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Mara Gibson: Artifacts

by Various Artists

ArtIfacts is a compilation of recent chamber works by new music composer, Mara Gibson.
Genre: Classical: Chamber Music
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Moments: Method I
Tom Aber, Robert Pherigo & Michael Hall
4:34 album only
2. Moments: Improvisation I
Tom Aber, Michael Hall & Robert Pherigo
2:31 album only
3. Moments: Method II
Tom Aber, Michael Hall & Robert Pherigo
1:36 album only
4. Moments: Improvisation II
Tom Aber, Michael Hall & Robert Pherigo
3:10 album only
5. Moments: Method III
Tom Aber, Robert Pherigo & Michael Hall
1:40 album only
6. Moments: Improvisation III
Tom Aber, Robert Pherigo & Michael Hall
1:57 album only
7. Moments: Method IV
Tom Aber, Robert Pherigo & Michael Hall
3:19 album only
8. Moments: Method V
Tom Aber, Robert Pherigo & Michael Hall
2:37 album only
9. Flone
Luisa Sello
7:31 album only
10. Canopy
Michael Hall
13:15 album only
11. Map of Rain Hitting Water
Mark Lowry
16:33 album only
12. Hands
Ya-Ting Liou & Blas Gonzalez
3:25 album only
13. E: Tip
Alvin Wong
7:54 album only
14. Lullaby
Ya-Ting Liou & Blas Gonzalez
3:00 album only
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
ArtIfacts: recent chamber works by Mara Gibson

Composer Mara Gibson is originally from Charlottesville, VA, graduated from Bennington College and completed her Ph.D. at SUNY Buffalo. She has received grants and honors from the American Composer’s Forum, the Banff Center, Louisiana Division of the Arts, ArtsKC, Meet the Composer, the Kansas Arts Commission, the National Endowment for the Arts, Yale University, the International Bass Society, ASCAP, the John Hendrick Memorial Commission and Virginia Center for the Arts. Internationally renowned ensembles and soloists have performed her music throughout the United States, Canada, South America, Asia and Europe. Gibson teaches at the UMKC Conservatory and leads the Conservatory’s Community Music and Dance Academy as director, where she is founder of the UMKC Composition Workshop and co-director/founder of ArtSounds. For more info and to hear more of Gibson’s music, visit


Performers are an integral part of my compositional process, and in fact I view performers as equal collaborators. Without their openness, creativity and perspective, my music could not be realized. The pieces in this compilation share a common platform: each piece was written with specific performers in mind.

Gibson’s music has been noted as boasting “attractive, believable, attention-holding verisimilitude” and ideal for listeners seeking “new works that experiment with alternative sounds and find an effective way to give those voices meaning.” Online blog reviews have proclaimed Flone “an absorbing work that exerts narrative logic and reflects both backward and forward” and “a most compelling and fascinating work.” Another writer declares that passages in Moments “melt in a rich, luxurious chocolate of colour and texture.” Chamber Music Today offers reflections about Canopy and the Paine sculpture to which it relates, saying, “Gibson’s sonic stimuli synergize nicely with Paine’s sculpture’s visual and haptic stimuli. Together, the two works manifest a cohesion that is evident to listeners/viewers … a brilliant success as a tandem installation.” Another CMT critique says Canopy “culminates in a radiant, nature-affirming performance,” while the American Viola Society asserts that “Canopy, performed by Michael Hall … is highly attractive music for viola.” Map of Rain Hitting Water, Gibson’s multi-elemental percussion piece and film collaboration, has been described as “a superb composition, an excellent film … sufficient to propel an evening’s meditation and beyond.”


Moments (2013)
“By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.” –Confucius

Moments is comprised of five methods. Methods I, II, and III are further subdivided by additional improvisations, which are more loosely notated, creating eight movements in total. Method I and Improvisation I (for clarinet) represent reflection. Method II and Improvisation II (for viola) and Method III and Improvisation III (for piano) represent imitation. Method IV and Method V represent experience. Moments was composed for Michael Hall and ensemble.

