MEET OUR FEATURED COMPOSERS
Our 2008/09 season will see regional & world premieres by these composers.
BRENT CHANCELLOR (b1978), is quickly becoming one of the musical forces of the rising mixed-media generation. His award winning music has been featured in gallery installations, on radio and television, in concert halls, in film scores, and on recordings by Body Thief, Alchemy Duo, Stereophonic Beat Matadors, SEM-G, Mimi Boncato, Ain’t Betty, Odyssey Films and Guestroom Productions, among others. Formally trained in classical, funk, jazz and computer music, his unique approach to composing manifests fantastically rich orchestral scores, lush electronic universes and inspiring avant-garde noise.
As a pianist, percussionist, conductor and electronic musician, Brent’s musical experience is diverse. His performance of Piano Phase by Steve Reich with Michael Dale at the 2000 Festival of New American Music was lauded by the composer as "one of the best performances" he had ever heard. Subsequent performances at FENAM in 2004 and 2005 featured the premieres of On the Essence of Light for voice, string quartet and electronics and Killa for live electronics. A staunch supporter of new music, Brent’s performances have found him active in clubs, bars, raves, galleries and recital halls throughout Germany, Canada, Uganda and the United States. As conductor he has led ensembles in works by Erkki-Sven Tüür, Paul Hindemith and Vincent Persichetti, and is continually seeking cutting edge programming by mixing electronics in traditional ensemble settings.
Growing up in California, Brent was often seen on drum-set and synthesizer in jazz, metal and rock bands. Taking an early interest in song writing and film score, he soon embarked on a formal education that included composition, orchestration, theory, conducting, piano performance and percussion. In 2000, while studying at the Hochschule für Musik Trossingen, Germany, Brent was introduced to the electronic music scene of Europe and quickly turned to electronic music production learning multiple software platforms and analog technologies; eventually networking multiple computers to create experimental generative music scores. Since 2002, Brent has been involved in hundreds of projects covering many genres including classical, hip-hop, world, dance, jazz, electronic, experimental, and commercial music, giving him a plethora of experience in varying production techniques and professional settings to build from.
Areas of Interest: Ethnomusicology
In June of 2002 Brent was invited to Uganda to track and record primate species in Kibale National Forest in Africa. During this time he studied the traditional music and indigenous drumming of Uganda; gaining a large knowledge base and making recordings that ultimately culminated in the release of two CD’s of indigenous music recorded in the field and the archival of all, but one, primate species found in Uganda. His recordings are used in multiple biological research projects in the US and Canada, as well as catalogued in the Music Library at Princeton University. Brent has returned to Uganda multiple times to study and record, and in 2005 was invited to perform with Ndere Troupe in Kampala.
Research: Brain-music Relationships
In 2006 Brent began independent research into the psychological and physiological effects of sound on biological systems and brain associations of different frequency mediums. He is currently experimenting with acoustic phenomenon in digital media, as well as assisting in brain-music research at multiple universities.
Brent Chancellor was commissioned to wrote, "Exultation on Light" for Vox Musica’s inaugural performance, "Distant Light", on April 1, 2006.
The emerging young composer, MATTHEW SAMSON (b1989), recently graduated high school and is now on Scholarship at Westminster Choir College as a composition major. Although he only began composing in 2004, his music has already been performed across the United States, and in such notable venues as Chicago’s Symphony Hall, The Pentagon, The Cathedral of St. John the Divine, The Toronto Center for the Performing Arts, and the White House, and under the direction of world class conductors such as Charles Bruffy and Dr. Joe Miller. At sixteen years of age, Matthew was commissioned to write a women’s chorus work for the Westminster Choir College, Summer Music Camp. With its text based off of the famous, William Bourdillon, he wrote, “The Night Has a Thousand Eyes” in just about two days. This work had its west coast premier on Vox Musica’s “Vox Visions” concert, October 7, 2006.
KURT ERICKSON (b1970), is an active composer whose music can be heard frequently throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. He is currently serving as the 2001-2004 Composer-in-Residence at the National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi, where he writes sacred choral music for the professional ensemble Schola Cantorum. From 1999-2000, he served as Resident Composer in a unique Three Church Residency at the Grace Cathedral, St. Mary the Virgin, and St. Mark’s Episcopal Church.
