David Fulmer: Sky’s Acetylene

, composer


Composer, conductor, and violinist David Fulmer has received critical acclaim for his works, performances, and dedicated commitment to contemporary music. Sky's Acetylene was commissioned and premiered by The New York Philharmonic as part of their CONTACT! series. This EP release celebrates this kaleidoscopic work that features each of the five instruments alternately in soloistic passages before bringing them back into the tightly knit rhythmic interplay of the hybrid ensemble.


# Audio Title/Composer(s) Time
Total Time 13:51
01Sky’s Acetylene
Sky’s Acetylene

David Fulmer’s Sky’s Acetylene was written for and commissioned by the New York Philharmonic on the occasion of their 175th birthday for their adventurous CONTACT! series. Fulmer is a critically acclaimed composer, conductor, and violinist who has been a Guggenheim Fellowship recipient and an Academy of Arts and Letters Academy Award awardee.

Sky’s Acetylene is a kaleidoscopic work for flute, harp, percussion, piano, and double bass that balances taut anticipation with occasional moments of expressive violence. The work features the individual instruments in solo passages in turn before reintegrating them into a malleable, viscous ensemble texture. Ornamental figurations and mysterious harmonies are punctuated by sudden outbursts of urgent material. Flutist Mindy Kaufman is featured prominently on bass flute, flute, and piccolo, frequently leading the work through a quasi protagonist’s voice, with pianist Eric Huebner providing constant harmonic re-contextualization. Nancy Allen’s harp adds splashes of vibrant color, Dan Druckman’s percussion part punctuates gestures in the other instruments, creating hybrid timbres. Fulmer has deftly created a unique musical eco-system in Sky’s Acetylene, one in which the inexorable structural direction of the work is sometimes shrouded behind the sensual moment-to-moment texture. The trajectory of the piece is subtly reflected in the evolution of the flute register — starting with low utterances and slithering lines on the bass flute, the part ascends through athletic passagework on the C flute before closing with ethereal piccolo textures that fade into atmospheric harmonics in the harp and piano.

– Dan Lippel

  • Executive Producer, David Fulmer
  • Recorded by the New York Philharmonic, May 22, 2017
  • Mixed and mastered by Ryan Streber, Oktaven Audio
  • Sky’s Acetylene was commissioned by the New York Philharmonic on the occasion of their 175th Anniversary
  • This recording was generously supported by the American Academy of Arts and Letters
  • Special thanks to the musicians of the New York Philharmonic, Alan Gilbert, Ed Yim, Esa-Pekka Salonen, DeAnne Eisch, Justin Brown, Daniel Lippel, and Ardith Holmgrain
  • Initial recording mixed by Jacob Sachs-Mishalanie
  • Design: Marc Wolf, marcjwolf.com
  • Cover & Back Cover: Photo by Ricardo Esquivel
  • Image: Score page of the manuscript
  • Image: David Fulmer; credit to Sonja Georgevich

David Fulmer

Winner of the 2019 Academy Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, David Fulmer has garnered numerous international accolades for his bold compositional aesthetic combined with his thrilling performances. A Guggenheim Fellow, and a leader in his generation of composer-performers, the success of his Violin Concerto at Lincoln Center in 2010 earned international attention and resulted in immediate engagement to perform the work with major orchestras and at festivals in the United Kingdom, Europe, North America, and Australia. Fulmer made his European debut performing and recording his concerto with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Matthias Pintscher in 2011. That same year, Fulmer debuted at Tanglewood, appearing with the work. A surge of recent and upcoming commission include new works for the New York Philharmonic, Ensemble Intercontemporain, Scharoun Ensemble of the Berlin Philharmonic, Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, ProMusica Chamber Orchestra, Carnegie Hall, Alte Oper Frankfurt, BMI Foundation, Concert Artists Guild, Washington Performing Arts, Kennedy Center, Fromm Music Foundation, Koussevitzky Foundation, and Tanglewood.

