CCM Alumnus Returns for World Premiere concert:nova Performances

michael ippolito

Michael Ippolito (BM Composition, 2003) returns to Cincinnati this month for a collaboration with concert:nova, an innovative chamber music collaboration featuring members of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. The ensemble will present the world premiere of a new work by Ippolito on “Cello+,” a concert featuring two cellists and their respective romantic partners, plus a few other friends.

Ippolito is currently an assistant professor of composition at Texas State University. His works have been performed by the Chicago Symphony, the Milwaukee Symphony and many more. He has received awards from both the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers and the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and he earned fellowships at the Aspen Music Festival and the Copland House’s Cultivate program. In addition to his studies at CCM with emeritus faculty member Joel Hoffman and current CCM professor Michael Fiday, Ippolito studied with John Corigliano at the Juilliard School.

The two musical couples featured on the program are violinist Stefani Matsuo and cellist Hiro Matsuo, with CCM faculty clarinetist Ixi Chen and her husband, cellist Ted Nelson. Also featured are concert:nova artistic directors Henrick Heide, flutist, and Michael Culligan, percussion.

“Cello+” will be presented at 7 p.m. on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1, 2019 at Mercantile Library, 414 Walnut Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202. Tickets range from $25 to $30 and can be purchased via the concert:nova website.

concert:nova is a boundary-pushing ensemble that challenges the audience to engage with the music in various ways. It’s mission is to transform hearts, minds and communities through thought-provoking musical exploration. The musicians collaborate with a cavalcade of interdisciplinary artists from all over the city, region and globe in a diverse array of surprising venues to create provocative, intimate, interactive, and unforgettable experiences that remove the barrier between the artists and the audience.

Learn more about concert:nova at concertnova.com.

____

Story by CCM graduate student Alexandra Doyle

CCM Alumni Applause CCM News Student Salutes

Composition Professor Michael Fiday Previews New Work at CCM

Cincinnatians can get an inside look at the development of a new work by CCM Composition Professor Michael Fiday at an informal workshop at 5:30 p.m. this Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018 at CCM’s Mary Emery Hall Room 3250.

The workshop will serve as an experimental laboratory for Fiday’s developing piece for New York-based music ensemble Mantra Percussion. While the workshop will not be a performance of the completed work, it is open to those who wish to hear the ensemble and witness Fiday’s compositional process in action.

The Fromm Music Foundation honored Fiday with a $12,000 grant to write the new work. He was one of twelve composers and one ensemble recognized by the foundation, which is housed at Harvard University.

The foundation requires that applicants submit a proposal of the details of the work and its potential performers, but there are no rules about what those details might be. Fiday’s proposal specifically focused on a new piece for Mantra Percussion because of its daring attitude and long relationship with the composer.

“My idea was to write a piece where each member of the ensemble plays an electric guitar, but plays it as a percussion instrument, i.e. laid flat and struck with various kinds of beaters and foreign objects,” Fiday says.

“This idea was the result of previous discussions I’d had with Mantra Percussion over the years, and it’s the kind of idea that can only come from players who do not shy away from a sense of risk and adventure.”

The final product will be somewhere between 20 and 25 minutes long, and Fiday expects that it will premiere either in 2019 or 2020.

Mantra Percussion will hold a free guest artist recital from 12:30-1:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 22 in the CCM Atrium. The lunchtime concert features Michael Gordon’s Timber. Mantra Percussion performs the piece in the below video, which can also be viewed online at mantrapercussion.org/timber.

In addition to the piece for Mantra Percussion, Fiday was recently commissioned to compose two other works for national and local arts organizations. He is currently on sabbatical from CCM to focus on his compositions.

Fiday was awarded a commission for $5,500 from the Barlow Endowment at Brigham Young University to write a 15-minute piece for the Hypercube ensemble. The quartet of saxophone, percussion, guitar and piano held a residency at CCM in February 2017, which included a workshop and two concerts.

