After helping review 159 submissions from 18 countries, the judging panel of the Barlow Endowment awarded Stacy Garrop of Chicago, Illinois, the $12,000 Barlow Prize to compose a major new work for Akropolis and the reed quintet on the whole! Our bassoonist, Ryan Reynolds, traveled to Salt Lake City, Utah to sit on the judging panel, and we are thrilled to begin working with Stacy to create this cornerstone work. 

Dr. Garrop is a graduate of Indiana University, the University of Chicago, and the University of Michigan. Currently Music Alive’s composer-in-residence with the Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestra and previous faculty member at the Chicago College of Performing Arts, Dr. Garrop has received commissions from the Fromm Music Foundation, the Barlow Endowment, Utah Arts Festival, the Detroit Symphony, the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble and many others. She has also attended residencies at the Aspen Music Festival, Banff Center for the Arts, McDowell Colony, Millay Colony, Oxford Summer Institute, Round Top Festival, Ucross Foundation, Wellesley Composers Conference and Yaddo. In addition her music has been performed by the Albany Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, Gaudete Brass Quintet, San Francisco Choral Society, Volti, and many others.

The Barlow Endowment was established in 1983. Since then it has awarded $1.8M in prizes and commissions to more than 275 composers across the world. It has commissioned new works from Gyorgi Ligeti, Christopher Rouse, Henryk Gorecki, John Corigliano, Chen Yi, Augusta Read Thomas, Dai Fujikura, William Bolcolm, and Mario Davidovsky, to name only a few. Performers and ensembles who have premiered these works include Yo-Yo Ma, Dawn Upshaw, Ransom Wilson, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Baltimore Symphony, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, the American Composers Orchestra, the King’s Singers, Empire Brass, Nexus, Boston Musica Via, eighth blackbird, the Muir Quartet, the United States Marine Band, the Dale Warland Singers, and the BBC Singers among many others. 

Stacy Garrop’s work will be premiered in 2019 by a consortium of three quintets: Akropolis (Michigan), BYU (Utah) and Calefax (Netherlands). 

This is a huge honor and testament to the growing popularity of the reed quintet over the past decade. We’d like to thank the Barlow Endowment for Music Composition for realizing the immense compositional potential of this ensemble, and we are thrilled to be judging this competition alongside our mentors & the very ensemble that created the reed quintet over 30 years ago, Calefax. 

Taking the Plunge to Build the Forever Akropolis

The past 12 months have been transformative. We conducted 80+ events that reached over 8,600 people in 16 states and 2 countries. We performed with Arabic poets in Abu Dhabi, delivered high rise lunch concerts in Detroit, and released our third CD! With a 122% increase in revenue over the prior year, we also took a scary but exhilarating step towards longevity. As of July 1, Matt and Kari have left full-time day jobs to manage Akropolis’ nonprofit, and we have committed to a salaried payroll for all 5 members. In other words  —  we’re all in.  

After 9 years together, we are thrilled to announce our 17/18 season, comprised of 30+ concerts and a record number of educational events for more than 6,000 K-12 students. We aim to deepen our community relationships both locally and nationally, and in May of 2018, we’re hosting our first 5sounds Festival in Detroit. Featuring local and national guest artists, the festival brings our mission close to home, fostering musical collaboration, cultural exploration, and arts access for our diverse Detroit community. Stay tuned for more details about 5sounds!

Creating new works and establishing the legitimacy of the reed quintet continues to drive us. So, we’re thrilled to have been selected to adjudicate the prestigious Barlow Prize, one of the United States’ largest commissioning awards. Previous adjudicators of the $12,000 prized work include Yo-Yo Ma, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the King’s Singers, eighth blackbird, and now, Akropolis! All of this year’s submissions will be for reed quintet, a first for the Barlow Endowment. This is an invaluable contribution to our literature as we strive to cement the reed quintet in chamber music history.

With so many great things happening, we’ve seized the momentum to build the forever Akropolis. Our journey is made possible because of overwhelming support from people like you. In fact, we received twice as many individual gifts last year over the prior year, and we need the same audacious participation this season, beginning now! You are the key to Akropolis’ ability to fulfill its mission. We hope you’ll support us by making a completely tax-deductible gift today.

We could not be prouder of how far we’ve come  —  and how far we’re going! We hope to see you at a concert this year, and thank you for your support.

Sincerely,
Matt, Kari, Ryan, Andrew, Tim

Fewer things make the ardors of life as a musician more satisfying than the trip of a lifetime. At last, Akropolis has taken us to the other side of the world, courtesy of Chamber Music Abu Dhabi. From the haunting beauty of the Empty Quarter, to the unwavering Emirati hospitality, not to mention the fascinating architecture, it’s hands down the most incredible place our music has ever taken us.

