Saturday, August 28, 2021

Performance Notes for "Aftonian Sequenza" (Premiered in Sarajevo, 2018) and "Counterfly



Conductor Fuad Šetić and lovely impro ensemble: Amila Ravkić-Mezzo, Andreja Boltek-Flute, Ilma Cagalj-Clarinet, Zuhra Melić-Horn, Suada Kurić-Violin, Anela Botticini - Cello, Tarik Kamaric-Guitar, Ammar Biser-Guitar, Ismet Skrobo-Guitar, Muharem Osmanagić-Accordion, Emina Huskić-Piano, Hanan - Flute + guests concert: Kenan Kojic - Piano and dino rešidbegović - piano.

Program: Cornelius Cardew, Hoods stock-Ramati, Bil Smith, Dino Rešidbegović, Kaća HadžifejzovićIvan Dujmović

Performance Notes:

Aftonian Sequenza is an obvious nod to Luciano Berio’s solo ‘Sequenza’ pieces which are a large influence in my work in general.  This score is essentially three vignettes in which you can capture the continuity in the visual score, yet with each successive page the score becomes more disruptive.  The frenetic notation in the third page is meant to mimic that of a short wave radio and I would ask the solo instrumentalist to interpret it as such.  The lone boot suggests to the instrumentalist to stop, and stomp their foot on the floor at approximately half way through the work.


In this piece, the link between synthetic sound and philosophical performance should always be self-evident—it’s about getting under the surface, and abstraction... it is about challenging inherited conceptions of what it means to be a musician, what it means to sense, to understand, or to think. This means expanding your perception of the world through new musical concepts, using philosophical performance to break down what’s known and familiar until you realize that underneath those recognizable ordinary surfaces there’s a whole world of intricate abstract mechanisms working away.


Counterfly is inspired by a character in the Thomas Pynchon novel “Against The Day”.  As this novel opens, the ‘Chums of Chance’ (who are a pack of children) are floating aloft in a hot air balloon.  The intention is for the  performers to assume a more minimalist, whimsical…even child-like approach.  In one performance, I encouraged the performers to exchange instruments for a short passage.



I compel the performers to recognize that there’s a really beautiful process where, if you have integrity and pay careful attention to how this music thing is growing, how it presents itself, what it connects to, and if you make only the right compromises (because you’ve got to make some), then it becomes much bigger than either of you as performers.  ,Then the composition and performance becomes something real, has a certain independence from you, and in effect tells you what you can and can’t do with it.










"Stained With Dust and Sweat" For Organ



"Stained With Dust and Sweat" 

For Organ

2017

Bil Smith Composer

A Commission from FM Global

Published on LNM Editions














Friday, August 27, 2021

"Referential Cavity". For Baritone Saxophone

"Referential Cavity"

Excerpt

Commissioned by Bank of China

Premiere: January, 2017

Unplayable, Playable Composition: Disruptive Ideation





During a lecture last week, I challenged the notion of creating the unplayable work. This is not new...consider Cage's Freeman Etudes. 


Cage, himself thought the work to be unplayable. I participated in Irvine Arditti's morning sessions at Darmstadt in 2012 at the Orangerie and his performance of the etudes that evening in concert.

When we consider the concept of a work being "unplayable"  we may take it a step further; what if the instrument as we know it today, is not physically capable of execution.

Herein lies the opportunity to define an ideated system of change.

"Tunnel Of The Overpass"
 for Flute


"Tunnel Of The Overpass"

For Solo Flute

Bil Smith Composer

2016-2017

A Commission from Sberbank

Published by LNM Editions






Wednesday, August 25, 2021

"Placid Hosts" for Bass Clarinet. Bil Smith Composer. 2015


"Placid Hosts" for Bass Clarinet/Actor/Interrogator.  Bil Smith Composer.  2015

Commissioned by WPP Group, Eli Lilly and Verizon.
Performer TBD by Lottery, August 9, 2015.  (7 Nominees)


This work focuses on unmasking how notational nomenclature is marshaled into the service of power, from political rhetoric and demagogy to psychological persuasion.   

The Bass Clarinetist is responsible for a multiplicity of roles in this performance.

"Placid Hosts" is accompanied by a four-channel video installation based on an interview transcript from a 2014 murder investigation in the United States in which a woman was suspected of killing her husband with a Christian Louboutin stiletto heel DegraSpike Patent Red Sole Pump.

Similar to the way an interrogation room generates a power dynamic and tension from the moment a person steps inside, the layout of the installation is designed to maximize viewers’ discomfort.
Upon entering the piece, listeners hear a harsh and incessant pulsating sound composition, which is synchronized with the interview dialogue projected on two screens in blinding optic white text on vermillion backgrounds. 

One screen features the police officers’ vexatious questions, the other the answers of the suspect. The authorities use interrogation tactics such as psychological manipulation, confrontation, and even empathy in order to gain trust and obtain a confession, hence the Bass Clarinetist is incarcerated, reformed or a fugitive.
Throughout, the accused person’s responses read as overwhelmed, as if they are unable or perhaps unwilling to remember or articulate their thoughts. Delays in replying translate into bursts of cadmium yellow, channel black, or optic white flashes on the screens, accompanied by the no less irritating buzzing of the processed live performance of the bass clarinetist. 
The persuasiveness of this work relies on the listener's exposure to constant noise and flashes of light—which are not coincidentally methods also used for “enhanced interrogation”—leaving one with a strong sense of stress, suggestibility, and vulnerability. 
This is a visceral experience of the exercise of compositional language as a coercive power, as if one’s self were the very same subject of inquisition.

"Exteger" for Benedikt Eppelsheim Alto Sarrusophone in E Flat