Darmstadt Contemporary Opera Workshop (Germany), Tzlil Meudcan International Music Festival (Israel)

Thrilled to have been selected to write new works for both the Tzlil Meudcan International Music Festival in Tel Aviv (Israel) with Ensemble Nikel this coming July, as well as the Internationales Musikinstitut Darmstadt Contemporary Opera Workshop in August with Ensemble Interface to compose what will become the first scene of my dissertation, a large scale multimedia opera based on the work of author Knut Hamsun. Should prove to be an extremely eventful summer, alongside my residency with Chamber Music Campania in Italy to write a work for the Fiati 5 Wind Quintet!


Composer-in-Residence for Chamber Music Campania

Composer-in-Residence for Chamber Music Campania

Looking forward to spending some time in Italy this summer as a composer-in-residence for Chamber Music Campania! I’ll be writing a new work for the Fiati 5 Woodwind Quintet and participating as a mentor in their composer apprentice program. Young composers can apply now through January 30th! http://www.chambermusiccampania.org/composers-in-residence.html

Various updates: AWS, newEar, International Horn Society, Iktus Percussion

Handful of updates covering the last month or two, firstly my work “Asymptotic Flux: Second Study in Entropy (Static Foxy Lump: [II] Second Nudist Tyre Pony)” was premiered by Alarm Will Sound in July at the Mizzou International Composers Festival, and they did a fantastic job!  I am still waiting to receive the professional multi track recording, but in the meanwhile I’ve cleaned up a recording I made from the audience, you can take a listen here:

You can also see a handful of excerpts in the video here (low audio quality):

Full video coming soon, just as soon as I receive the official recording!

Secondly, in September my work “Asymptotic Flux: First Study in Entropy” was announced winner of the 4th Annual newEar Composers’ Competition for, including a professional performance and recording with the newEar Contemporary Chamber Ensemble, a cash prize, and a very nice letter from the president of the organization expressing his support and enthusiasm for my work.

The same day, I learned that I have received a commission from the Meir Rimon Commissioning Assistance Program of the International Horn Society for my current project, a double concerto for horn soloists Jeff Nelsen, Michael Walker, and the Eastman Musica Nova Ensemble with conductor Brad Lubman.  The work will be premiered in March, 2014.

Lastly, I completed work on my percussion quartet …durat(A)ions: “broken landscape” for Iktus Percussion last month and they performed it in a concert preview on Oct. 4, in preparation for the official premiere at Galapagos in NYC, Nov. 19, 2013.

You can hear a recording of the tech rehearsal here: 

Check out a preview of the full score on my music page, along with my other recent works: http://jasonthorpebuchanan.com/music.php

I’ll be releasing an HD video of the Iktus Percussion preview concert in the next few weeks, and we’re currently applying for grants to produce a professional recording next year.  Check back for more updates soon!

Selected to write a work for Alarm Will Sound to be premiered at the Mizzou International Composers Festival

I’ve been selected to write a new work for internationally acclaimed 20-member ensemble Alarm Will Sound, which will be premiered during the 4th Annual Mizzou International Composers Festival, in July 2013.  I couldn’t be more excited about this opportunity, and I intend to write them a hell of a piece!  At the moment, I’m hard at work in Rochester on a quartet for Iktus Percussion, which will also be premiered in 2013.  Next week, I’m heading to Bloomington to visit my good friend Michael Walker and IU Horn professor Jeff Nelsen to make plans for a Concerto for Two Horns that I will be writing in the late Spring/early Summer, and last but not least I am making plans to write a work for 13 musicians and live electronics for our very own [Switch~ Ensemble] here in Rochester, also to be premiered in 2013.  Just updated the site with recordings, video, program notes, etc., and the video from my most recent performance in Philadelphia with ensemble39 is included below for your listening and viewing pleasure! Heading back out there in February for a recording session with them, and will also be recording Asymptotic Flux: First Study in Entropy here in Rochester in January.

– Jason

I built a wooden box.

First improvisation with my homemade amplified box built using 2×4′ (3/4″) wooden planks, metal screws, hooks, tacks/studs, various springs of different weights and sizes, three contact microphones, and two condenser microphones.

If you have a short attention span and/or love bows, skip to 3:29 or later!

This instrument was built for my first percussion quartet, a work in progress, (commissioned by Iktus Percussion), and will be used alongside a variety of prepared snare drums, kick drums, bass drums, congas, wooden and metal simantras, brake drums, cymbals, wind gongs, tam-tams, singing bowls, drinking glasses, bamboo and lightbulb chimes, glass bottles, garbage cans, thunder sheets, roto-toms, bongos, hi-hats, brass sheets, finger cymbals, thundersheets, metal chains, ratchets, guiro’s, coins, chopsticks, knitting needles, bows, mallets, and triangle beaters.

These recordings will be incorporated into a catalogue of sounds including improvisations with each of the above instruments, which will then be sequenced using both intuitive and algorithmic processes in computer software before transcribing and developing the material into precise musical notation.

This recording has not been processed or modified in any way, the raw audio was fed from the three contact microphones and two condensers, and simply panned as they are positioned and synchronized with the video. No reverb, delays, equalization, or other adjustments were made other than limiting the very loud attacks, such as those made with the drinking glass, and boosting the overall volume.

The finished work is scheduled to be premiered in New York City in 2013.

