Federico Bonacossa: Elettroarmonico

, composer


Federico Bonacossa releases Elettroarmonico featuring seven works that explore microtonal, electro-acoustic, and extended timbral contexts. Bonacossa's music unfolds elegantly in large arcs. pacing the evolution of his material skillfully to create a satisfying structural trajectory. Despite its meticulous construction, it preserves a quality of spontaneous invention, as if Bonacossa is engaging in the process of discovery of new worlds of timbre and tuning along with the listener. 


Shikantaza is the tenth in a series of compositions for solo instrument and live electronics. It represents an important piece in my work in that the approach to tuning, form, and use of electronics feature a variety of techniques that later became the basis for other works. The guitar is tuned to an open harmonic tuning and makes extensive use of a metal slide and gradual detuning in both the instrumental part and the electronics. The electronics feature a combination of real time “sliding” additive synthesis, "moving blocks" loops, pitch shifting, and delays.

Another work in my series of electroacoustic compositions, De Profundis is a real tour de force for the clarinetist, who must juggle challenging technical passages and intricate vocal rhythms. In De Profundis, all the musical material was generated by transcribing spontaneous vocal improvisations using the computer or simply by ear. The material was then chopped up and reassembled within a cyclical structure, an approached I also used in Shikantza among other works. The effects used are a combination of granular synthesis, loops, delays, pitch-shifting, and ring modulation.

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AEDO 5 and AEDO 6 are the most recent compositions featured in the album. The idea for them came from a desire to expand the range of the guitar in an extreme way while simultaneously being able to have flexible tuning. A lofty goal! Both these desires have of course a long history in music, but given that I am not much of a tinkerer, I chose to do this entirely in the digital realm. Most of the tools I used have only very recently become available, including the physically modeled classical guitar library by Modartt. Though the library is far more natural sounding than most, its slightly artificial sound has a certain charm that may be described as a classical guitar tone wrapped in thin cellophane. Both pieces use a limited set of pure ratios that divide the octave nearly but not quite evenly. In AEDO 5 the classical guitar sound is combined with Surge XT, a digital synthesizer with very versatile tuning capabilities.

The large variety of envelopes, timbres, and dynamic levels featured in the percussion part of Tract generated very unique and often unexpected sounds from the electronics. At times the electronics are used to alter or extend the live sound and at others they provide a mechanical accompaniment to it, simultaneously leading and reacting to how and what the performer plays.

Like Flowers in the Sky represents a departure from the fairly rigorous formal structures I used in works like Shikantaza, De Profundis, and Tract and is instead is essentially through-composed. Perhaps for this reason, the pace at which the piece unfolds is slower and more poised, like flowers slowly gliding in the sky.

Originally written for Eric Goldemberg’s 6-string Bichord Drone, DE-FLUIT explores extensively the “live additive synthesis” method I developed in Shikantaza. Although the Bichord Drone resembles a guitar, its physical shape, string size, and tuning are substantially different, and rather unpredictable. These special characteristics suggested alternative modes of interactions between the performer, the instrument, and the computer, and this recording is one of many possible results of this exchange.

- Federico Bonacossa

Recorded June 3 & 5 and September 29, 2019 at the Wertheim Performing Arts Center, Miami, Florida

Recording producer: Federico Bonacossa
Sound engineer: Federico Bonacossa
Mastering: David Crowell

Liner notes: Federico Bonacossa
Cover photo: Federico Bonacossa
Federico Bonacossa headshot: © April Nicole, aprilnicolecreative.com

Design, layout & typography: Marc Wolf, marcjwolf.com

Music publisher: ASCAP

Dedication: to my wife Carol and my daughters Bella and Sofia

Federico Bonacossa

Composer and guitarist Federico Bonacossa spent his early teenage years playing punk music and skateboarding before suddenly falling in love with classical music after listening to a recording of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition played on the classical guitar. He studied classical guitar at the Conservatorio Statale G. P. da Palestrina in Italy before moving to the U.S., where he pursued a master’s degree at the Peabody Conservatory and a doctorate at the University of Miami in classical guitar performance and music theory. Additionally, he holds a master’s degree in music composition from Florida International University, where he studied composition and electronic music.