In November 2002, his multi-media commissioned ballet Angels: Fallen & Otherwise was premiered by the Lawrence Pech Dance Company, Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, Ragazzi Boys Chorus, and the Baroque Choral Guild. Recent performances of his music have been heard in Chicago, Italy, and Australia. In December 2003, the San Francisco Girls Chorus premiered a new commissioned work at Davies Symphony Hall, and his music was sung later that season by the Pacific Mozart Ensemble on the Composers, Inc. 2003-2004 concert series. In June 2004, he continued his work with the Lawrence Pech Dance Company, participating in a composer residency and performing at the Napa Valley Opera House. Upcoming performances and activities include a commission and residency with the Randolph-Macon Woman’s College Chorale (Virginia), an orchestral premiere by the Sacramento Philharmonic, a new work for soprano Marnie Breckenridge, a new piece for violist Kurt Rohde with the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, and a series of string quartet concerts with composer Daniel Feinsmith.
Born in Fresno, California, Kurt studied piano performance with pianist Philip Lorenz at California State University Fresno. He continued his graduate studies with William Cerny at The University of Notre Dame and composition at Mills College with Pauline Oliveros and Alvin Curran. While at The University of Notre Dame, he founded and directed the New Music at Notre Dame Festival—commissioning and premiering guest composer Ingram Marshall’s Rave. As a pianist/composer, he has participated as a fellow at the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, Music 97 (Cincinnati), Chamber Music Institute (NY), and participated in the residency program at the Banff Centre for the Arts. He has received grants and awards from the American Music Center, ASCAP, the American Composers Forum, and the Seaver Institute.
Erickson’s choral works will be recorded and released on an upcoming CD by the Schola Cantorum vocal ensemble on the Gothic Records label. In a recently published choral music dissertation, Dr. Randall Speer declared: “This is a composer to watch for.”
MAGGI PAYNE (b1945), is Co-Director (since 1992) of the Center for Contemporary Music at Mills College, Oakland, CA, where she teaches recording engineering, composition, and electronic music. She also freelances as a recording engineer and editor and a historical remastering engineer.
Her electroacoustic works often include visual elements which she creates, including video, dance, transparencies, and film. She also enjoys collaborations with other artists and has worked with video artist Ed Tannenbaum for over twenty years. She is also a flutist, and has written several works for flute as well as other acoustic instruments.
Major works include Electric Ice, Arctic Winds, fff, Santa Fe, Motor Rhythms, FIZZ, Of All, Eclectic Dielectic, Distant Thunder, Reflections, Brass Mirrors, Fluid Dynamics, System Test (fire and ice), Holding Pattern, Forest Sounds, breaks/motors, White Turbulence 2000, HUM 2, Sweet Dreams, Close-ups, Raw Data, Apparent Horizon, Minutia 0-13, Liquid Metal, Aeolian Confluence, Resonant Places, Desertscapes, Phase Transitions, Songs of Flight, Ahh-Ahh (ver 2.1), Airwaves (realities), White Night, Subterranean Network, Crystal, Solar Wind, Ling, Scirocco, Transparencies, and HUM.
She has had performances of her works throughout the Americas, Europe, Japan, and Australasia. She has received two Composer’s Grants and an Interdisciplinary Arts Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and video grants from the Western States Regional Media Arts Fellowships Program and the Mellon Foundation. She has received three honorary mentions from Bourges, and one from Prix Ars Electronica.
Her works are available on Starkland, Lovely Music, Music and Arts, Centaur, MMC, CRI, Digital Narcis, Frog Peak, Asphodel, and/OAR, Ubuibi, and Mills College labels. Her work, Desertscapes, for two spatially separated women’s choruses, is available through Treble Clef Press.
MARIO BURGOS (b1987), is currently a music education major at Ithaca College, in Ithaca, NY. He attended High School at Susquehanna Township High School where he first discovered the importance and satisfaction of teaching and writing choral music. He was a student director for the various choirs and participated in many district and regional choral events. Upon graduating in 2006, he returned the following year and volunteered as an assistant director under the instruction of Amy Burghdorf. Two of his pieces have been performed by the Susquehanna Township Chorus and Concert Choir. With Vox Musica’s light angelic vocal quality in his mind, Mario Burgos set the text “O Lux” to music. This is piece was written for Vox Musica and received its premiere performance on December, 1, 2007.
