Category Archives: Portfolio

ECCE-:-ANIMA

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As the director of the Eugene Contemporary Chamber Ensemble (ECCE), I am thrilled to announce its latest production: ANIMA.

A concert of new compositions and choreography created in collaboration between graduate students of the School of Music and Dance at the University of Oregon.

Two showings, May 29 and 30th @ 7:30pm in the newly constructed multimedia and rehearsal space in the School of Music, “The Cube” (Rm 190).

Repertoire includes multimedia installations, video projections, electronic music, and a wide variety of chamber music played by live instrumentalists, combined with contemporary choreography, lighting, and production.

FREE ADMISSION is made possible by the generous support of the University of Oregon School of Music and Dance.

See you there!!!

Rapture and the Agon

I have now posted a recording my of recently performed piece for flute choir, Rapture and the Agon. You can read more about it and listen to the recording on its own page.

Although this piece isn’t necessarily a typical departure from what might be called “proscenium-style” concert music (in the sense that there is no additional multimedia or performance element) I most certainly consider the work a collaborative effort. Early in 2009 Molly Barth, phenomenal flutist and chair of the flute department at the University of Oregon, began working with Robert Kyr, the chair of the composition department. Their efforts came to fruition via a collaborative pairing of flutists and composers in a concert of new and original music titled “The Oregon Composers Forum: Flute Music for the 21st Century.” 

I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to write a piece for nearly the entire flute studio (10 flutes), including 2 piccolos, 5 soprano flutes, 2 alto flutes, and 1 bass flute. It was a welcome and very satisfying experience, and I have all of the flute players in Molly’s studio to thank for coaching me through the process and ultimately giving the piece a public reading on the concert this April.

Having trouble imagining what 10 flutes might sound like? Go give it a listen.

This piece is dedicated to Molly Barth’s flute studio of Spring 2009.

Tall movies (and other dimensions too!)

I think most of us have experienced the frustration of shooting a film, and then, considering our familiarity with still cameras, try to turn the video camera on its side to change the orientation to a “portrait.” Alas. As we all know, that never works, and if we don’t catch ourselves before we get too much footage we end up slapping our foreheads while looking at a bunch of unusable video that is rotated by 90 degrees.

It occurs to me that the only reason there is a standard aspect ratio for film and video is because there used to be a standard means of distribution. In order to distribute media to televisions, it had to be in a 4:3 format, otherwise the content creators could be sure that their media would not be presented in the way that they desired. We are still living in an era when video is distributed for particular devices (theaters, televisions, widescreen format) etc. Because content providers generally have the intention of their media being portable between a wide variety of devices, they generally stick to the standards: 4:3, 16:9, 720p, etc.

The vast majority of online video distribution sites (YouTube, Vimeo, etc.) are locked into these aspect ratios, and they are locked into these ratios for no good reason, other than the fact that their users are relatively locked into those formats by two things: habit, and the dearth of features in hardware and software to support non-standard video sizes. If a computer is used as the medium for video distribution then there are no good reasons to stay locked into these standard formats and aspect ratios. What about portrait oriented videos? Vertical videos that are thin slices like the banner ads we get pummeled with on a daily basis on virtually every site we visit (including this one :))? What about big wide thin videos?

We might think that these “strange” dimensions for videos are rather unpractical, as they don’t lend themselves very well to presentation and storytelling. Hogwash. I see paintings in strange dimensions all the time that tell better stories than the latest garbage from Hollywood. I’m not suggesting that Steven Spielberg adopt a strange format for his next feature-length film, but I am suggesting that video and media artists who have no intention of having their content viewed or presented anywhere else other than a computer screen or specialized installation, ought to at least consider different dimensions. In many cases, it is already a form of painting anyway: video painting.

All of this talk, of course, is assuming that film and video are in some incarnation of a rectangular size. What about circular movies? What about arches? Crescent moons? Lattices? The possibilities are endless, and once you begin to think about it you realize how limited and boring the visual “box” is that we cram all of our media into.

I’ve made a simple example below. 3:4 portrait format video. Tweaking my software to make a vertical video took some time (sucks to these standards!), and I couldn’t find any software that would support a crescent shaped video 🙂

Update: Some readers reported problems viewing the previously posted video due to some complications I encountered during the encoding process. It has been fixed, and should work now.

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parallaxis—fEARnoMUSIC—collaboration

 

by Dan J. Richards
by Dan J. Richards

 

I visited Portland this weekend to see a show by the new music ensemble fEARnoMUSIC. The show was titled parallaxis, and was a concert of modern chamber music, each work being combined and presented simultaneously with the work of a collaborative video artist. Great concert. Featured on the program were a smattering of movements from Ligeti’s 2nd string quartet, and a chamber work by one of my previous teachers, Steve Ricks.

I walked away with the profound and reassuring feeling that collaborative art is extremely powerful. While the romantic notion of the  independent artist is certainly still valued, art created and presented collaboratively strengthens one’s sense of community. It may sound somewhat trite, but when working with others, you don’t feel so alone 🙂 While solitude has its virtues, despite what many may claim, the sociality of art is what gives it power. Art is relatively useless in a vacuum, decontextualized and stripped of all the social and aesthetic connotations that make it meaningful in the first place. It might be made to selfishly sooth the artists own soul, but the best things in life are always shared.

Another related practical matter concerning the artists well-being, is that working with others makes you feel needed. It makes you feel valued, an emotionally comforting phenomenon that is welcome to an artist who (like so many often do) is wondering what their own place in the world is, or questioning their own function or use as a creator. I felt this comfort quite deeply as I walked away from a UORDC concert last night where two of my works were performed in conjunction with choreography. Gratitude.

A suggestion: if you are feeling lonely, trapped into an aesthetic dead-end, or emotionally distraught, . . . seek another artist to work with. You’ll make each other feel a lot better about what you do.

Performances, April 17th & 18th

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Next weekend, April 17th and 18th, two of my works will be performed as part of the UORDC’s spring concert: The More We Get Together, a collaboration with choreographer Valerie Ifill, and After Hours in The Parlour Room, a collaboration with Alex Taylor.

Come see the work of the University of Oregon School of Music and Dance Faculty along with works by the two graduate students mentioned above.

Friday and Saturday, April 17-18, 8 p.m.
Dougherty Dance Theatre
$5 student/senior, $10 general admission