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March 22 2023

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Welcome to the Emory Friends of Music e-Newsletter!

Message from the President

Dear Friends,

One of the major themes of this newsletter, like most of our newsletters, is performance, as I think all of us are interested in listening to music performed, and there are a lot of opportunities to hear our students and faculty perform that are listed below. As I said in the newsletter last week, I realize that very few of you will be able to attend all of the many student recitals being given, but I encourage you to read the biographies of the students and the sentences they have written about their recitals. We are very fortunate to have such multi-talented students at Emory. One major strength of Emory is the outstanding music program embedded in a world-class college that encourages students to excel in more than one area. For the listed recitals, the name of the performer and the time and location is a clickable link that opens the Arts Calendar listing for the recital. In most cases that calendar entry will have a link to the program for the recital. When that program is currently online, I provide a separate link to the program so you can see what the student will be performing.


A second theme in this issue is composition.  As an audience we typically hear students who engage with Performance faculty, and we might think that is all of the Department, but that is certainly not true. In addition to the Performance track, music majors can choose the Composition or History, Culture, and Theory track. (In addition, students may also complete the Arts Management Concentration.) Not only is composition taught in the department, but we also get to hear music by Emory composers. For example, the EWE concert of February 26 featured works by two Emory student composers, and Vivian Zhao in her student recital of March 18 played a piece by Joel Rust, who is a visiting assistant professor of composition in the Music Department. 


There are a number of ways you can intersect with music composition that are contained in this issue. A unique opportunity on March 27 is to hear the process of composition. Katherine Young is Assistant Professor of Composition and she is working with cellist Seth Parker Woods to develop a new work for cello. You can hear both an open rehearsal of the developing piece and then attend a masterclass with both of them. One of the student recitals listed below is by composition student Solomon Young-Joon Kim.  Another recital features Eli Parrish, who will perform various pieces on clarinet, including one inspired by his other identity as a composer. Finally, I am delighted to introduce in this newsletter a new section, Faculty Conversations, that will feature talks with some of the faculty in the Music Department. In our first Faculty Conversation article you will get to meet the third composition faculty member, Adam Mirza. This is a fascinating article that explores music composition today. As Adam explains “There is an interest in trying to evaluate music without simplistically distinguishing between traditional borders, like high and low, commercial and non-commercial, or according to intended purpose. I see many young composers trying to cross boundaries of all types, whether cultural or technological.” Part 2 of this conversation will be in the next newsletter.

There are also two ECMSA masterclasses listed below that you are welcome to attend and that illustrate the amazing opportunities our students have to work with world-class musicians.


With best wishes,


Emory Collaborative Piano

Sunday, March 26, 2023, 7pm


If listening to one pianist perform is good, is listening to two at one time twice as good? You can judge for yourself at this program given by some of our amazing piano students who perform some of the best-known pieces in four-hand and two-hand piano repertoire. Certainly the opportunity to hear this literature live is much rarer than for the single repertoire. 

The program is free, but requires registration. More information and the link for registration can be found by clicking here.

New Work for Solo Cello

Monday March 27, 2023, 1pm and 4pm


Katherine Young is Assistant Professor of Composition at Emory. Seth Parker Woods is a cellist, who is playing in the Candler Concert on March 25 with Chad Lawson and Judy Kang. As part of the Schwartz Artist-in-Residence program, he is developing a new piece for cello with composer Katherine Young.

A short bio for Seth Parker Woods: Hailed by the Guardian as “a cellist of power and grace” who possesses “mature artistry and willingness to go to the brink,” Grammy Award–nominated cellist Seth Parker Woods has established his reputation as a versatile artist and innovator across multiple genres.


Woods’s projects delve deep into the cultural fabric, reimagining traditional works and commissioning new ones to propel classical music into the future, inspiring the New York Times to write, “Woods is an artist rooted in classical music, but whose cello is a vehicle that takes him, and his concertgoers, on wide-ranging journeys.” He is a recipient of the 2022 Chamber Music America Michael Jaffee Visionary Award.


Woods’s debut solo album, asinglewordisnotenough (Confront Recordings-London), has garnered great acclaim since its release in November 2016 and has been profiled in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, the Guardian, 5against4, I Care If You Listen, Musical America, Seattle Times, and Strings magazine, among others.

We have the unique possibility of seeing this compositional process unfold in two events on March 27. Click on the links for more information:

Katherine Young and Seth Parker Woods: New Work for Solo Cello Open Rehearsal Monday, March 27, 2023, 1pm

Katherine Young and Seth Parker Woods: Masterclass-- Collaboration and New Practices Monday, March 27, 2023, 4pm

Emory Concerto and Aria Competition

Sunday, April 2, 2023, 7pm

Schwartz Center

The Emory University Concerto and Aria Competition is an annual showcase of the brilliant talent found in the Emory University Department of Music. It is open to undergraduate music majors (most of whom are double majors in Emory College) who prepare a memorized movement of a major concerto for their instrument or aria for voice. Each performer may not exceed ten minutes. Students are judged on this evening’s performance only, with tone quality, intonation, rhythmic accuracy, articulation/diction, musicianship, style, memorization, and stage presence being the major factors under consideration.


