Nicholas Chase will be in good company this week at the Other Mind Festival in San Francisco. He’s a composer fellow hobnobbing with Louis Andriessen and other more senior composers, all on hand for the week-long series of events, now in its 16th season.
Nick is a Ph.D. candidate in the iEar program at Rensselaer Polytechnical Institute in Troy, NY. Though he’s been in the Capital Region for at least a couple of years now, he considers himself bi-coastal, with bases of operation also in the Bay Area and Seattle.
A new project in California is the UFOrchestra – Unidentified Future Orchestra – a fun if rather grand name for what’s starting out as a trio consisting of Randall Wakerlin, an animator, and Ann Haroun, a writer/vocal/narrator, plus Nick. And what does Nick play, you ask? Well, watch the video at this link.
Here’s Nick with more on the “orchestra”:
Part of that specialization of the UFOrch is the use of visuals as an integral part of the composed work, another part is an unusual approach to integrated spoken-word, and, closer to my heart, a new sensibility about music. I feel strongly the later half of the 20th Century (and now early 21st!) has gotten so deep into the conceptual, we’re forgetting the music. It’s all well and good to access all this science and technology and even focus our ears for intensive listening – but what about the music?
The UFOrch will definitely sport some exciting gadgetry, a little science (for instance, I’m working on a cycle of pieces that are based on physical sound phenomenon and the math behind aeronautics?!) but mostly emphasize the music – in an almost traditional way.
In 2004, California E.A.R. Unit co-founder, Dorothy Stone, asked me to write a duo for on flute playing with a DJ.
Dorothy was violently averse to broccoli. As a student at the Manhattan School of Music, she was flummoxed by the very idea of broccoli, and, not knowing what else to do with it, wore a sprig of broccoli on her lapel to class every day. Sadly, Dorothy passed away unexpectedly in 2008 without reconciling her loathing for broccoli (and all other cruciferous vegetables). She also never saw the sketches for this work, which takes its title from her unique nutrition cum fashion sensibilities.
Dorothy, her husband (my close friend and mentor), Stephen “Lucky” Mosko, and I all shared a refined passion for gin. We spent many long days telling stories, discussing music, inventing recipes, talking about wolves and wolf packs, and skinny-dipping in the ice-cold spring-water pool at their farm, two miles west of the San Andreas Fault. These days were accompanied by Lucky’s ‘foolproof’ martinis — a recipe he attributed to Earnest Hemingway (by way of his best friend, Humphrey Evans).
Gin Blossoms & Broccoli Boutonnières is a bagatelle, a bon-bon, a comique, a trifle, or, in a more classical sense, a scherzo. It paints a portrait that commemorates those nights at the farm, when I learned so much about music, about life, and most importantly — how to get to the moon.