centripetals/centrifugals (2017) by Kyle Bruckmann
for alto flute, English horn, bass clarinet, viola, and percussion
World premiere

I've snuck up on the role of composer gradually and rather sideways, squinting through the lens of my experience as a gigging oboist and an improviser. Excited by the opportunity to write for Earplay, I struggled with how to rise to the occasion with a thoroughly notated, through-composed piece. In the end, though, I fell back on my usual tricks, which are all at the core of what I see as the 'composer/performer' paradigm. These players are all my friends and colleagues from across the Bay Area's teeming New Music community, after all, and I have too much fun working with them not to have written myself back in to the piece.

Being embedded in the ensemble also makes it much easier to foreground what matters most to me. I tend to think of the skills inherent to the act of playing together — attention, intention, spontaneity, etc. — as the real compositional materials that melody, harmony, rhythm and the like are employed to realize, rather than the other way around. I particularly like Michael Nyman's coinage of "people processes" (as a subtle distinction from, say, Steve Reich's early explications of process music). In my mind, that's the fertile soil within which inspirations including free jazz and the AACM lineage, Lutoslawski's pragmatic aleatoric notational shortcuts, the outrageous and collaboratively derived noiserock I played for years, and Christian Wolff's gentle and generous utopian-social-experiments-disguised-as-koans all intermingle coherently.

So, in essence, the piece's ingredients are handfuls of notes that tend, when kneaded or spun, to collapse inwards or fling outwards. But the piece itself is really what you see us doing with them together here tonight; we'll find out at the same time you do.

— K. B.    

[from program for May 15, 2017 concert]