Countdown: Stanford Graduate Composers Fall 1999 Concert

Graduate composition students at Stanford University will present a concert featuring new and recent works, 8 p.m. Sunday, November 21, in Campbell Recital Hall (Braun Music Center).

For information, call the Music Department at (415) 723-3811.

1st Trumpet -- Chrysa Prestia
En vías de desarrollo - ¡Que quemo! -- Damian Keller
Studies for Two Pianos -- Ching-Wen Chao
space-age bubble gum -- Bobby Lombardi
Matragn -- Christopher Jones
Fern -- Matthew Burtner
A Thought.... -- Nurit Jugend
From Scratch -- Kris Falk

1st Trumpet

for solo trumpet

Christopher Burns, trumpet

Chrysa Prestia

1st Trumpet is a collection of small gestural cells that collect in increasing density throughout the piece, creating a textural crescendo that propels the elements toward their chaotic collision. This piece is dedicated to Samantha Whelan, who premiered the piece in 1996 at the Banff Centre for the Arts in Canada.
Chrysa Prestia studied music at Hampshire College and Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University (BA 1997). More recently, her interest in musical applications of computer technology led her to graduate study in computer music and digital arts at the Audiovisual Institute of the Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona, Spain (MM 1999). She is currently a doctoral student in composition at Stanford focusing on a personal synthesis of instrumental and computer music.
En vías de desarrollo - ¡Que quemo!

for 8-channel tape

Damian Keller

En vías de desarrollo and ¡Que quemo! are two short self-contained sections which combined form an eight-minute piece. Both sections share common sound material and sound processing techniques. All the material was produced using ecological models (Keller & Truax, 1998) implemented in Csound. ¡Que quemo! features the sound of a lit match as its basic source material, and makes use of different models of fire. En vías de desarrollo shares some elements with ¡Que quemo!, and introduces cracking woods, shattered glass, and explosion-like sounds.

The basic structural process exploited in this piece is the emergency of macro-structural properties by the interaction of lower-level elements. This process can be heard in the fire sound events of ¡Que quemo! and in the explosion events of En vías de desarrollo. Both models use similar short grains extracted from cracking wood sounds, but their temporal patterns are designed following the time-patterns of fire and cracking explosions respectively. This temporal organization accounts for the strikingly different perceptual effect of these two models.

Direct sound references (Shepherd, 1992) and gestures (Smalley, 1993) closely related to the meaning of each section are used throughout the piece. Micro-level control of synthesis parameters allows us to transform the temporal characteristics of source sounds without affecting their spectral characteristics (cf. the opening shattered-glass sounds). Thus, the piece explores the relationship between recognizable sound events and paradoxical combinations, such as the fire being wrapped up in aluminum or the match playing strings.

These sound references provide a ground for reflection and complement the ideas in the text. The following text is a game of words on the paradox of development. As can be seen, the action of wrapping (bollo) and the destruction (En Pampa y la vía . . .) are also present in the text.

?En vías de desarrollo

Había una vez una vía. Una vía de desarrollo.
Estaba arrollada, estaba hecha un bollo.
La había privada y la había pública.
La había impúdica y recatada.

Había una en Pampa.
En Pampa!.
En Pampa y la vía . . .

The eight-channel version of this piece is recorded onto ADAT and DA-88 tapes. The diffusion was done using DM8 (Rolfe, 1996). This system provides effective control of sound distribution on eight speakers by means of script-based protocols. The script for En vías de desarrollo - ¡Que quemo! was realized prioritizing ecologically consistent source placement and movement. Ambience sounds are played with wide diffusion settings, i.e., quadraphonic diffusion, and event sounds are placed on single locations keeping the stereo image. Movement is kept consistent with source characteristics (no flying pianos here!).

Damian Keller was born in Buenos Aires in 1966. His research work deals with modeling perception and resynthesis of environmental sound. His latest compositional work is toco y me voy: a CD featuring music, text and technical documentation. Excerpts of Damián's music can be heard at Some of his papers are available at

Studies for Two Pianos

for piano duo

Christopher Jones, piano I
Ching-Wen Chao, piano II

Ching-Wen Chao

To compose a series of studies for 2 pianos has been in my compositional plans for some time. The idea is to employ the serial manipulation of pitch, rhythm, dynamics, timbre, new piano techniques, etc., to achieve less predictable results.

Study I explores the idea of two contrasting entities: long and loud notes (foreground) against short and soft ones (background). Midway through the piece, the 2 roles seem to exchange.

Study II presents accented notes in extremely fast ascending scales between the 2 pianos and a slow descent.

Study III, while the third in this series, also belongs to a series of pieces dedicated to the memory of my father. As in all these dedicatory compositions, the pitches G# and C (his initials) are highlighted.

Ching-Wen Chao, born in Taiwan in 1973, is currently pursuing a DMA degree in composition in the music department at Stanford University, where she has studied with Jonathan Harvey, Chris Chafe and Jean-Claude Risset. She also studies at the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA). In 1999, her "String Quartet No. 2" won the first prize of the Young Composers Competition in the annual ACL (Asian Composers League) conference and the first prize in Music Taipei 1999 in Taiwan. Recently her "Duet for Clarinets" was performed in the Music99 new music festival in Cincinnati and "Soundstates" (for percussion and tape) at the ICMC 1999 in China.

space-age bubble gum

for solo tape

Bobby Lombardi

Zu-Zu-Zoom away through the galaxies with this collection of holiday soundbites from the past, present, and future. The master of Space Age Bachelor Pad Music - Juan Garcia Esquivel! - is here to add his special flair to your holiday season. Mingle 'round your tinsel-draped Sputnik, flick on the twinkling lights, fix up a libation if you like, and let Esquivel's otherworldly sounds transport you into Santa's saucer, high in the stratosphere.

space-age bubble gum is assembled from a collection of audio samples taken from Esquivel's yuletide tracks recorded between 1959 and 1962. Also included in the collection of soundbites is a "lost" Esquivel recording, "I Feel Marvelous" (from the Broadway musical "Redhead.") The samples are manipulated and transformed using plug-in processes within the Digidesign Pro Tools mixing environment Feliz Navidad, baby, and Feliz Ano Nuevo, too.

