Movie Night Interview with Fjóla Evans and Amanda Bonaiuto

Before its premiere at tomorrow’s concert, we asked Fjóla Evans and Amanda Bonaiuto to talk about their collaboration on Running up that hill.

What is the conceptual basis behind Running up that hill? You’ve mentioned that it’s based loosely on I Love Dick, by Chris Kraus. How does the book relate to your piece? And does the title have anything to do with the eponymous Kate Bush song?

Fjóla: Chris Kraus has this line in I Love Dick that talks about the importance and radical act of witnessing women engaging intellectually with the world. Like that the idea of a woman just sitting or thinking alone, or reading a book or whatever, but being alone with herself and her thoughts, is a radical act. Back in the spring, Amanda showed me some clips of a piece she was working on where these monastic looking female characters were walking down a spiral staircase and I immediately thought of that line. The women looked really engrossed in their own world, and didn’t seem to notice or care that they were being watched. We talked about how cool it would be to make a piece that was about a series of women embarking on solitary creative quests, some kind of epic, wandering journey. I also just love how Amanda draws women characters – they always look super fierce and powerful, yet free and goofy at the same time. I wanna be more like those women!

Yup, the title is definitely stolen from Kate Bush – I’m a huge fan. I feel like more people need to know that she was the first female artist (this was in the 70s!) to get a number-one song that she had written herself. Isn’t that crazy!? I feel like Running up that hill encapsulates this boundless but kind of redundant energy; a spurt of excitement that pushes you to accomplish something ridiculous and amazing. It’s difficult to be alone with yourself and to make a bunch of creative work for no particular reason, but it’s also super exhilarating.

This isn’t your first collaborative project. Could you talk a bit about how you work together on projects? How does Fjóla’s musical language interface with Amanda’s visual language, and vice verse?

Fjóla: This is actually the first project we have done together! We have some drafts of earlier work, but this is the first piece that will be presented to the worrrld — thank you Echo Chamber! For this project we talked a lot about different conceptual and practical ideas, and then sent clips of music and video back and forth between the two coasts (Amanda is based in LA). I find that Amanda’s films have this amazing visual rhythm, a kinetic bounciness that is so joyful and alive. I wanted to try and have the music speak in this bouncy language (I feel like my music sometimes tends to be kinda … dour and austere haha :/ ). I also think this piece is influenced by conversations we’ve been having for years. For example, a lot of the landscape reminds me of Iceland (the mountains! The geysers!), and Amanda and I have had many talks about Iceland’s bleak vastness — Amanda has spent a lot of time in Iceland, coincidentally on a tiny island (Hrísey) off of its North coast where my family is from.

Amanda: We started some collaborations a couple of years ago, but never got it off the ground because of little time/resources, so it was exciting to have another opportunity! Fjóla’s work makes me think of open spaces, so when she asked me if I wanted to collaborate I decided to take a short trip to Yosemite to see some wide open Pacific Northwest landscapes. Since the concept for the piece is loosely based on ‘wondering women on a creative pursuit’, I wanted to literally go on my own short pursuit to generate ideas and material. I’ve recently been working with bodies and tight spaces, so for Fjola’s piece I was excited to explore landscapes and a slightly more expansive color palette.

Amanda, your work is strikingly beautiful and harkens back to an earlier kind of animation. Are you influenced or informed by 20th-century animation? How do you translate sketches and concepts into the final piece of art, given that you don’t work from the start on a computer?

Amanda: Definitely, I’m super inspired by handmade animations in the independent/experimental animation world. I get really excited when I can see the cracks and imperfections in a film because everything was made by one person. I love early films by Amy Lockhart, Suzan Pitt, Igor Kovalyov, Rose Lowder, and more contemporary work by Laura Harrison, Lale Westvind, Sarina Nihei, and James Bascara. The lines in my animation are all ‘analogue’, so I work out all of the movement and most of the compositions by hand with pencil on paper, and then I scan each scene into the computer and color each frame in Photoshop. Once it’s all colored, I take it into After Effects and do any compositing or any color adjustments.

Fjóla, how does a project like this fit in with the larger body of your work?

Fjóla: In this piece, I wanted to work with large washes of sound in a rhythmic context. I wanted to see if I could keep a droney/soundscapey approach to the instrumental textures (definitely something I’ve been exploring pretty frequently in my other works) but create a rhythmic energy between the different instruments that builds in intensity; to sustain a jittery rhythmic pulse throughout. This is the first time I’ve collaborated so specifically with a visual artist —I really feel like this was a collaboration from its inception — which was really fun! I feel like it pushed me to be much more concise and specific with my musical ideas.

We hope you can join us tomorrow, October 27th, at the DiMenna Center to see the premiere of Fjóla and Amanda’s collaboration!

