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Andrew McManus

Andrew McManus’ (b. 1985) orchestral work Strobe, premiered in June 2014 by the New York Philharmonic, was called “riveting” and “breathless…surging…hazy…sometimes all at once” by the New York Times. The imagery in his recent works ranges from Wagner’s “Magic Fire Music” and Dominican merengue to the electrical behavior of rat neurons and Renaissance dance rhythms. These include embers, fused to ash (2015), for Alarm Will Sound and the Mizzou International Composers Festival, and Killing the Goat (2014), an opera based on Mario Vargas Llosa’s novel La Fiesta del Chivo for eighth blackbird, the Pacifica Quartet and the Contempo Chamber Players at the University of Chicago. Killing the Goat will be performed at Fort Worth Opera’s Frontiers program in May 2016. Ancient Vigils (2013), a New York Youth Symphony First Music Commission premiered at Carnegie Hall, is a distorted tapestry of bell sounds and viol consorts. He also works with electronic media: Mesospherics (2013) weaves together sounds ranging from vivid and scintillating to unwieldy and cacophonous. Neurosonics I (2015), a collaboration with a University of Chicago neuroscientist, derives similarly strange sounds from experiment data. Other works have been performed at the Aspen Music Festival and School (2014), Wellesley Composers Conference (2012), the Bowdoin International Music Festival (2013), the Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute (2008) and CULTIVATE (2015), a festival at the Aaron Copland House. A native of Massachusetts, he holds a PhD from the University of Chicago, where he studied with Marta Ptaszynska, Shulamit Ran, Augusta Read Thomas and Howard Sandroff. He also holds degrees from the Eastman School of Music and Yale University.

pathways, bursting [neurosonics 2] for string quartet+electronics

Spektral Quartet:
Clara Lyon, Maeve Feinberg, Doyle Armbrust, Russell Rolen
Andrew McManus, electronics
Constellation Chicago
May 12, 2017

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embers, fused to ash (2015)

At the end of Die Walküre, Wagner represents the fire surrounding a sleeping Brünnhilde with a beautiful flurry of orchestral activity: a sea of sweeping, impossibly fast violins under pointed woodwind and harp gestures. “embers, fused to ash” alludes to this “Magic Fire Music” in twisted ways. But its chaotic, noisy energy slowly extinguishes, relaxing into a bluesy lyricism, then further fades into a cold but tender chorale. The end hovers on the edge of silence: wispy strings struggle to rise from the ashes.

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Strobe (2013) for orchestra

Cliff Colnot, cond. Recorded at the University of Chicago, November 2013.
Premiered by the New York Philharmonic, Matthias Pintscher, cond. June 2014.

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