JOSHUA SHANK (b1980), is quickly becoming recognized as a talented and innovative young composer whose music has been widely performed internationally by high school and professional ensembles alike. He received his undergraduate degree in Vocal Music Education from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa where he studied conducting with Weston Noble and composition with John Morrison and Neil Flory. In 2002, Joshua became the youngest composer ever awarded the Raymond W. Brock Student Composition Award by the American Choral Directors Association. The winning piece, "Musica animam tangens" (written at the age of 20), was premiered at the 2003 ACDA National Convention in New York City in Avery Fisher Hall at the Lincoln Center and has been performed from Los Angeles to South Africa.
His published works have sold over 40,000 copies worldwide and are available through Santa Barbara Music Publishing, Hal Leonard and Daehn Publications. Joshua served as contributor for Teaching Music Through Performance in Choir, Volume 2 and his work was featured in Choral Charisma: Singing with Expression by Tom Carter. He has been commissioned by organizations such as Kantorei (Denver), Choral Arts Ensemble of Rochester (MN), Young New Yorkers’ Chorus, Northern Arizona University, Nebraska Children’s Chorus Bel Canto, and Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, and he has served as composer-in-residence for the Minneapolils-based professional choir, The Singers: Minnesota Choral Artists since the group was founded in 2004.
LEANNA PRIMIANI (b1976), is a native of California. She has just completed her DMA in composition at USC, and has studied with such noted composers and conductors as Leonard Slatkin, Peter Eötvös, Donald Crockett, Steven Stucky, Christopher Rouse, and Howard Shore.
Ms. Primiani has received many awards and performances of her music throughout the United States and Europe, including the premiere of Sirens II for Orchestra by Leonard Slatkin and the Nashville Symphony in February 2009. Other performances include scenes from her opera Truman presented at the Virginia Arts Festival in 2008, a 2008 winner of the Underwood New Music Readings by the American Composers Orchestra in New York, and Poems Dugan for Voice and Piano. Performances and installations of her music include sound installations for Pure: A Multi & Mixed Media Exhibition in Brighton, Massachusetts, Parada at the Herrenhaus Edenkoben (Germany), performed by Ensemble Aventure Freiburg and recorded for the SWR (German radio), Variations for solo piano performed at the June In Buffalo New Music Festival, Space: Music first prize for Paraklesis for women’s choir performed by Vox Musica in Sacramento, Parada at the Aspen Music Festival in Aspen Colorado, Searching for M with Help from a Large Orchestra at the Cabrillo Music Festival in Santa Cruz, California and Heterotic E8xE8 and Type I Superstring for Small Ensemble and Live Electronics at the CCMIX (Centre de Creation Musicale Iannis Xenakis) in Paris, France.
As a conductor, Ms. Primiani currently serves as conductor for the California Opera Association, music director for the Central California Ballet, Music Director for LA Opera’s Demonstration Tour of Figaro’s American Adventure, associate conductor for LA Opera’s production of Judas Maccabeus under Maestro James Conlon, as well as cover conductor for the National Symphony. Before her appointment, she was one of four conductors selected from around the country to participate in The National Conducting Institute, and conducted the National Symphony Orchestra in May, 2006. She has served as music director of the Fort Worth Dallas Ballet in Fort Worth, Texas and has conducted many orchestras throughout the US and Europe including the Ensemble Aventure Freiburg (Germany), National Symphony, Fort Worth Symphony, Dallas Opera Orchestra, San Antonio Symphony, Fresno Philharmonic, Santa Rosa Symphony and Pasadena Symphony, among others. Ms. Primiani’s repertoire is vast and ranges from the standard symphonic and operatic repertoire, as well as specializing in the Twentieth Century symphonic, operatic and ballet masterpieces.
Ms. Primiani has received several honors including ACO Underwood New Music Readings in NYC, first prize at the St. Paul Choral Competition, recipient of the prestigious USC Leonard Bernstein Music Scholar Award and USC Arts Grant two years running. Ms. Primiani has participated in several prestigious festivals and master classes including the Workshop for Young Conductors and Composers (as both composer as conductor) sponsored by the Peter Eötvos International Institute, the Susan and Ford Schumann Film Scoring Program and the Schumann Center for Compositional Studies with a fellowship at the Aspen Music Festival, the Cabrillo Composer’s Project at the Cabrillo Festival for Contemporary Music, SYNERGY! Composer-conductor workshop sponsored by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Centre de Creation Musicale Iannis Xenakis Summer Intensive in Electronic Music in Paris, France, and the International Master Course in Symphonic Conducting with Neeme Järvi and was one of 10 participants chosen worldwide to participate in the Kiril Kondrashin Master class in The Netherlands. She also has the distinction to be the first female to receive a Ford Foundation Conducting Talent Grant.