“I’m infinitely grateful to both foundations for their generous support, and I’m especially grateful to CCM for the full-year sabbatical I’ve been granted during 2018, all of which will make conducting this work possible.”

The third major project in store for Fiday is a commission from CCM alumna Brianna Matzke (MM Piano Performance 2011). Matzke is the artistic director of The Response Project, a commissioning initiative that asks composers to write a piece of music in response to a pre-existing work or idea.

Fiday is one of 12 composers who are writing works for The Response Project’s Something Is Happening Here, which will feature solo piano works in response to tracks from Bob Dylan’s 1964 album, Highway 61 Revisited. Fiday’s work is in response to “From a Buick 6,” and it will premiere, alongside the other new works, in fall 2018 in Cincinnati.

Fiday is regularly commissioned to write new compositions for multiple organizations, including the National Flute Association and the American Composers Orchestra. In 2016, he was commissioned by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra to write a piece for the One City, One Symphony initiative.

He not only works to create his own new music but also fosters that creativity within his students. CCM has one of the nation’s top 10 music composition programs, according to the US News & World Report. Student composers enjoy opportunities to work with CCM ensembles and community organizations for hearings and performances.

Learn more about CCM’s Composition program at ccm.uc.edu/music/cmt.
____________________

Story by CCM graduate student Alexandra Doyle

CCM News Faculty Fanfare

Guest Artists in HYPERCUBE Quartet Perform at CCM Next Week

New-York-based quartet HYPERCUBE combines contemporary art music with rock-and-roll in true Big Apple fashion, and it will bring that energetic style to CCM next week during its three-day residency with the Composition Program. The residency includes two performances and a workshop with CCM composition students.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

HYPERCUBE. Photo by Michael Yu.

HYPERCUBE will be in residence at CCM from Monday, Feb. 20 to Wednesday, Feb. 22. The residency includes an 8 p.m. recital on Monday in CCM’s Robert J. Werner Recital Hall and an open workshop with CCM student composers from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesday, also in Werner. The ensemble’s final concert will feature work composed especially for HYPERCUBE by CCM student composers at 8 p.m. on Wednesday in Werner.

The group consists of Erin Rodgers, saxophone; Jay Sorce, guitar; Andrea Lodge, piano and Chris Graham, percussion. While they often play works that call for all four instruments, the members will often perform duos and trios during their recitals.

Formerly known as the IKTUS Combo, HYPERCUBE has been performing as an ensemble since 2012 and has made appearances at universities and new music festivals across the eastern U.S.

“Hypercube is no stranger to CCM; they performed and did some workshops with our students last year as the IKTUS Combo. They are amazing performers who give electrifying performances,” said Michael Fiday, associate professor of composition at CCM.

Visit hypercubemusic.org for more information about HYPERCUBE. This residency is graciously supported by the Dean’s Office.

Event Information

8 p.m. Monday, Feb. 20
• Guest Artist Series •
Hypercube, Composition Program Ensemble-in-Residence
A quartet of saxophone, guitar, piano and percussion, New York’s Hypercube is a slick combination of chamber music and straight up rock-’n’-roll. This first concert of Hypercube’s CCM residency features high-quality, cutting-edge, challenging work from their repertoire.
Location: Robert J. Werner Recital Hall
Admission: FREE

8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 22
• Guest Artist Series •
Hypercube, Composition Program Ensemble-in-Residence
A quartet of saxophone, guitar, piano and percussion, New York’s Hypercube is a slick combination of chamber music and straight up rock-’n’-roll. This second concert of Hypercube’s CCM residency features work composed especially for Hypercube by CCM student composers.
Location: Robert J. Werner Recital Hall
Admission: FREE

Parking and Directions
Parking is available in the CCM Garage (located at the base of Corry Boulevard off Jefferson Avenue) and additional garages throughout the UC campus. Please visit uc.edu/parking for more information on parking rates.

For detailed maps and directions, please visit uc.edu/visitors. Additional parking is available off-campus at the U-Square complex on Calhoun Street and other neighboring lots.

