The band’s guitarist and bassist Guy Brenner tells the backstory: “I wrote the song Monsters five years ago. I taught it to the band, and they liked it. Then I thought it needed a little something, and I changed it. The band approved. Soon it became a joke to the band, that I kept changing the song. During the covid scare, we kept musically active by recording songs — each person recording their parts at home, and emailing the files to me to assemble. We made simple videos for each so we could put them on our Youtube channel. Finally, in January of 2022, I declared (again) that Monsters was finished and we could record it. By then, we could do it all together at my house. The band is relieved that I’m done changing Monsters.”
The lyrics of Monsters borrow from Frederick Nietzsche’s “Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster… for when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also into you.”; as well as from Rodney King: “Why can’t we all just get along?”
Brenner continues “I showed Beeb and Buckbuck a book of my old friend Doug Williamson’s cartoons called Fluffy Mammoths. They loved it and agreed we should recruit Doug to make the Monsters video. Amazingly, Doug agreed. I had suggested a montage of images since he already had hundreds of monsters and goofy creatures he had drawn. Doug, however, wanted to make it an animation — a much larger project. I gave Doug carte blanche to do whatever inspired him and take his time. Doug makes cartoons in like half a day. The animated Monsters video took six months of work! Eeek! But we are so thrilled by the result!”
Doug Williamson made the animation on an iPad using Procreate. He then assembled and edited the video with LumaFusion, also on the iPad. This is Doug’s first animation outside of a few 2 second looping GIFs. Oh, and a school project in the fifth grade. It was a stop motion animation using construction paper and a Super8 movie camera called “The Realm of the Gods,” depicting life on ancient Olympus. He filmed it twice as a matter of fact, as the first reel was somehow fully exposed and came out totally white.
Courtney’s Other Neighbors are: Olivia “Beeb” Dempster, who plays piano and stand-up bass; Becky “Buckbuck” Rogot, who plays cello, and Guy “Guy” Brenner, who plays guitar and stand-up bass. They also have an official band dog and mascot, Summit. They all sing, as does Beeb’s sister Celeste Monette, much of the time. To clarify, there is no Courtney in the band! She was Buckbuck’s neighbor in an Oakland apartment house and had another neighboring band. Says Buckbuck: “Courtney declared that we were the preferred band of course!”
In two separate sit-down conversations, both composers were kind enough to share about their lives, musicianship, thoughts on their respective pieces, and what it’s like to be part of this 40th annual Pride Bands Alliance Conference.
I’m in Memphis, and I’ll soon be moving to Boston as I’ll be teaching at Berklee College of Music this fall. But I’m originally from Chicago.
I started with music in fifth grade on trombone. Band has always been a part of me, and eventually I got interested in both conducting and composing. Throughout college, I continued to play trombone, and for a while I was a music education major, because I thought I wanted to be a high school band director. But at a certain point, I felt that I didn’t want to work with kids every day. So I switched over to being a full time composition major, but I’ve continued to play in bands and orchestra whenever I can.
My friend Lee Hartman, who was the head of the commissioning project with Lakeside Pride introduced me to Sweet Home Chicago. I didn’t have too much time to write the piece, so I started from something I previously wrote: a song cycle for countertenor, who was also based in Chicago. When I got asked to write the commission, I drew on my first song from that cycle, and expanded it into this larger piece at about eight or eight and a half minutes. It’s one of those works that I only have performed once, and not even to full performance. So I thought that Sweet Home Chicago would be a way to give new life to that—at least that first movement.
The cycle is called Love Words, Mad Words—and that title comes from a line from the poem “Romance” by Claude McKay. “Love words, mad words, dream words, sweet senseless words; melodious like notes of mating birds.”
I originally came across McKay’s writings by searching for Black poets from the Harlem Renaissance. I hate to say it, but all I knew previously was Langston Hughes. And Hughes is notoriously hard to get rights for. In fact, I did get rights for a poem of his that I wrote for another Chicago based ensemble, Quince, but it took almost a year. And so for this commission I needed something that at least was in the public domain.
Interestingly, half of Claude McKay’s poems are in the public domain. I really was drawn to these poems, and to his life: McKay was a Harlem Renaissance poet who spent his last years in Chicago, who was also bisexual, and who I feel like I have a lot of things in common with. Like him, I’m also bisexual — it’s something I’ve been embracing over the last four or so years. And that’s another reason why I was drawn to McKay, and also that he was very politically left like I am. So for a lot of reasons, I thought, “Wow, I should get to know the works of this person.”