She recently married and lives with her husband, Marc Primiani, in Santa Monica.
VICTORIA POLEVA (b1962), Kiev (Ukraine). In 1989 she graduated from the Kiev State P.I.Tchaikovsky Conservatoire (now National Music Academy of Ukraine) as a composer with Prof. Ivan Karabyts’ and completed post-graduate studies in 1995 under Prof. Levko Kolodub. There she is a lecturer since 1990 (now at the Music Information Technologies’ Department).
Her compositions were performed at the following festivals: 1-5th “International Youth Music Forums” (Kiev, Ukraine, 1992-95, 1998); 3-13th “Kiev-Music-Fest” (Kiev, Ukraine, 1992-2002); 5-11th “Musical Premieres of the Season” (Kiev, Ukraine, 1994-2000); 7th and 8th International Festival “Contrasts” (Lviv, Ukraine, 2001-2002); 4th, 6th and 8th “Two Days and Two Nights of New Music” (Odessa, Ukraine, 1998, 2000, 2002).
Among the performers of her compositions are : National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine (Kiev, Ukraine), Kiev State Philharmonic Orchestra (Ukraine), National Radio Symphony Orchestra (Kiev, Ukraine), Ukrainian State Kiev Kamerata Soloists’ Ensemble (chamber orchestra – Kiev, Ukraine), Kiev Chamber Orchestra Archi (Ukraine), Rivne Chamber Orchestra (Ukraine), Khreshchatyk Choir (Kiev, Ukraine), Hans Joerg Fink pianist, Avalon Trio, ensemble f?r neue musik zurich (Switzerland), Accroche Note Ensemble (France) and others.
She is a winner of the L.Revutsky Prize of the Ministry of Culture and Arts of Ukraine (1995) and competition “Third Millennium Psalms” (1st Prize) (2001). Member of the Ukrainian Composers’ Union.
JOEL PIERSON (b1979) composer, arranger, and jazz pianist. Born in Washington D.C., Joel graduated from Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California with a degree in classical piano performance. While in college, he began to change his focus to composition and improvised music.
After graduating from college, Joel was signed to Warner Brothers Records as a recording artist with the rock group The Rosewood Fall. On the side Joel acted as a musical director for a number of singers and groups, most notably the sought after comedic music ensemble, “WPL”.
After leaving The Rosewood Fall, Joel moved to New York and completed a Masterʼs Degree in jazz piano performance at New York University, studying with Kenny Werner, Jean-Michel Pilc, and John Scofield. While in New York, Joel performed at many jazz venues around the city, including The Blue Note Jazz Club.
Joel has played with many of today’s leading jazz greats including Lenny Pickett, Chris Potter, and Brian Lynch as well as pop legends such as Tommy Tune, Clint Holmes, Frankie Avalon, and Wayne Newton.
Joel is now musical director for New York-based vocalist Tara Khaler, and has traveled to over seventy-five countries. His compositions are performed regularly, and he was recently interviewed for magazine McSweeneyʼs “People With Unusual Jobs” column. .
SARAH MAJORINS (b1978), is a Bay area composer and pianist. Her recently completed dissertation deals with music and sorrow—specifically how music functions as a memorial, both personally and culturally. As a case study she analyzed John Adams’s piece On the Transmigration of Souls, written in memory of the 9/11 attacks. Sarah enjoys composing in a variety of styles. Her choral works have been performed by Westmont’s Chamber Choir, International Orange and the Davis Composers Collective. She has also had chamber ensemble pieces performed by the Arianna String Quartet and the Empyrean Ensemble. Sarah especially enjoys writing sacred music and, as a church music director she has composed eight Christmas cantatas as well as many works for congregational use. Sarah earned her Ph.D. in music theory and composition from UC Davis in 2007 and she lives in Oakland, CA with her husband and four-month-old daughter.
