ABLAZE Records
Passion in Sound —


Electronic Masters Vol.1

Sangbong Nam | Charles Nichols | Daniel Blinkhorn | Arthur Gottschalk | George Kouvaras
Paul Oehlers

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ABLAZE Records is pleased to announce the winners of its FIRST Electronic Masters prize. The winners are all included on ABLAZE Records Electronic Masters Vol. 1 CD, which is available worldwide through Amazon.com and iTunes.

For ABLAZE Records’ first ELECTRONIC MASTERS disc we sought music that was particularly focused on new approaches to electronic, computer and electro-acoustic music. We are proud of the diversity of work included on this disc which includes work from Korea, Australia, Greece and the United States. Sangbong Nam’s work Awaken opens the disc with a beautiful meditative piece based on bell sounds. American Charles Nichols’ work Posture is for computer processed vocal and violin sounds, while Australian Daniel Blinkhorn’s Anthozoa is based on his composite coral recordings that are part of his aqueous mapping of coral reef environments, which are then seamlessly coupled with prepared piano sounds. American Arthur Gottschalk’s work Stations for percussion and electronics was realized at the famous Columbia Princeton Electronic Music Center and the iconic sounds used in this work blend tremendously well with the live percussion sounds. After 360° by Greek composer George Kouvaras is an evocative, intimate work using processed vocal sounds and other sound sources all of which are computer processed, while American Paul Oehlers work Protolith is a superbly engineered and beautifully realized abstract sound portrait drawing on natural sounds which are computer processed with a sophistication that draws the ear into this very personal sound world. Not only about the technology, ABLAZE Records set out to achieve an impressive disc of new electronic music that could stand as compelling artistic statements and the composers on this disc have made that a reality.

This new collection of great works, is mastered by the superb Grammy Award winning mastering engineer, Silas Brown.

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Sangbong Nam Photo

Sangbong Nam
Sangbong Nam is a composer and a Doctoral student at the University of Cincinnati. He received the second prize at 2011 ASCAP/SEAMUS competition for his composition Awaken. He was a chief researcher at U-tech performance lab at Korea National University of Arts and received his Master's and Bachelor's degrees in Music composition at Seoul National University in Korea. Sangbong Nam's works have been concerned with live electro-acoustic music and installation music using sensors, and have been performed in ICMC (England 2011, Montreal 2009); SEAMUS (Miami 2011); SICMF (Seoul 2008); Network Concert (Seoul-San Francisco, 2008); and Asian-Pacific Week Opening Concert (Berlin, 2005).

"In Buddhism, people use sound to awaken the world every morning. It was an interesting challenge for me to use 'sound' to awaken the world. The original source of this piece is a singing bowl, one of the instruments that Buddhists use in temple. With this sound, the piece awakens a new sonic world."

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Charles Nichols Photo

Charles Nichols
Composer, violinist, and computer music researcher, Charles Nichols is an Associate Professor of Composition and Music Technology at the University of Montana. He has earned degrees from the Eastman School of Music, Yale University, and Stanford University, where he studied composition with Samuel Adler, Martin Bresnick, Jacob Druckman, and Jonathan Harvey, and computer music with Jonathan Berger, Chris Chafe, Max Mathews, and Jean-Claude Risset. At Yale, he worked as a Research Associate at the Center for Studies in Music Technology and as a Research Assistant at Haskins Laboratories, and at Stanford, he served as the Interim and Associate Technical Director of the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics.

