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A forest of Verses

A Forest of Verses

David Loeb
Vienna Modern Masters, 2009

All of the compositions on this album draw upon aspects of East Asian music, including traditional instruments both used alone and in combination with Western ones. Three Friends of Winter was written for the ensemble NOISE in 2004.

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New Music From San Diego

New Music from San Diego

San Diego Composers Collective
Carrier Records, 2009

Open End – Ben Hackbarth
Sixteen Sound Bite – Charlie Wilmoth
Sequitur, Non? – Brian Griffeath-Loeb
If Where is of to Why – Aaron Helgeson
Utterance – Yiheng Yvonne Wu
Anther – Vincent Raikhel

Famously surounded by sprawl to the north, Mexico to the south, the ocean to the west and the desert to the east, much of San Diego feels like an isolated beach town that never stopped growing, or an LA that never started. But this sleepy, sunny city hosts one of the country’s most active new music communities, centered around the youthful music program at the University of California, San Diego in La Jolla. None of the six composers represented here are older than 30, and all demonstrate the extraordinary vitality of new classical music in San Diego.

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Holographic Projections

Holographic Projections

Watson & Company
Xcentric Records, 1996

Holographic Projections, Watson and Company’s (Malcolm Watson – violin and Colin McAllister – guitar) most intellectually passionate recording pushes the envelope on both the classical and jazzier original pieces.

Impositions and Consequences

Impositions and Consequences

Derek Keller
Tzadik Records, 2007

Guitarist/composer/conductor/vocalist Derek Keller was born in Philadelphia and now resides in Sacramento, California. A former student of Roger Reynolds, George Crumb and Brian Ferneyhough, his work is intense and remarkably colorful. Blending diverse styles, instruments and sounds, Keller is a brave explorer of uncharted territory, and though the delicate balancing of composition and improvisation he has made some remarkable new music. Including a dynamic quartet beautifully performed by the world renowned ensemble NOISE, a wild piece for voice and ensemble, a piece for solo electric guitar and a chamber work commissioned for this release that brings many of his interests together into a bizarre aggregate, this is a diverse and enjoyable CD from a versatile young musician who is not afraid to take chances.

Object Lessons

Object Lessons

Peter Ivan Edwards
Albany Records, 2010

Born in New York, Peter Ivan Edwards studied at Northwestern University and at the University of California, San Diego. His work has been performed throughout the world by numerous ensembles and at major international festivals. He is assistant professor at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music in Singapore where he teaches composition and theory. His music is influenced by two strands of music thinking — the American experimentalists and the European avant-garde. Edwards takes many different things from these traditions and creates an original music that builds off their discoveries.

Ecstatic Volutions in a Neon Haze

Ecstatic Volutions in a Neon Haze

Christopher Adler
Innova Records, 2007

Christopher Adler relishes the ecstasy of the groove, and he finds it everywhere. From the algorithmic severity of the percussion solo “Signals Intelligence” to the ecstasy of free improvisation bursting from “I Want to Believe,” Adler distills a relentless rhythmic drive through his passions for minimalism, mathematics and Southeast Asian traditions.

This recording documents five of Adler’s newest compositions.

“Iris” is a tightly woven fabric of metrical com- plexity informed by the structures of Southeast Asian ensemble musics. “Liber Pulveris” freezes the fire of improvisation into frighteningly complex notation. And “Ecstatic Volutions in a Neon Haze” is a tour de force of chamber-funk.

These five works are performed by intrepid performers from across the United States. The bicoastal ensemble NOISE includes champions of new music Lisa Cella (flute) and Colin McAllister (guitar), red fish blue fish veteran Morris Palter (percussion) and complexity savant Franklin Cox (cello). Chicago-based percussionist Robert Dillon and Colin McAllister perform solos, and, on piano, Adler joins the chamber rock group pulsoptional from North Carolina for the title track, and multi-instrumentalist Alan Lechusza to tackle the epic composition “I Want to Believe.”