How did we end up in Abu Dhabi? It’s all thanks to CMAD Director, Jennifer Laursen (pictured below with us in the Empty Quarter), who has been a loyal listener since before our gold medal at the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition in 2014. We met again at Chamber Music Northwest in 2015 where she asked if we would be interested in journeying to the Emirates — we answered yes on the spot.

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During our two weeks, we gave 4 concerts, performed with 2 Emirati student poets, gave 2 physics of music lectures, taught 4 master classes, gave 4 coachings, hosted a composition reading, premiered 5 new works, worked with middle and high school students in 4 different outreach activities, not to mention exploring various cultural elements of the United Arab Emirates. Two weeks was a bitter-sweet length of time, just enough time to fall in love with a place, but not enough time to say goodbye.

We started out our residency at Khalifa University (جامعة خليفة), listening to a student’s traditional Arabic poetry in addition to working with the professors and students at NYU Abu Dhabi to host our first ever Physics of Music lecture. Following this, it was time to explore! We headed to Mina Port Fish Market where we saw some exotic and colorful fish. We had a Hamour cooked fresh for us! Throughout our journey, we had aromatic Arabic and Turkish coffee, and our absolute favorite coffee spot was at Shakespeare and Company at the downtown Central Market.

After getting the lay of the land (and recovering from serious let lag) we gave our first concert  at a stunning penthouse apartment that towered over the entire city and surrounding islands of Abu Dhabi.

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Day 6 in Abu Dhabi brought us one of the most remarkable experiences of our lives. We spent the day in the Empty Quarter, one of the world’s most expansive deserts. We drove down 350 meter bluffs on a 50 degree incline, made camel friends 🐫 and saw wild gazelle, played board games with a Pakistani man tending to the Liwa oasis, and watched the sun set from the tallest dune in the world.

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After returning from the vast emptiness of the Arabian desert, we gave our second concert at Khalifa University (جامعة خليفة) where we had the great honor of collaborating with Arabic poets Abdulrahman Al Humairy and Saeed Salem Al Mehrzi. We worked with them over the past week to pair their original poems with selections from Splinterby Marc Mellits. Check out this brief clip from the concert! 

For our third concert, we headed back to NYU Abu Dhabi where we gave an “ALIVE” new music concert featuring 4 reed quintet premieres by student composers Garreth Chan, Jacob Bartoszewski, Andrija Klaric and Leonid Kuzmenko, and trio by faculty member Matthew Quayle.

 After working with college students on the other side of the world, we had the pleasure of working with the incredibly enthusiastic middle and high school students of the American Community School of Abu Dhabi. We gave our final concert in their auditorium which featured our first performance of Nico Muhly’s new reed quintet, Look For Me. 

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On our last free day in the Middle East, we decided to visit Dubai! We went to the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, the Al-Fahidi-Fort and Dubai Museum, which showed the history of pearl diving in the region, and we crossed the Dubai Creek and went deep into the heart of old Dubai where we visited a Hindu temple barefoot, saw traditional shops and markets, and Kari got her bling fix at the Dubai Gold Souk!

We spent our final day visiting one of the most iconic landmarks in town, the Grand Mosque Abu Dhabi. Kari had the pleasure of wearing an intricate abaya and hijab while inside this breathtaking communal space. What a way to end this extraordinary adventure!


As you can probably tell, we took A LOT OF PHOTOS. To see all of our pictures from Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and more, check out our
Flickr Gallery Here!

Our third CD, The Space Between Us, released March 24th on innova Recordings, has been making the 
rounds. We’re pleased to present some updates, including a couple cool appearances and two fabulous reviews.  You can purchase the CD here, and it is available on iTunes, Amazon, and other digital platforms. 

Review from San Francisco Chronicle: “Pure gold, shot through with tenderness and grace.”
+ Featured on WNYC “New Sounds” Click here to listen.
Review from Kathodik Italy: “Original and engaging.”
Avant Music News pick of the week: Check it out

Photo by Heather Nash 

2016 was a year of historic growth for Akropolis — not only has it been our busiest year to date with 34 ticketed performances, but we more than doubled our educational outreach activities, deepening our commitment to aspiring musicians and their communities.


Akropolis believes the strongest way to foster appreciation of classical music is through interactive educational experiences. In 2016 alone, our eleven K-12 events reached approximately 2,200 students. We also led 13 college clinics and master classes, taught 14 entrepreneurial Akropolis WORKS lectures, and made our second visit to a youth homeless shelter. We also gave 6 surprise pop-up performances and 5 free community concerts. We are incredibly proud of our educational impact and can’t wait to exceed these numbers in 2017. 

However, transformative educational experiences are not always a guarantee. It is becoming more challenging for music presenting organizations to fund both concerts and free educational experiences. The finnancial burden is often placed onto Akropolis, costing as much as $500 for each educational offering we add to a residency or tour. 

