Jessica Pavone: “Lull” for String Octet and Soloists

Friday, November 19, 2021. 8:00 pm
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Jessica Pavone: “Lull” for String Octet and Soloists

Friday, November 19, 2021. 8:00 pm

Composer and violist Jessica Pavone presents the in-person record release concert of Lull—a composition for string octet and soloists in four movements. Recorded during the pandemic year of 2020, the piece reflects a multifaceted experience of ‘stasis’—quietude and introspection sustained amidst tension and instability.

In the music, occasions of consonance and dissonance take turns occupying foreground and background: Lull’s harmonic consonance evokes a calmness with a temperament of cool neutrality; its stark moments of harmonic dissonance maintain a similar composure. The rhythmic pacing of Lull can be characterized in terms of landscapes: endless rolling waves, expansive monochrome desert, stars punctuating an empty dark sky…
Compositionally, the music is crafted at the finest line between notation and indeterminacy in a tightly controlled balance of structure and individual free choice. Each of the two soloist movements contain the highest degree of improvisation allowing for a greater insertion of ‘individuality within the larger collective framework.

Lull is manifest as an extension of Pavone’s solo viola practice which has origins in 2012. In this solo practice, Pavone deeply explores the impact and implications of long-tones and sustained resonances as well as repetition, song form, and sympathetic vibration. In 2017, she established the J. Pavone String Ensemble—consisting of two violas and two violins; the octet of Lull is an outgrowth of this ensemble.

Like in much of Pavone’s music, the qualities of consonance and expansiveness prevail, a sonic environment in which the listener persists.

Jessica Pavone – composer/viola


Brian Chase – amplified percussion solo
Nate Wooley — Bb trumpet solo

Aimée Niemann – violin
Charlotte Munn-Wood – violin
Abby Swidler – viola
Christopher Hoffman – cello
Mariel Roberts – cello
Shayna Dulberger – double bass
Nicholas Jozwiak – double bass

Jessica Pavone’s creative practice encompasses developing a personalized voice on her instrument as both an instrumentalist and composer. Since 2012, she’s established an individual body of material for solo viola, concentrating on performance’s tactile experience. The structured yet indeterminate pieces stem from intensive long tone practice and an interest in repetition, song form, and sympathetic vibration. Providing the groundwork for her compositional language, in 2017, she created the J. Pavone String Ensemble (2 violins, 2 violas) as an outgrowth, producing two albums while simultaneously seeking ways to assemble larger groups.

The foundation of her recent ensemble compositions is research on the effects of sonic vibration on human physiology and emotional health. Sustained pitches and clusters of ensemble sounds generate specific physical and cognitive benefits intended to impact the audience physically and mentally, existing both within and beyond music’s canonical role. She borrows from and elaborates upon traditional notation and improvisatory techniques and experiments with alternating between metered and clock-time approaches and improvised and notated instructions. The ensemble approach is focused on a vision of collective improvisation that prioritizes a collaboratively sewn musical fabric, in contrast to the traditional improvisatory approach that prizes the individuality and uniqueness of the soloist. The rehearsal method, influenced by her solo work, attends to how the body plays a role in sound and intention.

In 2020, with a grant from the Queens Arts Council, she created Lull for string octet and featured soloists. Utilizing the compositional techniques employed in the quartet, she bolstered the group, adding equal parts for cello and double bass, and alluded to the European model of the concerto, featuring soloists in specific movements.

As the individualized exploration of her instrument has been the basis of her compositional vocabulary, the two middle movements of Lull each feature a musician chosen for their extensive work with experimental solo improvisation. Both Brian Chase (Yeah Yeah Yeahs) and Nate Wooley (Seven Storey Mountain) have stellar reputations as musicians who have uniquely expanded solo performance’s physical and sonic boundaries on their respective instruments. Holt, the second movement from Lull, features soloist Brian Chase on amplified snare drum and cymbal. Chase’s approach to electroacoustic percussion sets out to establish sonic environments of ‘infinite depth’ within a minimalist design and uncover hidden possibilities within given frameworks. It aims to evoke meditative qualities by using resonant tones and sonic subtleties derived from drums and percussion. The third movement, Ingot, features soloist Nate Wooley on Bb trumpet, whose solo playing has often been cited as part of an international revolution in improvised trumpet. He is considered one of the leading lights of the American movement to redefine the boundaries of the horn, combining vocalization, extreme extended technique, noise and drone aesthetics, amplification and feedback, and compositional rigor contributes to his revolutionary approach.

Brooklyn-based musician Brian Chase is the drummer for Grammy-nominated rock band Yeah Yeah Yeahs, NYC’s experimental music community and Drums and Drones, a solo project with a compositional focus on the harmonic resonances derived from drums and percussion. Recorded works include several with Yeah Yeah Yeahs and many with leading improvisors and composers such as Zeena Parkins, Catherine Sikora and Jeremiah Cymerman. In 2018, the Drums and Drones project released Drums and Drones: Decade, a triple album with 144 page book (Chaikin Records), described in The Wire as “an indispensable statement on how drummers hear sound.” For more info visit www.chasebrian.com and www.chaikinrecords.com.

Nate Wooley (b.1974) was born in Clatskanie, Oregon, and began playing trumpet professionally with his father, a big band saxophonist, at the age of 13. He made his debut as a soloist with the New York Philharmonic at the opening series of their 2019 season. Considered one of the leading lights of the American movement to redefine the physical boundaries of the horn, Wooley has been gathering international acclaim for his idiosyncratic trumpet language.
Wooley moved to New York in 2001 and has performed regularly with John Zorn, Anthony Braxton, Eliane Radigue, Annea Lockwood, Ken Vandermark, Evan Parker, and Yoshi Wada. He has premiered works for trumpet by Christian Wolff, Michael Pisaro, Annea Lockwood, Ash Fure, Sarah Hennies, and Eva-Maria Houben.