For directions to CCM Village, visit ccm.uc.edu/about/directions.

CCM News

Composition Student Wins International Schwarzman Scholarship

Throughout her four years as a University of Cincinnati student, Rachel Walker has split her time between the U.S. and China to study music. She hopes to create an arts organization that serves as a bridge between the two countries and now, as a newly named Schwarzman Scholar, her goal is nearly in sight.

Rachel Walker

Rachel Walker. Photo by Jackie Stevens.

Walker, who graduates tomorrow from the UC College-Conservatory of Music with a bachelor’s of music in composition, will join students from 30 countries and 75 universities as a member of the second class of Schwarzman Scholars. The new international program is designed to shape future leaders by giving students a better understanding of the changing geopolitical landscape. It funds travel costs, a stipend and one-year tuition for a master’s program at Tsinghua University in Beijing.

This won’t be Walker’s first trip to Beijing. As a sophomore at CCM, Walker began teaching herself Mandarin and was encouraged by Professor Emeritus Joel Hoffman to spend a year studying traditional music at the China Conservatory.

“This experience, in addition to trips to Taiwan and Beijing on grants from the UC Research Council and CCMpower [a volunteer fundraising organization] respectively, have made an unspeakable impact on me as a person and an artist,” Walker says. “I have been researching Chinese instruments and collaborating extensively in Beijing, but have felt an increasing need to broaden my understanding of China past the traditional music world alone.”

She worked with UC’s office of Nationally Competitive Awards and the Office of the Provost to prepare her application for the Schwarzman Scholarship. Three hundred semifinalists were invited for in-person interviews before international panels composed of CEOs, former heads of state, university presidents, non-profit executives and other global leaders narrowed the selection to the 129 Schwarzman Scholars. Eileen Strempel, Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs at UC, helped coach Walker for the interview.

“Working with Rachel was a delight,” Strempel says. “She is an exciting composer who is determined to move music from a passive experience into a global community-building exercise. Her vision, distinctive creativity and perseverance position her perfectly to make the most of the Schwarzman Award.”

Walker was chosen after a rigorous selection process that evaluated leadership skills, academic ability and strength of character. As a Schwarzman Scholar, she will pursue a MA in Management of Global Affairs with a concentration in Public Policy. She wants to expand her network and leadership skills by learning more about how businesses and arts organizations run in China.

“The prestige of this award demonstrates to the world that the UC experience gives students the tools they need to compete with the best in the world,” says UC Vice Provost for International Affairs and Director of the Honors Program, Raj Mehta. “We are proud that Rachel’s success and her future work will continue to build upon the global reach and reputation of our university.”

After the scholarship she plans to start a new organization that creates more dialogue between the new music and folk music worlds in China and the U.S. She has experience in creating and running an arts organization. In 2015, she and another CCM composition student, Ivan Alexander Moscotta, founded Cincinnati Soundbox — a chamber music series aimed at diversifying the Queen City’s music scene with works from local and national composers.

Walker will continue her musical research while in Beijing and hopes to write more compositions that utilize Chinese instruments. Her composition I touched the ground while floating away uses the pipa, a pear-shaped instrument sometimes called the Chinese lute, and the yangqin, a Chinese hammered dulcimer. The piece is available for streaming on Sound Cloud; more of Walker’s work is featured on her website, www.rachelcwalker.com.

“I’m humbled by this opportunity and am excited to return to Beijing,” Walker says of her acceptance into the Schwarzman Scholars program. “It’s been a nice surprise as I close out my time at CCM.”

About Schwarzman Scholars
Schwarzman Scholars was inspired by the Rhodes Scholarship, which was founded in 1902 to promote international understanding and peace, and is designed to meet the challenges of the 21st century and beyond. Blackstone Co-Founder Stephen A. Schwarzman personally contributed $100 million to the program and is leading a fundraising campaign to raise an additional $350 million from private sources to endow the program in perpetuity. The $450 million endowment will support up to 200 scholars annually from the U.S., China, and around the world for a one-year Master’s Degree program at Tsinghua University in Beijing, one of China’s most prestigious universities and an indispensable base for the country’s scientific and technological research. Scholars chosen for this highly selective program will live in Beijing for a year of study and cultural immersion, attending lectures, traveling, and developing a better understanding of China. Admissions opened in the fall of 2015, with the first class of students in residence in 2016. Learn more at www.schwarzmanscholars.org.

