Flute/light Project Video 4: Michael Rothkopf’s I Dream of Coloured Inks

New experiences can be something of a revelation, can’t they? The first time I ever tried zhajiangmian, it became a comfort food—and I crave it on and off ever since.

What does food from northern China have to do with music? The analogy’s a bit of a stretch, but Dr. Michael S. Rothkopf’s I Dream of Coloured Inks for Two Flutes and Computer (flute/light video 4) was the primary catalyst for my flute/light project. The enveloping, dynamic light in the piece whet my appetite for more!

Flute and light? Video 4? What am I talking about? Here: I’ll catch you up in a jiffy.

Check out the video I made about my flute/light intermedia art project!
And below are links to the first three flute/light videos:

Anna Meadors, At Daybreak
Stuart Saunders Smith, The Circle of Light
Kyle Rowan, Komorebi

Three years ago, in 2014, I published a blog post about I Dream of Coloured Inks’ world premiere. Way back then, I promised an I Dream of Coloured Inks video—and here it is!

Dr. Rothkopf’s piece is an improvisation for two flutes, lights, and computer. The computer listens to various aspects of the flutists’ sound—things like pitch, articulation, timbre, and dynamic—and responds both visually and sonically based on a series of probability tables in the Coloured Inks’ Max program. It’s an exciting exploration in sonic and visual color!

The piece was recorded on January 22, 2017, in Crawford Hall at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. I was assisted by the lovely flutist Sarah Busman, as well as the audio and visual dynamic duo Ben Singer and Wayne Rich. I am deeply thankful for the generous help of all who contributed to this video—including the UNCSA Design and Production lighting department.

See Wayne’s lovely I Dream of Coloured Inks blog post for his thoughts and pictures!

Flute/light Project Video 3: Kyle Rowan’s Komorebi

Dissertation Recording Session No. 1, PC: Wayne Reich.

“Everyone needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike” (John Muir, from The Yosemite).

Often, I find myself yearning for mountains and trees somewhere, anywhere. There’s something wonderfully restorative about out-of-the-way places—and the time it takes to enjoy them. Imagine you’re in a forest. Maybe you’re sitting on its pine-needle floor or blazing a trail. Either way, picture afternoon sunlight being filtered by trees around you. There’s a warm glow that shimmers through leaves and needles, vibrant like a live wire.

Dr. Kyle Rowan uses sound and light intermedia to capture this forest-light phenomenon in his composition Komorebi for solo flute and lighting, the third video in my flute and light project! The Japanese word Komorebiroughly translated, means: sunlight filtering through leaves.

Okay—but wait. Flute and light project? Intermedia? Third video? What am I yakking about? Let me get you up to speed!

Here’s an info video I made about my flute/light intermedia art project!
And here are links to the first two cinematic videos:

Anna Meadors’ At Daybreak
Stuart Saunders Smith’s The Circle of Light.

Komorebi’s lighting concept features shifting shadows and colors that fade in and out puckishly. I’d say the music complements the lighting—but it more than complements it. Together, they are sprightly, caressing, shimmering, enveloping. Together.

Lighting technicians Katherine Ward and Abigail Simoneau manually controlled the lighting board faders in this video production. Wayne Reich and Ben Singer created the cinematic video. All recording was done on December 3, 2016 in UNCG’s Brown Building Theatre. My heartfelt thanks to all who helped me make this video—including those who took the time to teach me a thing or two about lighting boards!

Wayne published a post about Komorebi on his blog. Check it out for a glimpse into his perspective as videographer and some great pictures of the editing process!

Flute/light Project Video 2: Stuart Saunders Smith’s The Circle of Light

PC: Sarah Busman. Used with permission.

Video numero II id est. I decided to release my flute/light cinematic videos in the order of my premiere concert in September 2016. That brings us to Stuart Saunders Smith’s The Circle of Light: A Ceremony for solo flute and eight lumanists.

Flute and light? Video No. 2? Not sure what I’m talking about? No worries! I’ll catch you up in a jiffy.

Check out the info video I made about my flute/light intermedia art project!

And here’s the link to the first cinematic video (Anna Meadors’ At Daybreak), along with some more background information.