We can’t do this alone. As a new nonprofit, we are counting on your tax-deductible gift to make next year’s educational offerings possible. 

For every $500 raised, we will be able to fund an outreach initiative in 2017 in communities around the country.

It is our goal to raise $5,000 before January 1, 2017 to support 10 educational events in our upcoming season. 

Help Akropolis continue to make a difference through engaging classical performances, educational outreach, and new music advocacy! Join our team by making a completely tax-deductible gift today. Thank you for your support! 

Akropolis’ 2016 Impact & Donor Benefits

 

Each year the Barlow Endowment sponsors the Barlow Prize, one of the nation’s largest composition competitions resulting in a commission of a new work for a select instrumentation. In 2017,  the winner of the prize will receive a commission to write a new work for reed quintet to be premiered by Akropolis! 

The Barlow Endowment was established in 1983. Since then it has awarded $1.8M in prizes and commissions to more than 275 composers across the world. It has commissioned new works from Gyorgi Ligeti, Christopher Rouse, Henryk Gorecki, John Corigliano, Chen Yi, Augusta Read Thomas, Dai Fujikura, William Bolcolm, and Mario Davidovsky, to name only a few. Performers and ensembles who have premiered these works include Yo-Yo Ma, Dawn Upshaw, Ransom Wilson, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Baltimore Symphony, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, the American Composers Orchestra, the King’s Singers, Empire Brass, Nexus, Boston Musica Via, eighth blackbird, the Muir Quartet, the United States Marine Band, the Dale Warland Singers, and the BBC Singers among many others.

The winning composer will receive a $12,000 commission from the Barlow Endowment to compose a major new work for Reed Quintet. The winning composer’s work will be premiered in 2019 by a consortium of three quintets: Akropolis (Michigan), BYU (Utah) and Calefax (Netherlands). The 15-20 minute work is expected to meet the highest artistic requirements for the medium. 

The competition typically attracts 300-400 entries from composers across the world and the participating performers join the Barlow Board of Advisors in a two-day judging process in July in Utah. The premiere will likely occur sometime in the 2018-19 concert season, depending on the completion of the new piece by the composer and the performers’ schedules.

This is a huge honor and testament to the growing popularity of the reed quintet over the past decade. We’d like to thank the Barlow Endowment for Music Composition for realizing the immense compositional potential of this ensemble, and we are thrilled to be judging this competition alongside our mentors & the very ensemble that created the reed quintet over 30 years ago, Calefax.

We are thrilled to announce we have received funding from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs (MCACA) to support our 2017 Detroit “Corporate to Corner Tour” comprised of 10 events reaching 1,300 students and adults this coming January.

 This 5-day residency project in January 2017 will introduce chamber music to 300 Detroit workers at their 4 respective business, 600+ students at 3 Detroit schools lacking arts exposure, and 200+ community members with 2 pop-up performances in the city center, culminating in a formal evening concert for patrons with the Detroit Chamber Winds & Strings on January 27th at 8 pm.  Tickets are available for the DCWS concert event here.

Detroit boasts numerous cultural outlets not taken advantage of by its thousands of daily commuters and local workforce. Due to limited school resources, Detroit school students are often unable to experience live and interactive musical performances. This residency aims to not only introduce Detroit employees, students, and community members to local live performing arts in the form of chamber music, but to change their perception of classical music by directly engaging them in free, contemporary performances, brought directly to them, and to encourage cultural exploration within their community. 

In addition to Akropolis, 15 Wayne County arts and culture nonprofits have received funding through MCACA’s Minigrant program, administered by CultureSource. This project is also made possible with support from Chamber Music America through its Residency Endowment Fund. 

Each interactive workplace concert will accomplish the goal of educating and increasing performing arts access, as Akropolis’ workplace performances are modeled after team-building activities that currently take place within these organizations. Akropolis selected companies that often host team building activities or “Lunch & Learns”, encouraging their departments to participate during business hours. Akropolis will visit the Boll Family YMCA, the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, and MacroConnect, an IT solutions company. During each workplace concert, 2 free tickets will be raffled off to see Akropolis live at our full-length recital with the Detroit Chamber Winds and Strings at the end of the residency.

At three Detroit elementary schools, Akropolis blends chamber music with the schools’ existing curricular activities with a program called “The Best Story”. First featured on their 2015 Fischoff Educator Tour, Akropolis presents a 45-minute interactive reading of Eileen Spinelli’s “The Best Story”. Akropolis also works with school instructors ahead of time to have students submit their own “best stories”. Winners will be read out loud and put to music during the outreach events.

For spontaneous inspiration and to reach residents where they are least expecting it, 2 pop-up performances will be held at the Compuware Building lobby at 87 Monroe Ave. in Detroit, and the Detroit Renaissance Center’s Winter Garden.