The “competition” is friendly and supportive, and the winner will perform with the Emory University Symphony Orchestra during the 2023–2024 season. The winner is announced the day after the competition.

This will be a great opportunity to hear 12 talented students compete for the opportunity to play with EUSO. Performing will be one soprano, one flutist, four violinists, one violist, three cellists, and two pianists. The program can be seen by clicking here.

The Arts Calendar information may be seen by clicking here.

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Student Recitals

Alexa Schwartz (soprano)

12pm PAS

Alexa Schwartz, 19, of New York City, is a second year double major in Music on the vocal performance track and Business with a concentration in marketing and arts management. She is a recipient of the 2018 Music Scholarship. She studies voice under Professor Bradley Howard and has been taking voice lessons for 7 years. At Emory, she is Vice President of Aural Pleasure A Cappella where she manages the group and performs monthly concerts. She is a member of Emory Concert Choir as a Soprano 1. She is also an Emory Student Ambassador. She graduated from Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School as a voice major and was the recipient of the Isidore Russ Music Education award. She was part of the Young People’s Chorus of NYC where she performed across the world and on National Television. She recently worked as a Production Assistant for performances across New York City.


About the program:

I will be performing pieces that I have been working on since my first semester at Emory. I am featuring works from a variety of genres and eras by composers such as Antonio Vivaldi, W.A. Mozart, Gabriel Fauré, and Amy Beach. I am so grateful for the support that I have received from Friends of Music. I am excited to present my hard work and dedication as part of an incredible music department.

Evelyn Sload (soprano)

3:30pm PAS

Evelyn Sload, soprano, is a senior at Emory University majoring in music and minoring in English. She studies vocal performance with Professor Bradley Howard. Evelyn is the recipient of the Atlanta Symphony Chorus Robert Shaw Memorial Outstanding Singer Scholarship and the Emory Liberal Arts Scholarship and has been selected as a member of Phi Beta Kappa. Evelyn is the President of Emory Choirs, President of the Music Advisory Board, and outgoing President of Mu Phi Epsilon Music Honor Fraternity.  


About the program:

Evelyn has been selected as the sole student to complete an Honors project in Music in the class of 2023. Her recital examines the prevalence of the female archetype of the "virtuous woman" and features works by Mozart, Schumann, Turina, Poulenc, Weill, and Laitman. She is very grateful for the continual support of the Friends of Music throughout her time at Emory, which has allowed her to pursue her vocal study and honors project. 

Sunday, March 26, 2023

Student Recitals

Yihoon Shin (violin)

2pm Schwartz Center

Yihoon Shin, 21, is a senior at Emory University studying chemistry and economics. He began playing violin at age five through a Suzuki academy in Korea, then moved to the United States and continued his studies at the Oberlin Conservatory under Lily Klotz-Foster, Laura Kuennen-Poper, and Mary Price. Shortly before college, Shin moved to Iowa and studied under Jonathan Sturm.


Before Emory, Shin was a member of the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra, where he was coached by William Preucil, Emilio Llinás, and Yoko Moore, among other members of the Cleveland Orchestra. Later, he played a successful audition for Minnesota Youth Symphonies, and was Iowa All-State concertmaster in 2018.


At Emory, Shin studies under Jay Christy of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. He has most prominently been an orchestral player—serving as principal second violin and concertmaster of the Emory University Symphony Orchestra—but he has also played solo master classes for renowned violinists including Soovin Kim, David Coucheron, and Geneva Lewis; and chamber music under the guidance of the Vega Quartet.


During his remote learning year, Shin helped to digitally produce Emory’s first-ever virtual orchestra, which gained attention worldwide. He is also a founding member of what is now the Emory Orchestral Student Association.


Shin’s interests extend beyond classical violin. He plays electric guitar for Grace Midtown Church and recorded violin tracks for an upcoming pop song by artist AVENU (Sam Kim 23B). He is a brother of Sigma Beta Rho and serves as the president of the Emory chapter.


Shin thanks his teacher Jay Christy for his thoughtful mentorship; Paul Bhasin, who has been a constant source of support in numerous ways throughout his college career; and his family, friends, teachers, and mentors for their love and encouragement.

About the program:

My program is built of pieces I've always wanted to play on the violin. I love to play technically challenging pieces like Eugene Ysaye's 3rd sonata, but I also deeply enjoy slow, expressive works like Gabriel Fauré's "Après un rêve" and the second movement of Richard Strauss's sonata in E flat. I chose from a range of composers spanning from the late 19th century to the early 20th century, and I hope to perform an exciting and rewarding recital showcasing some famous works from the violin repertoire.

