The [Switch~ Ensemble] Upstate New York Tour: Concerts, Residencies, and Recordings
The Latest Update
Sergio Cote’s La Sed Es Tierra
A video of the March 1st Cornell concert performance of Sergio Cote’s La Sed Es Tierra by percussionist Megan Arns
[Switch~] NY Tour
It takes many hands to put on a tour…
Rehearsal in Ciminelli Hall
A photo from a rehearsal of Victoria Cheah’s we drank wine from the bottle on a rooftop next to god. in Ciminelli Hall
SUNY Buffalo State Woodwind Masterclass
Woodwind students during masterclass with Madison Greenstone and Zach Sheets
SUNY Buffalo State Percussion Masterclass
SUNY Buffalo State percussionist in a masterclass with Megan Arns
Post Concert with Cornell Composers
Happy composers and ensemble
Piyawat Louilarpprasert’s Silhouette
A photo from a rehearsal of Piyawat Louilarpprasert’s Silhouette at Cornell
Rehearsing Jihyun Kim at Cornell
A photo from a rehearsal of Jihyun Kim’s Once Upon a Time
Rehearsing Cote’s La Sed Es Tierra
Percussionist Megan Arns rehearses Sergio Cote’s La Sed Es Tierra
Duo for Motor and Sound Panels
A photo from the concert performance of Marianthi Papalexandri-Alexandri’s Duo for Motor and Sound Panels (2016)
Rehearsing Papalexandri at Cornell
A photo from a rehearsal of Marianthi Papalexandri-Alexandri’s Duo for Motor and Sound Panels (2016)
Dress rehearsal at Bard College
A photo from the Bard College dress rehearsal of Alican Çamci’s landscape with inscription
NY Tour Recap
Between February 21 and March 6, the [Switch~ Ensemble] toured across upstate and western New York celebrating both the ensemble’s five-year anniversary and the region of the country where we began our musical journey. The ensemble made stops at Bard College, Ithaca College, Cornell University, and SUNY Buffalo State presenting nine world premieres, six concerts, three workshops, three recording sessions, and one reading session.
One of the foundations of our tour was premiering a new commission by Bard College professor Matt Sargent entitled Unwound Path. Sargent’s patient and luminescent new work affirmed a key component of our ensemble’s mission, which is to premiere and record new works by innovative composers whose music challenges conventional boundaries in an exciting way. In a concert in Bard’s Blum Hall, Switch premiered Sargent’s new commission and performed works by Alican Çamci, D. Edward Davis (a runner-up in our International Commissioning Competition), Morton Feldman, and Tonia Ko. Additionally, while in residence at Bard’s electronic music department, Switch collaborated with three student composers on new works involving technology for soloists and subsets of the ensemble. We premiered these student works alongside two previously composed works by Sargent at the Woodstock Artists Association and Museum.
On February 26th, Switch travelled to Ithaca, NY to continue our collaborate with student composers and faculty. Before beginning our week-long residency with the graduate composers of Cornell University, we held a reading session at Ithaca College to workshop the music of six young composers. Each work varied widely in style and duration. Some works were complete, while others were sketches and works-in-progress. A workshop of this nature presents itself as a kind of laboratory. The opportunity for composers to hear different orchestrational possibilities and later make an informed decision is valuable. Composers often made changes on the spot to experiment with these alternatives, and the ensemble, with their intimate knowledge of their respective instruments, made suggestions that the composer might not have otherwise considered or been aware of.
At Cornell, we collaborated with five graduate student composers on brand new works written for Switch. Over the course of the week, we rehearsed, workshopped, and recorded these pieces, which ranged from solo percussion to the full sextet. Switch spread the premieres between two concerts in Barnes Hall that also featured three works by Cornell faculty members Marianthi Papalexandri-Alexandri, Kevin Ernste, and Roberto Sierra, as well as works by Sargent and Ko.
Sergio Cote’s raw and visceral La Sed Es Tierra, performed by Switch’s percussionist Megan Arns, utilized four amplified surfaces which were scratched and struck as if digging the earth. Barry Sharp composed Recitations, for flute, percussion, cello, and electronics, in collaboration with poet Vincent Hiscock and his poem entitled “animal torsion.” The trio is a sort of transcription based on a recording of the poet himself reading the text. Sharp refers to this compositional process and the work as a filter for the poem. Jihyun Kim’s sextet Once Upon a Time reflects upon the nature of fairy tales and make-believe through a fast-paced and technically demanding work with rapid shifts of character. Motor-rhythms and motivic development drive the work before an unexpected and gradually unraveling climax. Daniel Sabzghabaei’s At any rate was the first in a series of transcriptions of popular music, slowed beyond recognition and orchestrated ethereally, accompanied by the sound of a record needle stuck in the inner lock groove of a vinyl disc. Piyawat Louilarpprasert’s Silhouette for piano trio is a playful and virtuosic collection of five miniatures: I: tormented souls, II: lucid echoes, III: childish dreams, IV: hope(less), and V: (un)happy ending. His compositional work is influenced in part by study and analysis of Thai instruments, such as the Jakhe, and utilizes Eastern rhythmic structures alongside Western materials.
