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New Morse Code

Lawrence, KS         

New Morse Code is devoted to bold and engaging performances of music worth sharing. Omnivorous, rigorous and inventive, Hannah Collins and Michael Compitello activate the unexpected range and unique sonic world of cello and percussion to catalyze and champion the compelling works of young composers.

To Hannah and Michael, collaboration involves drawing upon mutual influences while generating and refining material together over an extended period of time. Through close work with colleagues such as pianist-composer Paul Kerekes, steel pan virtuoso and composer Andy Akiho, Hawaiian composer and visual artist Tonia Ko, and Pulitzer Prize-winning violinist/vocalist/composer Caroline Shaw, New Morse Code generates a singular and personal repertoire which reflects both their friends’ creative voices and their own perspectives. 

Hannah and Michael were finalists in the 2014 Concert Artists Guild Competition and recipients of a Classical Commissioning Grant from Chamber Music America with composer Christopher Stark. Their debut album, Simplicity Itself, described as “a flag of genuineness raised” (WQXR) was released in 2017 on New Focus Recordings.

Through its outreach initiative New Morse Kids, the duo has inspired young listeners with eye-opening performances and engaging presentations at the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival,  Greenwood Music Camp, Yale’s Morse Summer Music Academy, the ARTS Experience Festival at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, and the Educational Center for the Arts in New Haven.

Hannah and Michael are Assistant Directors of  Avaloch Farm Music Institute, a summer residency program in Boscawen, New Hampshire designed to provide resources and support for performers and composers collaborating on new works.  

Hannah (cello) and Michael (percussion) teach at the University of Kansas.


Robert Honstein: Down Down Baby

Down Down Baby was commissioned by New Morse Code and developed with the support of the Avaloch Farm Music Institute. Each movement is a childhood scene, playing with the idea of Hannah and Mike acting as mirrors, with the cello as a shared instrument. Listen to “Singing Lesson” (7:45) and “Strange Dance” (10:50) for a sense of this piece’s unique and playful virtuosity.

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Tonia Ko: Hush

Tonia wrote “Hush” for New Morse Code in 2012. Each of the 3 movements is inspired by a fragment of text from Virginia Woolfe’s “The String Quartet.” Listen from the beginning for a sense of the work’s soundworld, and from the 3rd movement (6:37) for a sense of how Tonia’s work with us guided the idiomatic composition of the piece, which includes speaking and singing in addition to playing.

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Caroline Shaw: Limestone and Felt

limestone & felt presents two kinds of surfaces – essentially hard and soft. These are materials that can suggest place and sound. The hocketing rhythms and pealing motivic canons are part of a whimsical, mystical, generous world of sounds echoing and colliding in the imagined eaves of a gothic chapel. New Morse Code arranged Caroline Shaw’s Limestone and Felt for marimba and cello.

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