The program can be seen by clicking here.

Saturday, April 1, 2023

Student Recitals

Solomon Young-Joon Kim (composition)

3:30pm PAS

Solomon Young-Joon Kim (b. 2001) is a composer, cellist, and conductor, studying Music Composition and Economics as a third-year Robert W. Woodruff Dean’s Achievement Scholar and John H. Gordon Stipe Scholar. Solomon studies composition with Joel Rust. His music explores the fragmentation of truth, musical solidarity, and electronic-acoustic intersections. Solomon’s work has been showcased at Underground Atlanta, the Schwartz Center for Performing Arts, the College Music Society’s Southern Chapter Conference (where he was awarded the Dennis Kam Student Composition Award), and other distinguished venues. Past collaborators include Hypercube, the Emory Wind Ensemble, and other groups across the United States and Japan.


About the program:

Composition student and Stipe Scholar Solomon Kim presents works composed during his time at Emory investigating fragmentation of truth, musical community, and electronic-acoustic intersections. This concert features the premiere of Network Theory, a song cycle composed in collaboration with writers Clayton Trumbull (Eastman School of Music) and Sylvan Lebrun (Yale College), and visual artist Angelique Gomez (Emory alum). Featured in this recital are student performers Eli Parrish and LuLu Scully, and Solomon’s conducted improvisation lab ensemble. This project is supported by an Emory Arts Project Grant and by Friends of Music funding. Short reception to follow.

Kaito Mimura (violin)

5pm Schwartz Center

Kaito Mimura is a senior at Emory University, double majoring in chemistry and music. He began studying the violin at age three when his grandfather gave him his first violin. Soon after, Mimura began violin lessons with his mother. Growing up in New Jersey, Mimura was surrounded by the diverse music scenes in New York City and Philadelphia where he studied with Richard Rood and J Freivogel. Prior to attending Emory, Mimura devoted himself to orchestral playing and chamber music. He has played with numerous orchestras and chamber ensembles in New York City, Philadelphia, Verbier, and Reykjavík—Youth Chamber Orchestra at Temple University Music Prep as concertmaster; Philadelphia Youth Orchestra as concertmaster under Louis Scaglione and Yannick Nézet-Séguin; and the Verbier Junior Festival Orchestra as principal second under James Gaffigan, Alain Altinoglu, and Ken-David Masur. As a chamber musician, Mimura was the first violinist of the Newman String Quartet at the Settlement Music School, and he attended festivals including the Castleman Quartet Program and Bowdoin Music Festival. In addition, Mimura has participated in numerous master classes with renowned violinists such as Ayano Ninomiya, Stefan Jackiw, David Coucheron, and Soovin Kim. While at Emory, Mimura has served as concertmaster and a soloist of the Emory University Symphony Orchestra after co-winning the Concerto Competition in 2021. Mimura studies violin under Jessica Shuang Wu, violinist of the Vega Quartet. After graduating this summer, Mimura will attend the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine as a Penn Dental Medicine Dean Scholar. He thanks Paul Bhasin, Jessica Wu, Emory Friends of Music, his friends, and his mom and dad for their support and encouragement and hopes to inspire others to pursue their passions with the same dedication and enthusiasm.

About the program:

This program is the culmination of my musical career. It consists of pieces that have inspired me to practice and become the violinist I am today. Praeludium Allegro was the first piece I aspired to ever play, Amy Beach Romance is dedicated to my mom who began teaching me violin and has been an important role model and influence in my life, Mendelssohn Octet represents how I value the collaborative nature of music and includes my friends who have supported my Emory music career, and the Saint Saens violin sonata is the culmination of my technical fireworks and musicianship I have developed over my life and during my time at Emory University. I hope that you will enjoy this performance as much as I have enjoyed putting it together!


I would also like to express my appreciation and gratitude for the Friends of Music who have supported my passion of music. I have received support every semester for private lessons and even received the Friends of Music Award last year. The support allows for me to continue doing what I love. Thank you!

The program can be seen by clicking here.

Saturday, April 8, 2023

Student Recitals

Eli Parrish (clarinet) / Carol Xu (violin)

12pm PAS

Eli Parrish (b. 2001) began his compositional career with a niche for wind instruments and symphonic ensembles. Recently nominated as the 2023-2024 Stipe Society Fellow for music, he currently studies composition with Davor Vincze at Emory University. Eli’s music has been performed at universities, festivals, and venues across the United States. His works for chamber groups, soloists, and large ensembles explore the intersections of storytelling, environmentalism, and sound-to-color. His passions for performance, conducting, and musical leadership provide inspiration for his compositions. Eli currently studies conducting with Paul Bhasin and directs the Emory Pep Band and the Emory Young People’s Concert Orchestra. As a clarinetist, he studies with the artist affiliates from the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Laura Ardan and Marci Gurnow. He is a clarinetist in the Emory University Symphony Orchestra, Emory Wind Ensemble, and various chamber groups. Eli is the Artistic Vice President of Emory Composers’ Society, Vice President of the Delta Zeta chapter of Mu Phi Epsilon, and serves on Emory’s Music Advisory Board.