Sleigh Ride

In a Pousse-Cafe glass, carefully layer the following ingredients in order. Pour slowly over the bottom side of a spoon to achieve the layering effect.

1 part grenadine
1 part Green Chartreuse
1 part Silver (reposado) Tequila

Bobby Lombardi is a doctoral candidate in composition studying with Jonathan Harvey at Stanford University. His previous instructors include Orlando Garcia, Jon Nelson, Frederic Rzewski and Daniel Weymouth. He holds degrees in music from Florida International University, SUNY Stony Brook, and the Royal Conservatory of Liege, Belgium. Lombardi currently works as a software developer for Digidesign's third party developer group.


for clarinet and computer-generated sound

Matt Ingalls, clarinet

Christopher Jones

The title of this piece reflects its structural nature. "Matragn" is a reordering of the letters of the word "Tangram," a Chinese puzzle. The puzzle is solved by arranging seven simple shapes in a multitude of configurations to create new, more complex forms. Like the puzzle, "Matragn" consists of simple elements which are perpetually reordered and reinvented.

"Matragn" was written for clarinetist/composer/improviser Matt Ingalls, whose improvisations provided the sonic core for the electronic part. Special thanks also to Chris Burns and Juan Pampin for their technical advice and support.

Composer and pianist, Christopher Jones was born in 1969 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. As a pianist, Christopher has extensive experience performing contemporary music. In addition to numerous solo performances, he has worked with the Indiana University New Music Ensemble, the New Vienna Ensemble at IU, New Works Calgary, the University of Calgary New Music Ensemble, and the Group for Contemporary Music at the University of Washington in Seattle. He has had performances recorded for radio broadcast by WGBH in Boston, and CBC in Calgary. Christopher completed his Bachelor of Music in piano performance at the New England Conservatory, and a Master of Music in piano at Indiana University. Currently, he is completing a Master's degree in composition at the University of Calgary, and is pursuing a DMA in composition at Stanford University.


for computer-generated tape

Matthew Burtner

Fern (1997) explores natural transformations of organic systems as a basis for forming musical structure. The work was composed during a residency at Simon Fraser University and at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University. Sound synthesis was accomplished using Barry Truax's PODX System for quasi-synchronous granular synthesis. Spectral transformation of the granulated, resonated and time stretched source material create a living process of harmonic growth and change. Of "Fern", Andy Hamilton of "The Wire" has written: "Trying to take in the vastness of computer pieces like Fern, its hard to avoid thinking of the Alaskan wilderness where Burtner spent his youth... Some of the most eerily effective electroacoustic music I've heard."

Matthew Burtner's compositional work is guided by an interest in natural acoustic processes, and a focus on music as the synthesis of imagination and environment. His music has been performed throughout the United States and Europe, as well as in Japan, Canada, China, Uraguay, and Brazil. Two recordings are commercially available including "Incantations" on the German DACO label (DACO 102), and "Portals of Distortion: Music for Saxophones, Computers, and Stones" from Innova Records (Innova 526).

A Thought....

four Miniatures for piano solo

Christopher Jones, piano

Nurit Jugend

A burst of thoughts expressed in a series of miniatures.

Nurit Jugend studied at the Jerusalem Rubin Academy for Music and Dance, where she graduated with a B.A. Music in theory and composition, and studied composition with Dr. Ari Ben-Shabtai. She has also studied at the school of arts Hochschule der Kunste Berlin, Germany with Prof. Walter Zimmermann.

From Scratch

for found materials and tape

Kris Falk, performer

Kris Falk

Much of what we take for the elements of music within a concert setting and, in general, within our society rests very much upon habits and institutions that do not form a part of our own personal histories. "From Scratch" is an attempt to incorporate new materials that have the potential to generate their own, newer history and demonstrate parts of that history (via a prerecorded element) at the same time the final result is presented. Thus a fusion of the development of the music's elements and techniques with a temporary "resting place" (this performance) result, much the same way once could meld any final performance with recordings of the intermediate steps toward the result into a sort of telescoped and compressed view of the process. In this case, the performer must create the music based upon the limitations of the materials chosen, and the working out of these elements toward the performance become the music's substance: in the process, a great deal of ritual and discipline is demanded of the performer, and all of it becomes very subjective in nature (as part of the performer's "personal history").

The source material for this performance are drawn from an abandoned chair and an empty and rusty bucket that were recovered from the side of the building that currently houses the computer music center (or CCRMA) at Stanford University. Another performance of "From Scratch" would have to begin all over again with entirely different and unpurchased materials.

Kris Falk is currently in his final year of doctoral study in music composition at Stanford University. He usually would never write such long program notes as those found for "From Scratch", but felt the particular circumstances required it.

©1999 CCRMA, Stanford University. All Rights Reserved.
Created by Christopher Burns,