Akropolis continually seeks avenues for enriching students of the arts of all ages. Without government and foundation funding, as well as gifts from supporters like you, we would not be able to carry out this mission. If you are interested in supporting this educational residency as well as our upcoming educational programming, please consider making a gift of support online here.

Last year was our most extensive performing season to date, and it’s about to get bigger! We are thrilled to announce our 16/17 season comprised of over 30 ticketed performances and 40+ educational offerings taking us as far as Abu Dhabi. Some performances are still being scheduled.

Our cornerstone program themes for this season include “These American Stories”, “Salvaged”, and “Under the Influence”, each featuring influential American works from the last century including George Gershwin’s An American in Paris and Charles Ives’ “The Alcotts”, along with newly created original works such as Splinter by Chicago-based composer Marc Mellits. With a release of our third CD titled The Space Between Us this fall and our YouTube Web Premiere Series reaching over 18,000 views, our reed quintet innovation is making waves. We are even conducting a 5-day residency at Detroit businesses made possible with support from Chamber Music America through its Residency Endowment Fund.

So, please join us as we celebrate new adventures around the world and at home, reaching new audiences, teaching superb students, and breaking more musical ground! Thank you for being the foremost reason we perform, educate, and innovate. 

See our full schedule of events here!

We are pleased to announce that Chamber Music America has awarded Akropolis a 2016 Residency Partnership Program Grant! Akropolis has designed a unique “Office Space Tour” to bring chamber music to Detroit workers in their office, on their time, to promote more cultural exploration in the city where they work. We’ll be visiting the Boll Family YMCA, Macro Connect, Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, and the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce! To top it off, all are invited to our culminating concert on Detroit Chamber Winds & Strings’ Nighnotes series at the end of the week.

A total of $70,393 will be awarded to four ensembles and four presenting organizations across the United States. The Residency Partnership Program is supported by the Chamber Music America Endowment Fund.

Read the full announcement and more about the other grantees and this fabulous program here: http://ow.ly/K15B300hCec

We are thrilled to announce our collaboration with composer Gregory Wanamaker, as he joins the ranks of John Steinmetz, David Biedenbender, and Rob Deemer on Akropolis’ third album to be recorded this May. His composition, entitled The Space Between Us, is a 17-minute tour de force for reed quintet, and serves as the title track for the album. 

Let’s meet Gregory – When did you start composing? What interests and influences lead you to become a composer? 

I made loud noises and sang a lot as a young child. I spent several summers in the 70’s and early 80’s performing as a child actor in musicals at a summer stock theater in Central New York. I grew up learning songs that none of my friends did – stuff by Rodgers and Hammerstein, Jerry Herman, and more. I also tried out a bunch of instruments, piano, violin, trombone, and more, but I really fell in love with the guitar. My older brothers introduced me to a wide variety of rock and roll music ranging from folk to progressive rock, and I took to playing guitar rather easily. The problem was that I was an impatient practicer, so I never settled on a particular instrument and didn’t take the time to memorize songs on the guitar. I took a few fairly informal guitar lessons, but enjoyed exploring the instrument and working out funky harmonies and finger picking patterns. Today, the guitar is my favorite instrument, but mostly because I mostly learned it on my own. I’m more of a noodler these days…

Photo credit: Robert Young – Blue Note Photography 

After two years of boredom in a public high school in Central New York, I attended an all-boys boarding school near Philadelphia for two years. I was 16 and had been “playing guitar” for a couple of years, and was pretty arrogant about it in a place where it really didn’t matter if you played guitar unless you also played squash or lacrosse. 

I wanted to join the Jazz Band, which was run by a new teacher named Mr. Branker, but upperclassmen with swanky instruments already comprised the rhythm section. I approached Mr. Branker about joining the Jazz Band, as their new guitarist. But Mr. Branker said that what the Band really needed was a bass player. The school had a cheap, short-scale electric bass that I took back to my dorm room along with parts for arrangements of Miles Davis’s “Milestones”, Freddie Hubbard’s “Red Clay”, and some of Mr. Branker’s original music.

I returned to The Hill School the next year excited to study Jazz Composition with Tony. (That’s what I call Mr. Branker now.) I was one of only two students in this class. He taught us basics of jazz harmony and form through example, aural training and listening to recordings. I composed my first music for this class, and had access to the Jazz Band as sort of a lab. This is the experience that turned me on to composing and collaborating with live musicians.

Every recording Tony played for us was new – not necessarily new as in recent, but new as in new to me. We talked about music from blues to bop to fusion and then ONE AFTERNOON he pulled out Ornette Coleman’s Free Jazz, placed it on the spindle, dropped the needle and waited. I can’t say that I liked it immediately, but I was open-minded enough at 16 to be curious. So I asked Tony, why would anyone record group free improvisation? Isn’t that contrary to the purpose? It seemed to me at the time that philosophically, this event is something that should only be experienced once.

