Our Debut Album:
Else, if Else is in the process of commissioning new works from composers around the U.S. and Europe culminating in a sustainably produced album completely centered around the natural world. Composers Molly Joyce, Inti Figgis-Vizueta, Aleksandra Vrebalov, Yaz Lancaster, Nomi Epstein, Christine Southworth, JP Merz, and Ben Portzen will each be confronting with the state of our environment – past, present, and future – through their compositions. Through environmentally informed creative practice, Else, if Else and our composers are not only creating an engaging program, but also providing a means to make tangible change in and outside of the concert hall by promoting awareness, discussion, and conscious decision making.
Composer and performer Molly Joyce’s music has been described as “serene power” (New York Times), written to “superb effect” (The Wire), and “impassioned” (The Washington Post). Her work is concerned with disability as a creative source. She has an impaired left hand from a previous car accident, and the primary vehicle in her pursuit is her electric vintage toy organ, an instrument she bought on eBay which suits her body and engages her disability on a compositional and performative level. Her debut full-length album, Breaking and Entering, featuring toy organ, voice, and electronic sampling of both sources will be released in June 2020 on New Amsterdam Records, and has been praised by New Sounds as “a powerful response to something (namely, physical disability of any kind) that is still too often stigmatized, but that Joyce has used as a creative prompt.”
inti figgis-vizueta (b. 1993) is a New York-based composer whose music focuses on combinations of various notational schemata, disparate and overlaid sonic plans, and collaborative unlearning of dominant vernaculars. She often writes magically real musics through the lens of personal identities, braiding a childhood of overlapping immigrant communities and Black-founded Freedom schools—in Chocolate City (DC)—with Andean heritage and a deep connection to the land. Reviewers say her music constantly toes the line between “all turbulence” and “quietly focused” (National Sawdust Log).
Music as healing. Music as service. Music as connection. Music as celebration of humanness. ALEKSANDRA VREBALOV’s 80 works – ranging from concert music and opera to music for modern dance and film – have been performed by the Kronos Quartet, Serbian National Theater, English National Ballet, Rambert Dance, Jorge Caballero, the Sausalito Quartet, ETHEL, Dusan Tynek Dance Company, Ijsbreker, Moravian Philharmonic, Belgrade Philharmonic, and Providence Festival Ballet, among others. Her works have been recorded for Nonesuch, Cantaloupe, Innova, Centaur Records, Vienna Modern Masters, and Ikarus Films. Vrebalov’s string quartet …hold me, neighbor, in this storm… was commissioned by Carnegie Hall and released on Kronos’ album Floodplain. Pannonia Boundless, also for Kronos, was published by Boosey & Hawkes as part of “The Kronos Collection, Vol. I” and was recorded for the album Caravan.
“Warm, crunchy, [and] beautifully heart-wrenching” characterizes the work of interdisciplinary artist Yaz Lancaster (they/them/theirs). They are primarily focused on the representation & support of marginalized/underprivileged identities in the arts, genuine modes of collaboration, and practices aligned with relational aesthetics & the everyday. Always looking to expand their artistry, Yaz performs in a wide variety of settings and attempts something new in every compositional project. Their concentrated & empirical work almost always reckons with a specific influence like politics of identity & liberation, poetry, natural phenomena or landscapes of memory.
Nomi Epstein is a Chicago-based composer, curator, performer and music educator. Her compositions center around her interest in sonic fragility, where structure arises out of textural subtleties. Her music has been performed throughout the US, Europe, and Asia by such artists as ICE, Ensemble SurPlus, Mivos Quartet, Wet Ink, Dal Niente, Noble Fowl Trio, Quince Vocal Ensemble, Rhymes With Opera, Seth Josel, and Eliza Garth, and at festivals such as Ostrava Days, Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, Darmstadt, Bang on a Can, and Akademie Schloss Solitude.
Christine Southworth (b. 1978) is a composer and video artist based in Lexington, Massachusetts, dedicated to creating art born from a cross-pollination of sonic and visual ideas. Inspired by intersections of technology and art, nature and machines, and musics from cultures around the world, her music employs sounds from man and nature, from Van de Graaff Generators to honeybees, Balinese gamelan to seismic data from volcanoes.
JP Merz is a Los Angeles-based composer whose music investigates accessibility, equity, and empathy while questioning notions of virtuosity and encouraging subtle listening. His music has been performed by yMusic, Altius Quartet, Playground Ensemble, Sound of Ceres, and the Colorado Music Festival Orchestra, as well as by members of the JACK quartet, Boulder Symphony, and Denver Philharmonic. His work has been featured by and played in Carnegie Hall, New Music Gathering, Madison New Music Festival, San Francisco Fringe Festival, the Abrons Arts Center, the National Flute Association, ACRE gallery, VICE’s Creator’s Project, Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, and I Care if You Listen, as well as record stores, cafes, and living rooms. In addition to composing for musicians, he has collaborated with dancers, algorithms, electrical engineers, internet researchers, and robots.
Benjamin Portzen is a sound artist interested in the experience of music in time – how participation through listening or performing suspends us in the moment, interacts with our memory, and reveals new ways for us to experience sound. Through the creation of complex forms, electronic manipulation of sound, and a commitment to patience, Ben’s works embody a creative practice rooted in meditation, deep listening, and compassion. As a performer, Ben strives for truly collaborative processes from commission to performance, using creative programming as a tool for making meaning. Ben is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Music in Composition at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin. His primary teachers include Asha Srinivasan, Matthew Turner, and Anthony Padilla.
John Supko – Biloxi Anapanasati
Written for Else, if Else
Called “spellbindingly beautiful” (Steve Smith, Time Out New York), “hypnotic…eerily beautiful” (Vivien Schweitzer, The New York Times), and “fascinating” (Philip Clark, The Guardian), the work of composer John Supko (b. 1980, NY) explores intersections: chance and intention; traditional music notation and real-time score generation; sound and spoken text; installation and performance; human and computer creativity. In recent years, Supko has been developing generative software to navigate his vast archives of field recordings, sampled acoustic and digital instruments, noise, and voice recordings. He uses this software to find unexpected compositional possibilities as well as to create dynamic sonic environments that are integrated into live performance with human musicians.
Rock County Composer’s Lab
From JP Merz: The Rock County Composers Lab is an educational program for 10 high school musicians in my hometown (Janesville, WI) interested in composing/creating original music. I founded the lab in 2020 with the aim of introducing students to a variety of genres, musical cultures and compositional techniques while also supporting the development of their own creative expression and identity. This program combines lectures, group musical exercises, collaborative projects, individual lessons, and mentorship to foster a new generation of composers. The program consists of a weekend intensive in the winter, followed by individual, monthly Skype lessons and concludes with a performance of the participants works in the spring by Else, If Else.