Photos from Parallels

A standing-room-only concert of all new works! Thank you to everyone who came out to support new music, and to Jill Jantzen, 4-Way, and Salon 21 for collaborating with us on this event. (The program will be repeated in Warsaw on March 17!)

CSB Co-Artistic Director & composer Laura Harrison, pictured after the concert with Jill Jantzen and 4-Way Quartet

Parallels in Movers & Makers

Movers & Makers Cincinnati featured Parallels as a top event for this coming week. Read more here.

Cincinnati Soundbox and Salon 21 | 650 Walnut St., Cincinnati, OH 45202; 513-621-2787 (ARTS)

Wednesday, Feb. 6, 7 p.m.: “Parallels”

Soundbox is dedicated to new music, Salon 21 to piano performances in intimate, nontraditional settings. So how about a piano performance of new music from Poland and the U.S. in an intimate, nontraditional setting? Sounds like the cue for a collaboration, doesn’t it? The result, “Parallels,” includes works for string quintet by Żaneta Rydzewska, Aleksandra Chmielewska, Julia Seeholzer, Laura Harrison and Rachel C. Walker. Jill Jantzen, Salon 21 artistic director, joins the Cincinnati-based 4-Way Quartet (one supposes they head to the chili parlor after rehearsals) at the Aronoff Center’s Weston Art Gallery.
Pictured: Jill Jantzen and 4-Way warming up for tonight’s concert

Interview with Cellist Nat Chaitkin (Parallels)

Cellist Nat Chaitkin is one of the founding members of the 4-Way Quartet, who will be joining us next week for Parallels. Nat is currently a member of the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra and the ProMusica Chamber Orchestra. He is active as a performer and teacher in Cincinnati, including through the Quartet’s 4-Way String Project.

Read more about Nat and 4-Way below.

CSB: What is your musical background?

NC: I grew up in the NY new music world – my dad was a composer, and took me to all sorts of concerts as a kid. I started studying the cello at 11, spent some time at Juilliard Pre-College, and went on to the University of Michigan, studying cello and American History. I then moved to Washington, DC and spent 8 years as a member of “The President’s Own” US Marine Band. I moved to Cincinnati 10 years ago, joining the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, subbing with the CSO, and teaching at CCM Prep. I also developed a solo program to bring classical music to new audiences called Bach and Boombox.

CSB: How did 4-Way begin? What are your current projects as an ensemble?

NC: We formed in 2015, with the goal of creating an community-based ensemble. We share our love of chamber music both through performing and teaching underserved youth. We are in our third year of residency at Woodford Paideia Elementary School, where we assist with the orchestra program during the day. Woodford is also the home of our central activity, The 4-Way String Project, which offers free lessons and chamber music opportunities to 16 selected 4th, 5th and 6th graders.

CSB: As a cellist, how would you describe the works on this concert?

NC: Hard! Seriously, they are very diverse in what they ask of the players. A couple are very “notey”, requiring lots of technically demanding practicing, while others ask for an expanded range of sounds, calling for extended “non-traditional” techniques. All of them are challenging in their own way, and I’m really looking forward to hearing them all come together.

CSB: What are you hoping audiences will experience during this concert?

NC: Five striking and very different perspectives on one of my favorite ensembles – some of the greatest works in chamber music are written for piano quintet, and the audience will hear its full range of possibility!

CSB: What are your impressions of the music scene in Cincinnati. How have they changed over the years?

NC: Cincinnati has a wonderful music scene, thanks to two pieces of its history – the CSO, and King Records. Many cities “have” a symphony, but there is real civic pride in ours which I have not found in many other places. Several years ago, I was one of six people to receive the Cincinnati Artist Ambassador Fellowship, which allowed me to develop my solo program, and present it in community settings all across the city. I saw how much music is part of the fabric of life here, in part thanks to King [Records] and its legacy of bringing different musicians together. Having a group like 4-Way wouldn’t be possible in lots of places, but here, we find lots of support, and that’s because of the city’s strong support of its musicians.

Interview with Pianist Jill Jantzen (Parallels)

Soundbox is partnering with Salon 21 and the 4-Way String Quartet next week to present Parallels, a concert featuring five world premieres for piano quintet by American and Polish composers Laura Harrison, Rachel C. Walker, Julia Seeholzer, Aleksandra Chmielewska, and Żaneta Rydzewska.

Pianist Jill Jantzen is a dynamic member of the Cincinnati music scene. She holds degrees in piano performance from Oklahoma City University and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and is now Lecturer of Piano at Thomas Moore College. Jill is the Artistic Director of Salon 21 and also the pianist for this event.

You can catch Parallels on February 6 at the Weston Art Gallery. (More information here).

CSB: Tell us a little about your musical background.