Christopher Adler’s artistry as composer, performer and improviser has been heard from Carnegie Hall, to San Diego jazz bars and rural Thai villages. His compositions are played by groups such as the Silk Road Ensemble and red fish blue fish and have been released on Tzadik and Art of the States. As pianist and composer-in-residence with NOISE, he co-organizes the soundON Festival of Modern Music and champions new music from around the world. Since 2000 he has performed and recorded fearless free improvisation in the Alan Lechusza/Christopher Adler Duo, and he is an Associate Professor of Music at the University of San Diego.

Solos and Duos for guitar

Solos and Duos for Guitar

Colin McAllister & Derek Keller
Old King Cole Records, 2004

1. Nagoya Guitars (Steve Reich)
2. Algo – Due Pezzi per Chitarra (Franco Donatoni)
3. Algo – Due Pezzi per Chitarra (Franco Donatoni)
4. Tellur (Tristan Murail)
5. A Snowball’s Chance (Chris Mercer)
6. Attitudes… self-reflection (Derek Keller)
7. Salut fur Caudwell (Helmut Lachenmann)

Since sparking a musical partnership in 1998 at the University of California at San Diego, guitarists Colin McAllister and Derek Keller have dedicated themselves to presenting music composed in the 20th and 21st centuries. They have been featured on notable concert series, such as the SoundOn Festival of Modern Music and the New American Music Festival. They are noted for having presented the U.S. premiere of Helmut Lachenmann’s Salut für Caudwell, which led to a remarkable recording of the piece (on Old King Cole) after working closely with the composer.

Fourteenth Century Counterpoint: Music of the Chantilly Codex

Fourteenth Century Counterpoint: Music of the Chantilly Codex

Colin McAllister
Productions d’OZ, 2005

“You may well be wondering why on earth any guitarist should be interested in the 14th century counterpoint of the Chantilly Codex. Those unfamiliar with the area often suppose medieval music stops at Gregorian chant, which is hardly fruitful transcription material (prove me wrong dear reader…?) but the strange fact is that from a rhythmical point of view there is more complexity in this kind of music than that of any of our normal repertoire up until the “proper” 20th century material.

And there lies the clue, because the transcriber Colin McAllister is a specialist in various contemporary guitar matters, and I reviewed his volume The Vanguard Guitar: Etudes and Exercises for the Study of Contemporary Music in 2005. Much here actually looks like contemporary music at least in the rhythms, where you find many odd shifts of meter, 2 against 3, and strange things like tuplets of 4 over 2 but in 9/8 time. The notes however fall almost entirely in first position so there is relatively little difficulty in finding them – handy when you are counting like mad.

Any player who can approach let alone really do these rhythms justice has a really strong rhythmic sense, and this collection is recommended to anyone interested in challenging contemporary music, anyone who really wants to sharpen their rhythm generaIly, and of course to all who like medieval music.”

– Stephen Kenyan (Classical Guitar Magazine)

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The Vanguard Guitar

The Vanguard Guitar

Colin McAllister
Productions d’OZ, 2004

“Meant as a primer for such pieces as Britten’s Nocturnal, Brouwer’s La Espiral Eterna, Carter’s Changes, as well as many others, Colin McAllister’s The Vanguard Guitar is a great success. Even more than teaching techniques, it – through the accompanying CD – gives the student a guide to performance practice that will open up many of the modern masterpieces to students of the guitar.

The book hits its stride with the second chapter, “Developing the Sense of Time.” Not only are the compositional techniques of polyrhythm, metric modulation, and changing meters given introductions, there is also a performance vocabulary which one can pick up from McAllister’s recording. Clearly passionate about oft-marginalized music, McAllister gives a performance that reveals clues to the accepted performance practices for pieces in this genre. This is a tremendous advantage when one realizes that intermediate players are so caught up in playing these pieces “correctly” that they rarely play them musically. Even though his articulations and phrasings are not marked in these etudes, they can be heard on the disc and thus emulated. The book, then, becomes not only a primer of modern techniques, but also a library of current performance practices.

The history of the guitar is punctuated by collections of etudes. From Sor to Tárrega to Sor-reimagined-by-Segovia, through Villa-Lobos, and most recently with Brouwer, the performers and composers of the guitar have created works to tutor students in the idiosyncratic techniques of the day. Add to this list Colin McAllister’s new book.”

– Andrew Hull (SoundBoard)

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