Corwin Series Concert: Synesthesias - New Music at UCSB

Event Date: 

Wednesday, December 2, 2020 - 6:00pm to 7:30pm

Event Date Details: 

YouTube Premiere link: 

Event Location: 

  • Virtual Event

Event Price: 

Free and open to the public

Event Contact: 

Adriane Cleary
Marketing and Communications Manager
UC Santa Barbara Department of Music
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The Department of Music will present a virtual Corwin Series Concert, "Synesthesias - New Music at UCSB," on Wednesday, December 2, 2020 at 6 pm as a YouTube Premiere via the Department of Music’s YouTube channel. This year’s Corwin Series Concert will highlight the eclectic musics of UC Santa Barbara’s Department of Music and College of Creative Studies Composition Faculty. Using innovative visuals, media arts, technology, and sound, this concert will showcase the relationship between one’s visual and auditory senses. Showcasing pieces which respond to color, artwork, and images, "Synesthesias" invites the listener to interact with the crossing of their own senses through works by João Pedro Oliveira, JoAnn Kuchera-Morin, Curtis Roads, Sarah Gibson, Andrew Watts, and Leslie Hogan.
YouTube Premiere link:
This video will be unavailable after it premieres, so please be sure to tune in during the concert!
Download a PDF of the program here

Program Notes

Trichromacy | Andrew Watts

Trichromacy is a three movement algorithmic compositional experiment in the domain of slow-motion video processing of speech. The playback order and speed of the video clips is MIDI triggered to achieve novel juxtapositions of vocal sounds, mostly desemanticized, but occasionally revealed with intelligibility. The text for the first movement is excerpted from Meditations on First Philosophy by René Descartes, pondering the possibility that we are all merely pawns living with the fallacy of agency and understanding while secretly controlled by an unknown puppet master. The text for the second and third movements is adapted from The Republic: Book VII, “The Allegory of the Cave” by Plato. For the prisoners in the story, because all that is known is a distorted reality, the true reality appears to be a fake, surreal existence. Altogether, Trichromacy seeks to create a dialogue between these historical philosophies regarding existence in a simulation and the trajectory of modern society towards an online, proxied, virtual avatar-based lifestyle.

sure baby, mañana | Sarah Gibson

"Sure baby, mañana. It was always mañana. For the next few weeks that was all I heard––mañana a lovely word and one that probably means heaven." - Jack Kerouac, On the Road
I first saw this text in a word painting by the California artist, Ed Ruscha. There was so much brazen confidence in this phrase, but it was coupled with a surprising romanticism. It instantly caught my eye. Inspired by L.A. Signal Lab and Aperture Duo's energy and unique sound, I was attracted to depicting these contrasting moods in a piece that could bring these eclectic groups together. - Sarah Gibson 

Pictor Alpha | Curtis Roads

Pictor is based on pulsar trains. The original material dates from 2000 and was produced by the PulsarGenerator program by Alberto de Campo and me. PulsarGenerator lets users design and manipulate a number of sound control envelopes that shape the sounds morphology in time. After I produced the original material, which was stored in several sound files, I then edited each particle individually by hand. This involved rescaling the amplitude of each particle, adjusting it in time by a certain number of samples, passing each particle through a custom filter, positioning it in space, modulating it, and so on. The global effect comes from the stream of particles of all different shapes and sizes, like the brushstrokes of a painting.

In Tempore | João Pedro Oliveira

Originally, In Tempore is a piece for piano and electronics composed in 2000. Later, in 2016, it was added a videomapping process over the piano. The expression In tempore was used by classical poets to express the involvement of the reader in the “maëlstrom” of time. The video projection over the piano relates to the sounds created by the interaction between the instrument and the electronics. Their interpretation as graphical representations is intuitive and, at the same time, symbolic.

Myrioi | JoAnn Kuchera-Morin

The nature and behavior of matter and energy on the atomic or subatomic level, quantum physics, lends to its ethereal nature, gossamer wings, those substances that are immutable however untouchable. To touch the untouchable, to understand and know what is real but cannot be seen and to experience it; to truly experience immateriality as substance, form, and shape that is dynamic, transformative and truly alive, constantly changing but continually unchanged, the vibration of waveforms intermingling as one form, one shape one spirit, into a myriad of forms. This is Myrioi. This is the work we give to you.
We present our studies in composing elementary wavefunctions of a hydrogen-like atom and identify several relationships between physical phenomena and musical composition that helped guide the process. The hydrogen-like atom accurately describes some of the fundamental quantum mechanical phenomena of nature and supplies the composer with a set of well-defined mathematical constraints that can create a wide variety of complex spatiotemporal patterns. We explore the visual appearance of time-dependent combinations of two and three eigenfunctions of an electron with spin in a hydrogen-like atom, highlighting the resulting symmetries and symmetry changes.