Although McKay’s not the most visible of the Harlem Renaissance poets, I still think he is very well known and loved. One of his most famous poems is “If We Must Die”, and it’s quoted a lot. One day, I was watching Judas and the Black Messiah—it takes place in Chicago, and it’s about the Chicago Black Panthers—and they’re just yelling the poem. I thought “Wait a minute. That’s Claude McKay!”
Love Words… is probably the sixth or seventh band piece that I’ve written. What was different about this though, is I’ve never written for a conference. They’d asked me to include a lot of instruments that I’ve never written for before. So, I wrote for alto clarinet and concert bass clarinet, and all different types of clarinets, and at the time, I didn’t yet know what transposition they play in.
I’ll be at least one rehearsal, and then I’ll be at the performance. I am excited to hear it soon, as there’s going to be a lot of people playing this piece at the concert!
I’m 21, and from Maryland. I’m from a very small town called Saint Leonard in Calvert County. Very rural, not much to do around there, an hour or so south from the Baltimore/DC area, I go to University Maryland in College Park, Maryland and I plan on graduating in the Spring of 2023. And I hope to go to school for film scoring.
I’ve been into music from a really young age. My parents are musicians—not professionally, but interested in music since they were really young, and they still play. My mom plays piano, my dad plays saxophone, and they do church gigs every now and then. So, for me and my older sister who plays violin—it was expected of us to do music.
Around third grade, they kind of gave the option to choose an instrument, and because my mom wanted me to play violin like my sister, and I wanted to be different, I chose trumpet, and played that for a couple of years. Some time in middle school, my band director suggested for me to switch to French horn. So when I was 13, in 8th grade, I started to get more serious, I was devoted to practicing, and I was thinking maybe I should take lessons, and get into music school.
When I first talked to Melissa Terrell from Lakeside Pride about this commission, where she wanted to go with the piece, I asked her if she had any requests or specific notes. And she suggested to have some sort of connection to Chicago, or some sort of reference to Chicago. And I don’t really know anything about Chicago, because I’ve just lived in Maryland my whole life. (laughs)
This concert will be my first time in Chicago, and I’ll be traveling with my sister for the event, and then my parents are going to be flying in for the concert day. The only time I’d been to the Midwest was to Detroit a few times. So in researching for the piece, I looked up Chicago Pride specifically and Queer History in Chicago. And then I found Miss Major Griffin-Gracy.
She was a Trans activist from Chicago, and a part of the Stonewall Riots. I think that was really interesting because we talk so much about Marsha P. Johnson. I kind of feel like that’s kind of the ‘staple name’ for that time period in Trans activism, but it’s important to know other names too. That was the thing that clicked, the spark of inspiration for the piece. I thought, “Oh! That’s a pretty unique name. I feel like I don’t really see that often.” And it’s symbolic. A mythological griffin is symbolic for bravery or strength.
This is my second time writing for a band. I’m most used to writing for chamber works, so it’s definitely challenging in terms of keeping track of all of the lines and staves, all the little moving parts, engraving, and technical things can be a bit difficult. But sometimes, in terms of writing the music I almost find it easier. Because I really like creating warm harmonies and textures, and that’s easier to do with more instrumentation. I have an advantage because I’ve played in band for so long. I was one of those students who wanted to overachieve in music, especially because my music programs in high school and middle school weren’t well-funded. I just wanted to do as much as I could: take lessons, do honor bands, and marching band.
Griffin runs little over seven and a half minutes. I knew I wanted the piece to be celebratory, more lighthearted and upbeat. I wanted to convey this duality; to have some sort of contrast of this bravery, and this strength, and kind of this more grandiose element, and then the opposite of this kind of more slower, somber element. Overall, my goal was to not only represent the griffin as a mythological creature, but also this other symbolic side. How does this relate to Queerness, and can I as a Queer person be powerful and be uplifted? And how can I deal with these moments that are also more serious, and struggles.
I was definitely very excited about the opportunity in general, to be able to attend this conference, and to write this piece. I know it’s a Queer organization, and I thought, “Oh! This is really cool!” But now that I’m actually thinking about it, I’d say that it means a lot, because I definitely—along with many other Queer people—have struggled with internalized and external homophobia. So being recognized not only as a musician, but a Queer musician, is definitely really important.
It’s important that people are able to see what I can do—that Queer people are able to see what I can do.
Directed by Chilean-born and New York-based filmmaker Nicole Costa, this 20-min. short film follows the journey and heart of the upcoming Tremün concert.
Touching on the music, poetry, birdsong, and the endorsed and active celebration of Indigenous Chilean culture, the film features captivating and multifaceted interviews with Tremün’s artists and their involvement in creating this platform for BIPOC artists.
Tremün: Celebrating Indigenous Rootsis Notes For Growth Foundation’s debut concert at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall in New York City.