JJ: I started formal piano lessons when I was 5, though family stories claim that I was fascinated with the instrument at an even earlier age. I began violin lessons around age 9, which carried me through college. These days, I consider piano to be my work, and violin is my hobby. And while I play mostly classical music, I will never say “no” to a good pop song jam session.

CSB: Could you introduce our readers to Salon 21?

JJ: Salon 21 is a series of intimate piano concerts in unexpected places around Cincinnati. We host emerging pianists who play a range of music from classical to jazz and traditional to contemporary. Each concert is a place where our audience can casually enjoy a short piano concert up close and personal.

CSB: Where did your interest in working with living composers begin?

JJ: I wish I had a fancier answer… I befriended some composers during my undergrad, and I quickly became one of the “go-to” instrumentalists who would play for composition recitals. No matter what the scope of the project, it is always an honor to be a part of the process of bringing a newly composed piece to life.

CSB: As a pianist, how would you describe the works on this concert?

JJ: Each of the pieces is quite different in character. There are singable melodies, mathematical rhythms, and I frequently play inside of the piano. The moods cover all aspects of the human experience: pensive, hazy, energetic, passionate… All of the composers have done an excellent job at utilizing the many facets of the instrument.

CSB: What other upcoming projects are on your radar?

JJ: I am giving a solo concert on April 17th at Trinity Episcopal Church in Covington, where I’ll perform pieces by Debussy and Beethoven. Then on May 23rd, I’ll be playing with violinist Rebecca Culnan at the Mercantile Library to close out Salon 21’s fifth season.

February 6: Parallels!

On February 6 at the Weston Art Gallery in Cincinnati, we’re teaming up with Salon 21 to present five world premieres for piano quintet written by composers from the United States and Poland: Żaneta Rydzewska, Aleksandra Chmielewska, Julia Seeholzer, Laura Harrison, and Rachel C. Walker.

This program will be presented separately in both Cincinnati and Warsaw, Poland over the course of the 2018/2019 season. The US premiere will feature 4-Way Quartet, Cincinnati’s String Quartet and Salon 21 Artistic Director, pianist Jill Jantzen. This project is supported by the generosity of community contributions to the ArtsWave Campaign.

Interview with Composer Tyler Eschendal

Tyler EschendalTyler Eschendal is a composer and percussionist originally from the suburbs of Detroit and now resides in Los Angeles, CA.  A love for rhythm, pulse, and layering heavily influences his music, as well as an interest in adapting sample-based procedures found in electronic music to acoustic and live instrumentations. Tyler holds a B.M. in music composition from the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati, and a M.M. in composition from the University of Southern California.

Hear Tyler’s work This City Is a Stepping Stone on our Solo Soundbox concert with Neil Beckmann on Sunday, November 18, at 7 PM at 21c Museum Hotel.

CSB: Could you tell us a little about your work as a composer? What are you interested in exploring in your music?

TE: I am really interested in introducing sample-based procedures of electronic or previously recorded music into live/acoustic settings with a goal of suspending or preserving moments that I find interesting from various sources (both classical and non-classical).  Fragments and gems of timbre and rhythm exist everywhere in the seconds that pass by in real time, and I am interested in exploiting and extending these moments.

CSB: What is the background to your piece for this concert, This City Is a Stepping Stone?

TE: This piece is direct collaboration with the guitarist, Neil Beckmann.  We lived together in Cincinnati for a number of years and decided the best time to collaborate on a piece would be after we both moved away to opposite sides of the country, him to NYC and myself to LA.  As a percussionist, I often find myself trying to turn everything into a percussion instrument; this piece is no exception.  I wanted the piece to be extremely rhythmic and visual, so I brought a cheap acoustic guitar and started experimenting.  Specific gestures and techniques require a notation that works best for the performer, and this is really where the collaboration side of the project came in to play.

CSB: Could you talk about the similarities and differences you’ve noticed between the Cincinnati new music scene and that of your current location?

TE: When I lived in Cincinnati there was a blossoming community of artists, musicians, and composers who pieced together a brilliantly quaint and often DIY contemporary music scene that I’m sure has since grown.  I now live in Los Angeles which has a GIGANTIC music scene.  Production value (lightening, projections, venue, live sound, etc.) is at the forefront of any/all concerts in LA, which heavily influences the listeners experience.  As incredible as this is, there are often times where I miss new music concerts stuffed into Cincinnati living rooms.

CSB: Who are other artists and composers whose work inspires and interests you?  Are there specific works you could point our readers to?

TE: I try to keep my listening list as expansive and diverse as possible.  recently I’ve been spinning a lot of gospel organ music from Dominique Johnson, revisiting Nicole Lizée’s works, and obsessing over the experimental sample-based outlet death’s dynamic shroud.wmv

CSB: What other new projects are on your radar?