He has presented his compositions at the International Computer Music Conference (ICMC) in Huddersfield, Stony Brook, Belfast, and New Orleans; the Seoul International Computer Music Festival; the Música Viva Festival in Lisbon; the Re-New Digital Arts Festival in Copenhagen; Musicacoustica Mix in Beijing; the Concordia University Electroacoustics/Électroacoustiques Université Concordia concert series in Montreal; the Pan Music Festival in Seoul; the Festival Internacional de Música Electroacústica in Havana; the Society of Electroacoustic Music in the United States (SEAMUS) National Conference in Miami and Eugene; the Third Practice Electroacoustic Music Festival in Richmond; the Bellingham Electronic Arts Festival; the Northwest Guitar Festival in Seattle; the Northwest Electro-Acoustic Music Organization Festival in Boulder, New York, Portland, and San Diego; the Bang on a Can Institute in North Adams; the Florida Electroacoustic Music Festival in Gainesville; and June in Buffalo.

His research, including telematic musical performance over Internet2, haptic musical human-computer interface design, and wavelet audio analysis and resynthesis, has been presented at the ICMC in Göteborg, Berlin, and Aarhus; SCGlobal in Seattle; SIGGRAPH in Los Angeles; NIME in Dublin; DAFx in Limerick; ISMA in Perugia; Forum IRCAM in Paris; and SEAMUS in Baton Rouge.

He has received support from the National Endowment for the Arts for commissions by the Myrna Loy Center for the Performing and Media Arts and the Headwaters Dance Company; commissions by the Association for American Medical Colleges and the Cybersounds Festival at Temple University; and awards from the National Academy of Music; La Fundación Destellos; the Institut International de Musique Électroacoustique de Bourges; New Music USA; the American Society of Composers; Authors and Publishers, and the Montana Arts Council.

He recently was a visiting scholar, researching haptic musical interface design, at the Sonic Arts Research Centre at Queen's University Belfast and is currently writing a concerto for processed amplified viola and orchestra, for violist Brett Deubner and the Missoula Symphony Orchestra. Future projects include recording the Third Angle Ensemble performing his piece, Multiplication of Machines, for a Centaur Records release. www.charlesnichols.com

"Posture, for computer-processed sound, was commissioned by the Montana Transport Company, for the dance The First Seating, choreographed by Amy Ragsdale. The source materials for the piece use soundfiles of Charles Nichols' violin, Lee Heuermann's voice, and metal sounds that were granulated to generate timbres then used as motivic material. These motives were matched to gestures performed by the dancers, to create a musical structure that mirrors the organization of the choreography, which depicts a power struggle between competing forces. Posture was awarded a Mention in the 31e Concours International de Musique et d'Art Sonore Électroacoustiques de Bourges."

Lee Heuermann

Lee Heuermann
Lee Heuermann, composer/singer-actor is on the faculty at the University of Montana Music Department and The Wilderness and Civilization Program, where she has taught such classes as "Sound in the Natural World" and "Women in Music," as well as classes in composition. Heuermann's most recent compositions include Ridge of Blue Longing, for which she was the 2011 recipient of the Judith Lang Zaimont Prize from the International Alliance for Women in Music (IAWM). Additionally, she has collaborated with Amy Ragsdale's Headwaters Dance Company for the Montana Suite Project with New York choreographer Donna Uchizono. As a singer, she specializes in contemporary music and experimental jazz and is an improvisational pianist. Heuermann has received a National Endowment for the Arts/Interarts Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship and was Artist in Residence in composition at the Banff Center for the Arts. She recently performed at Banff in Resonations, a concert for peace sponsored by the United Nations. Heuermann has a Ph.D. in Composition from SUNY, Stony Brook, a MM degree from the Yale School of Music, and a BA from the New England Conservatory of Music.

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Daniel Blinkhorn Photo

Daniel Blinkhorn
Daniel Blinkhorn's music investigates the cross-fertilisation of image, sound, performance space and the environment. He is increasingly interested in employing tenets that are generally found within acousmatic musical environments as structural devices within works for video, sound and live performance.

Although often working in the electroacoustic, videophonic and digital media domains, Blinkhorn's output includes chamber, symphonic and wind orchestra works, sound installations, music for film, radiophonic pieces and the creation of various hybrid/intermedia environments.