His creative interests range from electronic and computer-assisted composition to purely acoustic and improvisational works. Much of his diverse output explores alternative tunings and involves electronics in some form. Recent venues where his work has been featured include the ProART Festival in Brno (Czech Republic), the Monastery of San Martiño Pinario (Spain), Villa Strozzi in Florence (Italy), the Marian Anderson Theater in New York, and the RHI Festival in Cascais (Portugal). Additional venues where his works have been performed include the Museo Iconográfico del Quijote (Mexico), University of Guanajuato, Mexico City Italian Cultural Center, University of Music and Performing Arts Graz (Germany), Peabody Conservatory, University of Massachusetts Amherst, University of Oklahoma, University of Miami, and the University of Kentucky. He has presented his work at numerous international conferences, including SEAMUS, Electronic Music Midwest, MOXsonic, the National Flute Convention, ISSTA (Ireland), New York City Electroacoustic Music Festival, University of South Florida New Music Festival, and N_SEME conference.

His fascination with the way music and movement can inspire each other has led to numerous collaborations with dancers and choreographers, particularly Hannah Baumgarten and Diego Salterini (Dance Now Miami), and Lazaro Godoy (GoPra Performance). This has resulted in over a dozen projects, many of which have been performed internationally.

As a performer, he is involved in promoting new music for guitar, especially works that feature electronics and alternative tunings.

He currently serves as Associate Teaching Professor of Music Theory and Musicology at Florida International University. He is also a co-founder of The Last Hundred Ensemble, dedicated to music written in the last one hundred years. The group recently released its first album, featuring his work “Omaggio a Marinetti,” an eclectic composition for soprano, harp, electric guitar, and percussion (including balloons), based on Marinetti’s futurist poems.

Regarding the driving energy behind his creative work, he writes: ‘Composition is, for me, a process of discovery, a way to engage in a dialogue with the many mysterious things I do not understand. Perhaps for these reasons, I have a deep fascination with divination and meditation, and really any technique that involves a kind of surrendering, observing, listening, and describing.’


John Antisz

John Antisz is an active orchestral performer, woodwind doubler, educator, and chamber musician. Most notably, Antisz served as the 3rd/Bass Clarinet of the Florida Grand Opera and The Palm Beach Symphony from 2017-2019 and performed as guest Principal with the Vero Beach Opera. Equally important to Antisz’s performance career is educating the next generation of musicians. Through the Palm Beach Symphony, John acted as head teacher where he taught woodwind lessons and coached underprivileged students in Title IX school districts across south Florida. Antisz began his education as a Jeffrey Carollo Scholar at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. John was the first woodwind player to be selected to participate in the program. He currently serves as the general music, choir, and band teacher in the Harrison NJ School District at Hamilton Intermediate School. Antisz holds degrees from the Lynn Conservatory of Music and Rutgers University. His previous teachers include Jon Manasse, Jessica Phillps, and Dan Gilbert. Relocating back to New Jersey in 2020, John is excited to teach and perform in his home.

Karlyn Viña

Praised by the South Florida Classical Review for her “dazzling” and “incisive” performance, Karlyin Viña is a dynamic and creative percussionist based in Virginia. Viña serves on the faculties of Shenandoah Conservatory in Virginia during the academic year and at Interlochen Arts Camp in Michigan during the summer. Karlyn maintains a busy schedule as an orchestral, chamber, and solo percussionist, and has a particular interest in contemporary music. Performance highlights include several seasons with Palm Beach Symphony and Florida Grand Opera, as well as performances with Madera Viva, a bassoon and percussion duo with Dr. Carlos Felipe Viña.

Jason Calloway

Jason Calloway has performed to acclaim throughout the world as soloist and chamber musician. Currently cellist of the Amernet String Quartet, Ensemble-in-Residence at Florida International University, Mr. Calloway was previously a member of the Naumburg award-winning Biava Quartet, formerly in residence at the Juilliard School. Mr. Calloway gave his Carnegie Hall recital debut under the auspices of Artists International and has also been heard at Jazz at Lincoln Center, the 92nd Street Y, Disney Hall, and the Kennedy Center. He has recorded for the Bridge, Naxos, and Albany labels. A devoted advocate for new music, Mr. Calloway has collaborated with Ensemble InterContemporain and alongside members of Ensemble Modern, Klangforum Wien, and the Arditti and JACK quartets and given hundreds of premieres by composers including Berio, Birtwistle, Hosokawa, Lachenmann, Pintscher, Tulve, and Tüür. He is also artistic director of Shir Ami (shiramimusic.com), an ensemble dedicated to the preservation and performance of Jewish art music suppressed by the Nazis and Soviets. Mr. Calloway performs on a 1992 Michèle Ashley cello, a copy of the famous Sleeping Beauty of Montagnana, formerly owned by his teacher, Orlando Cole. Mr. Calloway is a native of Philadelphia.