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Release date:
March 6, 2002
Contact: Sally Corbett, 404-727-5050 or sacorbe@emory.edu

Emory Music Student/Contemporary Art Music Composer to Perform Three World Premieres on March 30

One of the significant, yet lesser-known types of research, scholarship and discovery at Emory University will be demonstrated in a concert of new contemporary music at 1 p.m. Saturday, March 30. Emory senior Andrew Boles will be joined by leading professional musicians in presenting his three world premiere compositions, "Letter to Barrett Slepian," "Algal Bloom" and "Emily." The concert will be in Emory's Performing Arts Studio, 1804 N. Decatur Road, Atlanta. The concert is free and open to the public. The number for information and directions is 404-727-5050.

Boles, a 21-one-year-old composer, performer and songwriter from Tampa, Fla., began studying music with piano lessons at age seven. After seven years of intense piano study, he picked up his first acoustic guitar and began a six-year pursuit to become a professional songwriter, recording and touring artist. Writing and performing music became his focus in high school, culminating with his first album, "Freak O’ Nature," which he produced and later released on his own label.

Once at Emory Boles took courses in composition with Emory music professors John A. Lennon and Steven Everett. He developed a passion for contemporary art music, and soon decided to hang up his guitar and pursue art music composition as his primary creative outlet. He enrolled in all available composition related courses: electronic music composition, orchestration, conducting and theory. He also spent a semester privately studying the rules of counterpoint technique to fulfill what would later be an official honors composition requirement.

During spring 2001, Boles approached the Department of Music about creating a composition honors track. An honors composition program had not yet been devised, so Boles became part of the team tasked with constructing the guidelines for students seeking the composition emphasis. Since the approval of the honors track, Boles has worked on his upcoming concert by composing the music, writing about the music, hiring professional players, and writing grants to raise funds to pay the players. Some of Atlanta’s top musicians have been enlisted for the project, including four from the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and the co-founders of Thamyris New Music Ensemble.

"Drew Boles is our first undergraduate composition major and also our first Emory student to present an honors project of original musical works for both acoustic and electronic forces," says Lennon. "With his keen imagination and intellectual prowess, Drew experiments with sounds in a manner sure to engage and delight the audience. The concert is a must for lovers of new music."

The March 30 concert will be about 50 minutes and includes three pieces. "Algal Bloom" for string quartet consists of three movements strung together by a common motif. The piece moves back and forth between lyric motion, somewhat eerie chord progressions, and aggressive, percussive and chaotic qualities. The quartet explores a variety of extended playing techniques as well as unusual textural and timbral relationships. Boles pushes each instrument to its outermost ranges, creating a constant flux in direction and line. Conceptually, "Algal Bloom"—which actually is a form of pollution—patterns the life of fragmented ideas within a dream sequence.

"Letter to Barnett Slepian" for tape was created in Emory’s electronic studio. Boles was inspired to write this work by his personal views on abortion-related issues. "The piece is an elegy to victims of anti-abortion violence, particularly Barnett Slepian," says Boles. Slepian was an abortion doctor in Amherst, N. Y., who was shot and killed through an open window of his house in 1998. While his death escalated the ensuing battle between both sides of the abortion war, Slepian is still regarded by many as a symbol of courage, conviction and kindness.

"Timbre, the functional element of this particular piece, serves to express both fear and sadness. And although the surrounding political context cannot be divorced from Slepian’s death, the sounds and tone colors within my piece attempt to portray this tragedy without forever consigning such a heroic figure into either complete martyrdom or vengeful triumph," says Boles.

"Emily" is a set of four songs for soprano and chamber ensemble, set to Emily Dickinson poems. The largest piece in the program, "Emily" uses a different combination of instruments in each song; it is not until the finale that all the instruments are used together. "I structured this piece on Allen Forte’s pitch class theory to create a system for translating words into notes, to lay out the melodic and harmonic framework of each song, The color evoked by Dickinson’s text influenced the molding of its structure," says Boles. Perhaps the most conventional work on the program, each song retains its own character. From the punctuated rhythms to the soft chant-like melodies, the piece attempts to match the expressive and diverse nature of Dickinson’s work.
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