Tony let me borrow the record, which I took back to my dorm and happily annoyed everyone in my hall. But I did listen repeatedly – and seriously – and I discovered that there was form, interaction, lyricism, and harmony. And Energy. And I discovered that IT WAS GOOD MUSIC. And I discovered I didn’t have to experience an immediate aesthetic euphoria to appreciate the value of good music.

Anthony Branker is now the director of the Princeton University Jazz Program. He has one helluva catalog and discography. While other teachers and mentors have helped me remain on the path, I credit Tony for guiding me toward MY path 30+ years ago.

I left boarding school that year (not by choice) and returned to public school in my hometown. I spent that summer playing another season at that theater again, and also looking up books and recordings of music – any music I hadn’t heard before. The name John Cage popped up a few times, and I discovered a loose link between Ornette Coleman and Cage philosophically, but of course with a completely different aesthetic. I am not going to say that I liked Cage immediately, but I was open-minded enough at 17 to be curious, so I listened.

I later discovered that Cage studied with a guy called Arnold Schoenberg. So I listened to Schoenberg. To my ears at the time, some of Schoenberg’s music (and Webern’s music – he came along for the ride) shared an aesthetic quality with Coleman’s free jazz, but with a completely different philosophical basis. But, Holy Smokes, this music really spoke to me immediately!

In any case, I kinda went backwards. I can’t imagine doing it any other way, but I found solace and patience in my own personal discovery of various musics. I decided to declare a composition major in college and continued listening.

I went to Shenandoah Conservatory of Music (now University) and studied with William Averitt, who exposed me to serial techniques and American folk music, and later to Florida State University to pursue graduate degrees with Ladislav Kubìk, who exposed me to the music of Martinu, Janacek, and Penderecki.

Listening still turns me on. In fact, what I discovered when listening to Ornette Coleman’s Free Jazz was the excitement in the spontaneity so inherent in the performance that so easily transferred to the recording. Even now, 28 years later, when I listen to Free Jazz, I still sense that same spontaneity, no matter how many times I listen to it. Several other jazz and rock recordings (usually live recordings) do this for me as well. There are some classical ones too, but they’re fewer and farther between. Right now, I am exploring a variety of music from Eastern Europe and India along with current trends in jazz and concert music.

When you start a new composing project, what are some ways you gather ideas and begin the composing process? 

My goal is to create music in which the spontaneous energy is so constructed within the score that it is easily communicated to the performers, who will then naturally unleash this energy upon listeners in a live setting. Of course, I want my music recorded too, and am lucky to have several commercial recordings of my music available, but nothing beats a live performance. Accuracy is important, but it is not a substitute for energy.

Capturing performance energy as an essential part of a composition is tricky, and when I am not working directly with performers, I focus on critical and comparative listening to see how this energy unfolds. A complete understanding of the circumstances surrounding a composition and the circumstances surrounding a specific performance is essential for the composer, performer and the listener.

My favorite impeti is a combination of extra-musical imagery, which helps to create a natural energy not found in the purely technical, and the collaborative process of working directly with the performers who commission my works so that I may highlight their strengths. Sometimes this is as simple as listening to their recordings, while other circumstances require much closer, personal collaboration.

You’ve composed for wind instruments like ours before. What excites you about composing for Akropolis and the reed quintet medium? 

I have written a lot of chamber music for wind instruments. Saxophonists, in particular, have been particularly kind to me in the commissioning and championing of my music. The nice thing about writing for a reed quintet is that it combines the intimacy of a chamber ensemble with the range of a large wind ensemble. In addition, the timbral palette allows for the exploration of the organ-like quality of the unified quintet as well as the possibility of highlighting the differences between individual instruments.

Akropolis’ High Speed Reed is the first collection of music for reed quintet I ever heard. I think I grabbed that the year it came out, and was excited to listen to Unraveled a couple years later. I have since listened to Calefax, and my old college roommate’s group the Atlantic Reed Consort. Akropolis performs with an energy similar to the energy I mentioned earlier. When Matt first contacted me about the possibility of writing a piece for the group, I was thrilled that I would have access to that very same energy, knowing that it will be combined with such a high level of technical virtuosity and adventurous programming.

Tell us about your new piece for Akropolis, “The Space Between Us.”

Matt approached me via email in January 2015 about the possibility of composing a work for Akropolis’ upcoming tour and album. Having followed Akropolis through their recordings for a few years at that point, I was excited to be invited into their musical space. Matt offered the prompt “The Space Between Us” as a starting point, suggesting that it may refer to the relationship between audience and performer. I viewed the prompt as an opportunity to explore ever changing relationships between people of all types, whether they are performers and listeners, students and teachers, family members, lovers, and strangers. All of these groups share the common bond of a connection through various media from face to face interaction, phone calls, email, internet, unifying world events, and a knowledge of history.

