Stephen Gorbos plans to compose a new string quartet for the Chicago-based Spektral Quartet. The piece will feature the quartet, one of HCL’s current sponsored artists, and electronic sounds recorded around the city of Chicago. In his recent works for instruments and electronics, Stephen often draws harmonic and rhythmic connections between recorded environmental sounds and the live players. The environmental sounds are often from specific locations, which invariably influence the musical and artistic objectives in the piece. Stephen also likes to include recorded samples of the live performers in the electronic part, as a way to bridge the expressive gap in live performance between the human performers and the electronic sounds.
Having never met the members of Spektral Quartet in person, Stephen will be using his time at HCL to interact with them in their native city and in the HCL space: he plans to workshop some ideas with them, and observe them playing in general (his residency is timed to coincide with their end-of-season performance at HCL). Stephen will be recording samples of these HCL sessions for possible use in the piece. He also plans to make field recordings around various public spaces in the city of Chicago, which he hopes to use as additional electronic material. The resulting piece will be an eight-to-ten minute work, possibly featuring electronic playback. Overall, Stephen hopes to write a piece for the quartet that is inextricably linked to their musical technique as an ensemble, and that speaks to their unique relationship with the city of Chicago. Stephen plans to compose the piece over the summer and fall of 2012; the quartet plans on premiering the piece in Chicago during the spring of 2013, with the prospect of additional performances on the east coast in Washington, New York City, and New Haven.
The music of Stephen Gorbos synthesizes vocabularies from several different traditions he has studied and performed: western classical music, jazz, Balinese and Javanese gamelan, and a variety of American popular musics. While the surface of Stephen’s music can range between something quite abstract through something more traditional (oftentimes in the same piece), most of the musical materials he is drawn to have some sort of tangible connection to both the music of the past (ranging from yesterday’s brand new pop music to the medieval music of Machaut and Ockeghem), and to specific sonic environments. Stephen is most interested in writing music that draws on the unique talents of specific performers; depending on the context of the project, these pieces can be for strictly acoustic instruments, electronic media, or a mixture of both.
Recent projects have included: a commission from the University of Houston Moores School of Music for Push, a piece for 12 percussionists (this piece was recorded and released on the album Everywhere Entangled, on Albany Records); Highway Music, for viola and electronics, commissioned by the Strathmore Music Center in Bethesda, MD for violist Wendy Richman; and Tudo Bem? Tudo Bom? for flute, bassoon, and piano, composed for the Chiaroscuro Trio (premiered in January 2012 in Columbia, SC). Other artist-in-residence programs Stephen been associated with include the Aaron Copland House, in Peekskill, NY. He was a composition fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center and the Aspen Music Festival, and his music has garnered awards from ASCAP, Meet the Composer, and the American Composers Forum. Since completing his education (BFA Carnegie Mellon, MM Yale School of Music, and DMA Cornell University), Stephen has been living and working in the Washington, DC area. In addition to composing music and producing concert events, he works as an Assistant Professor of Music in the Benjamin T Rome School of Music at The Catholic University of America.
With its debut performance hailed as one of the Top 5 classical performances of 2010 by TimeOut Chicago (Mia Clarke), the Spektral Quartet has emerged as an ensemble of adroit musicality and innovative programming. Just as committed to performing in non-traditional venues as concert halls, the foursome endeavor to perform the likes of Beethoven and Haydn equally alongside Adés and Glass. Deviating from the hierarchies of the past, the terms “first-” and “second violin” are interchangeable for the quartet with concert soloist Pederzoli leading the group in repertoire up through the Romantic era, then swapping chairs with new music specialist Wulliman for contemporary scores and those on which the ink may still be wet.