Composer and guitarist Richard Carrick's Stone Guitars is a collection of pieces comprised of independently improvised electric guitar tracks layered in the studio, marrying the beauty of the ephemeral gesture with a finely considered compositional sense of structure.
Composer Richard Carrick is best known for his concert works, described by Allan Kozinn of the New York Times as "charming, with exoticism and sheer infectiousness." While Carrick typically collaborates with other musicians, notably with the New York Philharmonic and his own ensemble Either/Or, Stone Guitars was created in isolation. Returning to the instrument of his teenage years, Stone Guitars was recorded during late nights spent exploring the introspective world of de-tuned, effects heavy electric guitars. Each guitar layer was recorded sequentially without monitoring the previous layers. Using memory, visual cues (visual click track, tracking graphics of the previous recordings), and compositional structures, each line spontaneously evolved with an independent flow. Carrick later layered the spontaneous tracks above each other, marrying the beauty of the ephemeral gesture with a finely considered compositional sense of structure. Composition, performance, and improvisation were completely intertwined with a range of recording and editing techniques to produce this diverse set of pieces. The title, Stone Guitars, refers both to the indestructible mass of sound of the electric guitar and to the venue of the title trackʼs premiere - John Zorn's East Village venue, The Stone. The music on this recording is by turns nostalgic, raw, direct, meditative, bold, evocative, distorted, and micro-tonally dense. Carrick is not unfamiliar to this type of recording process -- he used a similar approach for his solo piano CD Containment(self released) and adapted it to notated music in The Veins of Marble for chamber orchestra, Dark Flow - Double Quartet for two independently performing quartets, and Prisonerʼs Cinema for chamber orchestra with video projection.
Richard Carrick is a musician of wide-ranging vocations and proclivities, whose calling spans composition, performance, conducting, teaching artistry, education, lecturing, ensemble leadership, and curation. His reputation as an international leader in contemporary music rests on his tireless curiosity, intercontinental body of experience, and ceaseless exploration across disparate musical fields. His music is characterized by spatial depth and robust stasis; continual development and the evocation of profound human experiences.
Described both as "charming, with exoticism and sheer infectiousness" and "organic and restless" by The New York Times, Carrick's music is influenced by his multicultural background and experiences as well as his commitment to inspire professionals, audiences and youth through composition and live performance. His music spans beyond solo, chamber and orchestral compositions to include conceived works incorporating dance, graphic scores, multiple video projections, and group and conducted improvisation.
Carrick’s music has been programmed and presented internationally at festivals including NYPHIL BIENNIAL, ISCM World Music Days- Switzerland, Library of Congress, Enescu Festival, Pacific Rim Festival, Miller Theatre, Mid-American New Music Festival, and Darmstadt Summer Festival, and performed by musicians including the JACK Quartet, Mivos Quartet, Nieuw Ensemble, Wet Ink Ensemble, New York New Music Ensemble, Hyperion Ensemble, Sequitur Ensemble, Musica Nova, Hotel Elefant, Marilyn Nonken, Taka Kigawa, Margaret Lancaster, Vasko Dukovski, Jennifer Choi, Tony Arnold, Magnus Andersson, Steven Schick, Rohan de Saram, and others. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including a 2015-16 Guggenheim Fellowship in Music Composition and a 2011 Fromm Foundation Commission.
Carrick is co-founder and co-artistic director of the contemporary music ensemble Either/Or, declared 'first rate' and ‘a trustworthy purveyor of fresh sounds’ by The New York Times, and winner of the 2015 CMA/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming. As conductor and pianist, Carrick has worked closely with many celebrated composers including Helmut Lachenmann, Jonny Greenwood, Chaya Czernowin, Elliott Sharp, George Lewis, Anna Thorvaldsdottir, Iancu Dumitrescu, Robert Ashley, Karin Rehnqvist and Raphael Cendo. Carrick conducting E/O's ambitious performance of “John Cage Party Pieces” premiered 125 scores by renowned composers from around the world.
A teaching artist of considerable skill and experience, Carrick was instrumental in the development and expansion of the New York Philharmonic’s Very Young Composer program, in which he mentored hundreds of young composers to compose pieces to be performed by New York Philharmonic musicians (including pieces for full orchestra). His work in the program has expanded to include mentorship for young composers in Korea, Japan and the UK. As part of his work as a Guggenheim fellow, Carrick also founded a young composer program in both Israel and Kigali, Rwanda.
Carrick is the Chair of Composition at Berklee College of Music, where he directs the Neither/Nor Composer/Performer Ensemble, and teaches composing for dance and alternate approaches for structuring real-time music creation. He has presented masterclasses and lectures throughout the US, Canada, Holland, France, UK, Spain, Sweden, Germany, Israel, Rwanda, Japan and South Korea. Former posts include composition faculty at Columbia University and New York University.
His CD release, Cycles of Evolution, incorporates pieces commissioned and performed by Musicians of the New York Philharmonic, Either/Or, Sweden’s Ensemble Son, Hotel Elefant and String Orchestra of Brooklyn. Carrick conducts or performs on all works on this CD, which includes his 'apocalyptic' multimedia work for performers and video, Prisoner's Cinema. Carrick's first recording, also on New World Records, the “rich, beguiling” (The New York Times) extended chamber composition Flow Cycle for Strings, translates psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's 'flow' principle into sonic terms. Carrick's improvisation-based disc Stone Guitars (New Focus Recordings) garnered critical attention in both the new music and guitar worlds, causing American Record Guide to note 'it may change your perception of electric guitar'.
A US/French citizen born in Paris of French-Algerian and British descent, Carrick received his BA from Columbia University, MA and PhD from the University of California-San Diego working with Brian Ferneyhough, and pursued further studies at IRCAM and the Koninklijk Conservatorium. Scores distributed by Project Schott New York.http://www.richardcarrick.com
This is my first encounter with the music of Richard Carrick. He is not primarily a guitarist, electric or classical, but a composer, conductor, and pianist specializing in new music. He co-founded and directs the ensemble Either/Or and has taught composition at Columbia and New York University. He quotes blurbs from the New York Times describing his music as “charming, with exoticism and sheer infectiousness” and “hallucinatory”.
That’s an odd combination, and wasn’t intended for this particular set of pieces, though “hallucinatory” certainly fits. Carrick follows “Csikszentmihalyi’s flow concept”—a Hungarian psychologist who studied the sort of intense concentration that comes from a single-minded attention to an activity. This is new to me, but it seems like the sort of experience musicians find in intense practice or a particularly fine performance—a state that, according to a retired psychologist I used to teach, is actually a self-induced trance.
Carrick is certainly inventive in his use of electric guitars. I’ve always though the possibilities of expression were vastly underused by most electric players. You have to conceive of it as a totally different instrument from the classical guitar, capable of things impossible on the classical instrument—sustained sounds, even a single note crescendo by the use of amplification. Carrick creates a sound world in these mostly brief pieces. He performs in a mixture of composition and improvisation—I’d be interested to see the scores, if there are scores. There are 11 pieces, with titles like ‘Intimate Spaces’, ‘Molten’, and ‘Undersea’.
There is a minimalist influence, certainly, and a resemblance to ambient music—but it’s more interesting than ambient sounds, stuff I’ve always dismissed as music not to be listened to. This rises above that, though each piece is in stasis, each with a different set of sounds, gradually shifting almost imperceptably. There is no rock or pop influence here, and it may change your perception of electric guitar. © Kenneth Keaton, 2014 American Record Guide