Movie Night + Call for Scores Winner!

Though it may still feel like summer here in New York, it is indeed now fall and we’re excited to bring news about our Call for Scores winner and to talk about our upcoming season.

Movie Night

Our first concert of the season is coming up soon: on October 27th, we’ll be presenting Movie Night at the DiMenna Center for Classical Music in Cary Hall at 8pm. In it, we’ll be premiering a new work by Fjóla Evans with animation by Amanda Bonaiuto, and presenting the world premiere of the music video we made for Pascal Le Boeuf’s Don’t Say a Word written for us in our first season, alongside works by Brooks Frederickson, Florent Ghys, and Aleksandra Vrebalov.

To help support the dedicated and talented artists creating this show, we’re launching a crowdfunding campaign. Playing concerts and working with interesting musicians and artists are impossible without your generosity, and with it we can continue to make and bring to you art that speaks to our modern life. All donations are fully tax-deductible, and we’re offering lots of perks to make any size of donation worth your while.

Looking ahead, we’ll be posting some interviews with our collaborators involved in October’s show on social media along with other glimpses into our preparation. We’ll be playing a concert in the spring, featuring three brand new works including a new piece by our Call for Scores winner, which we’ll be talking about more soon.

See you on October 27th!

Call for Scores Winner!

After being happily inundated with over 200 submissions to our first Call for Scores, we are even happier to announce that Caroline Mallonée is our winner! Caroline will be writing us a new piece to be premiered on our spring concert (more info to come). To tide you over, check out her awesome piece Throwing Mountains.

Honorable Mention
Elizabeth Bayer
Patrick Castillo
Nicole Murphy
Gregory Wanamaker

About Caroline
The music of Caroline Mallonée (b. 1975, Baltimore, MD) has been performed in New York City at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Symphony Space, Merkin Hall, Bargemusic, Roulette, Tenri Cultural Center, Town Hall, Tonic and National Sawdust, and has been programmed at the Tribeca New Music Festival, Long Leaf Opera Festival, Carlsbad Music Festival, Bennington Chamber Music Conference, Cambridge Summer Music Festival (UK), by American Opera Projects, on the New Music New Haven series, and at Boston’s Jordan Hall.

Her high-energy and cerebral chamber music has been performed across the country by new music ensembles including counter)induction, Da Capo Chamber Players, Wild Rumpus, Antares, Present Music, Locrian Chamber Players, Firebird Ensemble, New York New Music Ensemble, and Wet Ink, as well as the Spektral, Del Sol, and Ciompi Quartets. Her music has recently been programmed on the New York Philharmonic CONTACT! series, and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra presented her cello concerto, Whistler Waves, in 2015.

Dr. Mallonée holds a Ph.D. from Duke University, a Master’s degree from the Yale School of Music and a Bachelor’s degree from Harvard University. A Fulbright award recipient, she spent a year in The Netherlands studying with Dutch composer Louis Andriessen and has also studied with Mario Davidovsky, Joseph Schwantner, Stephen Jaffe, Scott Lindroth, Evan Ziporyn and Pamela Layman Quist.

Dr. Mallonée is the director of The Walden School Creative Musicians Retreat, a week-long festival held in New Hampshire each June. Dr. Mallonée is the composer-in-residence for the Buffalo Chamber Players.

Intern, anyone?

Happy summer! We’re excited to announce a search for a 2017-2018 Production Intern, & hope you or somebody you know might be interested. Broadly, the production intern will be responsible for aiding the ensemble in producing concerts—from attending planning meetings, to coordinating equipment and promotion, to working with ensemble members on planning future performances.

While priorities and administrative needs shift from season to season, previous interns’ duties have included:

  • Managing social media and website/blog updates;
  • Proofreading grant applications;
  • Assisting in situ at performances with house tasks (selling tickets, setup, etc.);
  • Coordinating percussion equipment cartage; and
  • Creating and maintaining databases.

The internship provides hands-on experience with the business of running a chamber ensemble in New York; interns learn about the commissioning process, grant-making, and the art of putting together a successful concert.

The ideal intern possesses the following qualifications:

  • Is currently studying or recently studied music at an undergraduate (BM) or graduate (MM) level (specialization in composition and/or performance of new music preferred);
  • Has a basic understanding of social media platforms including Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, as well as of the WordPress content management platform; and
  • Is interested in the process of creating new music from head to tail, is a self-starter, possesses a strong ability to extrapolate from basic instructions in order to complete projects.

No previous production experience is necessary, though applicants should have a basic understanding of contemporary music in general. The internship is unpaid, however college credit can be organized if the intern so wishes. The general time commitment is roughly 8 hours per month, and most tasks can be completed remotely, with occasional in-person meetings with the artistic directors.

