Music from the Association for the Promotion of New Music (APNM), vol. 1 & 2

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The Association for the Promotion of New Music (APNM) was founded in 1975 by Jacques-Louis Monod as a community of American composers with shared aesthetic values. This double album release features acoustic, electro-acoustic, and purely electronic works by their member composers. 

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The Association for the Promotion of New Music (APNM) was founded in 1975 by Jacques-Louis Monod as a community of American composers with shared aesthetic values. This double album release features acoustic, electro-acoustic, and purely electronic works by their member composers and celebrates the organization’s more than four decades long commitment to composers spanning different generations and aesthetic approaches.

The opening work, Wind Chimes for pipa and guitar, is by current secretary of the APNM, Stephen Dydo. Its modal orientation is a nod to Chinese traditional music, specifically music from the earlier Tang and Song dynasties, when compositions exploring multiple modes were the norm. In Dydo’s work, the guitar and pipa inhabit different modes at different times, creating a work that discovers a modern sensibility from a traditional source of inspiration.

Laurie San Martin’s Elective Affinities, heard here in a performance by the Lydian String Quartet with Korean gayaguem player Yi-Ji Young, also looks to the East. Martin treats the quartet as one large hybrid instrument and counterpart to the gayaguem. The piece alternates between gayaguem passages exploring its sonic characteristics and vigorous ensemble sections, leading through an elegant dance to close in a halo of harmonics.

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Thomas James’ Odd Numbers for solo piano was written for his wife Sheila Simpson, who is heard in this performance. The title refers to the odd numbers James used to derive aggregates which shape the rhythmic and pitch organization in the work. The work gives the sense of an internal deliberation, a lyrical consideration of options, implications, and consequences.

Taking its name from a Yiddish word which translates as “little bird,” Elaine Barkin’s Faygele’s Footsteps is composed using midi sounds for a series of virtual instruments: dulcimer, sitar, Balinese gamelan metallophones, harp, and piano. Barkin’s inspiration for the work is a gaudily decorated hub-cap mask; the musical portrait heard here is arranged in a kind of electronic klangfarben.

Sheree Clement’s Round Trip Ticket: A Theme with Variations for Seven Players expands on the Pierrot plus percussion instrumentation by adding an additional percussionist. Clement takes advantage of the expanded percussion palette to explore non-pitched wooden sounds as a counterpart to the prominent marimba part, as subsequent variations diverge further afield from the initial theme.

Joseph Hudson’s Starry Night for solo piano and electronic sounds is performed here by pianist Steve Beck. In the opening minutes of the work, the electronics envelop Debussy-esque chords and arpeggiations in the piano in an ambient halo. As the piano part becomes more active, the electronics respond in kind, overwhelming the piano at the climax before a closing accompanied soliloquy captures the wonder of contemplating the cosmos.

Arthur Krieger’s career has a strong association with his time working at the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Studio. His For Diane for fixed media opens the second disc and was one of his last compositions at the EMC. In the piece, we hear echoes of Mario Davidovsky’s hybrid approach to constructing timbral mechanisms, veritable Rube Goldberg machines of sound that ricochet, sometimes in slapstick fashion and other times with multi-layered expressive complexity.

Deconstructing Maria is part of a series of works that Joel Gressel composed in which he imposed the restriction upon himself of using only one melodic strand and its various permutations for the material in the piece. In this case, Gressel begins with the iconic three note tritone motive from Bernstein’s “Maria,” serialized and digitally synthesized to evoke an otherworldly soundscape.

Adam Vidiksis’s Ouroboros references the ancient Egyptian symbol of a serpent eating its own tail as a metaphor for the cyclical nature of human experience. Composed in three sections, Vidiksis establishes rhythmic and material cycles, each of which is “held captive by its own repetitions.”

Maurice Wright’s Stereo Fantasy is a fully notated work for “synthetic orchestra of about 50 instruments.” The work’s opening section is eclectic, with vaudevillian brass lines, bombastic explosions evocative of a marching band, and haunting harmonies out of a sci-fi soundtrack, before moving to a peaceful, wave-like chordal passage. Much of this material emerges and recedes over the course of this eclectic piece.

Carl Christian Bettendorf’s Souvenir for solo viola and electronics was originally titled Souvenir de Tristan in an acoustic version, a reference to his teacher at Columbia University, Tristan Murail. Bettendorf owns the reference by opening the work with the same minor 6th (A-F) that Wagner uses in the oft quoted beginning of his most famous opera. The work unfolds as a dialogue with this borrowed material, as Bettendorf explores the line at which it dissociates from the original reference with the help of obscuring electronics.

Jeffrey Hall’s From the Winds of Avalon balances what he describes as “relatively complex ‘noisy’ spectra” and “pitch based tunes.” Skittering passages lead into ethereal soundscapes while the main ascending tune is transformed, weaving a dichotomy between the simple melody and the vivid sound sculpting surrounding it.

Samuel Wells’ Strange Pilgrims: Light is Like Water is part of a series of works for trumpet and interactive electronics based on a collection of stories by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The work opens with a burst of muted trumpet fragments and sinewy, synthetic electronic sounds. When the mute comes off, the trumpet plays singing lines into a reverberant wash of processed electronics.

The final work on the album is Hubert Howe’s Inharmonic Fantasy no. 6A. A reworking of his Inharmonic Fantasy No. 6 for flute and electronics, Howe harmonizes an underlying melody with inharmonic elements, producing dreamlike sonorities that melt and stretch into each other.

– D. Lippel

  • Produced by Stephen Dydo and Erik Lundborg
  • Graphic Design by DJ Pallotta
  • Disc 1 mastered by Nicholas Prout for True Sonix, Inc.
  • Disc 2 mastered by Stephen Dydo

Association for the Promotion of New Music

APNM was founded in 1975 by Jacques-Louis Monod as a community of American composers with the purpose of sharing common musical values and creating a network of professional support. APNM fosters the compositional creativity of its members by offering performances of their music, publication services, and promotional visibility.

APNM offers publishing services through the Subito Music Corp. APNM composers are published, but fully maintain their copyright, keeping half of their royalties, and are free from any contractual obligations. APNM promotes its member catalog through its website.

APNM presents concerts of members' music at New York City venues at least twice per year, partnering with virtuosic performers and ensembles including members of Argento and Ensemble Pi. APNM holds an annual Composition Call for Scores Contest, seeking public submissions, particularly from emerging composers. Winners are rewarded with performance and membership.

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