JFund Awardee Martin Nevin and the Inexpressible Merits of Solitude

Written by Michael J. Cyrs “Certain things for me are very hard to express with words,” explains JFund awardee and bassist Martin Nevin. His new record, Tenderness is Silent, deals with this problem. Apart from the classic jazz hall sound of the record, titles like “Grasp at Nothing” and “I See It Feelingly” are the […]

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Joel Mellin and the Intersection of Human Sensory Experience

Written by Michael J. Cyrs On Björk’s audiovisual LP Biophilia, the Icelandic singer wore numerous musical hats. Although the most notable takeaway from the record is her masterful voice, it’s often the expertise of her collaborators that drives the songs. Featuring everything from hang drum to full dubstep breakdowns, there seemed to be no musical […]

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Metal Aether by JFund Awardee Lea Bertucci Is One of the Most Compelling Experimental Records of the Year

Lea Bertucci (Queens, NY)

by Michael J. Cyrs The setting: A concrete WWII-era bunker. The studio: Abandoned corridors of metal and empty space. The instrument: An old silver alto saxophone. These aren’t the average constraints you’d encounter when recording music, but JFund awardee Lea Bertucci isn’t an average composer. “I am more interested in creating architecture and physical spaces […]

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JFund Awardee Leaha Maria Villareal on Collaborative Relationships

Written by Michael Cyrs. There are perks to playing music as a group. On top of taking cues and performing, you learn fundamental relationship lessons. Remember how you’d sulk about how horrible your college roommate was at doing the dishes, only to realize later on that you hadn’t once cleaned the bathroom the whole time […]

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JFund Awardee Joseph C. Phillips and Genre Fluidity

Written by Michael J. Cyrs. “America is a great place. But it’s also not so great. You can have those two happen at the same time, and that’s a beautiful thing,” says 2016 JFund awardee Joseph C. Phillips as he walks his Alaskan Malamute through Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. He doesn’t compose for his Numinous project […]

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Heath Mathews: Harmonies and Hendrix

  by Tim Hansen   2012 JFund recipient Heath Mathews draws from a broad palette in the creation of his work. Throughout his youth he played guitar in rock and jazz groups, and upon moving into the more cerebral world of academic composition, had no qualms about drawing from his pop culture background. “The experiences […]

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Reimagining the Accessibility of Classical Music: JFund Awardee JP Merz

written by Michael J. Cyrs At many classical music performances, concertgoers place themselves at the whims of the composer, whose music might often communicate: Here’s how I did it, here’s what you’re supposed to feel, and so on. These are demands Wisconsin via Los Angeles composer JP Merz doesn’t want to make. Although he is […]

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JFund Awardee Brian Mark: Experience History As It Happens

by Michael Cyrs “I love the art of film music, but I’m not at all into defining labels when it comes to one being a concert or film composer,” explains JFund awardee Brian Mark about some of his recent work. Although he studied film extensively, he’s more of a historical realist. Mark wasn’t yet born […]

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M. Lamar: Bodylessness and History as Told through Genres

JFund Profile by Michael Cyrs “Genre-defying” and “experimental” are words that critics enjoy tossing around, especially when it comes to genre-mixing. However, in music, most genre-mixing is old news, and the terms only gesture at describing a diverse arrangement. Every once in awhile, though, someone earns the terms. M. Lamar’s records are shining examples that […]

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Asuka Kakitani Conquers the Impossible Task of Representing Nature in Jazz

by Michael Cyrs Reality is rarely compartmentalized into the rigid structure of a three-minute pop song. Recalling the full beauty of a painting or a landscape can’t be related without losing the finer details. Longer compositions, it seems, make for music that’s most representative of mother nature. Japanese-born, Minnesota-based composer Asuka Kakitani was on the […]

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Aleksandr Brusentsev’s Quest to Explore Perspectives of Music and Art

Written by Michael Cyrs   Even if it’s with someone unquestionably genuine, verbal communication is difficult to recall. Although one may remember the words that were spoken, there were feelings, objects, weather, and countless other subatomic details that were simultaneously present during conversation. The same goes for life events. Say you lost a job or […]