TE: I’m currently hashing out a 30-40 minute solo project for myself with samples, percussion, and text. Also in the midst of piece for the Young Composers Meeting in the Netherlands organized by orkest de ereprijs and the Gaudeamus Foundation.

Interview with Composer Carolyn Chen

Carolyn Chen

Carolyn Chen is a composer whose work reconfigures the everyday to retune habits or our ears, through sound, text, light, image, and movement. For over a decade her studies of the guqin, the Chinese 7-string zither traditionally played for private meditation in nature, has informed her thinking on listening in social spaces. Chen holds degrees from Stanford University and UC San Diego. She currently lives in Los Angeles.

Hear her new work for solo guitar, Mom and dad are not at home performed by Neil Beckmann on our Solo Soundbox concert on November 18 at 21c Museum Hotel.

CSB: The opening of your bio says that you “have made music for supermarket, demolition district, and the dark.” Could you tell us more about that? 

CC: Half the work I do lives outside the concert hall or without instruments. In 2010, I curated an evening of covert and overt supermarket interventions at the Ralph’s across from UC San Diego that’s been remounted a few times – it included pieces like tuming to freezers, singing aisle contents while being pushed through in a shopping cart, or rearranging shelf contents in the manner of tuning the guqin, the Chinese zither historically played in nature. In the Zhuantang district of Hangzhou in 2012, I navigated through a partially demolished house by listening to the sound of a shard of glass scraped against the wall while moving through various rooms. I also did a number of pieces for small lights blinking in the dark (people circling one another in a model solar system) or for specific durations of light and dark (while performers acting as a corpse and watcher move through different positions).

CSB: What are you interested in exploring in your music?

CC: I’m interested in looking at stuff that I otherwise wouldn’t take the time to notice. Often this can be kind of mundane, and music is a way of investigating or meditating on something that I’d otherwise ignore – how couscous rolls, or how different objects fall, or my parents’ take on astronomy, or why I’m so bad at screaming. Another part of this is that each project is a chance to learn from the people I’m working with, and their practices and traditions – for example, I’d never written for solo classical guitar before this project with Neil, so it was fun to learn about the repertoire a little bit.

CSB: What is the background for your piece for this concert, Mom and dad are not at home?

CC: This piece happened through composer Jen Wang’s organizing commissions for immigrant advocacy – people donate to The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) or other immigrant advocacy organizations – and composers contribute pieces in turn. Neil and I had crossed paths at Nief-Norf Summer Festival in Knoxville, and then came into this through Jen’s Facebook post. Like many others, I’ve been continually appalled by the actions of our current administration, especially the separation of innocent children from their families, and I’m still looking for ways to stand up for a more just vision of our society. This is just a small piece, in honor of Neil’s contribution. I was listening to some lullabies online, and came across this one from the Puyuma, an indigenous people of Taiwan (where my parents are from). The melancholy of the song was striking. The lyrics ask the child to quickly close its eyes and go to sleep, because its parents are not at home – they are away catching fish. There’s not really an explanation for this, but it seemed like a natural departure point, with this oddly rhyming situation of absence and separation. The piece starts with chords and melodic gestures from the lullaby, repeated and gradually varied in small steps.

CSB: Who are other artists and composers whose work inspires and interests you? Are there specific works you could point our readers to? 

CC: I was really impressed by this when I ran across it in Berlin a couple years ago and I just found out Julian Rosenfeldt’s MANIFESTO came to LA – it’s a film installation where Cate Blanchett takes on 13 different personae, performing different historical artists’ manifestos, which resonate with each other in interesting ways. Also Cate Blanchett is amazing.
I just got married to a song called Pink Goodbye from Heather Lockie’s album Marshweed in the Garden – it’s just dizzyingly, tremendously beautiful. The album is full of gorgeous and surprising sounds, bundled in these very personal songs.
Over the summer I got to hear Southland Ensemble perform Laura Steenberge’s Byzantine Rites, a collection of musical pieces involving actions with household objects that was just exquisitely imaginiative and strange and lovely. I can’t find it online, but this is an older myth-related piece which is pretty amazing.

CSB: What other new projects are on your radar? 

CC: I’m finishing a series of pieces taken from quotes by lady adventurers for singing violinist Batya Macadam-Somer, editing video for an evening-length music-and-talking piece about how to fight for percussionist Jen Torrence, and I’m starting music for a film project called Golden with visual artists Annie Albaglia and Minoosh Zomorodinia, and poet Cintia Santana; a new piece with Aperture Duo; and a film collaboration with clarinet-and-sho player Michiko Ogawa and filmmaker Lyndsay Bloom.