Title Philip Schuessler: Fireflies Were Making Decodable Signals (2014)
Instrumentation Bass clarinet and percussion
Range Extended range instrument is required for bass clarinet part.
Price $20
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About the Work

Program note courtesy of the composer:

The title, intentionally capacious (to the point of absurdity) is taken from a striking passage in Vladimir Nabakov's Pale Fire. To me, this passage (like much of Nabakov's writing) captures the essence of an ephemeral idea - a precious yet fleeting moment. His descriptions are delicate and razor-precise at the same time and, as such, are unique objects. Reading Nabakov led me to think about how I might capture the essence of a thing or a moment in my own craft. More than any work I have written so far, this work really pushes the idea of contrast (but also balance). The instruments oscillate between disparate extremes of tempo, dynamic, color, and gesture while fluctuating into and out of eerily serene patterns. As such, there is a persistently shifting network of performance maneuvers that involves coordinating and de-coordinating "chunks" of musical ideas into a sort of balanced distribution over time. The piece is dedicated to Christa Van Alstine and Michael McCurdy and their tireless dedication to their craft.

About the Composer

Philip Schuessler's music explores the intricacy of subtle timbres and delicate dynamics through extended acoustic and electro-acoustic resources. His diverse output spans a number of different approaches including techniques of spectralism, indeterminacy and graphic notation, new forms of notation, ephemeral sound fabrics, microtonality, popular and rock music, and electro-acoustic music.

Schuessler received his Bachelors Degree in composition at Birmingham-Southern College, his Masters Degree from the University of Miami, and his PhD from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. His teachers have included Charles Mason, Dorothy Hindman, Dennis Kam, Keith Kothman, Dan Weymouth, Sheila Silver, Perry Goldstein, and Daria Semegen.

He has had works performed by notable ensembles such as Yarn/Wire, Dither Guitar Quartet, Mantra Percussion Ensemble, IKTUS Percussion, Hypercube, Pesedjet, and the Gemini Duo; and his works have also been championed by such soloists as percussionist Daniel Kennedy, pianist Mabel Kwan, soprano Tony Arnold, violinist Graeme Jennings, and cellist Craig Hultgren. His music has has been performed at notable venues such as June in Buffalo, Birmingham City Stages Festival, Festival Miami, the Czech-American Summer Music Workshop, CCMIX in Paris, SEAMUS Conferences, ArtSounds in Kansas City, Artomatic in Arlington, Virginia, Electronic Music Midwest, New Music Forum in San Francisco, the School for Designing a Society in Urbana, Illinois, Electro-acoustic Juke Joint Festival, the Electro-acoustic Barn Dance Festival, the Spark Festival in Minneapolis, and most recently the New Music on the Bayou Festival in Monroe, Louisiana. He has also been a participant at the MusicX Festival, the Ernst Bloch Music Festival, the Elliott Carter/Oliver Knussen Chamber Music Intensive Workshop at Carnegie Hall, and the Oregon Bach Festival.

His music has been recognized internationally by Elektrophonie's NuitBleue Music Festival, the Futura Festival, and by the Bourges Residence. Recently, Schuessler was chosen by Eric Moore's Cello Loft Project for a new commissioned work for cello and percussion. Other awards include being a winner in the Duo Fujin Weekend Composition Competition, being a semi-finalist for the American Prize in Chamber Music, and being a recipient of a New Music USA Composer Assistant Grant.

Most recently, Schuessler was an artist in residence for the July 2015 session at Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts in Wyoming where he composed Lux Aeterna for mixed chorus and piano. Since 2010, Schuessler has taught music theory and composition at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, Louisiana where he resides with his wife and composer Kari Besharse.

Catalog Info #ALEA1163
Score: 16 pages, loose leaf
Two copies provided, one for each performer