All interested parties should submit a résumé and cover letter to Kyle Tieman-Strauss, co-artistic director of Echo Chamber, at echochambernewmusic@gmail.com, by July 31, 2017.

It bears noting that Echo Chamber does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion (creed), gender, gender expression, sexual orientation, age, ancestry, disability, marital status, or military status in any of its activities or operations.

Call for Scores!

We’re very excited to announce our first Call For Scores, for the 2017 – 2018 season! There is no application fee and no age limitation for this opportunity. Echo Chamber will select one grand prize winner to receive a world premiere of their new work in the spring of 2018 as well as a $250 honorarium.

The submission requirements are as follows:

  • 2 – 3 representative scores with recordings that showcase the applicant’s skill and unique voice. The composer’s name must be present on all materials submitted.
  • At least 1 score must be for any medium-sized chamber group. Applicants are encouraged to submit a diverse portfolio of works that demonstrate orchestrational skill.
  • Live recordings are strongly encouraged; at least one submitted work must be accompanied by a live (or studio) recording, and the others may be MIDI realizations if necessary.
  • One 250 word-maximum statement that describes the proposed commissioned work and why it would be suitable for Echo Chamber.

Composers will be judged on the uniqueness of their voice and their orchestrational skill. It goes without saying that submitted scores should be the best representation of the composer; this extends to the appearance of the score itself, which should demonstrate the composer’s professionalism.

The winning composer will write a new work for the group (clarinet, piano, percussion, violin, cello, bass) of between 8 and 16 minutes. The new work will only be written for the entire group to play (no subsets). (Multiple movements using various subsets are allowed—this can be clarified upon announcement of the winner.)

Completed applications are due no later than July 15, 2017. Applicants will be notified of results by August 15, 2017. For the selected composer, the complete work will be due in draft format by January 1, 2018, with a workshop with the full group to follow thereafter. The premiere will take place in spring of 2018 in New York City, along with a concert of premieres by Brian Petuch and Conrad Winslow.

The winning composer will receive an honorarium of $250 and a live recording of the premiere of the piece. Composers will be invited to attend a workshop and rehearsals; composers who are unable to attend are encouraged to be present digitally. Unfortunately, Echo Chamber is not able to provide any travel accommodations.

Please send all submissions with the subject line CALL FOR SCORES SUBMISSION to echochambernewmusic (at) gmail (dot) com. Any questions may be directed to the same address.

We can’t wait to hear your music!

Non-discriminatory policy
It bears noting that Echo Chamber does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion (creed), gender, gender expression, sexual orientation, age, ancestry, disability, marital status, or military status in any of its activities or operations.

We’re throwing a party!

Echo benefit
Happy new year, Echo-ites! To ring in 2017—and help support our commissioning and performing activities—we’re hosting our very first benefit/party, at our friends Scholes Street Studio, on Sat January 28, at 7p. Beyond a warm hob-nobbing environment, members of Echo Chamber will be performing music by composers we’ve worked with over the last year and a half, intermittently throughout the night. Plus, special guest composer-performers will including Molly Joyce and Anna Meadors, and Adam Cuthbert of slashsound will be DJing all night long. Come for the music, and stay for the raffle!

Entrance will be by suggested donation, starting at $15. Drinks will be served. Bring everybody you know. See you there!

What: Echo Chamber Winter Fundraiser/Benefit
Performances by members of Echo Chamber, plus special-guest performers Molly Joyce and Anna Meadors
When: Sat, January 28, starting at 7p
Where: Scholes St Studio, 375 Lorimer St, Brooklyn, NY
Suggested donation starting at $15

RSVP on Facebook.

If you can’t make it, please consider making a tax-deductible donation to Echo Chamber. We’re presenting FOUR new works in 2017, and even small donations help us support the music of our time. Check out the perks we offer on our support page. Thank you from all of us for your continued support.

Season Two, Show One

ShapeShifterPoster

Happy fall! We hope you’ve had a wonderful summer, and we cannot wait to dive into our sophomore season with you. We can’t believe our first show is already happening tomorrow, Tue October 18 at ShapeShifter Lab @ 8:15p in Gowanus, Bklyn. On tap is a brand new piece by the prodigious Florent Ghys, for our ensemble plus video. We’ll also reprise works by Brooks Frederickson, Matt Frey, and our own Kyle Tieman-Strauss. Check out more at the FB event and see you there!

What: ShapeShifter+ Presents: Echo Chamber
New work by Florent Ghys, plus music by Brooks Frederickson, Matt Frey, and Kyle Tieman-Strauss
When: Tue, October 18 @ 8:15p
Where: ShapeShifter Lab, 18 Whitwell Place, Bklyn NY
$12 at door