Blinkhorn's works are increasingly performed, exhibited and presented internationally at festivals, in concert halls, conferences, galleries and other venues. Many of his works have received citations, most recently including winner of the 12th and 9th (2011–2009) International Electroacoustic Composition Competitions, 'Música Viva;' Portugal and laureate of the Luc Ferrari—8th International Competition d'art Radiophonique Pour Sons Fixés et Instrument—La Muse en Circuit, Centre National de Création Musicale, France. He is a 2011 Churchill Fellow and undertook numerous field recording expeditions throughout the Amazon, West Indies, Northern Europe, Australia and the Arctic/North Pole.

Blinkhorn has formally studied composition at a number of Australian universities including COFA—UNSW and the University of Wollongong, where he received his doctoral degree, with other degrees including a BMus (hons), MMus, and a MA(r). More information about Blinkhorn, as well as samples of his work can be found at www.bookofsand.com.au.

Looking across the water, sounds can seem to mimic the visual sense of panorama; wind and wave sounds, sea spray and splashing. Underneath the waves however there is a very different portrait. The crisp, delicate clicks, pops, and snaps produced from coral reefs present a soundscape far more intimate and dexterous as the many marine animals bustle and fossick amidst the reef.

Structurally, the composition depicts the many and varied shapes of coral reefs, from their jagged yet intricately textured features, to the dramatic variegations of size, depth and density. The sound shapes created in the piece are designed to describe my impressions of coral reefs.

There are only two sound sources within the composition, that of a prepared piano (more specifically a single D note) and a composite recording of coral. The composite coral recording is comprised of two field recordings; one was captured in the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, and the other is from a coral reef off the coast of Barbados in the West Indies. I have used the prepared piano note as a central pitch axis for the work, providing a metaphor for the clear, unbroken line of an ocean horizon, whilst the remaining material consists almost entirely from the (largely unprocessed) composite coral recording that can be heard beginning from 1:25 in the piece.

The work was composed in the Studio Alpha, Visby International Centre for Composers, Sweden and the composer's home studio in Sydney, Australia. A special thanks to EcoSono for making the Barbados field recordings possible.

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Art Gottschalk Photo

Arthur Gottschalk
A man whose music has been described as "vital and original" (American Record Guide) and "fascinatingly strange" (BBC Music Magazine), award-winning composer Arthur Gottschalk is Professor of Music Composition and Theory at Rice University's Shepherd School of Music. With the number of compositions in his catalog now approaching two hundred, his music is regularly performed domestically and overseas, and his works are recorded on New Ariel, Crystal Records, Summit, Capstone, Beauport Classical, ERMMedia, Golden Crest, MSR Classics, Ablaze Records, and AURecordings. His works are published by Subito Music, Shawnee Press, European American Music Distributors, Alea Publishing, Trevco Music, Potenza Music, and The Spectrum Press. Dr. Gottschalk has worked in diverse areas of music, including composing and arranging music for feature films, television scores, numerous industrial films and commercials, music publishing, and artist management. He continues to work as an expert in music copyright cases and as a forensic musicologist. His Concerto for Violin and Symphonic Winds won the First Prize of the VVX Concorso Internazionale di Composizione Originale (Corciano, Italy), and he has been awarded the prestigious Bogliasco Fellowship for further work in Italy. Other awards include the Charles Ives Prize of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, composer residencies at the famed Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center and at the Piccolo Spoleto Festival, and annual awards from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers since 1980. A student of renowned American composers William Bolcom, Ross Lee Finney, and Leslie Bassett, Professor Gottschalk carries on this important lineage by producing students who compose original and innovative music in various forums throughout the world.