The Circle of Light is a 17 minute piece performed in almost complete darkness, with slowly changing lighting and repetitive musical material. The result is a lyrical, meditative atmosphere. And people—the flutist, lumanists (flashlightists), audience, and composer—are united through the experience of this atmosphere.

Still with me? For a second, forget that you have photos to post to Instagram, calls to return, or a Tumblr feed to update. Take a moment to appreciate your surroundings. Is there a clock ticking in the distance? Maybe you can smell coffee or feel the warmth of the sun. That’s what I mean by atmosphere. Perhaps you tell someone, “Wow, that coffee smells nice!” And then, that someone takes notice of it. You are united in your mutual awareness of the aroma. It’s possible you are even united in your mutual enjoyment of it!

Because this unifying awareness of atmosphere is essential to The Circle of Light, I think it’s best to experience the piece live. That being said, the audio and visual team Ben Singer and Wayne Reich, along with my lumanist performers (Bethany Uhler, Noah Cline, Janine Neprud, Stephany Saunders, Erik Schmidt, Amy Karnes, Asher Carlson, and Abigail Simoneau), all did an incredible job helping me create this cinematic video and contemplative atmosphere! The Circle of Light was recorded in Brown Building Theatre at the University of North Carolina Greensboro on December 3, 2016. I was assisted by lighting technician Katherine Ward.

Since darkness is so important to Dr. Smith’s piece, try watching with your lights off!

Wayne has published a thoughtful blog post about this transcendental work on his website. Check it out here.

Flute/Light Project Video 1: Anna Meadors’ At Daybreak

Dissertation Recording Session No. 1, PC: Ben Singer.

Graduation. It’s coming, and time is flying as relentlessly as ever! In less than a month, I’ll be “commencing” post-degree life for a third time. And then, I’ll officially be able to put two letters in front of my name: D-R.

I’m feeling a bit sentimental, so I’m going to share what I’ve been working on for the last year and a half. Well, okay. Really, I’m just plain excited about what I’ve been doing, and I’m going to burst soon if I don’t share it.

Way back in middle school, tiny Krisztina was given her first taste of intermedia art. I’ve been addicted ever since. When the time came to ponder my dissertation topic, it was only natural for me to think: intermedia.

What’s intermedia art, you ask? A fine question! Very simply, it’s the integration of diverse artistic mediums. See my flute/light project intro video for a more thorough explanation, here!

Fast-forward through some life experience, performance opportunities, and research; and I had narrowed my field of study to two specific mediums: sound and light. Then, back in February 2016, I began my flute/light commission project.

Sound and light—both are manifestations of kinetic energy. A great deal can be observed about them: their frequencies, amplitudes, velocities. Their union is found in thunder and lighting, electricity, and even black holes. It’s nearly impossible to imagine a world without them! But Aristotelian questions remain: What is the essence of energy, sound, and light? This mystery fills me with tremulous wonder when I listen to a Brahms symphony or observe the stars; and I am compelled that it is this very mystery that lends sound and light their dramatic power in the arts.

This blog post is No. 1 in a series of five video releases that mark the culmination of my flute/light project! The first? Anna MeadorsAt Daybreak for flute, percussion, and lighting.

Anna’s piece is the origin story of light, as told by Italo Calvino in “At Daybreak” from Cosmicomics. The music and light work in synergy to portray a nebulous opening, followed by a condensing of the nebulous matter, the sudden creation of light, and its disappearance at nightfall. Because there is lighting throughout the piece, I always find myself anticipating the dramatic moment when THE light will burst into the story.

We were all burning in the fire. Or rather: we weren’t burning, we were immersed in it as in a dazzling forest; the flames shot high over the whole surface of the planet, a fiery air in which we could run and float and fly, and we were gripped with a new joy (Italo Calvino, from “At Daybreak”).

All video footage for At Daybreak was recorded in Brown Building Theatre at the University of North Carolina Greensboro on December 3, 2016. I was assisted by percussionist Erik Schmidt and lighting technician Katherine Ward. The cinematic video was created by audio and visual team Wayne Reich and Ben Singer. I can’t begin to say how thankful I am to each of them for their contributions to the project!

