On Tuesday, March 21, 2006 at the Cutting Room, Capital M will present its first annual concert of world premieres, featuring new works by David Claman, Jennifer Fitzgerald (New York premiere), Monika Heidemann (world premiere), Bradley Kemp (world premiere) , Ian Moss (world premiere), Frank J. Oteri (world premiere), and Stefan Zeniuk (world premiere). In seeking out exciting emerging composers from the classical and jazz communities, Capital M is one of the first groups with an all-rock instrumentation to play music written for the group by people who are not in the group.

Musical conspirators for this concert incude Trey Files, marimba; John Hadfield, drums; David Hanlon, piano; Bradley Kemp, bass and cello; Grey McMurray, guitar; Ian Moss, vocals; Sebastian Noelle, guitar; Kyle Sanna, guitar; Josh Sinton, saxophones; and Stefan Zeniuk, baritone sax.

David ClamanDAVID CLAMAN grew up in Denver, Colorado. He holds degrees from Wesleyan University in Connecticut, the University of Colorado at Boulder, and Princeton University. During the 1980s he played electric bass in rock bands in Boston and he still picks up an electric guitar on occasion. Before joining the faculty at Holy Cross, he was a visiting professor of music at Colorado College in Colorado Springs. His music has been performed in the United States, Canada, Europe, and India at such venues as the Bang on a Can Marathon at Lincoln Center in New York, at Merkin Hall in New York, and at the Hans Eisler Academy in Berlin. Recordings can be found on the Innova and Princeton labels. In 1998-1999, Claman was awarded a fellowship from The American Institute of Indian Studies and spent the year studying, teaching and composing in Madras, India. During 2001-2002 he held residencies at the MacDowell Colony and at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center in Italy. He has received commissions from The American Composers Forum to compose a piece for New York’s Cygnus Ensemble, from the High Altitude Trombone Quartet, from the New Millenium Ensemble, and from Princeton University.

David’s piece Loose Canons, scored for three electric guitars playing e-bows, “was written in response to the music of Johannes Ockeghem (ca. 1410-1497). Ockeghem’s music has been described as idiosyncratic, without system, even as ‘sounding improvised.’ He has also been characterized as a ‘pure cerebralist, almost exclusively preoccupied with intellectual problems.'”

Listen to Loose Canons (mp3)


Jennifer FitzgeraldJENNIFER FITZGERALD (b. 1975) is the recipient of national awards and fellowships from the American Composers Orchestra, the North Carolina Arts Council, the Millay Colony, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and others and she was a finalist for the National Symphony Orchestra’s American Residency Commission in North Carolina. Fitzgerald’s music has been performed at the American Dance Festival, the Duke/UNC Milestones Festival, The Eastman School of Music, Tufts University, and Vassar College, as well as other venues throughout North America. Fitzgerald is the pianist for Durham, NC’s new music ensemble and composers collective, pulsoptional. She holds a PhD in Composition from Duke University and is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Lawrence University.

Jennifer’s piece how terrible orange “is a manifestation of the performer relationships within my long-term ensemble, pulsoptional. The classical guitarist and I (the pianist) had performed primarily as soloists before we began playing with pulsoptional while the other instrumentalists had a tremendous amount and variety of ensemble experience, including rock and jazz. The piece is in three parts – two related outer sections that frame an inner core. The outer sections are characterized by two main ideas that compete with each other. The saxophone, voice, electric guitar and percussion raise hell with a series of monolithic chords in terrifyingly difficult rhythms. At the same time, the classical guitar and piano play continuous figures of a more melodic character, but while the material that the guitarist and pianist play is similar, they rarely play in unison. They must struggle to stay together while the rest of the ensemble wails around them. The inner section is the moment in which everyone finds each other and plays together to achieve the same musical goal.”

Listen to how terrible orange (mp3)

Monika HeidemannMONIKA HEIDEMANN twists together jazz sensibility, improvisation, catchy pop melodies, the grind of rock n’ roll and enough subconscious creativity to still question where her music could have come from. Monika’s musical endeavors started with the saxophone in the 4th grade elementary school band and continued into her years at the University of Vermont in Burlington. Initially pursuing a career in wildlife biology, Monika instead found herself singing and playing saxophone in local rock bands. While in Burlington, she directed and arranged for the a cappella group The Cat’s Meow and led her own jazz trio with local artists. In May 2003, Monika received her Master’s degree in Jazz Performance from the New England Conservatory where she studied jazz voice, improvisation, and composition with artists Dominique Eade, Danilo Perez, Jerry Bergonzi, and Steve Lacy. Monika performs her original music with The Monika H. Band. She also sings with The Animal Channel (ethnic inspired dance), The Bunkbeds (electro-pop), and plays saxophone in the all female Afro-beat band, FemmNameless.

