25.September.2011 / Ming Tsao / Toward an informal music… / Andrew Hamilton / Sing-A-Long Products

This meeting of two very different up-and-coming Berlin-based composers featured live performances of Andrew Hamilton’s “Produkt #1” and “May” for two singing violinists, and “Joy” for solo singing violinist; and Ming Tsao’s “If Ears Were All That Were Needed” for solo guitar. Violinist Johnny Chang and guitarist Seth Josel were on hand for a unique occasion to hear these pieces up close and personal, with commentary and philosophical insights from the composers, including a history of Hamilton’s drift away from modernism, and Tsao’s rereading of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” for his new opera.

Photos by Conor Clarke

Obwohl der irische Komponist Andrew Hamilton in Berlin lebt, wird seine Musik hauptsächlich außerhalb Deutschlands gespielt. Die Kompositionen von Ming Tsao, einem gebürtiger Kalifornier, der ebenfalls in Berlin lebt, wiewohl er in Schweden unterrichtet, sind dagegen vor allem in Deutschland zu hören. Zusammen mit dem Violinisten Johnny Chang wird Hamilton „product # 1“, „JOY“ und „May, present, product 2“ spielen und danach über den Schaffensprozess dieser Werke sprechen wie über seine Vorstellungen der Ästhetik, die in ihnen stecken. Ming Tsao wird ebenfalls über sein bisheriges Werk sprechen wie über seine jüngst uraufgeführte erste Oper „Die Geisterinsel“. Außerdem wird er auf der Maultrommel improvisieren, ausgehend von einer Inspiration, die aus John Fords Film „Young Mr. Lincoln“ stammt. Danach wird Ming Tsaos Werk „If ears were all that were needed …“ auf der Solo-Gitarre nachspielen.

Although Irish composer Andrew Hamilton is a resident of Berlin, his music is more often performed outside of Germany. Ming Tsao, a native of California, also living in Berlin, teaches in Sweden and his music is well-represented in Germany. Along with violinist Johnny Chang, Andrew Hamilton will perform “product #1”, “JOY” and “MAY, present “product #2” and speak about the processes that go into writing these works and his aesthetic ideas behind them. Ming Tsao will discuss his latest work including his recently premiered opera “Die Geisterinsel,” present a jews harp improvisation inspired by John Ford’s Young Mr. Lincoln, and guitarist Seth Josel will perform Tsao’s work for solo guitar “If ears were all that were needed…”

Andrew Hamilton was born in Dublin in 1977 and studied with Kevin Volans and Louis Andriessen. He was a fellow at Akademie Schloss Solitude from 2005 to 2006 and has been living in Berlin since 2007. Recently he has worked on new pieces with Ensemble Klang, the Ives Ensemble, Orkest De Volharding, the National Chamber Choir of Ireland, and Ensemble Ascolta. New works are planned for Crash Ensemble, the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, Theatre of Voices, and an one-hour opera for the Ives Ensemble.

Ming Tsao received his BM degree in composition from the Berklee College of Music in 1988. He received his MA degree in ethnomusicology from Columbia University in 1992 with an emphasis on traditional Chinese music and culture. During this time, he studied electronic music composition with Mario Davidovsky in the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center. In 2007 he completed his Ph.D. in music composition at the University of California, San Diego where he studied principally with composer Chaya Czernowin. Ming Tsao’s music has been performed in such festivals as Donaueschingen, Wittener Tage für neue Kammermusik, Wien Modern, März Musik, and Darmstadt Ferienkurse für neue Musik. He has written essays for the journals Musik & Ästhetik and Search Journal for New Music and Culture. Mode Records is releasing a CD recording of his music in 2011, with performances by the Arditti Quartet, ensemble recherche, Ensemble SurPlus, and Ensemble Ascolta.