During our time at Cornell, we stayed at the Telluride House, which is a community of scholars—undergraduates, graduates and faculty—passionate about intellectual engagement, democratic self-governance, and community living. This housing arrangement provided a wonderful opportunity for Switch to interact with other members of Cornell’s community that we might not have encountered were it not for the close living quarters. We were fortunate to share our music with the Telluride community both in conversation around the dinner table and in an intimate concert held at the house.
A two-day residency at SUNY Buffalo State was the last stop of our 14-day tour. Members of the ensemble presented three workshops for students. One workshop, for composers and music technology students, addressed the challenges of and solutions for recording and presenting concerts that involves both acoustic instruments or real-time sound processing. The other two workshops were oriented towards woodwind and percussion students, addressing new and innovative performance techniques for their respective instruments. The last day of the tour concluded with a concert at Ciminelli Hall, where we performed works by faculty member Tomás Henriques, Victoria Cheah, D. Edward Davis, Morton Feldman, and our new commission from Matt Sargent.
In the time since we established the [Switch~ Ensemble] in Rochester, NY, our musicians and composers have spread across the country pursuing careers as professors and freelance musicians. Our upstate and western New York tour was a culminating event that enabled us to come together and pursue our mission of working closely with young and innovative composers, bringing new music into the world, and sharing our art with new audiences. It afforded us the time and space to not only fulfill this mission but also reflect on our achievements over the past five years and plan for future projects to come.
[Switch~] in the Recording Studio at Bard College
Another shot from inside the recording studio.
[Switch~] in the Recording Studio at Bard College
A photo from the recording session of Matt Sargent’s new piece Unwound Path.
Excerpt of Matt Sargent’s Unwound Path
Our tour through upstate and western New York flew by! Since finishing the tour, we’ve been busy editing recordings and photos from our various stops. One of the highlights of our time together was collaborating with composer Matt Sargent, who wrote a beautiful, crystalline new sextet for Switch. About the work, Matt says:
“Unwound Path began from a poem by Robert Creeley, entitled “Kitchen.” Over the twelve lines of the poem, Creeley details three markers of the quiet passage of time within the stillness of one’s day: the “lace-like patterns” that sunlight reflects about the room in the morning, the silence of noon, and in the evening, a line that reflects about the wider passage of time, “perpetually sweeping this room, I want it to be like it was.”
The poem’s exposure of the circadian repetition – the habitual periods that compose one’s life – formed into a kind of musical thinking that I sought to work out through writing this piece. As the title, Unwound Path, suggests, the music slowly unravels, built almost entirely, somewhat obsessively, from a single unfolding melody, which is heard again and again across the score in many different guises. There is an element of obsession, rehearing, and stillness to the music that, I hope, pervades the listening experience.”
We were fortunate to document the piece in the recording studio of Bard College’s Electronic Music Studios. With Matt present, he was able to make last-minute changes and offer direct feedback during the recording process. Matt has just finished mixing the recording, and we are really excited to share an excerpt of it!
[Switch~ Ensemble] Tour Update
The [Switch~ Ensemble] is preparing to convene for our Upstate NY Tour from February 21st to March 6th. We have residencies and performances at Bard College, the Woodstock Artists Association and Museum, Ithaca College, Cornell University, and Buffalo State University.
The tour begins at Bard College with the premiere of a new work, Unwound Path by Matt Sargent, for the full ensemble, as well as two of his solo and duo works, Second Illumination and Tide. We will also be performing broad callby D. Edward Davis, a laureate of our 2016-2017 International Commissioning Competition, and honoring the region’s experimental music tradition with Feldman‘s Intersection 4. Additionally, our residency at Bard includes premieres of three works by student composers.
We spend the better part of a week in Ithaca, collaborating with students at Cornell University to give premieres of five new pieces and performances of three existing works by faculty members Kevin Ernste, Marianthi Papalexandri-Alexandri, and Roberto Sierra. When we first arrive In Ithaca, NY, we will be reading works by student composers at Ithaca College.
At Buffalo State University, we are giving workshops and presentations to students, and then a concert featuring music by Tomás Henriques and repeat performances of Matt Sargent’s Unwound Path, Feldman’s Intersection 4, and Davis’s broad call.
