Bearthoven Releases AMERICAN DREAM Album Ft. Music Of Scott Wollschleger
On Friday, February 8, 2019, Bearthoven (Karl Larson, piano; Pat Swoboda, double bass; and Matt Evans, percussion) releases its second album American Dream on Cantaloupe Music. The album features the works of composer Scott Wollschleger,including his Gas Station Canon Song, American Dream, and We See Things That Are Not There. On release day, Friday, February 8, 2019 at 8pm, Bearthoven performs an American Dream release show at the Tenri Cultural Institute in NYC. Tickets: https://bpt.me/3909015
Karl Larson describes American Dream as "a reflection of the contemporary American state of mind." Rather than making a direct political statement, the works on the album reflect the paradoxical nature of the "American Dream" in our current socio-economic climate. Wollschleger says, "This music expresses the strongest sense of urgency I've experienced in my entire life, channeling feelings of doom, optimism, hopelessness, and the sublime. Much like a dream, these pieces weave an interconnected musical fabric of contradictory worlds."
The title work on the album, Wollschleger's American Dream, is a substantial trio for piano, double bass, pitch pipes, and a wide array of percussion instruments including vibraphone, water crotales, and vibrators. The piece consists of numerous "broken songs" dispensed throughout a fragmented time-field. This formal dissonance, often heightened by disruptively recurring drone-clusters, sets the tone for the entire album: the beautiful/hopeful is pervasive but constantly shadowed by the repugnant/forlorn.
We See Things That Are Not There engages the vibraphone and piano in a constant repetitive dialogue with one another - both instruments recite the same phrase back and forth without an ultimate agreement. Gas Station Canon Song for solo piano is an unscrambled statement of one of the "broken songs" from American Dream. It was inspired by the synchronous existence of the beautiful and the grotesque encountered by Wollschleger in an I-80 gas station, a direct reference to a modern American paradox: how the majestic and the repellent always seem to coexist in a state of flux, no matter the medium.
Bearthoven [ 'bâr-toh-v?n ] is a piano trio creating a new repertoire for a familiar instrumentation by commissioning works from leading young composers. Karl Larson (piano), Pat Swoboda (bass), and Matt Evans (percussion) have combined their individual voices and diverse musical backgrounds, coming together to create a versatile trio focused on frequent and innovative commissioning of up-and-coming composers. Bearthoven is rapidly building a diverse repertoire by challenging composers to apply their own voice to an instrumentation that, while common amongst jazz and pop idioms, is currently foreign in the contemporary classical world.
Formed in 2013, Bearthoven has quickly established themselves as a forerunner in the New York City contemporary music scene. Commissioning over 30 new works in their first six seasons, the trio has created its own diverse repertoire ranging from the driving, post-minimal voices of Ken Thomson, Brooks Frederickson, and Shelley Washington to the atmospheric and abstracted offerings of Sarah Hennies, Scott Wollschleger, and Anthony Vine. Bearthoven's commitment to collaboration and innovation has garnered both critical and peer acclaim and has led to featured performances on notable series including the MATA Festival, the Bang On a Can Marathon, the Music/Sound Series at EMPAC, the Princeton Sound Kitchen, and the Ciclo de Conciertos de Música Contemporánea in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The group's debut album Trios was released on Cantaloupe Music in May 2017. Bearthoven was recently selected as one of 24 ensembles to be a part of the inaugural New Music USA Impact Fund cohort.
Bearthoven exists in an era where music no longer fits into discrete genre categories. Audiences have well trained ears attuned to aural cues and sonic associations, connecting pieces of music with our larger conception of culture like never before. The current generation has access to an unprecedented amount and variety of music, and these associations grow stronger and more developed with each technological development. Larson, Swoboda, and Evans believe these developments raise interesting questions about how contemporary chamber ensembles approach commissioning, programming, and marketing strategies. Through their work in Bearthoven, the musicians strive to address these questions, developing a new model for contemporary chamber groups in the 21st century. Bearthoven's instrumentation, while a clear reference to jazz and pop idioms, is intended to serve as an access point for the current listener. When commissioning new works, the trio invites composers to explore their cultural relationship with the instrumentation, creating a dialogue between their compositional voice and their own associations with the piano, bass, and percussion sound palette. This approach is a provocative prompt for composers and provides the audience with a secure sonic foothold, even in the most abstract compositions.
About Scott Wollschleger
Scott Wollschleger (b. 1980)'s music has been highly praised for its arresting timbres and conceptual originality. Wollschleger "has become a formidable, individual presence" (The Rest Is Noise, Alex Ross) in the contemporary musical landscape. His distinct musical language explores themes of art in dystopia, the conceptualization of silence, synesthesia, and creative repetition in form and has been described as "apocalyptic," "distinctive and magnetic," possessing a "hushed, cryptic beauty," (The New Yorker, Alex Ross) and as "evocative" and "kaleidoscopic" (The New York Times).
Wollschleger's concert works can be heard across the US and the world, most recently featured at NOW! Festival in Graz Austria, MATA Festival Interval Series, and the Festival of New American Music in Sacramento. His critically acclaimed piano concerto, Meditation on Dust, was recently performed by pianist Karl Larson at the Bang on a Can Festival at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. His apocalyptic monodrama, We Have Taken and Eaten, was featured on NPR's Arts & Letters. Upcoming and recent projects include commissions from andplay, Bearthoven, violist Anne Lanzilotti, Metropolis Ensemble with violinist Rachel Lee Priday in collaboration with the String Orchestra of Brooklyn, and Third Angle Music. His debut album, Soft Aberration, was released on New Focus Recordings in 2017 and was named a Notable Recording of 2017 in The New Yorker. His most recent album, American Dream, written for Bearthoven, will be released on Cantaloupe Music in 2019.
Following lightly in the footsteps of the New York School, Wollschleger received his Masters of Music in composition from Manhattan School of Music in 2005, where he studied with Nils Vigeland. Wollschleger was a Co-Artistic Director of Red Light New Music, a 501c(3) non-profit organization dedicated to presenting and crafting contemporary music. In addition to his musical ideas, he frequently delves into the philosophical writings of Deleuze, Nietzsche, and Brecht and maintains an ongoing collaboration with Deleuzian scholar Corry Shores. Their recently co-authored thesis, Rhythm Without Time, was successfully presented at the London Graduate School's academic conference, "Rhythm and Event." Wollschleger's work is published by Project Schott New York.
American Dream Track List
7. Scott Wollschleger: We See Things That Are Not There - 7:44
Karl Larson, piano; Matt Evans, vibraphone and crotale
Total Time - 45:06
Produced by Ryan Streber, Scott Wollschleger, and Bearthoven
Recorded at Oktaven Audio
Photography by Jaime Boddorff
Liner Notes by Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti
Executive Producers: Michael Gordon, David Lang, Kenny Savelson, and Julia Wolfe
Released on Cantaloupe Music