Wayne has published a blog post on his website about the video production of At Daybreak with cool pictures of the editing process! Check it out here.

Stay tuned for more videos, and thanks for reading!

Zoltán Kodály, “Song” from the Háry János Suite.

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With the Kodaly statue in Pecs, Hungary, during my studies at the Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest.

Fifty years after his death, the name “Zoltán Kodály” has spread worldwide, conjuring up thoughts of music pedagogy and solfege. Many don’t realize that he was also a linguist, a philosopher, an ethnomusicologist—and a brilliant composer. One of the first CDs I ever owned included a piece that is still very dear to me: Kodály’s Dances from Marosszék (Marosszéki Táncok). Even then, I was captivated by the deeply lyrical quality of Kodály’s music, his colorful orchestrations, and the magical way his music evokes both longing and hope.

Back in 2010, I received a grant to arrange music for a small chamber ensemble with unconventional instrumentation. Hoping to familiarize more Westerners with Kodály’s music, I chose to arrange a movement from his Háry János Suite: “Song” (or, “Dal,” in Hungarian). Originally from Kodály’s Háry János, a singspiel about the tall-tales of a hussar, the lyrics of “Song” express Háry János’ tender longing to be home with those he loves.

The recording below features Asher Carlson (clarinet), Leonardo Ottoni do Rosario (violin), Emily Damrel (double bass), and Rachel AuBuchon (prepared piano). It was recorded on April 30, 2016, and edited by Dr. Michael S. Rothkopf, with additional help from Ben Singer.

 

 

Motivating Student Practice.

As important as Aristotle’s laws of motion are to the development of modern physics, somehow, they are humorous.  Newton’s first law of motion is merely a more precise restatement of Aristotle’s ideas: an object in a particular state of motion will continue in that state of motion unless an outside force influences it.  However, Aristotle called this altered status of motion “forced” or “violent;” moreover, he believed that all objects had inherent, measurable resistance to such forced motion.  Some of what Aristotle observed is now understood to be what is indeed called resistance, friction, and drag; but Aristotle’s language creates an amusing picture of inanimate objects with wills to remain inert, resisting motion until coerced.

We could say that this picture is a rather uncanny illustration of a type of student—the type that never seems to practice, despite their teacher’s best efforts.  These are unmotivated students who come to their lessons week after week, only prepared with excuses.  If we’re honest, however, we might admit that this metaphor could be used to describe anyone (including ourselves!) in a wide variety of situations.

Over the last year, I have spent some time seeking to better understand both the stimulation of self-motivation and the teacher-student relationship as it pertains to responsibility.  For now, I have concluded:

TEACHER’S RESPONSIBILITY: To guide the student into a cycle of work and achievement (related to attribution theory in psychology).
STUDENT’S RESPONSIBILITY: To implement the short-term goals assigned by the teacher.

My studies resulted in a “How to Practice” Workshop at the Community Music School of UNC School of the Arts (see the video below), as well as in a list of potential motivational methods that can be directly applied to practicing.

© 2016 Krisztina Dér.  All rights reserved.

The Absent-Minded Professor

It has happened.  In September, one IMG_6611of my professors passed my name along to the Chair of the Music Department at Guilford College.  The result: I have been working as a “Part-time Lecturer of Music, Flute” this semester.  My family’s prophesies destining me as a lovable (albeit soporific) Prof. have been fulfilled!  And that’s not even counting the times I have inadvertently mismatched my socks!

Other news includes competing at the semifinals of the inaugural Raleigh Area Flute Association’s (RAFA’s) Artist Competition.  They selected six semifinalists total; I was honored to be there, learned a thing or two about my repertoire choices, and look forward to applying again next year.  Recordings from the preliminary round are forthcoming!

In the upcoming months, I’ll be competing in the final round of UNCG’s Student Artist Competition, preparing for the second of my three doctoral recitals, teaching (UNCG secondaries, UNCSA CMS, and Guilford), playing in Fayetteville, studying for comprehensive exams, researching for the dissertation (more info on my research topic coming soon!), finishing up the majority of my classwork, and (I hope) breathing.  For now at least, in the interim between semesters, there’s a bit of time to catch my breath– so stay tuned for more updates, recordings, and musings!