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Bearthoven

New York City, NY               

About Bearthoven

Bearthoven [ \’bâr-toh-vən\ ] is a piano trio creating a new repertoire for a familiar instrumentation by commissioning works from leading young composers. Karl Larson (piano), Pat Swoboda (bass), and Matt Evans (percussion) have combined their individual voices and diverse musical backgrounds, coming together to create a versatile trio focused on frequent and innovative commissioning of up-and-coming composers. Bearthoven is rapidly building a diverse repertoire by challenging composers to apply their own voice to an instrumentation that, while common amongst jazz and pop idioms, is currently foreign in the contemporary classical world.

Formed in 2013, Bearthoven has quickly established themselves as a forerunner in the New York City contemporary music scene. Commissioning over twenty new works in their first four seasons, the trio has created its own diverse repertoire ranging from the driving, post-minimal voices of Ken Thomson, Brooks Frederickson, and Brendon Randall-Myers to the atmospheric and abstracted offerings of Fjola Evans, Scott Wollschleger, and Anthony Vine. Bearthoven’s commitment to collaboration and innovation has garnered both critical and peer acclaim and has led to featured performances on notable stages including the MATA Festival, the Bang On a Can Marathon, and the Music/Sound Series at EMPAC, as well as the release of their debut album, Trios, on Cantaloupe Music. Bearthoven was recently selected as 1 of 24 ensembles to be a part of the inaugural New Music USA Impact Fund cohort.

Mission statement

Bearthoven exists in an era where music no longer fits into discrete genre categories. Audiences have well trained ears attuned to aural cues and sonic associations, connecting pieces of music with our larger conception of culture like never before. The current generation has access to an unprecedented amount and variety of music, and these associations grow stronger and more developed with each technological development. Larson, Swoboda, and Evans believe these developments raise interesting questions about how contemporary chamber ensembles approach commissioning, programming, and marketing strategies. Through their work in Bearthoven, the musicians strive to address these questions, developing a new model for contemporary chamber groups in the 21st century.

Bearthoven’s instrumentation, while a clear reference to jazz and pop idioms, is intended to serve as an access point for the current listener. When commissioning new works, the trio invites composers to explore their cultural relationship with the instrumentation, creating a dialogue between their compositional voice and their own associations with the piano, bass, and percussion sound palette. This approach is a provocative prompt for composers and provides the audience with a secure sonic foothold, even in the most abstract compositions.

Works

Commissions:

  • Balch, Katie – New Work (2018)
  • Citerman, Ty – Shreds (2014)
  • Evans, Fjola – Shoaling (2014)
  • Feery, Amanda – Sun Stands Still (2015)
  • Frederickson, Brooks – Undertoad (2013)
  • Gullickson, Luke – Four Trios (2014)
  • Hennies, Sarah – New Work (2018)
  • Hjertmann, Benjamin – A Cause for the Augurs (2014)
  • Knight, Adrian – The Ringing World (2015)
  • Petuch, Brian – Updog (2014)
  • Randall-Myers, Brendon – Simple Machine (2014)
  • Roberts, Adam – happy/angry music (2017)
  • Thomson, Ken – Grizzly (2014)
  • Shanfield, Eric – Lightning Field (2013)
  • Vine, Anthony – From a forest of standing mirrors (2014)
  • Washington, Shelley – Silk (2017) and New Work (2018)
  • Weiser, Alex – Roar (2014)
  • Wilmoth, Charlie – Bearthoven (2015)
  • Wolfe, Kristina – Near Sky (2017)
  • Wollschleger, Scott – American Dream (2017)

From a Forest of Standing Mirrors – Anthony Vine

Anthony Vine’s 2014 composition for Bearthoven is short-form textural odyssey. Featuring bowed piano strings, vocalizations, a harmonica, and more, ‘From a Forest of Standing Mirrors’ is one of the most sonically progressive works in Bearthoven’s catalogue.

Studio recording from ‘Trios’ (released May 2017)
Video by Katie Gilmore

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Shoaling – Fjola Evans

Fjola Evans’s ‘Shoaling’ was commissioned in 2013 and premiered in 2014. In this work, the piano, double bass, and percussion move slowly in and out of sync, undulating in waves of increasing intensity.

Studio Recording from ‘Trios’ (released May 2017)

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Undertoad – Brooks Frederickson

The first piece composed and commissioned by Bearthoven, Brooks Frederickson’s “Undertoad” was premiered December 15th, 2013, during ensemble’s first public performance. Performed at the 2014 Bang on a Can Marathon at the Winter Garden at Brookfield Place in Lower Manhattan. Recorded by Bang on a Can and Little Dog Live.

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