As conductor, Fulmer recently led the NFM Wroclaw Philharmonic Orchestra, Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, International Contemporary Ensemble, Elision Ensemble, Sydney Modern Music Ensemble, along with appearances at the New York Philharmonic Biennial, Tanglewood Music Festival, and Lucerne Festival. Recent highlights include important debuts leading the Ensemble Intercontemporain, ASKO|Schönberg Ensemble, South Netherlands Philharmonic, and assisting concerts and projects with the New York Philharmonic. Fulmer made a triumphant return to the NFM Wroclaw Philharmonic Orchestra, which included a collaboration with IRCAM. This season he returns as Director, curator, and conductor of the Mannes American Contemporary Ensemble in programs of 20th and 21st Century music, and continues his close relationship with the International Contemporary Ensemble. Recently appointed as Music Director and Conductor of the Hunter Symphony Orchestra, Fulmer will lead programs including works of Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, Mendelssohn, Stravinsky, Tchaikovsky, Wagner, Debussy, Schubert, Fauré, and Florence Price. He made his debut appearance in 2014 on the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Green Umbrella series at Walt Disney Concert Hall. During the summer seasons, Fulmer leads concerts at the Chamber Music Northwest Festival, Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival, and has maintained a very close relationship with the Lucerne Festival and Tanglewood Music Festival.

Fulmer was recently the recipient of both the Charles Ives Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Carlos Surinach Commissioning Prize from the BMI Foundation. He is the first and only American recipient of the Grand Prize of the International Edvard Grieg Competition for Composers. He has also received the ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composers Award, the BMI Composer Award, the Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a special citation from the Minister of Education of Brazil, the Hannah Komanoff Scholarship in Composition from The Juilliard School, and the highly coveted George Whitefield Chadwick Gold Medal from the New England Conservatory. Fulmer appears regularly and records often with the premiere new music ensembles in New York, including the International Contemporary Ensemble, Talea Ensemble, Argento New Music Project, Speculum Musicae, The Group for Contemporary Music, and the New York New Music Ensemble. His work is recorded by the Ensemble Intercontemporain. He has appeared recently on the Great Performers Series at Lincoln Center, The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and Live from Lin- coln Center broadcasts. Fulmer is Director of Orchestral Studies, Head of Strings, and Composition Faculty at Hunter College, CUNY. He graduated from The Juilliard School.




Take Effect

A composer, conductor and violinist, David Fulmer penned “Sky’s Acetylene” for the New York Philharmonic, who bring 5 instruments to the many solos and precise, rhythmic interplay of the nearly 14 minute track.

The tune opens with an atmospheric and exploratory approach, where Daniel Druckman’s ominous percussion aligns with Nancy Allen’s firm harp prowess that both glides serenely and crashes with firm dynamics. It isn’t long before Mindy Kaufman’s versatile flute and Eric Huebner’s rumbling piano make an impression, and by the back half of the composition we’re in busier textures of dizzying harmonics that are anchored by Max Zeugner’s bass and Jeffrey Milarsky’s conducting.

Fulmer’s commitment to contemporary music is much appreciated here, and the band’s fascinating performance makes this a quick but impactful listen in the area of orchestral and chamber music that’s unpredictable and unassuming in all the best ways.

— Tom Haugen, 9.17.2021



Sometimes it takes an effort of imagination to suss out why a particular piece of music appeals to me. Such was the case with the 14-minute opus mysteriously named Sky's Acetylene by critically acclaimed composer David Fulmer. Just released as a New Focus Recordings EP, it's performed by five musicians from the New York Philharmonic.

Propelled by Mindy Kaufman's fervid virtuosity on three members of the flute family and by Eric Huebner's dark piano colors, the piece intensifies even as - to the casual ear - it threatens to meander. Conductor Jeffrey Milarsky and the musicians stress the contrast between the flute's ability to produce microtones and the strict limits of the piano's discrete keys.

The before-you-realize-it migration of bass flute to C flute to piccolo marks an urgent progression of startling beauty, encouraged by subtle sprays of texture from the harp and explosive interjections of percussion. Near the end, unison snake-charm passages for piccolo and bass viol span the full tonal range of the standard Western orchestra as if to show us an entire landscape of sound from a place of distant contemplation.

A major element of the work's appeal - for me, at least - is that despite its sequence of surprises, it sustains a sense of order and intent. It's a bit like a short story that in just a handful of pages creates a complete world encompassing both chaos and rest, war and peace.

— Jon Sobel, 9.17.2021

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