ABBIE BETINIS (b1980), is a composer of concert music whose work has been reviewed as "superb… whirling, soaring" (Bar Xizam), "contemporary and compelling" (Remember O Thou Man), "audacious. . .edgy. . .thrilling" (Cedit Hyems), and "alternating bursts of melodic invention with dreamlike impressionist harmony" (The Clan of the Lichens).
Always an enthusiast of language, Betinis continues to add to her catalogue of nearly 40 works for voice, with commissions ranging from an ad hoc collection of ten-year-olds to the fully professional Dale Warland Singers. She has set texts in English, German, ancient Greek, Latin, Persian, Spanish, and complete gibberish, and is currently working on a song cycle featuring the Norwegian poetry of Rolf Jacobsen. Her text setting has been called imaginative and sensitive, even while pushing performers to explore extended vocal techniques such as yodeling, crying, spitting, whistling, glottal sighing, or bird-calling. Her recent projects investigate topics as varied as ancient Greek love charms and binding spells, African melorhythm, the Norwegian Hardanger fiddle tradition, early American shape-note singing, and Sufi mysticism. A recent piece for The Rose Ensemble explores the pre-Christian Gaelic tradition of keening in a staged piece for solo soprano, mixed chorus, Gaelic harp, bodhran, and vielle.
Betinis’s music for solo voice, namely her song cycle The Clan of the Lichens: Five Poems of Opal Whiteley (2004), has enjoyed multiple performances in the
Originally from Stevens Point,
Betinis has received grants and awards from the American Composers Forum, American Society of Composers and Publishers (ASCAP), Cambridge Madrigal Singers, the Esoterics, Minnesota Music Educators Association, and first place in the University of Minnesota’s Craig and Janet Swan Composer Competition. At age 27, she has received over thirty commissions for new work, by organizations such as the American Suzuki Foundation, Anoka High School Band, Cantus, the Dale Warland Singers, The Rose Ensemble, The Schubert Club, The Singers-Minnesota Choral Artists, University of Minnesota Men’s Choir, and the Young New Yorkers Chorus. Her published music is available from Augsburg Fortress, Graphite Publishing, Kjos, Santa Barbara Music Publishing, and — new in August 2007 — in G. Schirmer’s Dale Warland Choral Series. Since 2005, she has served as composer-in-residence with The Schubert Club in Saint Paul.
BENJAMIN MARTINSON (b1987), a native of Alaska, is a graduate student of composition at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. He holds a Bachelor’s degree from Butler University, where he studied composition and voice. He has written for a variety of ensembles and media, spanning from SATB choir to interactive electronics, from baroque ensemble to the iPhone. All of his output is influenced deeply by his experience as a vocalist, his work as a programmer/designer, and his passion for early and contemporary music. His works have been performed across the United States; in England, Ireland, and China; and at the national MENC and SEAMUS conferences. His groove-making iPhone app, Minimalicious, is available for free download on the App Store.
JOHN MUEHLEISEN (b1955) specializes in works for choir and solo voice. Since 1996, he has served as Composer-in- Residence and Artistic Advisor for Seattle-based Opus 7 Vocal Ensemble, directed by Loren Pontén and has written more than fifteen works for the group—most recently Eat Your Vegetables! for mixed choir and clarinet—a setting of humorous poems about vegetables by Nortwest poet Joanne Gunnerson.
Performances and Recordings: John’s works have been performed and recorded by numerous ensembles in the US, Canada, and Europe, including Bellevue Chamber Chorus, Choral Arts (Seattle), Choral Arts Ensemble (Rochester, MN), Conspirare, the Dale Warland Singers, The Esoterics, Musa Horti (Belgium), Northwest Girlchoir, Opus 7, The Richard Zielinski Singers, Seattle Girls Choir, Seattle Pro Musica, Vocal Arts Ensemble (Cincinnati), numerous college and university choirs, and the Louisville Orchestra.
Nearly half of his 30+ choral works have been commercially recorded and released or are pending release. His epitaph for choir and trumpet, entitled Snow. The King’s Trumpeter was featured by the Dale Warland Singers on the closing concert of the Sixth World Choral Symposium in Minneapolis in August 2002, and was performed in February 2010 by the Yale Schola Cantorum with guest conductor Dale Warland. In March of 2009 Seattle’s Mirinesse Women’s Choir performed Joy, a setting of two Sara Teasdale poems, at the 2009 ACDA National Convention in Oklahoma City.