In writing her piece, The Incoming Queen, Monika “drew upon one particular aspect of Capital M that is absent in the other compositions they play, trying not to lose the group sound that they had developed. I noticed that Ian never used lyrical content in his compositions for Capital M, so this would be a major focus in the piece. The lyrics started out as a philosophizing with oneself on the significance of outward beauty, trying to prove that it does indeed matter—a sort of counter-reasoning in this day and age where 1. we are told we must be outwardly beautiful; 2. we thought we smartened up by telling ourselves that looks aren’t everything; but 3. realized one way or another that they actually are everything. Through exploration, it becomes a love song. The introduction to the vocals is like the grandiose entry of royalty, like Kings and Queens arriving on the scene of some obscure futuristic party of intellectuals and Capital M is the entertainment. The tension of self-importance at the party eases itself. Everyone in the room is joyously dancing by the end.”

Bradley KempBRADLEY KEMP graduated in 2002 from the New England Conservatory with a B.M. in double bass performance, under the mentorship of Don Palma. Kemp’s compositions have been performed in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Miami, and Graz, Austria. His orchestral arrangements have been played by the Houston Symphony and Detroit Symphony, among others. Tracks from Kemp’s ambient/IDM electronic album (titled under his pseudonym b-radius) are used in several documentaries currently showing at the Santa Barbara Museum, CA. Mr. Kemp currently writes, plays and sings in The Bunkbeds with Monika Heidemann, co-directs Ditch Productions (multi-media performances), performs with a Feldman & Cage trio “Kilter,” is fulfilling a grant from the Henry Cowell Performance Incentive Fund, and is an Artist in Residence of The Space in Long Island City, Queens.

Bradley writes, “Air Around is a simple passing of sounds; their constant returning, looping and sustaining slowly creates individual atmospheres. In the slightly shifting texture, the ear naturally circles through a palette of timbres and tones. The ear is not led; it is presented with the musical equivalent of two-dimensional splashes of color, allowing the ears to fall where they will at any given moment. The piece does not have compositional complexity, but instead has a complexity in its realization, in the sonic and psychological experience it seeks to evoke. This piece is influenced by childhood memories many people share. Imagine being a bored child, sitting on a water bank. You are passing time watching a stick get caught in a circular current of a pond, moving in various manners at various speeds, but with no particular direction or purpose. After a while one pays close attention to the water, the grass, the leaves and the air as well as the stick, seeing the effect each element has on the others. Natural complexities slowly float to the surface of the mind’s eye when one stares, or listens, to anything for extended periods of time. It is this experience Air Around seeks to provide.”

Ian Moss - photo by Randy NordschowIAN MOSS began his musical studies at the age of 12 by transcribing classics from the Wee Sing songbook for his computer’s monophonic PC speaker. His first major composition was a “rock symphony” written as an independent study project during his senior year in high school. While earning a degree in music at Yale University, he served as the Undergraduate Assistant Conductor of the Yale Glee Club, and for two years as President of the Yale College Composers’ Group, an organization he founded in the fall of 2000. He has sung baritone with the Dessoff Choirs, the Canticum Novum Singers, the Choral Arts Society of Philadelphia, and the Yale Glee Club and is co-founder of C4: The World’s First Choral Composer/Conductor Collective. In addition to Capital M, his music has been performed or read by ensembles including the Princeton Singers, Forecast Music, Cerddorion, Due East, the Choral Arts Society of Philadelphia, the Yale Symphony Orchestra, and the Way Blue Bucket. By day, Ian is Development & Marketing Associate for the American Music Center.

