Announcing Summer 2018 Ensembles-In-Residence

The MFA in Music Composition brings together some of the most exciting and diverse multi-instrumentalists in the country. Each residency features visiting ensembles that rehearse, perform, and record student music. We are excited to announce our summer 2018 ensembles-in-residence: loadbang, Sirius Quartet, Jeremy Siskind Trio, and Talujon (trio).



William Lang, trombone
Carlos Cordeiro, bass clarinet
Andy Kozar, trumpet
Jeffrey Gavett, baritone voice

New York City-based new music chamber group loadbang is building a new kind of music for mixed ensemble of trumpet, trombone, bass clarinet, and baritone voice. Since their founding in 2008, they have been praised as ‘cultivated’ by The New Yorker, ‘an extra-cool new music group’ and ‘exhilarating’ by the Baltimore Sun, ‘inventive’ by the New York Times and called a ‘formidable new-music force’ by TimeOutNY. Their unique lung-powered instrumentation has provoked diverse responses from composers, resulting in a repertoire comprising an inclusive picture of composition today.

loadbang has premiered more than 250 works, written by members of the ensemble, emerging artists, and today’s leading composers. Not content to dwell solely in the realm of notated music, loadbang is known for its searing and unpredictable improvisations, exploring the edges of instrumental and vocal timbre and technique, and blurring the line between composed and extemporaneous music.


Sirius Quartet

Fung Chern Hwei, violin
Gregor Huebner, violin
Ron Lawrence, viola
Jeremy Harman, cello

Internationally acclaimed veterans of contemporary music, Sirius Quartet combines exhilarating repertoire with unequaled improvisational fire. These conservatory-trained performer-composers shine with precision, soul and a raw energy rarely witnessed on stage, championing a forward-thinking, genre-defying approach that makes labels like ‘New Music’ sound tame.

Having premiered works by significant living composers, Sirius continues their long-running commitment to musical innovation with bold, original works by its own members, pushing beyond the conventional vocabulary of string instruments by incorporating popular song forms, extended techniques, gripping improvisations and undeniable, contemporary grooves.


Jeremy Siskind Trio

Jeremy Siskind, piano
Nancy Harms, vocals
Lucas Pino, clarinet and bass clarinet

The Jeremy Siskind Trio is a jazz trio that moves with the soul of the singer-songwriter movement and the grace of a chamber ensemble. The group has produced two seminal jazz albums that are the shape of a new idiom in small chamber jazz performance.


Talujon (percussion trio)

Described by the New York Times as an ensemble possessing an “edgy, unflagging energy”, Talujon has been mesmerizing audiences since 1990. For well over two decades, Talujon has committed itself to the growth of contemporary percussion music through diverse performance, commissioning, educational, and outreach activities.

Highlights of Talujon’s recent engagements include appearances at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival, Bang on a Can Marathon, Carnegie Hall, ISSUE Project Room, Miller Theatre, and New York Historical Society. International performances include Taipei’s Lantern Festival, Italy’s Sound Res Festival, and a tour with Steve Reich and Musicians. In addition to its diverse performance schedule, Talujon has conducted residencies, clinics, and master classes at institutions across the US. Locally, Talujon engages in a series of residencies in the New York City Public Schools though the Department of Cultural Affairs After School Adventures program, as well as through a collaboration with the Midori and Friends organization.

Image depicts VCFA faculty and students performing at the songwriters' showcase

Music Composition Program Readies February Residency

(Photo credit: Anthony Pagani.)

The Music Composition Program at VCFA is preparing its February residency. Notably, this involves a series of concerts that are open to the public. Visiting artists include:

Anna’s Ghost, an in-house rock/jazz ensemble with a rotating personnel. This semester features River Guerguerian, percussion; Russ Johnson, horns; Jim Whitney, bass; John Benthal, guitars; Anna Webber, flute and saxophone.
Piano Trio with Geoffrey Burleson, piano; Mary Rowell, violin; David Russell, cello.
Saxophone Quartet, featuring Ken Thomson, Ed RosenBerg, Peter Hess, Jay Rattman
Counterpoint Vocal Quartet, featuring Allison Devery, Erin Grainger, Cameron Steinmetz, and Kevin Quigley, with Music Director Nathaniel Lew.

More information about the individual musicians can be found at the links for each ensemble. But we have some fantastic players. Mary Rowell is a cutting-edge violinist who’s worked with everyone from the Tango Project to Joe Jackson. John Benthal has played guitar alongside everyone from Idina Menzel to Harry Connick Jr., and performed in Broadway shows like The Lion King. The musicians at VCFA are top-notch. They include cutting-edge classical performers, avant-garde jazz artists, high-demand session musicians, and film/TV composers. They all assemble to perform student works, as well as offer critique.

All of this is invaluable to young composers. It’s no secret that there’s no shortage of new composers out there. Learning what makes your music accessible to musicians, or fun to play, or easier to read and interpret, is an incredibly valuable skill, and it can mean the edge in getting picked for performances. All of that falls in line with VCFA’s commitment to an education that is as functionally practical as it is theoretically sound.

The ensemble concerts are as follows:

Tuesday, Feb. 6, 8 p.m.: Anna’s Ghost
Wednesday, Feb. 7, 8 p.m.: Anna’s Ghost and the Piano Trio
Thursday, Feb. 8, 8 p.m.: the Piano Trio and the Saxophone Quartet
Friday, Feb. 9, 3 p.m.: the Saxophone Quartet and Counterpoint Quartet
Saturday, Feb. 10, 3 p.m.: Counterpoint Quartet

Other events include:

Film Music Festival
Sunday, Feb. 4, 8 p.m., Noble Lounge
Several VCFA faculty work as scoring composers. Their combined experience in television, film, advertisement, and video games makes them a force to be reckoned with, and this evening is where their students—and others studying scoring—have a chance to shine.

Electronic Music Showcase
Monday, Feb. 5, 8 p.m., College Hall Gallery
This concert features all types of electronic music. It includes pieces built around electronically manipulated samples and soundscapes. It includes players performing alongside electronic sound and video. But it also includes electronic dance music. The incredibly breadth of musical styles embraced by the program really comes to the fore for this showcase—yet it all fits under the banner of “electronic music.”

Songwriting Showcase
Friday, Feb. 9, 8 p.m., College Hall Gallery
Café Anna offers a cash bar while VCFA students offer their heart and soul in the form of song. Like all VCFA events, the breadth here is staggering. Jazz shuffles and funk charts sit comfortably next to slide-guitar solos and even the occasional chant. This is one of the more relaxed events that the school offers, and yet it’s still a chance to see noteworthy composers and performers from across the country perform in a comfortable, intimate environment.