Tremün means “growth” in Mapudungun, the language of native Chilean people known as theMapuche,and this concert is a celebration of music by and inspired by Indigenous peoples around the world including Peru, Mexico, Jamaica, and Chile. This program is poised to amplify the powerful words and voices of Tremün’s collaborators to a new audience in New York City.
We understand that artists have limited budgets and that devoting money to publicity and promotion is sometimes a tough choice. In the spirit of transparency and pride, here are some recent media placements from 2020-2021. Even though it has been a tough few years for the arts, we are still successfully landing high profile media placements for our clients. See below, enjoy, and join us in celebrating our clients’ accomplishments. Feel free to reach out with any questions.
-Founder, Peter McDowell
(feat. George Takei) Bottiroli Piano Works (Complete), Vol. 2 · Nocturnes
“Argentinian composer [Bottiroli] deserves a wider audience. […]Thanks to his championing by gifted pianist Fabio Banegas, the world can come to its own conclusions about the output of this late-inning romanticist. […]Banegas delicately balances it all“
“Banegas is an excellent interpreter of these works and has been a dedicatee of the Six Album Pieces. It would seem his skill would be equally adept at other earlier 20th Century Impressionist composers and perhaps he will turn his attention there once he has completed recording the works of Bottiroli. What we have here though is a fine collection of colorful, relaxing works for piano that may entice listeners to continue to join him on these explorations of this Argentinian composer.“
The album also was also kindly featured and embraced by the Star Trek community, with shoutouts from both Roddenberry and Daily Star Trek News — the latter of whom featured the album on their podcast.
Additionally, Peter McDowell hosted a highly successful Q&A session with Fabio Banegas; and the album has been the subject of much Argentinean press, and has been included in various music libraries internationally, notably by BBC Radio 3’s In Tune and All Classical Portland.
Sons of the Never Wrong Undertaker’s Songbook
“This album is informed by the experiences of the band, but it’s not about any particular place in time. That timelessness is what raises these songs to something approaching spectacular. Sometimes experience is everything.“
“If you think you know this group their 30th anni disc will change your mind about that. Still mining the quirky vein, they have a whole different sound and vibe going on here with an almost dark, spiritual overtone underpinning the proceedings. Pulling folk in to the future, they’re still singer/songwriters at the core but this outing sets new standards easily that others will want to follow. Some real grown up music for real grown ups.“
The album has been a bit of a runaway success on folk stations around the world, with multiple plays on programs like WFMT’s Midnight Special, WNUR’s Folk Show, WGDR’s Acoustic Harmony, and New Zealand’s Radio Kidnappers’ Folk on Sunday.
“This is one of the strangest albums I’ve heard in a while. Tim Motzer and Fides Krucker have really created something indescribable with this improvisatory composition release. […] I am blown away at Fides’ total spiritual and vocal freedom. It is clear that her body and mind do not inhibit her ability to express herself. That’s really the magic of this album.“
“On this first album together, Krucker and Motzer dare to use the principle of instant composing. [..] In this case, it manifests itself in such a way that guitar sounds do not necessarily sound like guitar sounds and all vocal contributions are non-verbal. […] The results are stylistically beyond, onomatopoeic ambient tracks that were conceived as “Sonic Films”, which most closely resemble the more elegiac compositions.”
The album and artists were the subjects of several features, including articles by Esthetic Lens, Vents Magazine, and the highly respected Fifteen Questions, where Krucker talked at length about her remarkable vocal artistry.
The album also received pre-release acknowledgments from the likes of Whole Note (calling it “melodically lush“) and All About Jazz; and has been included in the libraries of the Canadian Music Centre, the University of Alberta, and the CBC.
Jeremy Siskind Perpetual Motion Etudes
“Perpetual Motion Etudes for Piano more than lives up to its name with nine distinct studies that travel with a seemingly endless flow of creativity—ever at rest until every excursion’s double bar is reached. […] The master’s brush can be heard and felt in [pieces like] “Van Gogh’s Dream.” […] Who could ask for anything more?“
“Challenging, yet accessible, with polyrhythms and thickly textured voicings serving as the main [exploration]. […] A gem of the new decade.”
Siskind received several shoutouts during his album campaign, from both Downbeatand WBGO lending their support to his livestream shows (in lieu of the pandemically delayed Carnegie Hall performance and world tour), to the late, venerable jazz critic W. Royal Stokes saying it was “a pleasure to listen to.”
Siskind was also the subject of several interviews, including NeonJazz, and celebrated jazz writers Raul da Gama and Debbie Burke. The album is also in the libraries of MPR, WPR, KQAC, and KCRW.
