Van Stiefel: Solaris


Van Stiefel's Solaris explores the fragile and delicate world of electric guitar played with a classical technique. Featuring performances by guitarists Daniel Lippel, David Nadal, and the composer himself, violinist Nurit Pacht, vocalist Holly Nadal, and flutist Ed Schultz.


"Solaris, the first piece on this CD, employs computer-generated sounds and loops triggered by MIDI/electric guitar; however most of the pieces simply use a clean, finger-style electric technique. Recalling classical guitar music, these pieces explore an inward, fragile soundworld inherent in a simple physicality; fingers plucking amplified strings. With or without interactice technology, they embrace a wired reality of the electric guitar as amplified and electric, while referencing the intimacy of the instrument in chamber music - or as simply, a guitar."

- Van Stiefel, from The Liner Notes

Producer: Van Stiefel
Recorded at Soft Landing Studios
Engineered and Mixed by Stephen Griesgraber
Mastered by Ryan Streber
Cover image: installation by Caroline Lathan Stiefel
Photo: Adam Blumberg

Van Stiefel

Composer/guitarist Van Stiefel continues to chase a "subversive lyricism" in original music he composes for often unusual instrumental combinations: electric guitar ensembles, laptop orchestras, turntables, as well as more conventional ensembles. 

Stiefel was recently commissioned by the American Composers Forum to compose Wyeth Songs for electric guitar and children's chorus.  

Trained as a classical guitarist from age six, his music for classical guitar has been performed or recorded by some the nation's leading classical guitarists, including Benjamin Verdery, Eliot Fisk, and Daniel Lippel. 

The Minneapolis Guitar Quartet, with support from the Augustine Foundation, recently commissioned Cinema Castaneda, a kind of mural for four guitars blending cowboy songs with rock music, rancheras- and narco-corridos--a CD including the work will be released on Innova in March 2013. 

In 2012, his quartet for laptops, Jargo's Table, was featured at the very first International Symposium for Laptop Orchestras and Ensembles at LSU. 

Stiefel has been a featured speaker at TEDx Phoenixville and a visiting artist with PLOrk (the Princeton Laptop Orchestra). The Philadelphia Museum of Art presented already seen, an interactive music and dance collaboration with the Miller-Rothlein Company (MIRO) of Philadelphia. 

An all-Stiefel CD, Solaris was released in 2011 on New Focus Recordings and is distributed by Naxos. Stiefel has received grants/commissions from the Georgia Council for the Arts, Mid-Atlantic Arts Fellowship, Met-Life Composer Connections, Art in Odd Places (Atlanta Olympic Festival), and the American Composers' Forum. 

His music has been featured on various festivals including: the Arts Festival of Atlanta, New York Guitar Festival, Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, and the Filament Festival. 

Stiefel holds a BA/MM from Yale University and a PhD in music composition from Princeton. 

He has been on the faculties of Princeton and McGill Universities and is presently Associate Professor at West Chester University of Pennsylvania.

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