CCM News Student Salutes

Composition Professor Writes New Work for Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra

The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s theme for its One City, One Symphony initiative is personal for the musicians involved — including Michael Fiday, associate professor of composition at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

Focusing on the theme of “home,” the One City, One Symphony initiative is the CSO’s community-wide project that aims to unite people through music. The initiative’s Thanksgiving weekend concert features the world premiere of Fiday’s CSO-commissioned symphony alongside works from American composers Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland and John Williams at 8 p.m. Nov. 25 and 26 at the Taft Theatre.

“Cincinnati has been my cultural home base for 14 years,” says Fiday, who began teaching at CCM in 2004. “In that time I’ve become close friends, acquaintances and colleagues with a good number of CSO musicians and gotten to know their sound quite well.”

CCM Professor Michael Fiday teaching a composition student. Photo by Andrew Higley.

CCM Professor Michael Fiday teaching a composition student. Photo by Andrew Higley.

Fiday, whose recent work with the CSO was featured in Movers and Makers magazine, chose to incorporate the “home” connection in symbolic ways. The piece’s title, Three for One, is an allusion to the One City, One Symphony initiative and how Fiday approached the orchestra.

There aren’t many solos in Three for One. Fiday treated the orchestra as if it were “a collective body moving together towards a common goal.”

He began working to create his 15-minute piece with the CSO in January 2016. Three for One isn’t a symphony in the traditional sense, Fiday says. He describes it as a three-movement work with a fast-slow-fast format that is similar to the emotional arc of a full-length symphony.

The three movements each focus on a family of instruments — woodwinds in the first movement, strings in the second and brass in the third. The other instruments join the fray to reinforce the sound as the music builds with the entire orchestra playing as one.

Fiday titled the first movement “starting over” and describes it as “brief, punchy and puckish.” The second movement, “presence/absence” is a slow elegy dedicated to composer Richard Toensing, a former teacher, mentor and friend of Fiday’s who passed away two years ago. “Twitter,” the final movement, is fast and split into two halves. Fiday describes the first half as “gossamer and transparent” and the second half as “fairly blunt and aggressive.”

The CCM-based composer brings his own unique style to the One City, One Symphony concert’s all-American program but also celebrates the American roots nested within the musical styles of all of the composers.

“I think it’s impossible for me, or any other American composer for that matter, to not have American elements in our work,” he says. “Sometimes we don’t even notice them because they’re bred so deeply in our bones.”

Fiday favors using perfect fifth harmonies, which create that great “open” sound that is instantly recognizable as American-bred. His love of jazz found its way into Three for One as well. Some of the “crunchier” harmonies in the piece harken back to legendary jazz artists Bill Evans and Thelonious Monk, Fiday says.

“The rhythmic profile, which is a very important element of almost all of my music, stems from my love for both jazz and popular music — music that is propulsive and energetic, yet also unpredictable.”

Although Fiday has been commissioned to write compositions for multiple organizations, including the National Flute Association and the American Composers Orchestra, Three for One is his first commission for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.

“I’m very proud of the CSO for their increased interest in commissioning new music; a situation I think has improved greatly in the time I’ve been in Cincinnati, particularly during the past four or five years,” he says.

Fiday not only works to create his own new music but also fosters that creativity within his students. CCM has one of the nation’s top 10 music composition programs, according to the US News & World Report. Student composers enjoy opportunities to work with CCM ensembles and community organizations for hearings and performances.

Engaging one of CCM’s own composers exemplifies One City, One Symphony’s “home” theme, uniting the community through locally-made music. According to the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, “By connecting music the CSO performs to themes relevant in our everyday lives, One City, One Symphony inspires us, provokes our thinking, and celebrates our shared humanity.”