“[A] wide and wonderful variety of compositions on [this] superbly recorded Albany Records CD. […] Claman has given us gems. […] I would strongly recommend Gradus to anyone who cares about new musics in all its contemporary forms.“
“So relevant poetic and depictive spoken and sung texts mingle with tonal drone and primal tonality, very Post-Romantic, Indian and adagio expressiveness, shifting ratio temporality, in a very stimulating and fascinatingly contrasting program that exudes a lyricality without the trappings of sentimentality and so sounding futuristic in its own way, in an aurally singular way. […] Claman has his own stylistic parameters and they are very nice to ponder. Bravo! Do hear this one.“
Claman was also featured in interviews with Vents Magazine and Florida International University’s Listening Closely podcast and seminar. Moreover, noted New Music composer James Ricci lent a testimonial stating that, “As an informed contemporary composer of our global age, [Claman] draws inspiration from many aspects of culture, history, and style – but with respect, integrity, and a deep understanding of the intricacies that form the basis of music as a unique vehicle of human communication. The roster of musicians on this album is impressive. This is a fine collection of interesting and compelling works.”
Gradus is in the collection of various academic libraries, including the Hollins Univeristy, Tufts College, Lehman College, and Toronto Public Library; and has been championed by forward-thinking radio stations like WRUV in Vermont.
Composer David Claman has released a fascinating and eclectic collection of exceptionally diverse works on his new album – aptly titled – “Gradus.” His musical explorations take us through a broad range of artistic expression and diverse sonic experiences.
As an informed contemporary composer of our global age, he draws inspiration from many aspects of culture, history, and style – but with respect, integrity, and a deep understanding of the intricacies that form the basis of music as a unique vehicle of human communication.
The roster of musicians on this album is impressive. This is a fine collection of interesting and compelling works.
Between music that sends you on a journey of textures, styles, and with support from places like SoundWordSight, Vents Magazine, and kind support from industry colleagues, Gradus is surely an album worth your attention.
Meet just some of the musicians that contributed their talents to Claman’s vision below:
STEVE MACKEY – a GRAMMY Award® winner, lauded by Gramophone for his “explosive and ethereal imagination” – is regarded as one of the leading composers of his generation, with compositions ranging from orchestral and chamber music to dance and opera. Born in 1956 to American parents stationed in Frankfurt, Germany, his first musical passion was playing the electric guitar in rock bands based in northern California. He blazed a trail in the 1980s and ‘90s by including the electric guitar and vernacular music influences in his classical concert music. He regularly performs his own work, including three electric guitar concertos and numerous solo and chamber works. He is also active as an improvising musician, and performs regularly with his band Big Farm.
Loose Canons features guitars from Mackey, Mark Zaki and Matthew Wuolle.
New York City native OREN FADER is highly regarded as a performer of classical and electric guitar repertoire, from Bach to Babbitt. For the last 30 years, he has performed around the globe to critical acclaim, both as soloist and chamber musician.
In addition to performing as a soloist, Mr. Fader is much in demand as a New York City chamber musician. He has performed hundreds of concerts with a wide range of classical and new music groups, including the Met Chamber Ensemble (directed by James Levine), New York City Opera, New York Philharmonic, New York City Ballet, Mark Morris Dance Group, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, New World Symphony, and many others.
Guitar by Fader, cello by Susannah Chapman, violin by Calvin Wiersma, mandolin from William Anderson, vocals by Jessica Bowers and Elizabeth Farnum, and lyrics by Dr. A. Dasarathan
Praised by the New York Times for her “honeyed tone”, ELIZABETH FARNUM is one of the world’s most highly sought-after vocalists in the field of modern music. Widely known for her high level of musicianship, versatility and range, she has performed in several genres and has toured throughout the United States, Europe, Japan and Australia with a number of varied ensembles.
For the past 15 years, Elizabeth has specialized in modern music, for which she is world-renowned. She has performed in venues such as Lincoln Center, Alice Tully Hall, London’s Institute for Contemporary Art, the American Academy at Rome, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and the Library of Congress, collaborating with such composers as Samuel Adler, Ricky Ian Gordon, John Harbison, Peter Schickele, Charles Wuorinen and John Zorn. She has appeared as a guest soloist with many prominent modern music ensembles throughout the U.S. and Europe. A prolific studio artist, Elizabeth has been featured on over 30 recordings, four of which were nominated for Grammy awards, on such labels as DeutscheGrammophon/Archiv, Delos, Bis, Naxos and Koch.
With vocals by Farnum, piano by John McDonald, and poetry by David Ignatow.
