NEW COMPOSITIONS BY SPENCER TOPEL IN 2015
Boston Young Composers Ensemble
The next several months into 2015 brings a series of premieres and repeat performances of acoustic and mixte chamber music. The fascinating young BYCE players (Boston Young Composers Enesemble) performs two works this year, starting with a repeat performance of Details on the Strasbourg Rosace, on December 13th. This comes quickly after the performance of DOSTR at the Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, UK, performed by music students from the various colleges at Oxford and organized by my dear friend and colleague, Eugene Birman. It was particularly meaningful to see the work performed in a Cathedral, and the acoustics were much better suited to the piece. The BYCE concert will also be peformned in a church, as part of their Composium series, a curious project that aims to engage audiences more directly with the process of writing music. Later in the Spring, a performance of Hot Mess, not far from where it was premiered in Somerville, MA, and I look forward to bringing the EMdrum out of the experimental instrument collection at Dartmouth.
FLUX Quartet and String Noise
In January and February, two important concerts featuring new works, Palavers (violin duo) and String Quartet (for string quartet and electronics), will happen in New York City with some of my favorite musicians: the FLUX Quartet and String Noise, (pictured above right/left). For years I wished to develop an ongoing relationship with musicians I admire, and I feel very fortunate have found these amazing individuals, who on their own are incredbily musical and talented. If I had any advice to young composers, it would be to develop these kinds of professional friendships as early as possible. I have found that working consistently with a specific group of dedicated and expert musicians enables me to feel more confident about the music I am writing, and what risks and outcomes might be possible.
The two works also carry personal significance in different ways. Palavers, which will be my first performance in 2015 on January 29th at Roulette, is really a two-part dedication, one to Pauline Kim Harris and Conrad Harris, both of whom I hold in the highest regards, and the second for my son William. It is the first piece I've dedicated to him, and is as much a autobiographical work as it is a character portrait. String Quartet, in contrast, is a rewrite of an older work Electric String Quartet (2004), that had never received a complete first performance, primarily due to technological limitations that are no longer an issue. The process of revisiting this material was deeply enlightening, and at times I felt as though I was giving a younger version of myself composition lessons, and while I am often disparaging of music written in my student years (composers who feel otherwise tend to be the exception!) there are some really intriguing moments in the earlier score, that I hope in this newer version have an opportunity to shine.
In March, an expanded work Vox Nihili, renamed Vox will be performed on the Meitar Ensemble North American Tour. Their trip will include a visit to Dartmouth College, where they will read works by young composers, perform a concert of works including Grisey's masterpiece Thalia, and produce a concert/improvisation session of Jewish Klesmer music. Much the same way I feel about FLUX and String Noise, working with Meitar Ensemble this past year in Tel Aviv as the Composer-in-Residence was fantastic, and I look forward to working with them again in 2015.