This week's #composagam "Digital Crab Canon," perfect for this snow-day. Special credit to violists #JocelinPan & #WillBender #washingtonheights #nyc #newyork #palisades #northernmanhattan #manhattan #georgewashingtonbridge #gwb #gwbridge #viola #violists #violaduo #composer #raylustig #violaduet #duet
This week's #composagram (my experiment in 15sec music and visual micro-creations), "On the Earth" blends bits of Charlotte Mundy singing from Semmelweiss with Thomas Flippin and Christopher Mallett of Duo Noire from FIGMENTS. #CharlotteMundy #Semmelweiss #ThomasFlippin #ChristopherMallett #DuoNoire #figments #music #vocals #guitar #RayLustig #OnTheEarth
A video posted by Ray Lustig (@raylustig) on
A video posted by Ray Lustig (@raylustig) on
Maybe you know someone who is musical and wants to start studying composition but doesn’t know how to being. Or maybe you are that someone. Do you know about the Juilliard Evening Division? It’s Juilliard’s extension school that offers open auditions to adult students of all backgrounds. I teach INTRO TO COMPOSITION, where my students get to learn and practice technical concepts within the context of creative projects, and your pieces get read by amazing Juilliard musicians. Now that’s how to learn to compose! It’s not expensive either, so don’t be shy. It can’t hurt to audition.
MORE INFO on the Juilliard website
The last few weeks I’ve been very fortunate to have my mysterious and ellusive writer collaborator friend Matthew Doherty drop in from Saudi Arabia, where he’s based these days. Fueled by 6 pounds of dizzyingly superb coffee he brought from his recent travels in Ethiopa, we worked intensely every day on our Semmelweis project. For the first time ever we were able to work side by side, actually choosing notes and words, rethinking, changing, etc. together in real time (instead of just passing things back and forth by email, or struggling to hear one another on Skype). Our do-it-yourself summer residency in my studio expanded when my amazing friends soprano Charlotte Mundy and bass-baritone Matthew Curran came by to record some of what we were writing for them. Having all this creative power in my tiny studio at once was, unfortunately sweltering on a hot summer day, but fortunately incredibly helpful in shaping out the new sound we are crafting for this project. We also had time to sit down with some directors, designers, producers, and friends of the project. Exciting. Stay tuned.
We did it! We reached our goal for this first round of funding for the Latency Canons Recording Project! A huge thank you to all of you who contributed*, emailed friends, posted, tweeted, shared, liked, pinned, spoke well of around the water cooler, or otherwise encouraged us in this very special project.
We have a ways to go yet to get to the final recording, but this is a terrific start that will really help push the ball forward. Thank you thank you thank you!
* A hearty thank you to all our RocketHub contributors:
We’re in the final 20 hours of our LATENCY CANONS Recording Project, and LATENCY CANONS is so extra-specially exciting that RocketHub contacted me for an interview about it, which you can read here. Find out why everyone is so excited about this project, and why the New York Times finds this piece “…entrancing…surreally beautiful…ecstatic…rapturous.” And it’s still not too late to become a part of it by contributing or by helping spread the word about LATENCY CANONS. This is a really big project and we need all the help we can get. Thank you!
And please LIKE our Facebook page for this project!
This week marks my debut in China. Duo Noire is going on their debut tour in China and taking along my FIGMENTS. I wish I were able to go along too!
This is my biggest project yet, and I need your help! It’s a gleaming, gorgeous studio recording we plan to make of my “trans-Atlantic” piece LATENCY CANONS, working with New York’s super-talented Metropolis Ensemble (Grammy-nominated and Juno-award-winning), quartet Senza Misura, and 4-time Grammy-winning producer Tim Martyn. It’s going to be stunning and transcendent!
I would so love to have you be a part of it in any way you can. And here’s a relatively easy way, helping raise a big chunk of the funds through our Rockethub crowdsourcing campaign. Please consider donating whatever you can, and/or passing it along to those you think might be interested.
The music boxes for my new piece Kryształ Muzyki are done and delivered. Phew! It’s for ensemble plus my specially made music boxes, and I wrote it while traveling in southern Poland. You can read a bit about it here.
Here’s a photo from the house concert I put together, entitle Foot on the Ground, at the home of friends Thomas Campbell Jackson and Penny Jackson. Superb musicians William Bender, Mariella Haubs, Siwoo Kim, Rachel Kudo, Charlotte Mundy, Jocelin Pan, and Mina Um. Great to work with artists who are not only incredibly skilled but also up for experimentation in format, and even game to take on one new arrangement that was literally written that very morning over breakfast, with my 4yo daughter helping me make the parts. Phew!
Streaming all this week on WFMT radio Ohio, you can hear me introduce and talk about my Nissim Prize-winning orchestra composition UNSTUCK, written in response to Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse 5 and my grandparents’ long battle with progressive dementia. Emily Freeman Brown conducts the Bowling Green Philharmonia in an Albany Records recording. Also hear Steven Bryant’s intense Loose Id, and Avner Dorman’s stunning Variations Without a Theme.
More on that soon…
In the meantime, check out this sample of Carmina Slovenika. They’re performing their TOXIC PSALMS this week on the Prototype Festival in New York.
From TheaterScene.net, on my arrangement of Carlisle Floyd’s MARKHEIM”
“…Floyd’s original orchestration for Markheim is colorful and fluent, with lots of percussion, and arranger Raymond J. Lustig has managed to keep a lot of that. During the performance, I heard a woodblock but saw the percussionist was otherwise engaged. Where was it coming from? Eventually I realized it had cleverly been given to the second viola (though she did look like she’d rather be fiddling)...”