About the Artists

Andrew Watts

Andrew Watts’s works, from chamber and symphonic to multimedia and electro-acoustic, are actively performed throughout the US and Europe. His compositions have been premiered at world-renowned venues such as Ravinia, the MFA Boston, Jordan Hall, and the Holywell Music Room. Watts has written for top musicians and ensembles including Ekmeles, Proton Bern, Distractfold, RAGE Thormbones, Splinter Reeds, Quince, Line Upon Line, Tony Arnold, and Séverine Ballon. In 2018-2019 Watts wrote a new large-scale work for chamber orchestra with dual soprano soloists entitled Adhocracies for Ensemble Dal Niente. He completed his D.M.A. in Composition at Stanford, received his master's with distinction from Oxford, and his bachelor's with academic honors from the New England Conservatory. He has been a featured composer at the MATA Festival (USA), impuls Academy (Austria), Rainy Days Festival (Luxembourg), Delian Academy (Greece), Young Composers Meeting (Netherlands), Cheltenham Music Festival (England), Course for New Music at Darmstadt (Germany), Composit Festival (Italy), Ostrava Days Institute (Czech Republic), highSCORE Festival (Italy), Wellesley Composers Conference (USA), Etchings Festival (France), Fresh Inc. Festival (USA), New Music on the Point (USA), and Atlantic Music Festival (USA). Watts is currently a Lecturer in Music Composition at UC Santa Barbara’s College of Creative Studies. 

Sarah Gibson

Sarah Gibson is a Los Angeles based composer and pianist. Her music has been performed by Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, violinist Jennifer Koh, American Composers Orchestra, New Fromm Players, HOCKET, and Departure Duo, among others. Her works have received recognitions such as the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra Sound Investment Composer, American Composers Orchestra Underwood New Music Readings, a Chamber Music America Grant, and commissions from the Tanglewood Music Center and Aspen Music Festival & School. Sarah is co-founder of the new music piano duo, HOCKET, lauded as "brilliant" by the LA Times' Mark Swed. Currently, she is Assistant Teaching Professor of Composition at the University of California, Santa Barbara and is Lead Teaching Artist for the Los Angeles Philharmonic Nancy and Barry Sanders Composer Fellowship Program alongside Artistic Director Andrew Norman. 

Curtis Roads

Dr. Curtis Roads is Professor of Media Arts and Technology and also Associate Director of the Center for Research in Electronic Art Technology (CREATE) at UCSB. A cofounder of the International Computer Music Association, he was Editor and Associate Editor of Computer Music Journal (The MIT Press) from 1978 to 2000. In 2002 he won an Ars Electronica award for POINT LINE CLOUD, a collection of electronic music with videos by Brian O'Reilly. POINT LINE CLOUD was re-issued on the Presto (Milan) label in 2019. His set of music FLICKER TONE PULSE appeared on the WERGO label in 2019. In 2010 he won the SEAMUS Prize for lifetime achievement in electronic music. In 2016, he won the Giga-Hertz Prize for lifetime achievement in electronic music, awarded by the Center for Art and Media (ZKM), Karlsruhe, and the Southwest Radio (SWR), Baden-Baden. In 2020 he led a team to produce EmissionControl2, an app for sound granulation. His most recent book is Composing Electronic Music: A New Aesthetic (2015, Oxford University Press). A revised edition of his textbook The Computer Music Tutorial (The MIT Press) is expected in early 2022.  

João Pedro Oliveira

Composer João Pedro Oliveira holds the Corwin Endowed Chair in Composition for the University of California at Santa Barbara. He studied organ performance, composition and architecture in Lisbon. He completed a PhD in Music at the University of New York at Stony Brook. His music includes opera, orchestral compositions, chamber music, electroacoustic music and experimental video. He has received over 60 international prizes and awards for his works. His publications include several articles in journals and a book on 20th century music theory. 

Leslie A. Hogan

Composer Leslie A. Hogan received her principal composition training at the University of Kansas and the University of Michigan. Her music often manifests her longtime fascination with other art forms and with the potential of music to reflect or respond to visual stimuli from the natural world, whether the wilderness of the back-country or that of the backyard. The concept of landscape, to her, encompasses not only the natural world, but the built environment. She has written music about light (A Little Light on the Water), weather (Cool Front), art and architecture (Fleeting, Matisse, and Graffiti), and interstate highways (Thirty-five). She has received awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters (Charles Ives Fellowship, 2002; Charles Ives Scholarship, 1993), the American Music Center, ASCAP, and the Chicago Civic Orchestra, among others. Dr. Hogan has taught composition in the College of Creative Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara since 1995. 

JoAnn Kuchera-Morin

Composer JoAnn Kuchera-Morin is Director, and Chief Scientist of the AlloSphere Research Facility ( and and Professor of Media Arts and Technology and Music at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her research focuses on creative computational systems, multi-modal media systems content and facilities design. Her years of experience in digital media research led to the creation of a multi-million dollar sponsored research program for the University of California—the Digital Media Innovation Program. She was Chief Scientist of the Program from 1998 to 2003. The culmination of Professor Kuchera-Morin’s creativity and research is the AlloSphere, a 30-foot diameter, 3-story high metal sphere inside an echo-free cube, designed for immersive, interactive scientific and artistic investigation of multi-dimensional data sets. JoAnn Kuchera-Morin earned a Ph.D. in composition from the Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester in 1984.
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