I spent this past weekend in New York City at the A Blade of Grass orientation. It's hard to believe that I get to be a part of such an amazing cohort of artists and organization. Listening to the artists explain their work -- in prisons and along the border, with food and literature and greenhouses and equine therapy, and in places from Philadelphia to New York to Texas to Puerto Rico to Alcatraz -- was truly an inspiring experience. I can’t wait to see how all of these projects continue to grow and unfold!
I wrote an article for SoundEffects: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Sound and Sound Experience on the Sun Ra/El Saturn Collection, and the Experimental Sound Studio commissions to reinterpret the archival recordings. Many thanks to ESS, Lou Mallozzi, Cauleen Smith, Todd Carter, Damon Locks, and Terri Kapsalis. For fans of: Sun Ra, archival performances, archival homophones, ways of listening, archival authorship, and embodied archives.
Also: here’s a great quote from Amiri Baraka on Sun Ra’s wordplay: “Ra taught that a word is not only an idea, but a sound. It has force and power...and its many meanings manifest at once."
Find the article here.
I am SO thrilled and honored to be among this year's A Blade of Grass Fellows for Socially Engaged Art. What an amazing cohort of artists. It’s particularly exciting to have been selected as the ABOG Fellow for Contemplative Practice. It really means a lot to me, and I can’t wait to for the project to begin! #ABOGFellows #sociallyengagedart
Here is a link to an ArtNews article announcement.
In this interview, I talked with Mark Mazullo from Macalester College about the "Shawnee, Ohio" project and its upcoming performance for the Liquid Music Series in St. Paul, Minnesota on March 20. Read the full interview here.
"Shawnee Revisited," a sound and 3-channel video installation based on remixed material from "Shawnee, Ohio," opens today at the Weitz Center for Creativity at Carleton College, Minnesota. A counterpart to a Liquid Music series performance in St. Paul on March 20, "Shawnee Revisited" evokes the sounds and images of the town and region, tracing the history of extraction from 19th century mining to today. Generous support from the Weitz Center for Creativity made this piece possible. More information on this installation project can be found here.
I'll be presenting a solo performance of "Shawnee, Ohio" as part of Marshall University's "Appalachian Narratives: Notes on Identity," on Thursday, February 15, 2018. A Q&A session will follow.
So pleased to announce that I'll be bringing Shawnee, Ohio to Minnesota as part of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra's 2017-18 Liquid Music Series. And what a fantastic series it is: expertly curated, timely, and exciting. We will be performing Shawnee on March 20, 2018, as part of the No Fiction Festival, at Mairs Concert Hall at Macalester College, St. Paul. In addition, there will be a related event: a sound and video installation at Carleton College based on Shawnee, Ohio.
To celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the release of American Winter on Atavistic Records, I've made a score for the piece. It includes transcriptions of all of the different voices sampled. I still love these field recordings from the Berea Appalachian Sound Archives, and am thankful for being given access to them. Look for a collection of more Berea recordings in 2018, called The Night Is Drawing Nigh, on Dust-to-Digital! And, check out the score here.
A feature article on "Shawnee, Ohio" was published in the February 2017 issue of Columbus Monthly. The article is an in-depth and thoughtful investigation of the project and live performances, and my history as a composer who works with sound archives. It's a great honor!
I am happy to be a part of two compilations this year:
The first, "Notes from Sub-Underground," is a compilation of music and sound made from over 50 artists. ALL proceeds are being donated to the ACLU. Find it here.
The second is Aquabear Legion's All-Ohio Vinyl Compilation, featuring 23 bands. Find it here!
Live performance and Q&A excerpts are from the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio (October 27, 2016), and the Tecumseh Theater, Shawnee, Ohio (October 28, 2016).
Jeremy Woodruff, Flute and Tenor Saxophone
Katie Porter, Bass Clarinet
Anna Roberts-Gevalt, Banjo and Violin
Liz Fisher, Violin
Jocelyn Hach, Viola
Jan Van Voorhis, Cello
Aaron Michael Butler, Vibraphone
Brian Harnetty, Piano and Electronics
Keith Hanlon, recording engineer, live sound engineer
Kevin Davison, videographer, video editor
Scott Austin, live sound engineer, Wexner Center for the Arts
Special thanks to:
Charles Helm, Wexner Center for the Arts
John Winnenberg, Sunday Creek Associates
Above and below are photos from three recent performances. From top to bottom: Wexner Center for the Arts (October 27-8, 2016, photos by Kevin Davison); Contemporary Arts Center Cincinnati (November 3, 2016, photos by Asa Featherstone); and the Tecumseh Theater, Shawnee (October 29, 2016, photos by Kevin Davison).
Drew Klein and I rode up the 6 floors of the Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati this past week. In that time, I had to explain what is at the heart of "Shawnee, Ohio," which we were performing that week in the CAC's black box performance space. We did it in one take!
I wrote a few words for Art Makes Columbus about working as a composer here, and on the upcoming premiere of "Shawnee, Ohio" at #theWex next week. Read here or click through to their tumblr:
I grew up in Westerville, and my parents have deep family roots in southeastern Ohio, in Perry County. My favorite memory from childhood is walking in my grandfather’s orchard in Junction City, picking and eating apples until my stomach hurt. In 1998, I moved to London to study music composition. After finishing, my teacher there encouraged me to come back to Ohio; he thought I might thrive better here than anywhere else. Even though I wanted to stay in London, I knew that he was right, so I moved back. I never forgot his advice. I’ve often felt pretty lost since then. Slowly, I built a creative voice here. I started working with local and regional sound archives, and the communities connected to them. In 2010, I began to visit, record, and write about Shawnee, a town in Appalachian Ohio, where my mom’s family emigrated to as coal miners in the 1870s. I did a lot of listening––to people and places––and made a piece called “Shawnee, Ohio” that traces the history of mining and energy extraction in the region. Now, I am performing this music for audiences in Ohio (including in Shawnee) and around the country. I feel compelled to honor the voices of the people that have lived and worked in Shawnee, to share their stories, and to add my voice in solidarity to those working as stewards of their own places.
A short promotional excerpt by Claudia Esslinger of "Neva," for the upcoming world premiere performances at the Wexner Center for the Arts (October 27-28), Shawnee (October 29), and Contemporary Arts Center Cincinnati (November 3). "Neva" is from the forthcoming 2017 album "Shawnee, Ohio," on Dust-to-Digital Records. "Shawnee, Ohio" is co-commissioned by the Wexner Center for the Arts, Duke Performances, and Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati. "Shawnee, Ohio" is a project of Creative Capital.
Above is my presentation at the Creative Capital retreat this past summer at the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) in Troy, New York. The retreat was a chance to share and learn about the work of leading artists across the country, and meet with industry professionals. It was a life-changing experience, and I was grateful for the chance to be there.
"Shawnee, Ohio" premieres in less that two weeks at the Wexner Center, October 27 and 28. We'll also be performing in Shawnee on the 29th, and at the CAC Cincinnati on November 3.
"Sigmund" is one of eleven audio portraits from "Shawnee, Ohio." Combining Sigmund's voice and words with a seven-piece ensemble, the piece explores the grief and humanity associated with energy extraction, mining, and disaster. It uses excerpts from Justin Zimmerman's film "Meeting Again," a documentary about the Millfield Mine Disaster. Sigmund Kozma was the last living survivor.
The world premiere of "Shawnee, Ohio" takes place on October 27 and 28 at the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio, followed by shows in Shawnee (October 29) and Contemporary Arts Center Cincinnati (November 3).