Events of many types bring people together: Concerts, Negotiations, Meals, Celebrations, Funerals, Reunions; and at these gatherings, they become one dynamic. Every one of these events offers the opportunity to reflect upon the past: perhaps to reminisce, perhaps to meditate, perhaps to remember those who cannot be present, perhaps to mourn. When these engagements are over, people rediscover the constant space that exists between them as they part to continue their lives. These events may change a small aspect of their beings: their perspectives or their physicality, for example, but on the whole people remain who they were and who they are, even as they continue upon the path of who they will be.

“The Space Between Us” is a work in five interconnected movements that explores all of these relationships through language, texture, color, and harmony.

1. Coming Together is a short prelude using serial techniques alternating hocketing gestures and homorhythmic interjections resolving to… 

2. As One, where the instruments act as a single entity in tonality and drive. 

3. Remembering is a slow contrapuntal movement modeled loosely after a 16th century motet based on the short, simple motives of a descending semitone, a cambiata figure, and a mordent.

4. Ever Constant is abstractly based on the opening movement, yet in place of serialism and unstable textures, the instruments’ interplay features simple five-voice counterpoint using simple repeated gestures in a basic song form.

5. The more things change… returns to the largely consonant material from As One.

Throughout “The Space Between Us” there is reference to each member of the ensemble as an individual entity, but the overall emphasis is upon their interactions with each other through counterpoint to create a single unified soundscape. The work is approximately 18 minutes in duration and was composed for Akropolis Reed Quintet.

What makes your music unique? What types of influences might audiences hear in your works?

That’s a tough question to answer with words. I like athletic virtuosity and lyric expressionism. I like the energy inherent in both slow music and fast music. I like playing with color and texture. I like creating extremely slow music, like the gradually developing Remembering, whose roots originate from the spirit of 16th century motets. I like smooth transitions that connect the most contrasting musics. I like developing simple motivic ideas (a single ascending or descending whole or half step, as in the case of the entirety The Space Between Us) into a complex unifying element between contrasting sections.

I am convinced that composers are influenced by everything they hear. I am sure that there are several influences that may be discovered in my music. I don’t think, however, that I am able to identify most of them. The key for any audience is to be willing experience an entire piece of music. Perhaps more than once.

Akropolis recently performed and worked with composition students you teach where you live in Potsdam, NY. How has the North Country shaped you as a composer?  

Where you live may have a profound impact on your artistic life, but the world is very small now, thanks to the internet and free communication. But I’ve lived in Potsdam and taught at SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music for almost 20 years. I’ve met a lot of amazing musicians and composed a lot of music here for my colleagues and student ensembles during my tenure so far, and I will continue to do so as long as I am here.

Words of wisdom – If you could pass on one helpful tidbit from your years of experience (music or non-music related), what would it be? 

Don’t treat music as a background – make room for it in your foreground. Devote time everyday to listen to a piece of music you’ve never heard before – at least twice. Don’t turn it on and look at your iPad or whatever. Turn it on and sit and listen. This applies to musicians and non-musicians alike, but particularly applies to students of music who want people to hear what they have to say artistically. I am convinced that the world doesn’t listen enough – not just to music, but to each other. Music is always a good place to begin. And to end. Music is always a good place to live.

January has been a blur. It’s the month usually reserved for the largest conferences in our industry, and this year we had a big presence at both!

Not only did we attend Chamber Music America (CMA) & the Association of Performing Arts Presenters Conferences (APAP), but we were awarded juried showcase performances as well as career development opportunities at both conferences.

First, our favorite bits from the conferences:

Andrew: For once we got to actually sleep in NYC! Thanks APAP and YPCA for putting us up at the Sheraton. Not that we don’t love crashing at Tim’s house in New Haven…

KariI loved hearing people’s reactions after our CMA showcase, even just seeing their faces. Many people hadn’t heard the reed quintet before and it really made an impact on them. 

TimAt the YPCA program we met the PubliQuartet, a like-minded, adventurous string quartet. It was great learning from their journey as well as sharing ours. 

Matt: Definitely Brian the NY attorney who busted into the last session of the entire YPCA experience to share his take on the realities of the music business. To put it short, it was an experience! 

Ryan: At both conferences we met many artists we knew of, but didn’t know personally. Making those personal connections was valuable, rewarding, and a long time coming! 

Now let’s take a closer look at the quintet’s adventures: 

January 8th  

Because we love 11-hour car rides, all 5 of us piled into a minivan and made the trek from Northville, MI to New Haven, CT. We arrived at Tim’s house in New Haven around 8 pm with just enough time to eat some tasty noodle soup & rehearse ourselves to sleep. 

