long-form compositions

Lost City: Songs from a Changing Sea (2016-17)

This is a set of songs we’re currently writing about the power and fragility of the ocean and the profound place it holds in our lives and our psyches. It’s premiere will be in the Spring of 2017 at the University of Southern California.

DEVELOPMENT TEAM:
CARLA KIHLSTEDT  – COMPOSING, DIRECTING, VOICE, VIOLIN
MATTHIAS BOSSI –  COMPOSING, PROGRAMMING, DRUMS, VOICE
JEREMY FLOWER  – ELECTRONICS, GUITAR
JON EVANS – BASS, GUITAR, RECORDING AND MIX ENGINEER
MELISSA ALLISON – RADIO PRODUCER/INTERVIEWER/VOICE COLLECTOR
TAYLOR HEYL – OCEAN ADVISOR

PERFORMANCE TEAM:
CARLA KIHLSTEDT  – VOICE, VIOLIN
MATTHIAS BOSSI –  DRUMS, VOICE, KEYBOARDS
JEREMY FLOWER  – ELECTRONICS, GUITAR
GEORGE BAN-WEISS – BASS
MICHAEL ABRAHAM – GUITAR

At Night We Walk in Circles and Are Consumed by Fire (2011-12)

Written for the International Contemporary Ensemble + C. Kihlstedt. This is a song cycle inspired by dream imagery, largely sourced from the players themselves.

You can watch the 1st movement of our premiere performance at the Ecstatic Music Festival here.

You can listen to a broadcast of the entire premiere performance on WNYC here.

The premiere was developed with and performed by:

CARLA KIHLSTEDT  – VOICE, VIOLIN
JENNIFER CURTIS –  VIOLIN, VOICE, MANDOLIN
ERIK CARLSON – VIOLIN, VOICE
PHYLLIS CHEN – PIANO, CHILDREN’S HAND BELLS, MUSIC BOXES
DAN LIPPELL – GUITAR, VOICE
BRIDGETTE KIBBEY – HARP, VOICE
CLAIRE CHASE – FLUTE, ALTO FLUTE, VOICE
REBEKAH HELLER – BASSOON, VOICE
JOSHUA RUBIN – CLARINET, BASS CLARINET, VOICE
NATHAN DAVIS – PERCUSSION, VOICE

 

Pandæmonium (2009-2010)

Pandæmonium is based on nine texts from a book of the same name by Humphrey Jennings. The book is a collection of writings that document “the coming of the machine as seen by contemporary observers” between 1660 and 1886. This compilation of personal accounts from journals, newspapers, and letters between friends creates a wonderfully varied portrait of a rapidly changing society.

Every new technological innovation is a stunning manifestation of the human imagination, yet is often a harbinger of massive cultural shifts, the results of which we often take for granted. For example, the book provides an incredulous description of a new system of central heating and cooling (Artificial Spring) that has since led to endless housing developments in naturally untenable landscapes. With a few word changes, any of these texts could just as well be about our current era of digital development and the speedy world that it has plunged us into. What seems preposterous and unfathomable to one generation is utterly unremarkable to the next.

My goal was to create a distinct setting for each of the nine texts, capitalizing on the unique language that ROVA has developed in their thirty years of playing together. Just as the book is pointillistic in its approach, I allowed each text to direct my process in its own way. Some movements are written with traditional musical notation, others are sewn graphic scores, and it only seemed appropriate to sew the graphic elements of the score, given how dramatically altered the textile industry was by the Industrial Revolution. The fourth movement is a tip of my hat to artist Gabriel Orozco’s irreverent piece, Yogurt Caps.

Part musical suite, part radio drama, and part historical collage, Pandæmonium is the culmination of a multi-faceted process that was as unpredictable for me as the history on which it is based.

Pandæmonium has been performed by:

ROVA SAXOPHONE QUARTET:
BRUCE ACKLEY
– SOPRANO SAXOPHONE
STEVE ADAMS – ALTO SAXOPHONE
LARRY OCHS – TENOR SAXOPHONE
JON RASKIN – BARITONE SAXOPHONE

AND

MATTHIAS BOSSI– NARRATION
JOAN MANKIN– NARRATION

 

Necessary Monsters (2006-07)

We do not know what the dragon means, just as we do not know the meaning of the universe, but there is something in the image of the dragon that is congenial to man’s imagination, and thus the dragon arises in many latitudes and ages. It is, one might say, a necessary monster, not some ephemeral and casual creature...