February 24th, 7:00 pm — Woodstock Artists Association Museum — Woodstock, NY Works by Matt Sargent and Bard student composers
February 25th, 7:00 pm — Bard College Blum Hall — Annandale-On-Hudson, NY Works by Aliçan Camci, D. Edward Davis, Morton Feldman, Tonia Ko, and Matt Sargent
March 1st, 8:00 pm — Cornell University, Barnes Hall — Ithaca, NY Works by Sergio Cote, Tonia Ko, Piyawat Louilarpprasert, Daniel Reza Sabzghabaei, and Roberto Sierra
March 2nd, 8:00 pm — Cornell University, Barnes Hall — Ithaca, NY Works by Kevin Ernste, Jihyun Kim, Marianthi Papalexandri-Alexandri, Matt Sargent, and Barry Sharp
March 6th, 7:30 pm — Buffalo State University, Ciminelli Hall — Buffalo, NY Works by Victoria Cheah, D. Edward Davis, Morton Feldman, Tomás Henrique, and Matt Sargent
The [Switch~ Ensemble] seeks support for a tour of concerts and residencies throughout upstate New York. Founded in Rochester, NY, our ensemble is excited to embark on a homecoming tour that features new world premieres alongside works by pioneering composers with ties to the region.
The crux of our project is a major new work for ensemble and live electronics by Matt Sargent, a former Buffalo resident and current professor of electronic music at Bard College. Our repertoire includes works by the laureates of our 2016-2017 International Commissioning Competition, works by Earle Brown and Morton Feldman, and works by composers with a connection to each tour stop: Annandale-on-Hudson, Woodstock, Ithaca, Rochester, and Buffalo.
Sargent’s new work, Three Rooms, draws inspiration from a three-stanza poem by Robert Creeley entitled “Kitchen”. Creeley is naturally connected to our other programming, too, both through his longtime residence in Buffalo and his affiliation with Black Mountain College.
Sargent writes: There’s a connection in these three stanzas with the three stages of life: birth, life, and death. The last section: “perpetually sweeping / this room, I want it to be / like it was,” is a phrase that I’ve ingrained over the years. It comes to mind daily, while working through the habits and practice that make up a musical life. I am always the most interested to work with simple materials – to explore a kind of delicate, cyclical writing for the ensemble, changing in shades as the music moves through its metaphorical day.
Our tour begins with three days in the electronic music studios at Bard College. Bard has always had close ties to experimentalism, and we feel it a fitting place to kick off our tour and premiere Matt’s new work. The following day, we will perform at the Woodstock Artists Association and Museum, featuring chamber repertoire, pioneering electroacoustic works, and two works by Bard students. The WAAM holds a prominent collection of the works of Philip Guston, so we are especially excited to share works by Feldman and Brown at this venue.
Subsequently, we will spend six days in Ithaca in a residency at Cornell University, performing works from our program alongside music by internationally renowned faculty and students, and two days in Rochester working with local composers and Eastman faculty. Our tour concludes with two days of events in residency and collaboration with composers at Buffalo State University.
As our most ambitious curatorial venture to date, this tour comes at a pivotal time in our ensemble’s life. After thoughtfully considering our collaborators and programming for over a year, this homecoming tour will be a milestone achievement in our 6th season. We are passionate about this repertoire and excited to share it with audiences beyond our planned tour. Indeed, we have plans for a long life for these works, including projects in the 2018-2019 season in San Diego, NYC, and San Francisco, where our artistic director Jason Thorpe Buchanan is a curator at the Center for New Music.
This 3-minute excerpt is from a performance of the [Switch~ Ensemble] in November of 2013, with Jason Thorpe Buchanan, conductor, and Sophia Burgos, soprano. It is the 2nd movement of Philippe Leroux’s 5-movement work, Voi(rex), a 23-minute piece for soprano, ensemble, and live electronics. This was our first major performance together as an ensemble—and the one that sparked our vision to life. More at http://www.switchensemble.com
A U.S. premiere of “Jökulsárlón” will be included in our upstate NY tour. “Visiting Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, I was left speechless by both the sight and sounds before me. As the glacier slowly melts, it creates a lagoon full of ice crystals of all shapes and sizes, which crackle and hiss gently. The vastness of the lagoon seemed to amplify these sounds; they were simultaneously delicate and striking. While writing, I attempted to create a world that was similarly sparse yet captivating, in reflection of the natural polyphony of the ice.”
This sample illustrates the beauty & subtlety of Sargent’s electroacoustic works.
T.Saint, B.Solomon, & J.Torrence, Sep.30 2016, WAAM (Woodstock NY). Ghost Light Trio is a ten-minute work for percussion and field recordings, focusing on two fragile strata of activity. A narrow band of small metal percussion instruments, which are sounding as a single, ever-changing bell tone throughout, and a build-up of many layers of field recordings, played through two speakers placed in hallways or open spaces adjacent to the hall.
Start and End Dates
02/23/2018 — 04/06/2018
Annandale-on-Hudson, Woodstock, Ithaca, Rochester, and Buffalo, New York