For more information about the concert, visit www.cincinnatisymphony.org or call the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra at 513-621-1919.

____

Story by CCM graduate student Charlotte Kies

CCM News Faculty Fanfare
The Cohen Family Studio Theater at CCM.

Student Compositions Showcased in CCM’s “A View from the Edge” Recital

The University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music offers a few recitals each semester called “A View from the Edge.” These free concerts showcase original works of student composers and give audiences a look over the precipice of current compositional techniques.

The first of this season’s student composition recitals is at 8 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 26 in CCM’s Cohen Family Studio Theater. The concert program includes a set of three songs for soprano and piano inspired by the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead, a freshman composer’s first piano sonata and How I Lost My Voice, a piece for flute and guitar that a student wrote in response to the Nov. 13, 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris.

Daniel Harrison

Daniel Harrison.

Daniel Harrison, a third-year doctoral candidate studying music composition, is one of the student coordinators for this installment of “A View from the Edge.” CCM graduate student Alexandra Doyle got in touch with Harrison to get a preview of the upcoming recital.

Can you tell me a bit about “A View from the Edge” and the goals of these recitals?
The “View From The Edge” series was created as a way to showcase the newest compositions from the students in the CCM composition studio. At these concerts, you will hear premieres of chamber music, which range from solos to small ensembles and occasionally works that incorporate electronics. One of the outstanding characteristics of our composition studio is how diverse all of our compositional voices are; everyone has something different to say and their own way of saying it.

What’s it like to work with student performers to hone your pieces? Have you found that you make a significant amount of changes after rehearsals have begun?
Working with other students is great! I love it when there is a sense that we, as a team, are collaborating together to create an experience for a concert-goer. As a composer, I view my role in this as only a third of the equation; the audience and performer make up the other two thirds. I have gotten advice from performers that has led to some significant revisions, both in terms of idiomatic treatment of the instruments and notional choices.

Which three pieces on the program stand out to you, and why?
One of the three pieces on the concert that I’m really looking forward to hearing is Phillip Robert‘s Her em Iteru, which is a set of three songs for soprano and piano based on texts found in the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead. Another is our incoming freshman composer Maksym Mahlay‘s first piano sonata, which looks like a fiery and virtuosic piece for solo piano. It’s also worth noting that the composer himself will be performing the piece. Lastly, my piece for flute and guitar, How I Lost My Voice, will be premiered at the recital. This piece attempts to capture the feeling of not being able to express oneself vocally and contains extended techniques in the flute and guitar that give the illusion of a voice becoming hoarse and transparent.

Did a personal experience inspire your work, How I Lost My Voice?
While I was composing this piece, the Nov. 13, 2015 Paris attacks occurred. After the initial shock, I vividly recall feeling this wave of absolute hopelessness. What could I do? As someone whose profession is to write music, in a country thousands of miles away and separated from France by an ocean, ‘not much’ is as a gross understatement. This event radically refocused my perspective and reframed the project I was working on for a reading session, which was a simple, short piece for flute and guitar.

I began asking what purpose music served in response to tragedy. I imagined that even if I screamed until I lost my voice, there was nothing that I could do to undo what happened. My only recourse was to respond through music well after the fact.

What should people who haven’t experienced much new music expect if they come to “A View from the Edge”?
I would come in to these concerts with an open mind. Our composition studio is filled with students who have different aesthetics. No two recitals will offer the same sounds. One bit of advice that I would offer to someone who is looking to experience a new music concert for the first time is to listen to the music in the same way one would taste a new dish­ – just be open to the experience!

The first “A View from the Edge” recital is at 8 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 26 in CCM’s Cohen Family Studio Theater. Composition students will have another opportunity to showcase their new works in the second concert at 8 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 31 in Patricia Corbett Theater.

____________________

Story by CCM graduate student Alexandra Doyle

CCM News Student Salutes