Composers Festival spotlight: “0150719 by reference”

In addition to the expanded schedule of concerts celebrating the festival’s tenth year, another first for the 2019 Mizzou International Composers Festival is “0150719 by reference,” a generative eight-channel audio installation created specifically for the MICF by Kenneth Kirschner and Daniel Neumann.

The installation will be open starting on Tuesday, July 23 and continuing through Saturday, July 27 in the second-floor lobby of the Missouri Theatre. Hours are 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, and 5:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

The sounds for “050719 by reference” are based on a massive archive of samples of extended instrumental techniques that were recorded by members of Alarm Will Sound for a since-abandoned project.

Working collaboratively, Kirschner and Neumann (pictured) constructed their own musical materials from the sample library. Kirschner first produced a reference track with a harmonic structure, which both artists used while creating individual sounds for the piece. With the reference track removed, the two groups of individual sounds were combined, then mixed and spatialized with an algorithmic software player developed by Neumann to create an “unpredictable and continuously evolving” composition.

The title comes from a naming convention adopted by Kirschner when he began releasing his own music in the late 1980s, using the dates on which works are begun as their names. “I wanted my work to remain purely abstract, and for listeners to be able to bring whatever meaning or interpretation they wanted to it,” he said.

Both creators of “050719 by reference” brought extensive experience in music and sound design to the project. Originally from Princeton, New Jersey, Kirschner began playing piano when he was five years old. He briefly studied composition in college, but found academia too confining, and subsequently moved to New York City in the late 1980s to develop his work independently.

Kirschner spent the 1990s composing and refining his style, doing occasional commissions for ballet and modern dance. An early adopter of online distribution of music, he has made much of his work freely available on the internet, as well on a series of CD releases. You can read more about Kirschner’s DIY approach in his 2013 interview with New Music Box’s Molly Sheridan.

Neumann is a sound artist, organizer, and audio engineer who grew up in Germany and now is based in Brooklyn, NY. He earned a master’s degree in media art from the Academy of Visual Art Leipzig, and also studied electronic music composition under Emanuele Casale in Catania, Italy.

As audio engineer for Alarm Will Sound and others, Neumann is responsible for complex live productions featuring electroacoustic music and multi-channel audio, often requiring elaborate speaker setups and unusual miking techniques. His own work uses “conceptual and often collaborative strategies to explore sound, sound material and its modulation through space, situation and media.” Neumann also curates an event series in NYC and Berlin, CT::SWaM, that engages in “spatial sound works and focused listening.”

Since “050719 by reference” is a brand new work, there are no audio or video recordings available, but you can see Kirschner and Neumann talk about their work in the embedded videos below.

“Pirate This Music” – Kenneth Kirschner interviewed by Molly Sheridan for New Music Box

Daniel Neumann interviewed about his sound installation “Channels”