"Stations was written and realized at the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center, while I was a Composer-in-Residence. It is dedicated to my long-time friend and mentor, Mario Davidovsky, and it received its first performance by Douglas Ovens at the Charles Ives Center for American Music. A quasi-staged piece, the title refers variously to the performance stations utilized in the work, to the Stations of the Cross, and to the subway stations which I had to negotiate many times each day as I fought my way from Greenwich Village, where I lived, to 125th Street, where Prentiss Hall is located."

mcclung_matthew Photo

Dr. Matthew McClung
Dr. Matthew McClung is a percussionist and teacher currently living in Corpus Christi, Texas. He has performed in a diverse array of musical styles, as a soloist, chamber musician, and orchestra member. He spent three years playing in the Grammy-nominated Honolulu Symphony, and has performed with numerous other orchestras across the country and internationally. He has played jazz vibes and marimba with the Rusty Burge Quartet and the Blue Age Jazz Ensemble. He has spent two months playing a Broadway musical (Footloose) in Atlantic City, and another two months in a tiny village in Ghana, West Africa, studying the music of the Ewe tribe. He holds the first Doctorate of Musical Arts degree ever awarded to a percussionist from Rice University's Shepherd School of Music, and he also holds a Bachelor's degree in Materials Engineering from the University of Cincinnati and a Masters degree from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. Dr. McClung is currently an Assistant Professor of Music at Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi. He is on the faculty of the Hot Springs Music Festival and is the principal percussionist of the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra.

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George Kouvaras
George Kouvaras was born in Patras, Greece, in 1979. In Athens, he studied harmony, counterpoint, fugue, orchestration and composition with T. Koumenteris at the conservatory "Nikos Skalkotas" and analysis with J. Papadatos at the conservatory "Philippos Nakas." His interest in contemporary art and live performance led him to collaborate with the company Synthesis 748 in Paris and to compose original music for the performance Isolation in an Infinite Space, an electroacoustic work using sounds and a rhythmic treatment of the performer's body and costume materials.

His collaboration with Synthesis 748 placed him in contact with the contemporary art and music currents in Paris and with the musical scene of IRCAM.

During his theoretical studies, he studied in depth the history of music and visual art. From this study of the past he developed his current interest in creative innovation.

Kouvaras is greatly influenced by philosophical and poetic meanings and believes in the strength of artists who draw from this same rich culture. He has spent hundreds of hours on sound structure and treatment, carefully considering and shaping every sound. Each sound is then placed in time to create an artistic work. Working with these principles he composes and considers his music and the music of other composers.

His work has won awards in the competitions "Suoni di legno" in Pisa, Italy (2010) with the work Atalanti is Hunting for classical guitar and "Sound Walk" in Lisbon, Portugal (2011) with the electroacoustic work Beware, Strong South Winds. His music has been presented in Patras, Athens, Paris, Lisbon, Dusseldorf, and Karlstad.

After 360˚
"The electroacoustic sound poem After 360˚ is the prelude to a work of a longer duration and is based on the music dance project Three Mountains Not to Climb (work in progress) for the company Synthesis 748 of which I am a member. In After 360˚ the sound sources are based on human voice and on its sound treatment. Digital sounds and original electronic sounds are introduced into this musical material. Various audio treatments are applied to human voices and classical guitar. My intention is to explore the limits of the human voice as a musical instrument and as a instrument for speech placed in a contemporary electronic musical environment.

My goal is to mix the surrealistic sound poem with the realistic, poetic and philosophical speech elements.

I find the flexibility of the human voices very interesting, allowing them to appear as original musical instruments and at the same time to be transformed as conveyers of philosophical and poetic ideas.

At the beginning and at the end of the piece, erotic female breaths are used; it is probably one of the few sounds that have remained the same during humankind's history. This is the way I want to imagine these sounds in the deeply expressive and violent environment of this piece.

The title of the piece is symbolic, based on my personal experiences. It concerns the cyclic historical referencing of tonal and atonal contemporary melody composers demand of the voice in contemporary music in our day, passing through ancient vocal forms, primitive languages and speech."

Antonella Orefice, soprano was born in Bologna where she began piano studies at age fifteen with M.Crema at the Bologna Conservatoire and later undertook vocal studies with soprano Giovanna Giovannini at the Bologna Conservatoire.