I’m so pleased to see how well this went, especially for an opening night review. This was an incredibly challenging project for me, arranging this massive and complex score for a chamber orchestra of a mere 15 instruments, while protecting the imposing hugeness of the sound and the rich palette of sonic colors, all while making sure the balances work between and among the chamber orchestra and the singers. The whole terrific team came together to create a very powerful show. Congratulations to Carlisle Floyd and all at LOTNY!
“The orchestra, under the quick, exact conducting of Richard Cordova, at times suffered from a lack of consensus over entrances and rhythms. But the chamber arrangement by Raymond J. Lustig was far more successful. Even with Milner’s powerhouse voice, the musical size and texture never felt underdone.” – New York Classical Review
Saturday Oct 4 at 8pm, Inspired by Art, a program of new orchestral works drawing on art and architecture, including the premiere of my latest work SUSPENSION, which is inspired by majestic and mighty bridges of my native New York City.
Growing up in Queens, my psyche formed around New York’s many grand bridges, these mysterious goliaths that are at once splendid yet gritty, mighty yet rust-eaten, silent yet thundering, terrifying yet comforting. Each bridge has its own distinct character, and together they form the skeleton of my dreamscape version of New York, the beautifully dreary, grainy, mysterious, centuries-old nest of so much mobile humanity. Now, from my apartment in northern Manhattan I look out every day over the George Washington Bridge that spans the Hudson River, and I’ve grown to see these architectural marvels—with their miraculous distribution of weight, their mesmerizing lines, and their juxtaposition to their surrounding context—as some of the greatest works of art in my emerald city.
Tune in today at 3pm to WQXRs Q2 Radio to hear the Brothers Balliett delve into the world of guitar with a show titled “These Five Composers Are Keeping the Guitar Relevant.” They’ll be playing some of my Figments. Well, I’m just trying to do my part.
From the new-music blog I CARE IF YOU LISTEN:
“a unique and entrancing album that exists at the unusual intersection of minimalism and impressive classical guitar technique.”
“The impressive technique displayed by Duo Noire is perfectly suited to Lustig’s delicious compositions, and you wouldn’t regret getting a hold of this; if you like acoustic guitar, bluegrass, minimalism, blues—or music at all—you’ll definitely enjoy this excellently produced and mastered album.”
Huge thanks to Mary Mackenzie, Joshua Roman, Karen Kim, David Kaplan, Bill Kalinkos, and Daria Binkowski for a transcendent premiere of my latest piece BEAUTY SPREAD UNEARTHLY WHITE, for Pierrot ensemble with soprano. It was a thrill to work with this all-star team of musicians, and an honor to share the bill with composers Joshua Roman, Amir Shpilman, Wang Jie, and good old Arnold Schoenberg for an evening of wildly diverse responses to Schoenberg’s avant garde landmark work Pierrot Lunaire. A huge thanks goes to Seattle Town Hall and their Town Music series, for their adventurous spirit and warm support.
The program was the brainchild of cellist/composer Joshua Roman. Each of us composers was commissioned to compose a new work that somehow reflected their relationship still-to-this-day radical Pierrot Lunaire. We knew nothing of each others’ plans and each worked on our own, and it was very neat to see how differently we all responded. Joshua’s piece sprung from Pierrot’s text and supplanted Schoenberg’s 20th-century infatuation with the Moon with a 21st-century eye to Mars. Amir’s piece took Pierrot’s extended vocal technique and precision to a stunning 21st-century extreme. Wang Jie’s piece picked up on the 20th-century sensuality of Pierrot and unleashed it with a very 21st-century vividness in a mini song cycle of her own. My piece picked up on Schoenberg’s renowned fascination with numbers; its subtitle THREE TO THE SEVENTH is in reference to Schoenberg’s subtitle for Pierrot, Three times Seven Poems from Albert Giraud’s “Pierrot lunaire.” In my piece, every note emerges from a single three-note cell that is replicated on seven different timescales.
I really like this kind of programming, the kind that shows how differently we all can see the very same thing. That is what art does for us, helps us appreciate the differences in our perception.
The whole gang, L to R, Bill Kalinkos, Karen Kim, me, Joshua Roman, Mary Mackenzie, Amir Shpilman, David Kaplan, and Wang Jie.
Composer Amir Shpilman and I getting all over beautiful Seattle.
Quick beer stop.
Post-concert with (L toR) composer Amir Shpilman, the intrepid soprano Mary Mackenzie, and me.
Composers Wang Jie, me, and Amir Shpilman having Alaskan Salmon for lunch at Pike Place Market, Seattle
I’m in Seattle this week for the premiere of my recent work BEAUTY SPREAD UNEARTHLY WHITE, commissioned by Town Hall Seattle, for “Pierrot ensemble,” with soprano Mary Mackenzie, cellist Joshua Roman, flutist Daria Binkowski, clarinetist Bill Kalinkos, violinist (doubling viola) Karen Kim, and pianist David Kaplan. Program includes works by Amir Shpilman, Wang Jie, and Town Music Artistic Director Joshua Roman.
The text for Beauty Spread Unearthly White comes from Walter de la Mare’s poem “Winter,” with its solitary depiction of a fleeting moment of near-perfect light, as day changes to night in a snow-blown landscape. In response to the cold white perfection, I wanted to give over to my obsessiveness about order and clarity, to compose a piece where every note needed to be related to the greater structure in a very direct way, and to subjugate all musical elements to this single idea. Like fractal patterns or crystal structures, a single three-note motive is replicated on seven timescales simultaneously; the overall structure therefore exhibits the same relationships as those in the piece’s shortest note values, and everything in between. My desire in submitting to this rigid process was to mirror the hypnotic clarity and simplicity of de la Mare’s transcendent image.