Argentina Festival 2014
Mar Del Plata, Argentina
NOVEMBER 5-12, 2014
Voices of Argentina Festival
Oxford University, UK
MAY 31st SAT 2014, 8:00 PM
LISTENING GLASS (2014)
Listening Glass is the first installation in a series exploring the relationships between interior spaces and external ones. Visitors experience a continuous live audio stream from Barton Creek Wilderness Park in Austin, Texas transduced over a large atrium window at Wesleyan University . The design allows listeners to experience different aspects of the soundscape using the natural filtering properties of an assortment of twelve surface transducers. This work was sponsored by SEAMUS 2014, at Wesleyan University, and was in collaboration with Joel Goodwin at Live Nature Songs Ltd.
March 27th - 29th, 2014
OCT 25, 2014 - JAN 25, 2015
New Orleans, LA
CIRCADIAN RHYTHMS (2014)
Spencer Topel, concept, design, and sound
Shannon Werle, design and architecture
Circadian Rhythms is a swarm of sixty electronic insects. Prior to the installment, a group of local musicians are asked to imitate the chirps and buzzing of familiar insect species on a range of instruments. These recordings is then be played back on a circuit outfitted with sensors capable of tracking local weather conditions. Just like insects, these electronic creatures adopt the rhythm of the urban space into which they’re installed.
Each signal is amplified on a surface transducer adhered to metal plate. We aim to curate a selection of metals that capture of range of unique resonances and echo the industrial palette of Chicago’s urban fabric. Furthermore, their reflective surfaces easily reflect point lights positioned on each plant form, creating a rich landscape of metallic hues that shift from each perspective throughout the night.
LERATA 2015 Chicago
July 3rd, 2014
Israeli Conservatory of Music
Tel Aviv, Israel
Callings was performed and filmed on March 16th, 2013 on the Den Røde Plads (Red Square) in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Composer: Spencer Topel
Concept: Spencer Topel and Jesper Egelund
Performers (in order of appearance):
August Sebaestian Bager, Nicolas Martin,Tan Tuan, and Hao Ji Yu
Before cell phones and two-way radios, acoustic instruments were the only way people could communicate over large distances. For hunting and war, horns sent commands and basic messages. Callings exploits this style of interaction by placing four performers around Den Røde Plads in Copehagen, Denmark. Over the course of approximately eight minutes, the performers navigate different sonorities and timbres. They are guided by a simple set of instructions, but that also requires them to carefully listen for tones from other players across the area of the square.
Sponsored by the FIGURA Ensemble, Danish Arts Council, Det Frei Gymnasium, the city of Copenhagen, and Dartmouth College Year of the Arts 2013.
June 27th, 2014
40 Trumpet Version
Center for Advanced Musical Studies at Chosen Vale
MAY 5th, 2013
TILT Brass Ensemble
Festival for New Music
MAR 16th 2013
Den Røde Plads
HOT MESS (2014)
"When ones thoughts or appearance are in a state of disarray but they maintain an undeniable attractiveness or beauty." - definition provided by pounce, Urban Dictionary, 02/13/2007
Occasionally pieces reflect very intensely a portrait of a person. In the case of Hot Mess, I was drawn to the recollection of clarinetist Heather Roche performing a program at a concert I curated in Copenhagen, Denmark in the summer of 2012. There she was, with notes and hair flying all over the place, and yet with her laser-focus she produced one of the finest performances of the entire festival, which was undeniably beautiful.
In my work for her, Hot Mess, I became increasingly drawn towards the idea that her tour-de-force nature could move matter and do the impossible. Along came an actuated bass drum designed and built by my student David Rector this past Fall, and I realized that paring up Heather with this crazy drum-monster-thing would create a drama between performer and object that was evocative of the work of Harry Partch---the ultimate Hot Mess of a composer---who worked with performative installations and custom or eccentric instruments, which has yet to be surpassed by experimental instrument builders since.
In essence, the performer must "play" the drum using a microphone input to the drum. No other processing is used other than amplification of the signal for the drum, and for this reason the electronics sound becomes an acoustic electronic-hybrid phenomenon.
March 10th, 2014
The Green Room
Spencer Topel, concept and sound
Alexander Stockton, cinematography.
materials: ultrasonic rangefinders, 50’ Toshiba Flat-Panel TV’s, and Klipsch speakers.
info: As diverse the set of languages extant in the world today, one commonality between them are the sounds used to produce the words, which form a specific class of word in every language called a homophone. Using contemporary linguistic research and digital processing, this installation celebrates the beauty of the human utterance separated from semantic meaning through an interactive experience.
about: Spencer Topel is an assistant professor of music. Recent projects include a collaborative sound installation with studio art associate professor Soo Sunny Park entitled "Capturing Resonance" featured in a year-long exhibit at the DeCordova museum, curation of the electroacoustic concert at Sound and Music Computing 2012 in Copenhagen, Denmark, and a CD project with GPR Records.
Alexander Stockton is a Film Studies and Economics double major at Dartmouth College, has studied at the Screen Academy Scotland, is a member of the Dartmouth Film Society Directorate, has interned on the set of Grey's Anatomy, is a teaching assistant for animation and the Assistant to the Department of Film and Media Studies at Dartmouth, and is the co-founder and co-president of Stories Growing Films, Dartmouth's first student film production club. This is Alex's first installation art piece.
March 12-18, 2013
Nørrebro, Copenhagen, Denmark