MICA Residency at STEIM: Day 6

Andrew Scotti's electro tube instrument

Jason Sloan and I arrived at STEIM six days ago with five students from Maryland Institute College of Art, where we both teach sound art and electronic music. This is the first residency program created for students in the new sound concentration at MICA that Jason founded in the past year. Since coming here we have also learned that this is the first residency of a group of undergraduates at STEIM.

I came here for an Orientation Workshop back in October of 2010. During my stay here at that time I quickly began strategizing on how I could bring over some students from MICA to develop performance projects here. I am grateful that this idea has finally become reality, while also providing me with another opportunity to develop a bit of my own work while I’m here (currently creating a personalized mapping of a commercial DJ controller- NI Traktor Kontrol S4, for use with a networked performance project in Max For Live).

In our planning for this residency, Jason and I chose a group of students who had not only done excellent work in our classes, but who we also thought would work well together as a group. Their skill sets are diverse, as are their approaches to sound. Tyler Tamburo, Shawn Cook, and Andrew Scotti are all Sound concentrators in the Interaction Design and Art department, each active in musical performance projects extending beyond their coursework. Sasha de Koninck is a Fibers major, working with sound in the context of smart textiles. Faith Bocian is a Photography major who is also interested in live electronics in the context of drumming. We have been very pleased with how the students have assisted each other on their projects, and with how they have responded to the creative stimuli here at STEIM.

Shawn Cook and Sasha de Konick hard at work

Our primary criteria for the electro-instrumental projects that our students would develop at STEIM was that they had to be usable in a group improvisation. While each student submitted a proposal weeks before we left Baltimore, most of the students have modified their project concepts quite a bit since their first workshops here. We have two performances lined up. The first one is tomorrow in Studio 3 at STEIM. A second one will take place in an outdoor space at The Vigil all-night music festival (now in its third year) at MICA on April 28th. In between these performances the students will have an opportunity to tweak or redesign any aspects of their instruments in light of their first live performing experience with them.

Tyler Tamburo's "Baltimore Gothic" instrument

Today we set up the performance space for tomorrow’s concert with composer/vocalist Ken Ueno and clarinetist Greg Oakes, with whom we’ll be sharing the concert and collaborating in an opening improvisation. The students seem to have made some major breakthroughs with their projects in the past couple of days. Later tonight we’ll have a jam session in the studio, as has become our late night ritual throughout this week. Tomorrow morning we will have our last workshop of the week, a strategic improvisation session led by Taku, gearing up for the performance tomorrow night. I think we’re ready!

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About Erik Spangler

Erik Spangler (Ph.D. Harvard University, 2004) is a composer and electronic musician working within a wide range of listening environments. His compositions have been performed across the United States and internationally from Canada to China, by ensembles including the Atlantic Brass Quintet, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, and International Contemporary Ensemble. Expanding upon turntablist performance practice, Spangler performs “fizzy, angular susurrations” (Ann Arbor Observer) and patterns on diverse electronics, creating music ranging from “a skillful merger of recorded Arabic phrases flecked with DJ turntable effects” (Washington Post) to “rigorous … improvisatory” (Gramophone) compositions with a range of chamber ensembles. His music may be heard on Innova Recordings, indie hip-hop label Nonsense Records, and live in spaces ranging from academic concert halls to art galleries, from clubs to sidewalks. Performances include collaborations with duYun, Rare Degree, Oxter, S.K.I.P., VJ Art Jones, Cornell Symphony Orchestra, and Ithaca College Percussion Ensemble. Spangler works regularly with saxophonist Brian Sacawa as the genre-bending duo Hybrid Groove Project. Along with Sacawa, Spangler is also co-founder of the Contemporary Museum's Mobtown Modern music series in Baltimore.

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