About the program:

This junior recital features repertoire for the clarinet by composers from the romantic to contemporary eras. Well-known pieces for the instrument by Claude Debussy and Gerald Finzi contrast new works for the clarinet family with solo writing for E flat clarinet by Jenni Brandon and a uniquely stylized arrangement of George Gershwin's musical, "An American in Paris."

Carol Xu (b. 2002) is a third-year student at Emory University, currently pursuing a dual degree in Economics and Human Health with a double major in Music Performance (violin). She began her musical studies at age 5 in Dallas, Texas with Charles Krigbaum and has since traveled all over the country to perform, including Carnegie Hall in New York. Prior to attending Emory University, Carol was a member of the Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra and is a former recipient of the Young Achiever Scholarship from the Suzuki Association of the Americas. Currently, she studies with Jessica Wu and is a principal violinist in the Emory University Symphony Orchestra along with several chamber ensembles. Carol’s dedication to her artistry is reflected not only in her performances but also in her commitment to sharing her passion for music with others. In high school, she began instructing students in Dallas and now has four years of experience working with young violinists, ranging from beginners to those studying advanced repertoire.


About the program:

This junior recital showcases a diverse range of virtuosic selections from the violin repertoire. Sarasate's Carmen Fantasy, recognized for its demand of both technical and stylistic maturity, has become a beloved staple for violinists worldwide. In addition to the monumental Carmen Fantasy, the program features culturally diverse and contemporary works including a soloistic transcription of the traditional Chinese folk song, "Fisherman's Harvest." Its passionate ornamentation reflects the natural beauty of rural China through pentatonic harmonies and ecstatic ricochet. Bernstein's "America" from West Side Story, the Latin-inspired anthem from the composer's most infamous work, will close the program in a thrilling and vibrant finale. 

Caleb Park (cello)

2pm Schwartz Center

Caleb Park, 22, from Columbia, Maryland, is a cellist studying chemistry and music performance at Emory University. He has been playing for 18 years and currently studies under Guang Wang. Park has studied at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University with Dr. Alison Wells. Park serves as co-principal cellist in the Emory University Symphony Orchestra (EUSO) and has served as principal cellist in the Peabody Youth Orchestra. Park is the winner of numerous competitions such as the EUSO Concerto & Aria Competition and was a quarter finalist in the 2015 National Fischoff Chamber Music Competition. In 2016, Park performed Tchaikovsky’s Rococo Variations with the Concert Artists of Baltimore Chamber Orchestra under the direction of Maestro Edward Polochick. Park has attended the Indiana University Performance Academy, Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival, and has worked with renowned cellists such as Amit Peled, Zuill Bailey, and Lynn Harrell. In the summers of 2016-2018, Park was one of six cellists to participate in the Verbier Music Festival. He currently plays a “Ernst Heinrich Roth Markneukirchen 1938 Reproduction of Antonius Stradivarius Cremona 1714” German cello, generously loaned by the Carlsen Cello Foundation. 


About the program

The compositions that will be performed display a wide range of technicality and emotional complexity. Expect a roller coaster of emotions, ranging from happy celebration to the most painful and sorrowful of feelings. All in all, it will be a great showing of the cello and all of its magnificence. 

The program can be seen by clicking here.

Karyn Lisker (soprano)

3:30pm PAS

Karyn Lisker, 21, from St. Louis, Missouri, is a third-year undergraduate student double-majoring in Psychology (B.A.) and Music on the Vocal Performance track. Karyn studies voice under the instruction of Professor Bradley Howard and collaborative pianist, Dr. Hanna Song. She has also received coaching from Professor Erika Tazawa. Karyn participates in Concert Choir under the direction of Dr. Eric Nelson as an Alto 2 and serves on the Social Media committee. Karyn’s vocal studies have been supported for the last two years by the generosity of Emory’s Friends of Music—which she feels deep gratitude for–and in 2022, Karyn was awarded the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus Robert Shaw Memorial Outstanding Singer Scholarship. Karyn has studied voice for eight years. Her love of music comes from her family and grew from a young age until graduating high school in dance and piano lessons. Classical voice became a passion in her third and fourth years of high school when she had the opportunity to train with Opera Theater St. Louis, and a highlight of her high school experience was performing in the musicals. Outside of the Music Department at Emory, Karyn is involved in Pi Beta Phi Fraternity for Women as Director of Leadership, Emory Hillel as a Development Student Associate, Office of Spiritual and Religious Life as a member of the Jewish Life Working Group, and is passionate about improving the health and well-being of all Emory students on campus through serving on the Student Well-being Steering Committee and Student Health Advisory Committee.