 

January 9th 

It’s showtime! We piled back into our minivan & drove into midtown New York City. Chamber Music America is held at the Westin Times Square Hotel, and the Conference was buzzing and the ballroom was packed for our showcase. We performed two movements of Marc Mellits’ new work for reed quintet entitled, “Splinter”, alongside selections of Rameau, Gershwin, and Ton ter Doest.

January 10th 

Leaving Tim in New Haven and sending Ryan back on a plane to Tallahassee, Matt, Kari, and Andrew piled back into the minivan and made the 11 hour drive back to the mitten. 

But wait…the story isn’t over!

January 11th – 13th

The gang returns to their normally scheduled lives to water plants, feed animals, clean dishes, take care of odd house smells, and rest up before the APAP conference. 

January 14th

Ryan flew back early to New Haven to hang out with Tim!

January 15th

After CMA only a few days before, we were vastly unprepared for the sheer size of the APAP conference, with levels upon levels of exhibition halls, displaying managers and talent ranging from Australian circus performers to 3D jugglers. Luckily, we were attending APAP as part of the Young Career Performers Advancement program specifically designed for rising classical artists. Previous program participants include two of our biggest inspirations, eighth blackbird and Imani winds, whose members were on hand at two of the career development sessions we attended. 

We were lucky to get to know the other artists in the YPCA program: cellist Brook Speltz, cellist Francisco Villa, pianist Steven Lin, and the PubliQuartet. The program was curated by music entrepreneur extraordinaire Angela Beeching of the Manhattan School of Music. She led us through creative exercises, and we dove deep into how we can make an even greater impact on the classical music landscape. The evening ended with a big kick-off party hosted by APAP, complete with great food, drinks, and quality time with both our manager, Oni Buchanan, and many new friends from the conference. 

 January 16 – 17th 

The YPCA program really took off. We were in panels and career development sessions focusing on community building, branding, elevator pitches, development and fundraising, speaking from the stage, composer collaborations, and best legal practices. In short, it was our career beyond music. During these busy two days we found an hour or two to explore New York City. From an early evening stroll in Central Park, to dinner and drinks with friends, we learned all over again why we’ll take any gig in NYC we can get!

 January 18th 

After three days of networking to the max, it was time to showcase in New York for the second time in 10 days. This time around, we were in the Kaufman Music Center, performing in Merkin Hall. After all the career-building talk, it was great to play some music! The showcase was even emceed by Ann Arbor’s own Ken Fischer, making the whole evening feel very close to home. 

January 19th

But the conference wasn’t over yet…after a few more panel sessions in the morning, we headed our separate ways. Thanks New York City; let’s do it again next year! 

 

We are taking Akropolis to the next level! That’s right, we are officially a tax exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation. If you believe Akropolis can make a difference in the classical music landscape through engaging performances, advocacy activities, and educational experiences, then we want you on our team. Learn more about how you can make a difference in Akropolis’ next step here!

Read the full announcement here: http://eepurl.com/bIjU75 

“The city snapped back into focus. The musicians came to life. They unleashed a dizzying, immediately danceable beat, half techno and half klezmer as they rocked to and fro.” 

 – The New Haven Independent 

Two weeks, nine states, nine events, and counting. Our travels continue to take us to some of the most fascinating places and enthusiastic audiences around the country.

Read the full review here: http://eepurl.com/bChZWr 

Akropolis is on the move! Two weeks, nine states, nine events, and counting. Our travels continue to take us to some of the most fascinating places and enthusiastic audiences around the country.

View additional photos of Akropolis on tour, from elated fans to Motek the cat. 

Our adventures began with a return trip to infamous San Jose, California. For avid Akropolis followers, it was in San Jose this past April where Matt tripped on a cable car rail in the street and broke his jaw (yikes!). You’ll be happy to know there were no casualties on our second visit, only exuberant attendees for a concert program filled with audience participation, electronics, and bird calls courtesy of works by John Steinmetz and Jacob TV.

After surviving San Jose, we headed north to Sonoma State University and Santa Rosa High School for two concurrent days of workshops with some young, up-and-coming musicians. Little did we know, Santa Rosa High School was the home of one of our favorite reed quintet composers and UM alumnus Paul Dooley. It only seemed fitting that we bring his composition Warp & Weft back to his home town. Not only was this pretty cool for us, but the students could hardly believe that a noted composer like Paul came from their very school! During these two days, we also found some time to read through some of our new commissions including Rob Deemer’s Gallimaufry and David Biedenbender’s Refraction(specifically mvt. 3 entitled “Death Metal Chicken”). Here’s a short excerpt!

 After two days of working with young college and high school musicians, we traveled even further east to Stockton, California to perform on the Friends of Chamber Music Stockton series where series manager Michael Spencer remarked, “The concert was a resounding success. The artist comments preceding each selection were informative and fun. I received many positive comments from audience members of all ages about how they had enjoyed it, including the audience participation. There were three curtain calls and a standing ovation leading to a wonderful encore.”

