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Amber Vistein

Cambridge, MA   

Amber Vistein (b.1984) is a composer and sound artist who delves deeply into the poetics of timbre, texture, and gesture. She has been praised for her conceptual “acuity” (Big, Red, and Shiny) and “blooming phrases” (New Music Box).

Amber has recently had the pleasure of composing for Ensemble Dal Niente (2018), the International Contemporary Ensemble (2017), Russel Greenberg of Yarn/Wire (2016), and the Boston Modern Orchestra Project (2016). She created site-specific sound installations for the deCordova Museum in Lincoln, MA (2016) and collaborated with video artist Amanda Justice to present the multi-media work Landscapes at the Peabody Essex Museum (2017). She was an artist-in-residence with ArtsIceland in Ísafjörður, Iceland (2016). And participated in NYU’s Summer Film Scoring Workshop (2017) as well as EMPAC’s Spatial Audio Workshop (2017). Man Will Not Outlive the Weather—her chamber opera for mezzo-soprano, ensemble and electronics—premiered in 2017.

Amber holds a B.A. in Music & Philosophy from New College of Florida and an MFA in Sonic Arts from Massachusetts College of Art. She is currently a 4th-year PhD student in the Music department at Brown University and a 2017-19 Composition Fellow with American Opera Project’s Composers and the Voice program.

Man Will Not Outlive the Weather

‘Man Will Not Outlive the Weather’ is a new chamber opera for mezzo-soprano, flute, cello, piano, percussion and electronics composed by Amber Vistein. This video documents its performance on February 18, 2017 performance by: Britt Brown (mezzo-soprano), Carlos Aguilar (flute), Stephen Marotto (cello), Jennifer Elowsky-Fox (piano), and Michael Hardin (percussion) at Granoff Center for the Arts.

Each movement focuses on a weather event: glacial motion, a flood, deep fog, ocean tides, volcanic eruption, atmospheric circulation, and a hurricane.

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tenterhooks for coloratura soprano and piano is a meditation on the aesthetics of waiting. It references a familiar phrase “to be on tenterhooks”— about a now unfamiliar device. Tenterhooks were hooks attached to a frame used for drying wool. The suspended cloth was kept in a state of tension as it dried to preserve its shape. The text draws an analogy between this and the way skin stretches across a rib cage during a moment of held breath.

Performed by Tookah Sapper
Music & Text by Amber Vistein
Music Directior & Piano: Kelly Horsted

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touching touching

ouching touching is a string-trio (violin, viola, cello) composed for members of Ensemble Dal Niente as part of their 2018 residency at Brown University.

In The Visible and the Invisible Maurice Merleau-Ponty meditates on the sense of touch—my “touching” right hand explores my “touched” left hand, and then the process reverses: touched becomes touching. This reversibility creates a sense of unity between left and right, but also presents an impossibility: touching touching.

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