About the Program:

Karyn’s recital highlights classical arias, Spanish art song, and musical theater. The arias include the Seguidilla from Bizet’s Carmen, “Che farò senza Euridice?” from Orfeo ed Euridice by Gluck, arias from Massenet and Barber, and the beloved Flower Duet from Delibes’ opera Lakmé. A seven-song Spanish folk song set from Manuel de Falla invites the audience back for the second half of Karyn’s recital. The musical theater selections include “Paciencia y Fe” from Lin-Manuel Miranda’s award-winning musical In the Heights, and “Mister Snow” from Rodger and Hammerstein’s hit musical, Carousel.

Miyuka Yoshida (flute)

5pm Schwartz Center

Miyuka Yoshida began learning flute at age 10 and has been playing ever since. She performs in multiple settings including orchestra, wind ensemble, chamber ensemble, marching band, and featured soloist. Yoshida was the lead flutist in her high school orchestra for four years and continues her music career in college studying under James Zellers and performing in the Emory University Symphony Orchestra and Emory Wind Ensemble.


Yoshida is a fourth-year undergraduate student double majoring in biology and music at Emory University with plans of becoming a veterinarian. She will graduate from Emory in May 2023 and continue her education at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine in the fall. Yoshida is a veterinary assistant at Banfield Pet Hospital, performing medicine on small animals. In her free time, Yoshida gives back to the community by raising future guide dog puppies; she has been volunteering as a puppy raiser for the Guide Dog Foundation since 2020.

The program can be seen by clicking here.


Adam Mirza, Assistant Professor of Composition

Part 1

Friends of Music Board member Jeff Young recently sat down with Assistant Professor of Composition Adam Mirza for a discussion of the future of music and how it is taught at Emory. Professor Mirza joined the Emory music faculty in 2017. At Emory, Dr. Mirza teaches courses involving composition for acoustic instruments, field recording, acousmatic music, live electronic music using Max MSP, and music with video. His research interests include experimental and electronic music, immersive music theater, critical approaches to music technology, avant-garde aesthetics, and do-it-yourself concert organizing. Consider our conversation in light of the new mission statement of the Emory Department of Music, which reads:


The Department of Music at Emory recognizes the many and varied manifestations of music and hears in them a powerful means of understanding the human experience. The mission of the department is to provide a dynamic and ever-changing environment in which students, faculty, and the greater Atlanta community can encounter music through performance, creation, listening, reflection, and analysis. We fulfill our mission by offering a broad array of courses and experiences in which students make and study many different kinds of music. We aspire to provide rich and deep encounters for all who are interested, appreciating that our different musical traditions and levels of expertise enrich those encounters. Through our collective activities, we affirm the capacity of musical expression to respond ethically and creatively to the world. We welcome all and are committed to mutual care and collaboration in our work.


Jeff Young

If you think about the future of composition of art music, where do you think things are headed, in general.


Adam Mirza

I have many thoughts about this. First, I want to examine the term “art music.” What is included and what is excluded? Recently, I started calling myself a composer AND sound artist. I have even wondered: Am I still a composer? Do I make “art music” or “sound art”?


Nobody knows the future, but I can talk about trends I've been noticing, what's changed—at least from my perspective. There is an interest in trying to evaluate music without simplistically distinguishing between traditional borders, like high and low, commercial and non-commercial, or according to intended purpose. I see many young composers trying to cross boundaries of all types, whether cultural or technological.


Composition is highly fragmented across many styles, genres, techniques, and media. There is an ongoing common trend to expand “art music” off the score and into different spaces—to use music to make new connections with people, material, and media. (I’m thinking for instance of Kronos Quartet’s “50 For the Future” and similar projects by other ensembles.) It’s rarely just about the “sound itself.” Take improvisation. Does “art music” include John Cage —or John Coltrane? New music ensembles with classically trained players like the International Contemporary Ensemble are engaging improvisation more directly than was typical for such groups in the past.


Another aspect is music technology—expanding from scored composing to other domains through recording and production, multimedia and now AI. For me this is where my composing connects to sound art. Cage says that all sound can be music. This perspective is in some ways only possible “after” recording technology. Recording puts all sound on an equal playing field. It also changes how we hear and what we consider to be music. With recording you decontextualize sound from the event of its original performance. You assemble a new virtual timeline from the remnants of other, previous timelines—you can even create duets with the dead.


Turning to film sound, I see music and sound working together (or against each other) in interesting ways within a highly mediated context. “Sound design” can refer to that overlap and engagement with multimedia. The sound designer for a film or theater piece stages music and sound to interact with other media, and to create a new experience.


