Sullivan Boecker is a composer who studied in Cincinnati and is now based in Cleveland. He writes detailed, daring works for a variety of ensembles. His latest piece, threading, will be premiered by violinist Jack Bogard on our April 5th Solo Soundbox concert in collaboration with Chase Public.


CSB: Could you tell us a little about your work as a composer?

SB: Most of my work up to this point has been a hodgepodge of different styles exploring many different concepts. More recently my work deals with themes of focus, deconstruction, and situational contingency. I’m very interested in what happens when a performer and audience is placed in a situation where the same material is flipped ever so slightly. Through processes of deconstruction or glacial modification the focus is jarred, forcing a refocus into a slightly different, if not totally unfamiliar, situation.

CSB: What is the background to your piece for this concert, threading?

SB: threading continues this exploration of focus, deconstruction, and situational contingency. These are ideas that I focus on in most of my work and am always discovering new limits for certain material. In threading the foundational material is a simple four-note motive. I take the actions of the performer and the music itself—their finger placement, finger pressure, rhythm, and general pitch area—and subject them to small changes that make for a completely different resultant sound.

CSB: What connections have you found between the new music scenes in Cincinnati and Cleveland?

SB: I’m not sure that I know the New Music scene in Cleveland deeply enough to make much of a comparison. From what I can tell it is pretty similar. Cleveland is a much bigger city than Cincinnati and therefore has many different venues for all types of music. From East side to West side two different venues can be a half hour away from each other. Other than size, Cleveland and Cincinnati are fairly similar from what I can tell, which really isn’t much.

CSB: What are some of the upcoming projects and performances on your radar?

SB: The Eschaton Ensemble at Vanderbilt is playing a new chamber orchestra piece of mine. I’m collaborating with Neil Beckman, a good friend and guitarist, on a new piece for solo classical guitar and am also working on revising a string quartet I wrote three years ago, also for friends. I’m working on getting a sound installation going in the apartment I’m living in as well as some other performances of pieces for voice/recitation using new visual poetry that I might also parlay into strictly “musical” performances with some friends. Looking ahead, there’s a lot going on. Always with friends. It’s great!

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