Flone (2014)
By treating the flute as a polyphonic instrument, Flone is meant to imply a piercing arrow, capable of dividing, or making a splice that splits; it also suggests being alone and protecting that solitude.
The idea of dividing a melodic line through counterpoint has been a long-standing fascination for me, especially for a primarily melodic instrument such as the flute. Register, attack and dynamic (among other parameters) allow multiple distinct lines to emerge, even though only one performer is playing. Perception of how our ear separates parts is a core interest in this piece, derived emotionally from the Rainer Maria Rilke quote: “I hold this to be the highest task of a bond between two people: that each should stand guard over the solitude of the other.” Formally, the piece is constructed around “tension points” initiated by tempo changes that result in sudden, dramatic shifts in personality. The dissonant multiphonics, derived from the diminished seventh progression in the Allemande of Bach’s Partita, signify the onset of a change. The Bach quotation gradually becomes more identifiable until one third of the way through the piece (I explored a similar technique in E: clipse); the material fractures, echoing the opening material once again, but boasting a more ethereal character to gradually return in a flipped dynamic shape. What begins the piece as a dissipation of sound then ends the piece with tension,sudden interruptions and distractions.
Flone was composed for Luisa Sello. I am grateful to Jason Scheufler for his recording expertise.

Canopy (2011)
Canopy was inspired by Ferment, the Roxy Paine sculpture installed in 2011 at the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art, which premiered in conjunction with the unveiling of the new Paine piece. Paine’s outdoor installations blend landscape and architecture. Through the morphed neuron and tree imagery, the sculptural forms become a simulacrum of what we see outside in nature, and what we know about what we see in nature, striking common ground between the real and the imaginary. The form of Ferment inspired the structure of Canopy, highlighting the interconnections of seemingly opposing parts, one of my chief aesthetic interests.
Canopy was commissioned by the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and composed for Michael Hall.

“Large-scale sculptures and exotic mixed-ensemble chamber music (viola-percussion-tape) aren’t commonly paired with each other. However, in this instance it is an inspired piece of programming, an account that plumbs the depths of the sculpture’s seeming desolation... a melancholy that stems from the constitutional rootedness of a ramifying, arborizing structure that is situated where it is with little prospect of changing its venue (you; the neurons that make up your brain and make you who you are; the tree).” Chamber Music Today

Map of Rain Hitting Water (rev. 2012)
Map of Rain Hitting Water was inspired by my reading of Wayne Miller’s poem, "Clarence Playing." I was intrigued by the relationship between how words appear visually on the page in contrast tohow they sound. This relationship frequently creates a dichotomy, which for me triggered a multiplicity of meaning. I assimilated the linguistic texture to musical polyphony, so that Mapexplores the simultaneity of two seemingly contradictory aspects of poetry: the rhythm of the actual words creates a proportional structure different from how the phrase appears on the page. This ratio relates to musical structure (on both the large and small scale). While I derived several images from the poem, which served as a structural inspiration, the music is not meant to “interpret” or to “paint” the poem. Most of my decisions are intuitive, emphasizing sound over structure. Map of Rain Hitting Water was commissioned by and composed for Mark Lowry of newEar Contemporary Music Ensemble. Caitlin Horsmon created video accompaniment for the piece which can be found on vimeo.

Lullaby and Hands, from D(u)o (2006)
D(u)o is a large scale work for two pianos which investigates the movement from the mechanical to human (machine to man), to the imaginary to real ( a music box to performer)and finally two performers to one performer. Lullaby and Hands are the opening and closing pieces of this work. D(u)o was composed for the Bugallo-Williams Duo and recorded by the Pangea Piano Project.

