Being in Time

Instrumentation: Wind Ensemble & Electronics, stereo playback system. Also available for performance with DVD.
Duration: 10:00
Commission: University of Virginia
Premiere: 4/26/15
UVA Wind Ensemble, William Pease, Conductor
Old Cabell Auditorium, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA

Program Note:
Being in Time, for wind ensemble and electronics (originally scored for Wind Ensemble, conductor-controlled electronics and interactive video)  plays with our experience of flow. Supported in part by a Faculty Research Grant for the Arts from the Office of the Provost & the Vice Provost for the Arts at the Univerisity of Virginia, the piece combined interactive technologies: a kinect controller read the conductor’s gestures to play and shape the electronic sound; activity level, amplitude and frequency bands collected from two microphones controlled the visual elements. In order to make it accessible to many kinds of wind ensembles, the piece is now available without the interactive elements, with either a DVD for playback, or just with the electronic sound. It was performed in that version by the UT-Austin Wind Ensemble conducted by Jerry Junkin to great effect.

The components of the original version were created by a team at the University of Virginia led by myself. Team members also include William Pease, Director of Bands, together with the Wind Ensemble; Technical Directors Dave Topper and Travis Thatcher; composers Joe Adkins and Paul Turowski, both then in the PhD program in the UVA Composition and Computing Technologies program; Nathan Grantham, who holds an MA from the UVA Engineering program; and Rachel Beaton, a graduate student in the Astronomy Department. Professor Ellen Bass, a former member of the Computer Science faculty, also contributed to the development of the project.

As I considered the concept of Being in Time, I thought about the relationship between time and place, and decided to make all the elements local in origin, in Charlottesville and the beautiful surrounding Blue Ridge region. I created the electronic music by processing recordings I made of wind ensemble members. Meanwhile, the interactive programming for the kinect controller that reads the conductor’s gestures and the programming for the interactive visuals were developed by Paul Turowski in consultation with me, while I worked on the background video with composer and animator Joe Adkins. The images came from photos of Charlottesville and its night skies taken by Ms. Beaton and of the night sky and blue ridge area round Charlottesville by filmmaker Alex Reshnikov.–JS

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