—Jorge Luis Borges

January 29, 1954

In his The Book of Imaginary Beings, Jorges Luis Borges assembled a compendium of 120 fictional beasts from the mythologies, stories and superstitions of cultures around the globe and through the ages. Though each being originates from a particular place and time, their resonance is universal. They are all manifestations of an aspect of the human experience, borne out of our collective imaginations. They are the embodiment of our hopes and fears, a multi-faceted depiction of the shadows in our human nature.

I developed Necessary Monsters as a song-cycle based on nine of the creatures from Luis Borges’ book as manifested by Rafael Oses in a series of poems and a fictional field guide. It is a kind of psychological safari, complete with a poetically-rich field guide which introduces the audience to the character, habits and habitat of each monster.

Necessary Monsters began its life as a co-commissioning project by Alverno Presents in partnership with the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, and the National Performance Network Creation Fund. The NPN Creation Fund is sponsored by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Ford Foundation, Nathan Cummings Foundation, Altria, and the National Endowment for the Arts (a federal agency). It has been performed as a theatre piece in both Milwaukee, Chicago and San Francisco. It has evolved into an elegant and dramatic song cycle for 7 musicians and a narrator.

You can watch a beautifully shot 15 min. trailer from the San Francisco performance here.

Necessary Monsters is currently being recorded, with the album slated for release in late 2016.

The most recent iteration of Necessary Monsters is:

CARLA KIHLSTEDT – VIOLIN, VOICE, BASS HARMONICA, PERCUSSION, PIANO, COMPOSITION, MUSICAL DIRECTION
RAFAEL OSES – text, libretto
RINDE ECKERT – CO-DIRECTION
DINA MACCABEE – VIOLA, VOICE
THERESA WONG – CELLO, VOICE
FREDDI PRICE – TRUMPET, VOICE, NATIONAL STEEL GUITAR, EUPHONIUM, PIANO
ROB REICH – ACCORDION, PIANO
MICHAEL MELLENDER – BASS, GUITAR, PERCUSSION, TRUMPET
MATTHIAS BOSSI – DRUMS, PERCUSSION, PIANO
DENMO IBRAHIM – NARRATION
ALLEN WILLNER – LIGHTING DESIGN
ALICE WU – COSTUME DESIGN

 

Concurrence (2007)

Concurrence is a 4-speaker sound installation created for the Music Unlimited Festival in Wels, Austria in November, 2007. It is a collaboration between me and Wellington Bowler made entirely from our respective field recordings collected on travels throughout Europe, North America, Asia and Africa. Using hand-held recorders, we captured sounds and events separately in 16 countries over 8 months. Assisted by Dan Rathbun of Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, we distilled countless hours of recorded material into a 36-minute piece played across four speakers inside a small trailer.

Taken out of their original context, some of the sounds and textures remain familiar and some become beautiful sonic abstractions. The piece is a 40-minute undulating sonic tapestry rich in juxtapositions, associations and evocative imagistic implications.

A Note from Wellington about Concurrence

“The song at the end of Concurrence is sung by a young Sudanese boy who I found sitting, chanting his prayer board with many other men and boys at sunset on the edge of a refugee camp. Beyond them was an area not safe for them to travel for fear of Janjaweed attacks. I closed my eyes and used my microphone as a diviner’s rod to find the owner of the voice in the midst of the crowd. He is singing a belief of the Koran that those who commit bad deeds in this life will have to answer to God when they die—their deed will not go unpunished. I was moved to tears standing there before I even heard the translation. Carla was moved without any information at all about the scenario. His voice stands in stark contrast to the opening minutes and we hope this leads the listener to ask interesting questions of the piece and of themselves.”

WELLINGTON BOWLER – FIELD RECORDINGS
CARLA KIHLSTEDT – FIELD RECORDINGS