Vicky Chow plays Steve Reich and Tristan Perich works for piano and technology.
Imagine the future where humans and technology are integrated.
Pianist Vicky Chow says that when playing these pieces that weave together human emotion and computerized tracks, it gives her the physical sensation that she is interacting with computerized intelligence. Is this what the future will feel like?
Perich's "Surface Image"
Trailer for Vicky Chow performing Tristan Perich’s Surface Image. Released October 2014 by New Amsterdam Records
Surface Image album-length composition for solo piano and 40-channel 1-bit electronics from composer Tristan Perich and pianist Vicky Chow.
Surface Image is a stunning marriage of Perich’s inspired electronic aesthetic and Chow’s nuanced yet fiercely virtuosic playing. It’s a landmark release for Perich, being his first major release focusing solely on his work, as well as his first large-scale piano composition. Chow’s dynamic performance is swept up in a sublime flurry of dazzling 1-bit sounds, simultaneously entangling and unraveling over the hour long journey. The line between electric and organic is artistically blurred, as the simple hand-wired electronics fuse with the individual notes of the piano on the same, expansive plane.
Through a string of groundbreaking works pairing acoustic instruments with hand-made 1-bit electronics, Tristan Perich has transformed the way in which traditional forms of composition can be enhanced and reinvigorated by the aesthetic simplicity of math, physics, and code. Perich’s name splashed onto the scene with 2004’s 1-Bit Music (the first album ever released as a self-contained microchip embedded in a jewel case) and since then his 1-bit compositions (like 2010’s 1-Bit Symphony) have flourished: growing steadily in size, scope, and ambition.
Canadian pianist Vicky Chow has been described as “brilliant” (New York Times) and “one of the new stars of new music” (Los Angeles Times). She has premiered works by a slew of iconic composers – from Steve Reich to Bryce Dessner – and is a member of New York’s preeminent Bang on a Can All-Stars. Chow also recently created an arrangement of The Rite of Spring for solo piano, of which she gave multiple performances during the centennial celebration, including a live streamed performance from WNYC’s The Greene Space on May 29th, 2013 – the exact day the work was premiered in Paris 100 years earlier.
Surface Image premiered on February 19, 2013 at Roulette in Brooklyn, NY. During live performances, Chow’s piano can be seen nested in a sea of cables and circuit boards, each powering one of the 40 loudspeakers hand-wired by Perich to serve as his electric orchestra. The immense work was later later recorded in the sound studio at EMPAC – the Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY, helmed by producer Argeo Ascani, mix engineer Jeffrey Svatek, and recording engineers Stephen McLaughlin and Svatek. The video was filmed at the DiMenna Center for Classical Music. The enormous scope and power of Surface Image’s live aesthetic is captured in vivid detail by this recording, which places the listener at the center of Perich and Chow’s sublime cacophony.
New York-based Tristan Perich is inspired by the aesthetic simplicity of math, physics and code. The WIRE Magazine describes his compositions as “an austere meeting of electronic and organic.” 1-Bit Music, his 2004 release, was the first album ever released as a microchip, programmed to synthesize his electronic composition live. His latest circuit album, 1-Bit Symphony (Cantaloupe, 2010) has received critical acclaim, called “sublime” (New York Press), and the Wall Street Journal said “its oscillations have an intense, hypnotic force and a surprising emotional depth.” His award winning work coupling 1-bit electronics with traditional forms in both music (Active Field, Observations) and visual art (Machine Drawings, Microtonal Wall) has been presented around the world, from Sonar and Ars Electronica to the Whitney Museum and bitforms gallery.
Reich's "Piano Counterpoint"
Vicky Chow performed Steve Reich’s Piano Counterpoint (2011) (arr. Vincent Corver) on January 28, 2013 at PuSh Festival and Music on Main, at Heritage Hall in Vancouver, Canada
Reich was recently called “our greatest living composer” (The New York Times), “America’s greatest living composer.” (The Village VOICE), “…the most original musical thinker of our time” (The New Yorker) and “…among the great composers of the century” (The New York Times).. From his early taped speech pieces It’s Gonna Rain (1965) and Come Out (1966) to his and video artist Beryl Korot’s digital video opera Three Tales (2002), Mr. Reich’s path has embraced not only aspects of Western Classical music, but the structures, harmonies, and rhythms of non-Western and American vernacular music, particularly jazz. “There’s just a handful of living composers who can legitimately claim to have altered the direction of musical history and Steve Reich is one of them,” states The Guardian (London).
In April 2009 Steve Reich was awarded the Pulitzer prize in Music for his composition ‘Double Sextet’.
Canadian pianist Vicky Chow has been described as “brilliant” (New York Times), “a monster pianist” (Time Out New York), “virtuostic” (New Jersey Star Ledger), and “one of the new stars of new music” (Los Angeles Times). She is the pianist for the New York based sextet Bang on a Can All-Stars and is also a founding member of DUO X88, a piano duo with Dutch pianist Saskia Lankhoorn and GRANDBAND, a six keyboard ensemble with pianists Lisa Moore, Blair McMillen, David Friend, Isabelle O’Connell and Paul Kerekes..Most recently she gave the North American premiere of Steve Reich’s work ‘PIano Counterpoint’ and also the world premiere of a new evening length work by artist/composer Tristan Perich for solo piano and 40 channel 1-bit electronics titled ‘Surface Image’. Her next solo projects include commissions from American composers Chris Cerrone, Neil Rolnick, and Canadian composer Adam Basanta and releases on the New Amsterdam and nonesuch labels.
Vicky’s passion for new music has propelled her to work with an A-to-Z of leading composers and musicians such as John Adams, Louis Andriessen, Bryce Dessner (The National) Philip Glass, Glenn Kotche (Wilco), David Longstreth (Dirty Projectors), Steve Reich, Terry Riley, and Lee Ranaldo (Sonic Youth). Her recorded work can be found on the ‘tzadik’, ‘Cantaloupe’,’ innova’, ‘hinterzimmer’, and ‘altaVoz’ labels. In addition to performing, Ms. Chow also produces and curates “Contagious Sounds”, a new music series focusing on adventurous contemporary artists and composers in New York City. She receives continuous support from the Canada Council for the Arts and has received grants from the Fromm Foundation, Vancouver Foundation, and the BC Arts Council.
Originally from Vancouver Canada, Ms. Chow studied at The Juilliard School with Yoheved Kaplinsky and Julian Martin before continuing studies at Manhattan School of Music with Christopher Oldfather. Starting the piano at age 5, she was invited to perform at the age of 9 at the International Gilmore Music Keyboard Festival. She made her orchestral debut at the age of 10 with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra made her NY orchestral debut appearance at Alice Tully Hall with the Juilliard Symphony performing Bartok’s Piano Concerto No. 1.
This program has been produced for THE COMPOSERS NOW FESTIVAL which celebrates living composers, the diversity of their voices and the significance of their musical contributions to our society. During the month of February, the Festival brings together dozens of performances presented by venues, ensembles, orchestras, opera companies, dance companies and many other innovative events throughout New York City. Composers will be in attendance at all events, interacting with audiences. Composers Now is a project partner of The Fund for the City of New York.
We gratefully acknowledge the support of the ASCAP Foundation, the BMI Foundation, the Cheswatyr Foundation, the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation and the Pocantico Center for the Arts. The Composers Now Festival was founded in 2010 by composer Tania León who is also artistic director.