E: Tip (2009)
When Plato waxed poetically about the "music of the spheres," he imagined mathematical relationships among the earth, the sun, the moon and the planets, which resembled the properties of a vibrating mass such as a tightened string or a tubular column of air. The mathematical division of a string length provides one of the great timbral characteristics of stringed instruments: their ability to sound harmonics. These appropriately ethereal sounds create a wonderful contrast in color to the normal tone of a modern string instrument. In 2007, I became increasingly aware of my ephemeral relationship to nature and also began to experiment with electronics in my work. While I often have connected life experiences with composition, this took on a special credence since my connection between writing music and living had so fundamentally fused. I have been interested in exploring extended techniques for strings for some time, however, only recently has this interest broadened into the realm of electronics.
Similar to my recent personal awakening, an eclipse is the obscuration of light, an emotional reduction or loss of splendor, status, and/or a reputation that forces us to examine our mortality. Ironically, in this space, magnetism and opposition join—awe and fear combine to create a phenomenal example of the interconnectedness of experience. This mirrors out to perception.
E: Tip is one of a series of pieces that explores a "template” of compositional ideas, with different versions exploring different angles of the perception of an eclipse. General formal and thematic material include: the trajectory of an eclipse visually through time, the harmonic series and consonance and dissonance fading in and out between very "real" and "unreal" sounds, specifically, extended technique for cello in combination with manipulated recordings of bull-frogs. Available on soundcloud, E: Vespers and E: clipse(d)complete this series.E: Tip was commissioned by Madeleine Shapiro and this recording features Alvin Wong. Caitlin Horsmon created a visual accompaniment, marking the first of many projects together (the video for E: Tip with recording is also available on vimeo). Thanks to Patrick Millman at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music for his help in recording.

Thomas Aber, a founding member of the newEar contemporary chamber ensemble, is the bass clarinetist with the Omaha Symphony. His studies of the bass clarinet took him to the Juilliard School and to the Netherlands, where he studied with Harry Sparnaay. While living in The Netherlands Aber was a prize winner in the Gaudeamus Foundation's International Competition for Interpreters of Contemporary Music. In 1989 he worked with Charles Dodge for the premiere of Elegy, the first fractal-generated composition. Aber earned his DMA in clarinet at the Conservatory of the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Michael Hall (viola) – Described by the New Music Connoisseur as “utterly masterful,” and Chamber Music Today as having “superb technique,” Michael has performed across Europe, Asia and the United States. Michael made his Chicago Orchestra Hall solo debut premiering Kim Diehnelt’s “Montegar” for viola and strings, and the North American premiere of Chen Yi’s violaconcerto, “Xian Shi.” Michael has presented world premieres at International Viola Congresses in Los Angeles, Minneapolis and Reykjavik, Iceland, and will release a CD of works written for him. Composers writing for Michael include Jim Mobberley, Marta Ptaszynska, NarongPrangcharoen, Amy Williams, Eric Moe, Michelle McQuade Dewhirst and Mara Gibson.

Robert Pherigo- Composer, pianist, tenor and conductor,Robert is a member of newEar Contemporary Music Ensemble, exploring in all four of his musical guises the diverse music of today’s composers. He has performed numerous world premieres and performed at Modern Music festivals in Thailand and China. Robert has composed works for newEar, Kansas City Chorale, Lyric Arts Trio, Verses and Voices Festival and the Lawrence Children’s Choir. His arrangement of the Christmas Carol Sing We Now of Christmas, is published by Santa Barbara Musical Press under the title Sing We Now Noel! Robert has also performed with the Kansas City Chorale, the Kansas City Symphony, Lyric Opera of Kansas City and in February 2015 performed Charles Ives’ Concord Sonata.

Luisa Sello - Ambassador of Music and of Italian Culture, supported by the Italian Ministry of Culture, Sellois a one of the surprising personalities of contemporary art, an elegant flautist and one of the most applauded interpreters of cultured music.Shehas performed as throughout all Europe, the United States, South America, Russian and Asian countries, as a “unique artist with an exceptional versatility and enchanting charm which is able to reach the soul of each listener leaving behind an unforgettable emotion” (Il Mattino di Bolzano, Il Tempo, ABC Madrid, General Anzeiger Bonn). SelloisAssociate Professor at the Faculty of Music in Trieste and Visiting Professor at University of Music in Vienna. She also holds the ArtD (Concert Doctorate) in Performing Arts and a Ph.D. in Linguistic and Literary Sciences.She studied in Paris with Raymond Guiot and Alain Marion. Critics declare Sello to be “very musical, superb sound,” with“magnificent interpretive sensibility and excellent sound.”