Underlying all of this is the increasing encroachment of virtuality within all aspects of our lives. Virtuality and media go hand-in-hand. Composition has moved into virtual spaces. This relates to the first point, of getting music off the score and using it to make new encounters. These can be “in person,” “online,” or “hybrid”—just like faculty meetings! Apparently, we are in an “experience” economy. We desire unique experiences, tastes, and flavors. I heard this several years ago on an NPR broadcast about new shopping mall designs.


Jeff Young

I have incorporated improvisation in chamber music for typical orchestral instruments. Does art music have to be notated music? The manner of notation of instrumental music seems to be broadening quite a bit.


Adam Mirza

Not to put everything on technology, but I point out recording is also a form of writing. Composing, taking the roots, means “put together.” The question is, what do you want to put together and how can you use notation (or another form of writing) to do this? You can write down a performance as a sequence of notes, but you're not writing the actual sound. You are putting together a bunch of notes and rhythms as a melody—which can be played on any instrument. A violinist can play it, and a trumpet player can play the exact same melody. But the way that sound is materialized on the violin, given the instrument, the technique and history around how the violinist plays it, and how that sound comes out, is totally different from the way the sound comes out when a trumpet player plays it. If you want to write down the sound precisely, you would have to record it. And that can lead to a different kind of composing, like musique concrete or, more broadly, mixing and producing.


There's a musical space perhaps only accessible to improvisers or artists who develop a personalized music through specific relationships to their instruments and bodies. They come up with performances that a distant “composer” could never fully notate. They have other ways to put together the performance. Improvising is a kind of real-time composing, as guitarist Timuçin Şahin describes it. I think that domain as a distinct creative space is important, and it raises questions about the relationship between written and oral practices as part of composing.


With the traditional way of composing, you don’t compose exactly how the sound comes out. Still it’s very interesting to try to compose “performance” or “sound production,” for instance by providing specific notation of an action such as high or low pressure of the lips, or where precisely the bow is put on the string. And as an artist you can choose whichever aspects of music you wish to “put together.” Each approach could involve a different form of writing. 


Jeff Young

What do you think of composers who rely completely on computer programs that provide samples of sound, to write compositions that don't call for live performers?


Adam Mirza

That’s great - electronic music! Of course, it depends on how it is done. What’s interesting to me is how it works as a virtual experience. Does it try to replicate an acoustic performance? Or is it something hyperreal or unreal? Recording is a form of documentation. It curates an experience of reality, just like documentaries (or news, for that matter). When you put together a bunch of different samples, each recorded at different times and in places, how do they connect or comment upon one another? Should it matter who the performer was that you recorded? 


Many composers use the playback features of notation software to get a sense of the flow of a traditionally notated piece. Virtual instrument samples of instruments are made by recording—in a very professional way—each note of a “real” instrument, often with different dynamics and articulation. But MIDI playback can't duplicate the complete performance of live musicians. If you rely too much on the computer sound, you start to make composition decisions based on the sound qualities of the virtual instruments; at some point you are really making electronic music—not acoustic music. Which is totally fine. But there will be some confusion if you try to get the same sound when you give the score to live musicians. It can become situation like computer-generated speech.


Then there's a hybrid approach, for example in the film world, where it's much more common to interweave live instruments and MIDI samples to try to create a kind of hyperreality and presence. For example, you can “close mic” horns to make them sound bigger and more direct than what you would ever hear in a concert hall (unless you sat directly behind the horn player). For a listener habituated to live orchestral performances, these techniques can sound artificial. It is an interesting and complicated discussion.


Some aspects of a live performance are impossible to replicate virtually. MIDI can reproduce the pitches, durations, and a certain sound but not the visceral aspects. Imagine a virtuoso solo violin passage, with lots of tonal shifts on different notes and changing vibrato, or passages that involve lots of timbral changes. ln a way it gets back to the improvisation discussion. Maybe the ubiquity of virtual sounds is part of the reason experimental improvisers try to break away from generic sounds of their instruments. 


Jeff Young

Technology has a way of really changing things.


Adam Mirza

There will always be new technologies. At the same time, technologies can be used more or less reflectively. And that’s ok. We don’t always want to have to think about technology—often we just want to use it. We only think about it when it stops working! But I think “art music” of the future and present should be critical and reflective about its use of tools and technologies (among other things).


The uncanny valley that separates what is real and what's not is almost gone. Certainly within virtual spaces (i.e. media), it takes sustained effort to maintain a distinction between “real” and “fake.” But this also happens within “live” spaces. Hannah Arendt wrote something I’ve grappled with for a long time. In the Introduction to The Human Condition, she claimed that the launch of Sputnik—sending a man-made object beyond the earth—indicated not only a change in self-awareness but also a fundamental change in the human condition. Previously human existence was subject to given conditions—like those of our bodies and the Earth itself. Conditions that could not be changed. But now we have the ability to create—or synthesize—our own conditions: our physical space, environment, food, and bodies. This complicates notions of freedom and excellence. If excellence occurs through crafted response to our given conditions, what happens when we now can craft our own conditions? This situation, which I would describe as virtual or cyborg existence, bears upon acoustic and electronic music.