Awards, Grants, & Education: John was the 1988 recipient of the Louisville Orchestra’s Orchestral Composition Competition Award and has received awards from ASCAP, the University of Washington, and Indiana University. Commissions and performances of his works have been supported by grants from the American Music Center, Meet the Composer, the Jerome Foundation, the Alice M. Ditson Fund of Columbia University, and the National Endowment for the Arts. John was a finalist in the 2000 Dale Warland Singers Choral Ventures Program, and subsequently served as composer-in-residence for the Dale Warland Singers for their final season (2003-2004).
John holds a Bachelor-of-Music degree in Saxophone Performance from California State University, Sacramento and a Master of Music degree in Composition from the University of Washington, where he studied with William Bergsma, William O. Smith, and Diane Thome. During doctoral studies at Indiana University he studied composition with John Eaton, Eugene O’Brien, and Harvey Sollberger; orchestration with Donald Erb; and undertook doctoral minors in Music Theory and Instructional Systems Technology. He has participated in master classes, seminars, and summer residency programs with Lukas Foss, Milton Babbitt, Yehudi Wyner, Earle Brown, David Felder, and Bernard Rands. His compositions have been featured on new music festivals throughout the U.S., including June in Buffalo, the Ernest Bloch Music Festival, Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival in Seattle, the Indiana State University Festival of Contemporary Music, and the National Endowment for the Arts’ American Masterworks Choral Festival in Austin, TX in 2007.
Commissions: Significant past commissions include This Night and Prairie Waters by Night for the Dale Warland Singers; River Moons for Choral Arts Ensemble (Rochester, MN); and Perplexed Music for The Esoterics. In 2006 John was commissioned by Conspirare to write a work for 600 voices for the closing concert of their NEA-sponsored American Masterpieces Choral Festival in Austin, Texas. The work, based on Walt Whitman’s Salut au Monde!, was premiered by Craig Hella Johnson and the Massed Festival Choirs in January 2007.
Recent commissions include Alma Redemptoris Mater for Choral Arts (Seattle), Da pacem for Seattle Pro Musica, and Glory!, commissioned by the Northwest Girlchoir in honor of their 35th Anniversary. In 2008, the University of Wyoming commissioned a work in memory of the 10th Anniversary of the murder of Matthew Shepard. The resulting work—When All is Done—was premiered at the Shepard Symposium on Social Justice in April 2009. Upcoming projects include a residency and commission from Wake Forest University for 2011 and a major concert-length commission from conductor Robert Bode and Choral Arts in Seattle for 2012.
Publishers: Most of John’s choral works are currently self-published by Muehleisen Music, but selected works can be obtained from Colla Voce, from Santa Barbara Music Publishing, and from Alliance Music Publishing.
MARTIN JANSSON (b1965),Mårten Jansson (b1965) was born in Uppsala, Sweden. He received his Masters in Fine Arts from the Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm, and works as a composer, choral conductor, and voice and harmony teacher in Sweden.
MARTIN SPEAKS ABOUT HIS MUSIC:
My music is my own and I have never tried to be original. That has always been my motto and I have only tried to use music to express all the feelings life consists of. This has led people to describe my music as both” so sad that it sounds like birds who have lost their wings” and ”the happiest classical music we ever heard”. I have also always preferred beautiful music to atonal music and that is surely the reason why the most part of my music is more on the sad side – but what a dream it would be to be able to create beautiful music that’s bubbling over with joy! My compositions consist of almost only sacral music. This is to express my own faith but also my appreciation and respect for the timeless texts that have been used for centuries after centuries.
In 1994 I was lucky enough to start conducting the female choir Carmen and I have been conducting them ever since. This is of course the biggest reason why most of my compositions are for female choirs – the knowledge that what I write during the night will be tested the next evening is a driving force that not so many are lucky enough to have.
I work as a voice, music theory and conducting teacher and conductor in Uppsala were I was born -65 and still live. My education is in short: two years of musicology at Uppsala University and a MFA in Music Education, and Dalcroize Rhythmics at the Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm.