Percussionist Mark Lowry has 30 years experience with the Kansas City Symphony, Kansas City Ballet, and Lyric Opera of Kansas City. He is a founding member andtimpanist of the Kansas City Chamber Orchestra, specializing in music of the Baroque and early Classical periods. In the theater, he has performed with the national touring companies of Wicked, The Producers, West Side Story, and many others. As a teaching artist, his trio Tri-Percussion was awarded the 2009 Lighton Prize for Excellence as Teaching Artists. Contemporary music has long been an area of keen interest for Lowry, and in 1994 he co-founded the contemporary chamber group newEar. The group presents regular seasons of contemporary chamber music concerts and has performed over 80 world premieres. In 2009 the group won the Chamber Music America/ASCAP award for Adventurous Programming of Contemporary Music, and in 2012 they performed at the 10th Beijing Modern Music Festival featuring a piece by Gibson.

The Pangea Piano Project was founded in 2006 by Ya‐Ting Liou and Blas Gonzalez with the goal of performing unconventional music along with standard piano repertoire. Under the slogan “A Musical Pilgrimage around the World” Liou and Gonzalez have offered concerts and Lecture‐Recitals in USA, New Zealand, Taiwan and Argentina, featuring composers from the most diverse lands. The Pangea Piano Project has collaborated with visual artists presenting music alongside artworks at theKansas City Arts Institute and the Spencer Museum of Arts in Lawrence, Kansas. They have recorded Metatexts by composer Christopher Biggs and NZ Piano Music for 4Hands.

Cellist Alvin Wong has performed across the Americas, Europe and Asia-Pacific in venues such as Carnegie Hall, Seoul Arts Center and Hong Kong Cultural Centre. He was featured in music festivals such as Atlantic (USA), Intimacy of Creativity (Hong Kong) and Thailand International Composition Festival, and has given masterclasses around the globe. Advocate in new music, he has premiered concertos by Barry Conyngham, James Ogburn and Angel Lam, and many cello works written for him. Alvin studied with Aldo Parisot and Janos Starker and received the Doctor of Musical Arts from Yale. He is currently on faulty at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music in Australia.

Special thanks:
In addition to all of the performers, a very special thanks to equally as integral collaborators Bob Beck (UMKC recording engineer), Caitlin Horsmon (visual collaborator, cover art/design) and editor, Sarah Tyrrell. All recordings were mastered at the UMKC Conservatory of Music.

Bob Beck is an audio engineer based at the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance in Kansas City, where he specializes in recording, editing and mixing classical and jazz music. In addition to his engineering and production work, he enjoys teaching the next generation of music professionals the art and science of audio. Bob attended Rockhurst University and UMKC for undergraduate work before going on to earn an M.F.A. in Theatre Sound Design at UMKC. A Kansas City native, Bob has worked in nearly every live music venue in the area, from jazz clubs to churches to the Kauffman Center.

Caitlin Horsmon is an artist, teacher and curator based in Kansas City, Missouri, who makes films, videos and installations. Her work has been exhibited around the world in wildly diverse venues from micro cinemas to the Centre Pompidou. She has received numerous awards and grants including a Rocket Grant from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Charlotte Street Foundation and Spencer Museum of Art. Caitlin is one of five artists who make up the curatorial collaboration Plug Projects and an Associate Professor of Film and Media Arts at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Her work is distributed by The CollectifJeuneCinéma.

Sarah Tyrrell is a Teaching Professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance. She holds the MM from the New England Conservatory of Music and Ph.D. in Musicology from the University of Kansas. Sarah teaches various classes at UMKC, including a Latin American music seminar, World Music and History of Opera. Sarah’s writing appears in journals such as Latin American Music Review and Musical Quarterly, and she has presented her work at regional and national conferences. As an opera critic, Sarah contributes regularly as a freelancer to the online performing arts magazine

Credits for Mara Gibson: ArtIfacts
Audio engineer, Bob Beck
CD design, Caitlin Horsmon
Editor, Sarah Tyrrell
UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance



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