An outspoken proponent of experimental sounds and expression, violinist Charlotte Munn-Wood is an improviser, chamber musician, educator, and commissioner in New York City and beyond. She is a co-founder of Du.0, a two-violin ensemble dedicated to weird sounds both composed and improvised, and a founding member of the Intimate Artistry String Quartet. Upcoming projects include the production and performance of Excoriation, a multi-movement work for solo violin, electronics, and fiber art installation. Munn-Wood received her B.M. at Western Michigan University in the studio of Renata Knific and her M.M. in Contemporary Performance Practice at the Manhattan School of Music with Dr. Curtis Macomber. Away from the violin, she is a self-taught tapestry weaver.

Aimée Niemann is a violinist and improviser. She investigates sound through its correlation to movement and composes graphic scores as a means of interdisciplinary invention and the unearthing of new sounds. Her work appears in new and improvised music settings, as well as experimental movement and theatre.
An explorer of new sounds, she is a founding member of Du.0, an experimental violin ensemble with Charlotte Munn-Wood. The duo premiered two new works by composers Leah Asher and Scott Wollschleger in the winter of 2020. They will present a program inspired by 12th-century abbess and composer, Hildegard von Bingen later this year.
Aimée recently released a record with her duo BUKA, called “Spring” as a four-part set spanning the seasons pre and post-pandemic. She is currently co-producing a premier of baroque-influenced solo violin and movement improvisations with choreographers Nadia Khayrallah and Whitney Janis.

Abby Swidler is a composer and performer whose work appears in many contexts, including new music, improvised music, and song. Abby is a passionate collaborator who frequently performs with Xanthoria Quartet, a string quartet that performs new and old works; Italian film-score band, Tredici Bacci; and The Jessica Pavone String Ensemble. Abby’s duo, ruby, recently released ‘and then all over (2021), which was described by Bandcamp Daily as “a striking evocative work full of hushed beauty.” Abby has collaborated with dance, film, theater, and performing ensembles; working with artists like Lady Lamb, Carla Kihlstedt, Mirah, Kishi Bashi, Jherek Bischoff, Angel Olsen, Anthony Coleman, Bent Knee, Palaver Strings, Shizuka Viola Duo, Palaver, Dance Visions INC., and Giselle Ty. She has played on over 30 studio albums.

American cellist and composer Mariel Roberts is widely recognized not just for her “virtuosic” performances, but as a “fearless explorer” (Chicago Reader) in her field. Her passion for collaboration and experimentation as an interpreter, improvisor, and composer have helped create a body of work which bridges avant-garde, contemporary, jazz, classical, and traditional music. Roberts has been hailed as “one of the most adventurous figures on New York’s new music scene—one with a thorough grounding in classical tradition but a ravenous appetite for and tireless discipline in new work.” (Bandcamp). Roberts has appeared as a soloist and chamber musician across four continents, most notably as a member and co-director of the Wet Ink Ensemble, as well as with the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), Mivos Quartet, Bang on a Can All Stars, and Ensemble Signal. Roberts’ compositions have been performed at venues such as Merkin Hall and Miller Theater in New York City.

Christopher Hoffman is a cellist, composer, and filmmaker. Born in Chicago, he now resides in Brooklyn with his partner & daughter. He has the honor of performing in Henry Threadgill’s Pulitzer Prize-winning ensemble Zooid as well as Double Up & 14 or 15 Kestra: Agg. He also performs with the grammy-nominated Anat Cohen Tentet, Anna Webber Septet, James Brandon Lewis Red Lily Quintet, Rudy Royston’s, Flatbed Buggy, Michael Blake String Band, Tony Malaby, and his own Christopher Hoffman Quartet. He has worked with Martin Scorsese and has performed with Yoko Ono, Bleachers, Butch Morris, Marc Ribot, Lee Konitz, Christina Courtin, Spring Awakening, Ryan Scott, Anthony Coleman, FLH, Marianne Faithfull, Ryan Adams, Iron & Wine, Jeremiah Cymerman, Michael Pitt & many others. His most recent album Asp Nimbus Released March 26, 2021, has been featured on the New YorkTimes Playlist, WBGO Take 5, and Bandcamp’s Best Jazz of March 2021.

Nicholas Jozwiak (@___NickJoz) is a multi-instrumentalist residing in Brooklyn, NY, and performing in a variety of musical genres. He regularly works with Peter Evans’ Being&Becoming, Aaron Burnett’s Big Machine, Uncivilized, and Stefa*, and has recently appeared in concert with masters in jazz and beyond such as Tyshawn Sorey, Jonathan Blake, and Ravi Coltrane. Jozwiak produces ambient electro-acoustic music under the moniker Empathogen.

Bassist Shayna Dulberger has been active in New York City since 2001. She has performed many different styles of music nationally and internationally in ensembles led by Ras Moshe, William Parker, Bill Cole, James Ilgenfritz, and Elliott Sharp. Her current projects include but are not limited to Warrior of Light, Dromedaries, and Chaser. Albums recorded under her own name are Ache and Flutter 2013, The Basement Recordings 2011, and TheKillMeTrio 2006. Dulberger is from Mahopac, NY. She attended Manhattan School of Music Preparatory Division in High School and was awarded a Bachelor in Jazz Performance from Mason Gross School of The Arts, Rutgers University of New Jersey. Her greatest joy is to study music and sound.