FATHER PAUL POOVATHINGAL, popularly known as ‘Paadum Paathiri’, disciple of Padmabhushan Dr. K. J. Yesudas and Chandramana Narayanan Namboothiri, is an ordained priest in the congregation of Carmalites of Mary Immaculate, a religious order founded by blessed Cyriac Elias Chavara. He is the first Christian Priest who has completed Ph.D. in Karnatic music in India. He has shown great aptitude in music right from his childhood. Though he was initiated into Karnatic music at the age 17 by Sodharan Bhagavathar, it is only after his priestly studies that he started learning Karnatic music seriously. Nevertheless, during his studies in philosophy and theology at Dharmaram College, Bangalore, he continued his music education under the tutelage of Vidwan Bangalore V. K. Krishnamurthy.
After having graduated in English and Psychology from Christ College Bangalore, in 1992, he joined the Faculty of Music and Fine Arts in Delhi University and passed Sangita Shiromani course (B.A. Music) with first rank and passed M.A. Music with a gold medal. In Delhi, he learned music from Prof. T. R. Subramaniam, Dr. Guruvayoor T. V. Manikandan and Dr. Vasanti Rao.
Poovathingal has composed a number of albums both in Hindi and Malayalam. His compositions include Karnatic music forms such as Kriti, Kirthanam and other popular forms like Bhajans, Hymns, Ballet, National Integration songs and Awareness songs.
with voices from Poovathingal, Deena Abu-Lughod, Stephan Winkler, and Sunita Vatuk.
TARA HELEN O’CONNOR is a charismatic performer noted for her artistic depth, brilliant technique and colorful tone spanning every musical era. Recipient of an Avery Fisher Career Grant, a two-time Grammy nominee and the first wind player chosen to participate in The Bowers Program (formerly CMS Two), she is now a Season Artist of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. A Wm. S. Haynes flute artist, Tara regularly participates in the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, [email protected], Chamber Music Festival of the Bluegrass, Spoleto Festival USA, Chamber Music Northwest, Mainly Mozart Festival, Music from Angel Fire, the Banff Centre, Rockport Music, Bay Chamber Concerts, Manchester Music Festival, the Great Mountains Music Festival, Chesapeake Music Festival and the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival. Along with her husband Daniel Phillips, she is the newly appointed Co-Artstic Director of the Music From Angel Fire Festival in New Mexico.
Tara is a member of the woodwind quintet Windscape, the legendary Bach Aria Group and is a founding member of the Naumburg Award-winning New Millennium Ensemble. She has premiered hundreds of new works and has collaborated with the Orion String Quartet, St. Lawrence Quartet and Emerson Quartet. Tara has appeared on A&E’s Breakfast for the Arts, Live from Lincoln Center and has recorded for Deutsche Grammophon, EMI Classics, Koch International, CMS Studio Recordings with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and Bridge Records.
Tara is Associate Professor of Flute, Head of the Woodwinds Department and the Coordinator of Classical Music Studies at Purchase College School of the Arts Conservatory of Music. Additionally, Tara is on the faculty of Bard College Conservatory of Music, the Contemporary Performance Program at Manhattan School of Music and is a visiting artist, teacher and coach at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. She lives with her husband, violinist Daniel Phillips and their two miniature dachshunds, Chloé and Ava on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.
With alto flute by O’Connor and percussion by Ian Rosenbaum
NEW THREAD QUARTET was formed with the mission to develop and perform impactful new music for the saxophone, and to provide high level ensemble playing to feature today’s compositional voices. In 5 seasons, the quartet has commissioned and premiered over 20 new works by composers such as Richard Carrick, Ben Hjertmann, Scott Wollschleger, and Kathryn Salfelder, with recent commissions from Max Grafe and Taylor Brook as part of its annual Explorations concert series.
Based in New York City, NTQ has performed at Carnegie Hall, Roulette, Dance Theatre of Harlem, the Bang on a Can Summer Festival Benefit, Monadnock Music, and the World Saxophone Congress in St. Andrews, Scotland, and has performed or recorded more than 30 important works for saxophone quartet including Kati Agócs’ Hymn on New England Conservatory’s Composer Series at Jordan Hall, a revival of Michael Djupstrom’s 2001 work Test at Arizona State University’s Katzin Concert Hall, and the premiere recording of Elliott Sharp’s seminal work Approaching the Arches of Corti for 4 soprano saxophones, now available on New World Records.
Ensemble members are Geoffrey Landman (soprano saxophone), Kristen McKeon (alto saxophone), Erin Rogers (tenor saxophone) and Zach Herchen (baritone saxophone). NTQ is a presenting partner of Composers Now.
You must be logged in to post a comment.