One of the absolute highlights of the tour was performing as a juried showcase participant at the Performing Arts Exchange South Arts conference in Baltimore, Maryland. Not only did we get to showcase alongside some of the country’s most amazing artists, like American Idol finalist Melinda Doolittle, but we also got to spend some well-deserved time with our management company Ariel Artists while we met presenters from around the country.

What happens when you get to the Enterprise Rental station at BWI? Our second favorite highlight from the tour. It was 11:30 pm and we were ready to pick up our 4-door “Camry or similar” (renting a minivan was too expensive with the drop fee back in Michigan). Luckily, we were offered a chance for a free upgrade: “Throw this football into that convertible Camaro over there (50 feet away) and we’ll give you whatever you want.” After four failed attempts, Matt stepped up, and bullseye. True to their word, we spent the rest of our time on the east coast in style, rocking it in a Chrysler Town and Country. 

 After Baltimore, we headed up to Adelphi University in Garden City, New York on Long Island for an evening concert and composer workshop the following morning. Even Amidst torrential rain from hurricane Joaquin, we had an amazing time bringing our Pulse program to the students and surrounding community. Working with the tremendously talented student composers the following morning was a real treat. Student composers Maurizio Fiore, Daniyil Tchibirev, and Michael Gayle each wrote fantastic short works for reed quintet we were able to workshop and perform throughout the morning.

 

We couldn’t think of a better way to conclude our two-week tour than performing on New Haven, CT’s Second Movement Concert Series. Co-Directors of The Second Movement Concert Series, David Perry and Isa Mensz, have been longtime friends and supporters of Akropolis ever since they met Tim while studying at Yale. The performance has been over three years in the making, and we were thrilled to finally make our New Haven debut. Check out this review of our performance at Artspace New Haven, written by Lucy Gellman of the New Haven Independent. 

 28 rehearsals, 11 concerts, 4 dancers, 2 educational outreach events, 2 world premieres, 1 photo shoot, and 1 day-long video shoot. I think it’s safe to say we accomplished a lot during our residency as the Protégé Project ensemble at Chamber Music Northwest in Portland, OR these past two weeks. 

Today we flew back home, Tim got his wisdom teeth removed (ouch), and we will reconvene again in September for more fabulous music-making. 

Our adventures began when we arrived in Portland on Saturday, July 11th. We immediately searched the city for a hearty breakfast joint and settled in for some local eats at Fat Albert’s. We inhaled delicious local coffee and saw bikers, lots of greenery, and many dogs. 

We immediately got to work the following day rehearsing the challenging and rewarding music we would be performing and in some cases premiering throughout the festival. This included David Schiff’s new Nonet No. 2 for us and the Dover Quartet and our new commission of John Steinmetz’s Sorrow and Celebration for reed quintet and audience. We even began polishing our memorization on Robbie McCarthy’s Four-Letter-Word, as we would be performing it with choreography and dancers from the BodyVox Dance Company

Our first concert took place at Alberta Rose Theater on Wednesday, July 15th. We did a short set of Jean-Philippe Rameau’s Suite la Triomphante to open for a fabulous evening which culminated with David Shifrin’s memorable performance of Messaien’s Quartet for the End of Time with three other protégé artists. 

We were lucky to have the opportunity to reach young musicians at two outreach events while in Portland. These youngsters were at clarinet and band camps during the height of summer, showing real dedication. We were impressed by the keen attention they paid us as well as their thoughtful questions. They even came to see us perform at the festival throughout the week! 

One of our first stops in Portland was a fun and funky outdoor photo shoot at the urban Keller Fountain Park (thankfully without running water) with local Portland actor and photographer Gary Norman (you may have seen his appearances on locally filmed TV show, “Grimm”). We haven’t had new individual head shots in seven years, so hopefully these look a bit more up to date. 

During our second week, we were fortunate to collaborate with two of the United States’ most accomplished artists, the Dover Quartet, based in Philadelphia, and BodyVox Dance Company based here in Portland. Alongside the Dover strings, we assembled David Schiff’s second nonet, his first work for reed quintet and string quartet, in just a few rehearsals. The piece was challenging & dynamic and was a huge hit with CMNW’s audiences. With BodyVox Dance, we truly got to see our music come to life (video coming soon!) BodyVox didn’t merely design 9 minutes of matching coreography; they created a story out of our music and assigned us each different characters to embody. They pushed us about the stage, encircled us, and battled the quintet throughout the piece. Finally, let’s not count out Sam Slater and Jonathan Dick, local Portland filmmakers who stopped by to film a promotional video for us!

In Portland we encountered polite drivers, a lot of bridges, and great food (they weren’t joking about food trucks).  

Don’t forget to check out our Facebook page for more stories, our Flickr page for more photos, and stay tuned for video and audio from our many performances!