Finally, to show my appreciation and respect, I would like to mention some of the extraordinary people that I have been fortunate enough to meet and work with and who have been important for my musical development. The more famous of them are Eric Ericsson, Carlo Maria Giullini, Esa-Pekka Sallonen, Leif Segerstam and Anders Eby – but I also have to mention my voice teachers Mikael Bellini and Kerstin Wahlström Olsson, my teachers in composition Hans Eklund and Åke Eriksson, my conducting teacher Carl Rune Larsson and finally Ingemar Milveden my teacher in music history. Aside from these my family, friends and colleagues have naturally been very important. They are so many that I for obvious reasons am unable to mention all but Fredrik Sixtens, Ragnar Bohlins and Bo Aurells, whose influence cannot be forgotten.
MATTHEW GRASSO (b1972), classical guitarist, composer, arranger, musical instrument innovator and improviser, performs on an extended 7-string guitars built by luthiers Gregory Byers and Waylin Carpenter, as well as a 25-stringed guitar built by Scott Richter.
The extended 7-string guitar has an additional bass string and 22 frets on the first-string. This instrument has one octave more melodic range and greater harmonic/contrapuntal possibilities than the traditional 6-string guitar.
The 25-stringed guitar called “Raga Guitar” is a unique innovation of Matthew’s. This instrument is a hybrid of an extended 7-string guitar and the Sarod, an Indian instrument. There are 7-playing strings, 12-sympathetic strings, 2 chikari and 4 jawari strings. This instrument utilizes a just intonation (5-limit) fingerboard. These instruments provide Matthew with myriad possibilities for transcription, composing and improvising.
Born in 1972 of Chinese and Italian ancestry, Matthew began playing guitar at the age of twelve. He attended the San Francisco Conservatory of Music where he studied with Scott Tennant and Lawrence Ferrara. Matthew participated in master classes held by artists including Eliot Fisk, David Russell, and the L.A. Guitar Quartet. Matthew complemented this training by studying the classical music of North India at the Ali Akbar College of Music with the late Ustad Ali Akbar Khan.
Matthew has contributed to the classical guitar repertory by transcribing numerous works for the Extended 7-String Guitar, including Barber’s Adagio for strings; Ravel’s Mother Goose Suite; Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun; Rachmaninoff’s Symphony no.2; Bach’s Chaconne; and other works in the pop vocal genre.
As a composer, Matthew has contributed works for solo guitar and guitar ensemble. Matthew has also composed chamber works for guitar and strings, women’s choir and his Guitar Concerto for Extended 7-String Guitar and Orchestra. Matthew’s music has been set to dance and film. Matthew receives commissions from many artists.
Matthew’s improvisational skills have taken him from the jazz world, to world fusion and back to Indian Raga. His understanding of the music of the east and west has created a tremendously flexible creative voice in improvisation. Matthew developed a new style of playing entitled Indian classical fusion. In this style he has conceived new talas (rhythmic cycles) such as 10 ½, 27 ½, 9 ¼, and 5½, as well as original ragas (melody forms). This music can be heard on his "Raga Guitar" with his group, Nada Brahma Music Ensemble.
Matthew performs and lectures throughout Northern California. He was a soloist with the Solano Symphony, Davis High School String Orchestra, and has played with the Sacramento Youth Symphony Premier Orchestra. His recordings include two CDs of original compositions, Intimate Settings (1995) and Echoes of a Lake (1999) as well as his transcription of Moussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition (2001), and Music for the Extended 7-String Guitar (2006) and The Five Deadly Talas (2008). In addition to recordings, Matthew has published music scores of his own compositions and transcriptions, and has published "Playing the Extended 7-String Guitar" in Mel Bay’s Guitar Sessions.
Matthew is on the faculty at Sacramento City College, American River College, California College of the Arts, The Experimental College of U.C. Davis, and he teaches privately. He currently resides in Davis, California.
Gonçalo Lourenço (b1979). Portuguese composer and conductor Gonçalo Lourenço was born in Lisbon in the year 1979. Active as a choral conductor, he founded the Odyssea Choir and the Coro da Universidade Lusófona in 2004, conduct both of them until 2009. At the moment his taking the second year Masters in CCM, in Choral Conducting, working with Dr. Earl Rivers, Dr.Brett Scott and Dr. Elmer Thomas.
Commissioned by Maestro Gunnstein Olafsson, Lourenço’s music has been performed by the Young Musicians Orchestra of Iceland. Additional commissions include “The Allarya Chonicles” for Small Orchestra, for the fantasy books of Felipe Faria, and Four Christmas Motets for Maestro J.D. Goddard and the Mastersingers of Ohio.