She has worked on concert activities with local and international musicians including Russian pianist Regina Beletskaia, cellist Susan Norton of the Megaro Musikis Camerata Orchestra and Pianists Manolis Papasifakis and Andrea Panieri. She performed with internationally acclaimed composer Mikis Theodorakis on the occasion of his 80th birthday and, more recently, with Greek composer George Kouvaras. She has participated in Master Class with tenor William Matteuzzi and has also studied with soprano Marina Krilovici and Cheryl Studer.
She is a member of the ensemble Musica del Cuore with whom she has recently performed in Bologna as well as Athens, Kallyvia and Galaxidi. In 2010, she was awarded first prize at the "Città di Sirolo" European Music Competition.

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Paul Oehlers
Paul A. Oehlers is most recognized for his "extraordinarily evocative" film scores (Variety). Films incorporating his music have screened at the Berlin International Film Festival, the Philadelphia Festival of World Cinema, the Indiefest Film Festival of Chicago, and the Hamptons International Film Festival, where the film Paul scored, Most High, captured the Golden Starfish, the largest independent film award in the United States. The film also won the Grand Jury Prize at the Atlanta International Film Festival and the Prism Award for Outstanding DVD of the Year.

Paul A. Oehlers' compositions have been performed in the United States and abroad including performances at the Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States National Conferences; the International Computer Music Conferences; the Gamper New Music Festival; the Seoul International Electro-acoustic Music Festival; the Institut für Neue Musik und Musikerziehung in Darmstadt, Germany; and the VII Annual Brazilian Electronic Music Festival; as well as a 1987 command performance for former United States President Ronald Reagan.

Paul was named the Margaret Lee Crofts Fellow by the MacDowell Colony for the year 2006. He is currently Program Director and Associate Professor of Audio Technology at American University in Washington, DC.

"Protolith attempts to derive formal structure by creating sections of music with unified global parameters (spatialization, rhythm, tempo, and meter) and juxtaposing them with elements of contrasting types (decreasing tempo vs. continuous tempo, unmetered vs. metered, close vs. far). The sections of similar and juxtaposed elements form the basis of the piece. The overall unifying parameter of the piece is timbre. Protolith refers to the lithography of a metamorphic rock. Metamorphic rocks can be derived from any other rock. They therefore have a wide variety of protoliths.

Protolith was written using various software synthesizers, resonating filters, convolution processes, and sounds and effects created with electronic and recorded sound, assembled in Pro Tools, and spatialized with VRSonic's Vibe Studio software. Sections were assembled independent from each other and combined to form the global structure of the piece."

Nobue Matsuoka, began studying marimba at the age of ten with her aunt, Kayoko Kito in Nagoya, Japan. By her fifteenth birthday, she was performing professionally as a member of the Nagoya Marimba Trio.

She came to the United States in 1989 to study percussion at Loyola University New Orleans with Jim Atwood of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, graduating with honors in 1994. She went on to earn a Master's Degree in percussion performance from Southern Methodist University where she studied with Douglas Howard of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. She won the Aspen Music Festival Percussion Competition in 1994, and became the national winner of the 1995 Music Teacher National Association Young Artist Competition in Percussion.

Ms. Matsuoka's professional career has included performances with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, the New Orleans Opera, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, National Philharmonic Orchestra in Washington DC and the Nagoya Philharmonic Orchestra in Japan. As a marimba soloist, she has premiered pieces by respected American composers such as Stephen Dankner and Paul Oehlers.

Ms. Matsuoka was selected by Gambit Weekly of New Orleans to receive the Tribute to the Classical Arts Award for the Best Chamber Performance of 2003 for the Sticks and Strings II concert which she performed with former New Orleans Symphony concertmaster, Valerie Poullette.
She now teaches orchestral percussion at American University in Washington, DC where she is also head of the music library. Her current primary interest is electroacoustic and experimental music.

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