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Clara Latham: Singing about Talking

written by Tim Hansen In the 19th century, the Age of Enlightenment, there was a great leap forward in science and medicine; many of the standard practices that make up today’s medical professional’s tool kit originating in the days of Beethoven and Brahms. But scientific progress is not a highway, it’s a jumbled mess of […]

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Sean Harold: Unintentional Iconoclast

written by Tim Hansen In the email ping-pong prefacing this article, JFund awardee Sean Harold warned me that his biographies “tended to be heavy on the sarcasm and light on actual detail.” For example, one iteration of his biography began: “Initially trained as a jazz bassist and improviser, Sean Harold turned his attention to concert […]

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Yue Lor: A Disappearing History

written by Tim Hansen The Vietnam War. An international clash of ideologies fought in the theatre of a small southeast Asian country. And it sucked. For everyone. Scarcely a person alive in the US today could be ignorant of the misery thousands of young conscripts and their families endured at the behest of their own […]

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James Everest: The Natural Collaborator

written by Tim Hansen When JFund awardee James Everest was three years old, he composed a thunderstorm on his parents’ upright piano. He recalls the “crashing thunder on clusters of low keys, and sprinkling rain drops on individual high notes—with an arc of the storm building and dissipating over time.” And sure, while the actual […]

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Tiffany Skidmore: Vocalist Composer

written by Tim Hansen “My music is almost always several times removed from its inspiration,” states vocalist and JFund awardee Tiffany Skidmore. Both prolific and versatile, Skidmore has produced an extensive catalogue of work that ranges from finely crystalline chamber music to gothic contemporary art song fused with electronics. Perhaps then it’s unsurprising that the […]

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Jascha Narveson: Small ‘e’ Electronics

  written by Tim Hansen If one wants to gain an insight into a composer’s brain, reading their bio is a good place to start. Usually these are carefully curated mini-autobiographies, where the composer outlines what they consider to be their proudest achievements, most cherished influences, beloved mentors and general philosophy on music and the […]

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Shawn Jaeger: The Appalachian Tradition in the 21st Century

by Tim Hansen In 1942 Aaron Copland was commissioned to write a new ballet for Martha Graham with broad brief of creating something “American themed”. No prizes for guessing the work: Appalachian Spring was an instant success, immediately becoming a cornerstone of Americana and continuing to thrive today in concert halls and SUV commercials. Years […]

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Troy Herion: The Enormity of Existence

by Tim Hansen Kids who grew up in the ’80s came of age when, for the first time since the industrial revolution kicked off, the international community began to ask itself seriously: what kind of a world are we leaving for our children? I have these vague childhood memories of news reports of “the greenhouse […]

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Greg Brosofske and the Life of John Berryman

by Tim Hansen Every non-American school kid like me grows up knowing a handful of US geographic icons. I can’t remember a time I didn’t know about the Grand Canyon, Mount Rushmore, and for some reason, Texas; and, I guess because my home country of Australia has a special affinity for unusual place names, pretty […]

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John Keston: Musical Synthesis and Sonic Environments

By Tim Hansen On a bare hill overlooking the village of Burnley in Lancashire, England, stands the Singing Ringing Tree, an array of galvanised steel pipes stacked in a swirled sculpture to resemble a stylised broad-boughed tree. Standing alone on this otherwise empty hill it is visually striking enough, but it’s when the wind picks […]

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Gabriel Zucker: Maximalism and Negative Space

Written by Tim Hansen “A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” So observed Antoine de Saint-Exupery, author of The Little Prince, who may well have been describing the central aesthetic tenet of JFund awardee Gabriel Zucker. Zucker, whose work […]

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Conrad Winslow: From Homer to Brooklyn and Back Again

Written by Tim Hansen The Alaskan town of Homer is, in a word, remote. Although it’s only about 120 miles south of Anchorage as the crow flies, it’s one of the last outposts of civilization on the Kenai Peninsula, overlooking the frigid waters of Kachemak Bay and the inaccessible, fractured coastline beyond. Getting there is […]

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høle in the skY: Kathy McTavish

By Tim Hansen Composers are generally a diversely intellectual bunch. In addition to their music training, it’s common for them to have undertaken some other form of study or have an abiding curiosity in a non-musical field that gives a specific flavour to their art. JFund awardee Kathy McTavish has a C.V. that, when compared […]

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