Digital release out now!
New works by Natalie Draper and Octavio Vazquez
$6 on Bandcamp or stream on iTunes & Spotify
The Southeast Michigan-based ensemble, the Akropolis Reed Quintet, hailed by Fanfare Magazine for their “imagination, infallible musicality, and huge vitality" and whose third album, The Space Between Us, released on innova recordings, was called “Pure Gold” by the San Francisco Chronicle, releases its first digital EP. Available on all digital platforms, Birds EP comprises two works which paint vivid portraits of birds by composers Natalie Draper and Octavio Vazquez, who formed a close bond with Akropolis while in a collaborative composer and performer residency at the I-Park Foundation in 2018.
Akropolis Reed Quintet
Tim Gocklin, Oboe
Kari Landry, Clarinet
Matt Landry, Saxophone
Andrew Koeppe, Bass Clarinet
Ryan Reynolds, Bassoon
Natalie Draper and Octavio Vazquez
1 - 4. Music of Foghorns & Seabirds by Natalie Draper
I. In the Distance [3:10]
II. Murmuration [2:57]
III. Stillness [2:54]
IV. Into the Haze [2:42]
5 - 7. Alchemical Birds by Octavio Vazquez
I. Raven [3:00]
II. Swan [3:41]
III. Phoenix [3:42]
Preview the tracks
About the Pieces
Music of Foghorns & Seabirds
“Music of Foghorns & Seabirds” was written in 2018 for Akropolis Reed Quintet and premiered in East Haddam, Connecticut, and New York City in August of 2018. This piece is the product of a collaborative residency at the I-Park Foundation. Much of Draper's recent music has reflected visual landscapes and nature. “Music of Foghorns & Seabirds” evokes a scene from the ocean—undulating foghorns, shifting boats, and murmurations and chirpings of seabirds. In this sense it is a soundscape, very much influenced by impressionism and experimentalism. Each movement presents a unique scene: I. In the Distance, II. Murmuration, III. Stillness, and IV. Into the Haze.
In alchemy, the raven, swan, and phoenix traditionally represent the three alchemical stages known as Nigredo (Blackness), Albedo (Whiteness), and Rubedo (Redness). Widely understood as a process of personal transformation, nigredo brings images of death, the decomposition of personality through a chaotic, even reckless phase driven by desire. Following the chaos or massa confusa of nigredo, albedo represents an after-death limbo, a spiritual cleansing which is sometimes referred to as ablutio—the washing away of impurities. Rubedo symbolizes a rebirth out of nothingness, a state of presence or constant renewal, the culmination of the Magnum Opus, the Great Work.
About the Composers
Praised for her "individual and strong voice" (Colin Clarke, Fanfare Magazine), Natalie Draper explores character and evocative sound-worlds in her music. Recent works include "Three Meditations for Organ," written for Anne Laver; "Soliloquy," a set of three solo guitar pieces for Ken Meyer; "Until there is nothing left," a solo piano piece commissioned by Lior Willinger (this project was featured on I Care If You Listen); and "Music of Foghorns & Seabirds" for the Akropolis Reed Quintet. Her music has received honors and recognition—“Timelapse Variations,” which was recorded on the SNOtone label, garnered positive reviews from Lydia Woolever in Baltimore Magazine ("dissonant melodies that build into a unified spiral"), Tim Smith in The Baltimore Sun (a "tense, darkly colorful churn"), and Mark Medwin in Fanfare Magazine ("...polyrhythm bolstering gorgeous pantonal harmonies and shards of chromatic counterpoint," while "...items burst forth, in a way that might make Mahler smile..."). In 2018, Draper remixed excerpts from “Timelapse Variations” for the background music of a short NASA film featuring the research of glaciologist Joe MacGregor. This video can be viewed in a variety of places, including Smithsonian Magazine. Her song cycle "O sea-starved, hungry sea," which was released on Danielle Buonaiuto's album "Marfa Songs" in August 2020, was praised by Phyllis Bryn-Julson, who notes that the music allows you to really "'see' the waves and desolate shores," with a final movement that is "simply gorgeous." Buonaiuto's album is available for purchase on Bandcamp. Draper has held residencies and fellowships at the Ucross Foundation, the Tanglewood Music Center, the I-Park Foundation, and Yaddo. She is an assistant professor in the music theory and composition department at the Setnor School of Music at Syracuse University.
Hailed by the press as “...a burning torch for the next century ..stunning ..superb” (The New Music Connoisseur, New York), “…melodicism and rhythmic buoyancy” (The New York Times), “…astonishingly virtuosic” (Soundboard Magazine), the music of Octavio Vazquez has been performed throughout the US, Europe, and Asia, in venues such as Carnegie Hall, the National Auditorium of Spain, Cologne's Philharmonie, and the Russian State Institute of Art. He has also worked in film and media scoring, and as an arranger, orchestrator and producer in crossover projects, most notably with Grammy award-winning bagpiper and pianist Cristina Pato, with whom he was nominated for the 2011 Spanish Music Academy Awards. Notable performers of his works include conductors such as Rossen Milanov, Dima Slobodeniouk, Carlos Kalmar, Paul Daniel, Paolo Bortolameolli, and Andrew Grams, and soloists as Hilary Hahn, Dmitri Berlinsky, Jonathan Gandelsman, Adam Levin, and Eldar Nebolsin. His works appear in more than 20 CDs, and have been recorded for labels including Naxos and Delos and by national radio and television networks in the US, Spain, Russia and China. A winner of numerous national and international prizes, he has received grants and commissions from the New York State Council on the Arts, New Music USA, Aspen Music Festival, Spanish Radio and Television Orchestra, Royal Galician Philharmonic, Galicia Symphony Orchestra, Galician Cultural Council, Meet the Composer, Fulbright Commission, and Chi-Mei Foundation among others. A featured composer at the 2015 SphinxConnect, recent highlights include MacDowell Colony, VCCA, and I-Park fellowships, and a rare invitation by the late Krzysztof Penderecki to his Beethoven Easter Festival. An avid educator and sought after adjudicator, Dr. Vazquez is currently associate professor of music and composition program director at the Nazareth College School of Music in Rochester, NY.
Birds EP Artwork by Jason Walker
Jason Walker is a photographer, visual artist and creative director living in the Detroit area. His two decades of experience in digital advertising have included web design, development, mobile app design, illustration, storyboarding, and video editing. He likes 80’s R&B and bicycles. See more of this work at https://www.thisaintjason.com/
Additional Credits and Thanks
Producer: Akropolis Reed Quintet
Recording Engineer: Dave Schall Acoustic
Editing: Dave Schall Acoustic, Akropolis Reed Quintet
Mixing: Dave Schall Acoustic
Mastering: Dave Schall Acoustic
These two pieces were commissioned for Akropolis by the I-Park Foundation at their 2018 Composers + Musicians Collaborative Residency in which Akropolis was the resident ensemble. Akropolis would like to extend their heartfelt gratitude to the i-Park Foundation and I-Park's president Ralph Crispino, Jr. for not only supporting Akropolis and these magnificent composers, but for his love of new music, his commitment to artistic creativity, and for providing a place for so much ground breaking creativity to occur. This EP is dedicated to Ralph and the I-Park Foundation and for all of the amazing work they do to support artists.