Of Art, Ian writes, “For a long time I’ve wanted to combine my interests in experimental rock and choral music, but the task seemed impossible because my writing styles in each genre are so diametrically opposed to each other. My music for Capital M tends to favor harsh distortion, intense syncopation, and surges of adrenaline, while in my choral music, I love to construct rich, delicate harmonies that seem to go on forever, unburdened by rhythmic concerns. In the Thoth Tarot deck which my mother uses and teaches, the 14th card represents the process of alchemy, the medieval science of transforming base metals into gold. It signifies bringing union to polarity, the struggle to reconcile apparent opposites in order to forge the desired synthesis. This card, appropriately enough, is called Art. I realized that it was a perfect metaphor, not only for what I was trying to do in this piece, but also for what this concert and Capital M are all about. The texts consist of the Latin motto found on the card’s painting and remarks from a Tarot workshop led by my mother in the 1980s.”

Frank J. Oteri - photo by Jeffrey HermanFRANK J. OTERI‘s voracious musical appetite finds many avenues of expression, but ultimately all lead back to his musical compositions which range from full-evening stage works to chamber and solo compositions. In all of these works, Oteri (b. 1964) combines emotional directness with an obsession for formal processes incorporating techniques from styles of music as seemingly-unrelated as minimalism, serialism, Broadway show music and bluegrass. His music has been performed in venues ranging from Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall and the Knitting Factory in New York City to the Theatre Royal in Bath, England, and the Los Angeles Contemporary Museum of Art to a Baptist church in the middle of Emanuel County, Georgia. MACHUNAS, a “performance oratorio in four colors” created in collaboration with Lucio Pozzi and inspired by the life of Fluxus founder George Maciunas, received its world premiere in August 2005 at the Contemporary Arts Center in Vilnius, Lithuania as part of the International Christopher Summer Festival conducted by Donatas Katkus. In addition to his activities as a composer, Oteri is a frequently published music journalist, a pre-concert lecturer at venues including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and Columbia University’s Miller Theatre, and the Editor of NewMusicBox, the Web magazine from the American Music Center. Oteri holds a B.A. and a M.A. (in Ethnomusicology) from Columbia University where he served as Classical Music Director and World Music Director for WKCR-FM.

Of Imagined Overtures, Frank says, “In the early years of the 20th century, composer/pianist Busoni contemplated a new beginning for music using third-tones and sixth-tones although he ultimately never created anything microtonal. Imagined Overtures presents a new way to explore Busoni’s 36-tone temperament by taking three electric guitars and tuning one a sixth tone higher, leaving one alone, and tuning the third a sixth-tone lower. It is a beginning of what will hopefully be a new window of opportunity for a fascinating scale. As it is a beginning, it seemed appropriate to title the three movements based on various theories of creation. ‘Natural Selection’ exploits perfect fifths and natural sevenths, the two best-sounding intervals in 36-tone equal temperament, through a 36-tone row that rhythmically degenerates until only a handful of chords are left. ‘Intelligent Design’ is a quintuple meter palindrome featuring Carterian metrical modulations triggered from a fabulous rhythm by a student of Kyle Gann’s that Kyle posted on his blog. The final movement, ‘Exquisite Panic’ (named for a somewhat anarchic set of religious beliefs promulgated by Robert Delford Brown) is an acoustic demonstration of equidistant 9-tone clusters which, depending on your aesthetic disposition, are either an amazing harmonic discovery or Busoni’s worst nightmare. The cluster is certainly the most dissonant chord I have ever used in my music, and might be the most dissonant chord I’ve ever heard.”

Stefan ZeniukSTEFAN ZENIUK was born in New York City, where he continues to reside. Growing up in the downtown music scene, he spent his formative years in clubs like the Knitting Factory & Tonic, soaking up the experimentalism of the improvisational scene in the mid 90’s. He currently curates the Open Ear Music Series of experimental music at the Bowery Poetry Club, and is an active performer & composer, leading his own group Gato Loco, and is a member of the avant-rock soul group the New York Howl.

A Letter’s Tale (2005) was written as a fictional ballet. It is based loosely on Igor Stravinsky’s ballet L’Histoire du Soldat which is based on a script by C.F. Ramuz. L’histore du Soldat is to be performed alongside narration & dancing. The music in A Letter’s Tale directly corresponds with the actions and emotive content of Ramuz’s script, and thus is forced into a narrative structure. A Letter’s Tale takes the formal structure and some of the emotive content of Stravinsky’s composition, and uses it as merely a FORM, thus giving the piece a natural dramatic arc. There is no text narration to A Letter’s Tale, and no choreographed dancing, though spontaneous dancing is encouraged.”