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Bryan Christian

Washington, DC   

Bryan Christian’s music explores the porous boundaries between spectral and diatonic sound worlds. Indeed, most spectral music filters pitch content in one way or another. In Christian’s work, he filters the spectral content through a diatonic (major/minor key) grid. Christian’s work Direct your step further along the road’s course, commissioned by the E-MEX Ensemble, uses a consistent spectral process across the work that unfolds at a glacially slow pace. This pacing allows the listener to aurally zoom in and explore the most minute changes and interrelationships between these disparate sound worlds.

Christian has received commissions from the Fromm Music Foundation at Harvard University, the Lorelei Ensemble, the 59th Festival Les Musicales (2011; Colmar, France), the 19th and 20th Juventus Festivals (2009 and 2010; Cambrai, France), the 2011 Monadnock Music Festival, the Aurora Borealis Duo, the Playground EnsembleJulien LibeerEryn Oft, and Matthias Geuting, among others. Christian is the recipient the Fulbright Fellowship to Estonia and the BMI Student Composer Award. He was selected as a winner in the 2013 nief-norf Summer Festival’s International Call for Scores and in the 2013 League of Composers/ISCM Competition.

Christian earned his Ph.D. in Music from Duke University in 2015. He holds additional degrees from Duke University (M.A., 2013),  the University of California San Diego (M.A., 2010), the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre (M.A., 2009), and the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University (B.Mus., 2007).

Of a rose synge we

Commissioned by the Lorelei Ensemble, Of a rose synge we recasts the text of a fifteenth-century English carol in a contemporary light. Although lines and stanzas remain somewhat intact, the macaronic text (in both Middle English and Latin) is not always presented in its original order. I urge the listener to read the text and translation before, rather than alongside, the performance in hope that the labyrinthine setting will move through the listener more directly and more powerfully.

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Chain Shift

Chain Shift is a work for contrabass flute/piccolo, tenor saxophone, percussion, voice, violin, and electronics composed for the Wet Ink Ensemble as part of Duke University’s Encounters our time series. A chain shift is a linear movement along a phonological scale. Gradual changes in pronunciation occur in all languages and are expressed in the rich diversity of dialects around the world. Chain Shift draws on this concept as an abstract seed and takes multiple dialectical glances of a single word.

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Direct your step further along the road’s course

The title has at least three meanings: (1) on a technical level, the title is a metaphor for the musical transformations, which are somewhat directional; (2) on a compositional level, the title refers to my continued exploration of the overlap between diatonic and spectral sound worlds — this work is perhaps my most balanced pairing of the two worlds; and (3) on a personal level, it encapsulates my love of exploring by foot. Imagine a road and in your mind’s eye direct your step further along its course.

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