For more information, please visit: http://www.jasonthorpebuchanan.com

Premiere of “Asymptotic Flux”, inaugural performance of the [Switch~ Ensemble]

Last Thursday was the premiere of my latest work “Asymptotic Flux”, for amplified bass clarinet, violin, viola, & cello as well as the inaugural performance the [Switch~ Ensemble], with Fausto Romitelli’s “Amok Koma”.  The [Switch~ Ensemble] is a dedicated electroacoustic ensemble of flexible instrumentation (7-14 performers), the first of its kind here at Eastman, and co-founded by Christopher Chandler, Stylianos Dimou, and myself.  As the conductor of this ensemble, it has given me a fantastic opportunity to gain a great deal of conducting experience in a very short period of time, especially with repertoire that I am very passionate about!  I’m additionally working with Ossia, the Graduate Composers’ Sinfonietta, and Eastman’s Musica Nova Ensemble, as Brad Lubman‘s assistant conductor, with repertoire including works by Boulez, Carter, Zorn, Abrahamsen, Lindberg, and others, as well as faculty and student works.  Working with Brad has been fantastic, and I feel like my improvement over the last few months has been quite drastic!

“Asymptotic Flux” is a work that I am very excited about, and it will be performed again here at Eastman on November 12th, and later in Philadelphia by ensemble39 on December 7th at the 3rd Annual Melos New Music Concert, with a series of recording sessions for our upcoming CD as well!  I’ve included the program notes for “Asymptotic Flux” below, for those of you who may be interested.

Speaking of CDs, today the the 2nd Annual Melos New Music Concert CD was released on iTunes, and is available here as a digital download, or as a physical CD via http://www.melosmusic.com

As you can imagine, each of these projects has kept me quite busy over the course of the last few months!  I’m looking forward now to starting work on my first Percussion Quartet, being written for Iktus Percussion in NYC, and over the winter months I will be writing a concerto for two horns, working with Jeff Nelsen and Michael Walker, who will come out to Rochester in April to premiere the work with the Eastman Graduate Composers’ Sinfonietta!  Now, back to work!


“Asymptotic Flux: First Study in Entropy” was written over a three month period while traveling and hitchhiking throughout Europe, surrounding time spent attending at the IRCAM Manifeste Festival in Paris and the Internationales Musikinstitut Darmstadt.  As one might imagine, composing with pencil and paper while constantly on the move can be rather cumbersome, having only short periods of time available to focus, and often taking place in awkward workspaces like cafes, restaurants, hostels, and the apartments of my various hosts. Most of these environments were quite busy and chaotic spaces.  This situation presented a challenge after having spent most of my compositional activity to date in an academic setting with a piano or other musical equipment readily available.

My original intent when I set out was to explore the timbral possibilities of the bass clarinet, utilizing a variety of techniques to produce complex soundscapes and microtonal sonorities that would provide germinal material for the work while unifying the ensemble.  In addition to the sonorities that are worked out through sampling and spectral analysis of multiphonics, additional pitch content is generated through an acoustic analogue to a process known in electronic music as “single-sideband modulation,” resulting in a series of combination tones made by adding two frequencies (for instance, a bass clarinet tone and an open scordatura string of the cello), to one another, producing a series that grows exponentially (i.e. 100Hz+200Hz=300Hz, 200Hz+300Hz=500Hz, etc.).

The title comes from an arguably conceptual device: the low E-flat that simultaneously pervades the work and is non-existent.  I imagine that the ensemble is always reaching towards this E-flat as a point of centricity, but never quite arrive; analogous to an asymptote, as it approaches infinity.  Entropy can be described as the “measure of the disorder or randomness in a closed system,” or the “tendency for all matter and energy in the universe to evolve toward a state of inert uniformity.” (source: American Heritage Dictionary).  Taking some poetic liberties in reducing the scientific definition of “entropy” to simply a unit of measurement for chaos, one might say that this work conveys a state of high entropy in music, in stark contrast both to my previous work and to the classical tradition itself. This is a characteristic that I feel reflects not only specific elements of the compositional process, but also the result of the technical demands made on the performers, as well as my state of mind throughout the creation of this work.

– Jason Thorpe Buchanan

Work in Progress…

Over the winter break, I’ve been working on the first movement of my “First Study for Alto Saxophone: doublethink” for Michael Rene Torres, to be premiered in March at the Biennial National Saxophone convention in Tempe, Arizona.  Pictured below is the first page of the preliminary continuity sketch, which was preceded by a large harmonic blueprint for the entire work utilizing spectral analyses of each stable multiphonic on Mike’s Saxophone (there are about 40), and two opposing matrices a quarter tone apart that are again “bent” microtonally (this page uses about 1/20th of that blueprint).  I’m currently about 5 minutes into the piece and feeling good about the direction it has taken.  I feel this is quite radically different from anything I have written in the past, and as far as I am concerned this is a fantastic development.

I am working to get this wrapped up ASAP to begin work on a new piece for Piano & Live Electronics in collaboration with MacArthur “Genius” Award winner artist Anna Schuleit (click to view some of her artwork).  The project is part of Eastman’s “Benson Forum on Creativity”, and involves a sort of back and forth process in which four composers (including myself) will write music based on original artwork commissioned for the project based on our own input. In response she will create 4 new paintings, one based upon each composition, and then we will again respond to these new paintings with a second movement.  All of the works will be performed in April by pianist Daniel Pesca here at Eastman in Hatch Hall.

I will also be collaborating with the SoundExchange orchestra here at Eastman to compose a new work for the University of Rochester Dance Department, also to be premiered in April.  I’ve been keeping very busy these last few months, and there are loads of other new developments as well so stay tuned!