Jeff Young

So recording and computers are tools that provide the freedom, if you will, to take away the conditions limiting pre-electronic composition and enable us to create pure electronic music or combine that with live performance?


Adam Mirza

That’s half of it. They remove conditions and offer freedom but they then change the result into something else. You can use virtual instruments rather than dealing with finding (and paying) a violinist or learning how to write for one. You can just put in some MIDI notes and tell the computer to play the sound. But then you will have to find creative resistance somewhere other than in the interaction with the violinist, since that interaction is no longer happening. With electronic music we do not struggle with the conditions through which sound is produced. We just press a button, and the sound happens. This is a point made by the composer Helmut Lachenmann. But then we struggle with what to do with that sound and what it means.


Jeff Young

But it's how (in a quality sense) we reduce those conditions that determines excellence, not just a test based on how much we eliminate them, right?


Adam Mirza

I think the conditions are still there, they are just more complicated. The “cloud” server is still housed in a physical space. The question is how do we critically engage with the conditions which we create. For me this is why contemporary art practices—and here’s a normative claim—should engage production: make it visible as part of the meaning of the work, rather than as something hidden away in the studio. This means working critically with technologies of sound production (violin bow techniques as well as microphone techniques) and institutions of cultural production. We should be critical listeners to who, how, why, and where musical sound is produced.


Even though we make our own conditions, our new synthetic world is not devoid of creativity. Partly this means finding sustainable ways to use of technology to open spaces and change our listening. Opera over last 10-20 years has embraced a wider array of interdisciplinary processes with new media and technology. The same trend is also happening in concert halls. And the influence of political, social, ecological, and environmental issues is unavoidable. Part of trying to figure out what it means to be an artist now is how to acknowledge your relationship to the world around you.

Part 2 of this conversation will be in the next newsletter.

ECMSA Masterclasses

As part of their programming, ECMSA brings in world-class artists to perform in their concerts. A huge benefit for our music students is that ECMSA makes available many of these artists for masterclasses with selected students. Friends of Music members are invited to attend; both masterclasses below are in Tharp Rehearsal Hall. You can click on the links below to see more information about each masterclass. 

ECMSA: Masterclass with Jasmin Arakawa, Piano Saturday, March 25, 2023, 10am


Pianist Jasmin Arakawa performs and teaches around the world and has been hailed by Gramophone Magazine for her "characterful sparkle".  She is performing the ECMSA:Cooke Noontime Series concert on March 24 at noon in the Carlos Museum.

ECMSA: Masterclass with Zhenwei Shi, Viola Saturday, April 8, 2023, 10am


Violist Zhenwei Shi has performed as a soloist and chamber musician at prestigious venues such as Buckingham Palace, Wigmore Hall, Royal Festival Hall and the Shanghai Concert Hall. Since 2018, he has frequently played with the San Francisco Symphony and Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Zhenwei Shi was appointed Principal Viola of the Atlanta Symphony in 2018.

Thank You to our Members!

A big Thank You to those who contributed in the 2021-2022 year, and especially to those of you who have even increased your level of support or are new supporters! There is no way to thank you enough. It was the strong level of giving last year than enabled us to substantially increase our grants to music students and faculty for this year.

Much of our support for students and faculty is through grants to provide scholarships for students to help pay for required music fees, to help fund undergraduate research projects, and to provide enhancements for classes. You can see the grants we have awarded for this school year by clicking here.

A special thanks to those of you who are sustaining members, either through payroll deduction, or a continuing contribution on your credit card. After two years of asking, our donations page is finally updated to make it easy to choose to give a one-time gift or a monthly gift.

You can see the list of our donors by clicking the following link. Those whose names are listed with a @ or ### have made contributions during this academic year, beginning last summer. If you have not yet contributed in this academic year, we would greatly appreciate your support, particularly in the next month or two, as the amount we are able to fund for grants to students and faculty for the next academic year are determined by our fundraising through early spring of this year.

The list of members can be seen by clicking here.


Please Note: It is surprisingly difficult to generate a list of members who are current in their giving. We measure our giving year from the start of our annual campaign, which is usually in July of each year. Some members give through payroll deduction or give more than one gift per year (thank you to both!) and we want to make sure we correctly acknowledge the level of giving. We don't have a set format for how names are listed and depend on member's preference. Sometimes we make mistakes. Please let us know if you find any errors in the list of members above. You can just reply to this newsletter and we will be glad to correct any mistakes. The date that the list was updated is given at the bottom. Among other problems, we are finding that it can take several weeks for us to get news of gifts.

You can make a contribution online by clicking here.

Livestream and Recorded Music

There is literally nothing like attending live music performances! Many of us are so grateful that we can once again hear so many outstanding performances at Emory and around Atlanta. One of the unanticipated consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic is that when it was not safe to gather in concert halls to hear music, music organizations spent much time and resources to make music performances available online. Those resources are continuing to be used in many cases to make livestream and recorded performances available to those who are not able to attend the performances in person.

Who are those who can benefit from livestream/recorded performances? I would say most, if not all of us can benefit. There are certainly instances in which we have wanted to attend a concert but were unable to because of various conflicts. As we age, it can become more difficult to attend concerts at night, or drive long distances. The livestream/recorded option also gives us the option of hearing music performed in distant venues.

This last point is particularly important in the Emory context. Our Emory music students come not only from all over the United States, but from many other countries as well. Their parents, friends, and relatives would certainly love to be able to hear these students perform in person, but for most of them, it is not possible to be able to come to Atlanta to hear these performances. For them, the livestream/recorded option is the only way to hear the students' performances.

It is important to understand that even with enhanced recording equipment in place, there is a significant cost in providing livestream/recordings of performances due to the resources of staff, etc., involved. Because of the excellence of the Emory performances and the benefit to the friends and supporters of Emory music, the Friends of Music is doing all we can to encourage livestream/recorded options for Emory events.

How best to view Livestream/Recorded Music

One note about these performances: One generally accesses the programs via a computer. It is likely that many of us have been watching more movies at home during the pandemic, and it is generally preferable to watch those movies on our TVs rather than on some type of mobile device. Similarly, it is much preferable to watch music programs on a large screen with good sound. The most reliable way to connect your device to a TV is via an HDMI cable (perhaps with an adapter) if both your device and the TV supports such a connection. Another method is to mirror your device screen onto your TV. There are many ways to do that. Clicking on this link will take you to an article that describes various ways to do that screen mirroring.

The Schwartz Center

The Schwartz Center is the hub of most musical performances at Emory. Emerson Hall in particular has greatly enhanced capabilities for livestreaming and recording. However, the decision on what performances will be livestreamed or recorded is made individually for each performance.

Schwartz Center Virtual Stage

The Schwartz Center Virtual Stage is then entry point for livestream/recorded performances at the Schwartz Center. The WATCH AGAIN link on the page leads to a listing of recorded events that were not ticketed. At this point, it is not clear how many events during the coming year will be on this page.

Another link on the Virtual Stage link leads to a login for paid ticketed events. This includes the concerts for the Atlanta Master Chorale (see below); it is not clear what others will be included in this option.

Organizations with Strong Emory Affiliations

The following organizations all have strong Emory affiliations. Their programs will generally not be listed in this newsletter, but most of them, with the exception of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, are listed in the Music at EmoryCalendar.


I assume that all of our readers are familiar with ECMSA, whose Artistic Director is Professor William Ransom. ECMSA is celebrating its 30th season this year and all of their concerts are free. I am listing them separately because ECMSA has a variety of music series, only some of which are at the Schwartz Center. The full array of their concerts can be seen on the ECMSA website.

Notes about two of the series:

Most of the Bach's Lunch Series are part of the Concerts@First series held in the sanctuary of First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta. These concerts are livestreamed and are usually available for listening later.

The Masterclass Series, is back this year and is an incredible gift for our students. These masterclasses feature outstanding musicians who will teach Emory students in these classes. Moreover, our members are invited to attend these masterclasses. There are twelve masterclasses planned for this year, with an impressive array of artists involved.

Atlanta Master Chorale

The Artistic Director of the Atlanta Master Chorale is Professor of Music Eric Nelson, and the chorale is one of the finest in the country. All of their local performances are in the Schwartz Center, and there is a livestream option for concert tickets.  All purchased tickets include a link to the livestream recording for one week after the concert.  I usually view the recording at least once after attending the concert, surely a form of having one's cake and eating it too! 

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

Not only is the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra a great orchestra, but our students benefit greatly from the ASO, as many of the Music Department Artist Affiliates are ASO musicians.

The ASO responded to the pandemic in a very creative way, beginning a series of "Behind the Curtain" performances featuring musicians playing without an audience. The "Behind the Curtain" series has continued, featuring a selection of recorded performances from previous weeks.  

The entire ASO concert series is detailed on the ASO website. There is a lot of excitement this year as the ASO welcomes its new Music Director Nathalie Stutzmann.  Information about virtual memberships for the "Behind the Curtain" series will also soon be on the website.

Emory Friends of Music
Schwartz Center for Performing Arts
1700 N. Decatur Rd, Suite 206
Atlanta, GA 30322