Kari Besharse


Leave a comment

Forest Songs

I have just finished editing the score for Forest Songs Book I: HD Songs. This book includes the songs Huntress and Pursuit and is part of an ongoing project. Over the next few years I plan to add more songs to the collection. Ultimately, the songs in this work will be able to be performed as a long cycle, or mixed and matched in shorter collections.

Through these songs, a variety of subthemes and sentiments are approached – from environmentalism, to mythology and memory, to feelings of loss, loneliness and hopelessness, to expressions of beauty, the supernatural, the sublime; and to the inhabitants of the forest themselves – the trees, plants, creatures and otherworldly denizens. As a life-long hiker and camper, the forest holds special meaning to me – there is really no place I would rather be than lost in a forest.

Here is a preview of Huntress and Pursuit. Please contact me if you are interested in seeing the rest.

Huntress-preview

Pursuit-preview


Leave a comment

“Four Songs” performed on Astralis Duo’s Louisiana mini-tour

Earlier this week, I was ecstatic to hear two fantastic performances of my first song cycle performed by the Astralis Duo. These performances revived a work that I haven’t heard in almost thirteen years, and the songs have never sounded better. Soprano Stephanie Aston has an amazingly versatile voice with much color and sings these tricky songs with so much control and precision. Katalin Lucaks played the piano superbly, bringing out many hidden ideas in the piano part. The presentation itself was really well-done, and was accompanied by interactive video projections by New Orleans composer/video artist Peter Leonard.

photo-21photo-24

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Four Songs” is a piece I wrote in 2000 when I was a student at UT Austin. I set four poems by Donald Justice; Landscape with Little Figures, Song, Bus Stop and Presences. I hope to post a recording and/or video soon!


Leave a comment

Banff Centre

I started off 2014 with a short residency at the Banff Centre in Canada! I had a fantastic time playing in the snow, making new friends, going on wintry hikes and listening to some fantastic music performed by other residents. I did some composing too, in my little composer’s hut, #7, the Mendelssohn cabin. While small, it had all the essentials needed to work on a new exclusively acoustic piece, a set of songs with the provisional title, “Forest Songs.” For years, I have had a strong desire to get back into writing vocal music. My first and only journey intro writing for voice was about fourteen years ago, when I wrote “Four Songs” for soprano and piano on texts by Donald Justice. In a strange coincidence, it looks like these songs will be revived for several new performances in Louisiana this Spring (details to come).

A couple of years ago, I made several sketches for new songs with a forest/nature theme  and spent considerable time looking for texts. However, due to other projects, this new set of songs was pushed into the background until this month. I’m still looking for texts to go with my various sketches, but I have started two songs that use texts by Hilda Doolittle, “Huntress” and “Pursuit.” I am writing these songs for soprano and small chamber ensemble (flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano). Ultimately, I hope to write five or six songs in this set and potentially, a couple of instrumental interludes.

Image


Leave a comment

Summer Update!

Hey all,

It’s been a while since I’ve posted any updates. Here is what has been going on!

The Anemone Fragments for cello and electronics recently received its second performance at Music on the Mountain, Birmingham Alabama. The piece was once again performed by Craig Hultgren, cello accompanied by *yours truly* on electronics. Craig performed a whole concert of new/recent music for cello with and without electronics. The concert also contained a follow-up presentation of Craig’s Vox Novus project, 15 Minutes of Fame. Here is a recording of the performance.

IMG_0845IMG_0844

In other news, saxophonist Richard Schwartz is recording a new album of newish pieces for solo saxophone, with or without piano and/or electronic accompaniment. My piece Embers, is set to be the title track of his album, which will be released on Centaur Records later this year.

I’ve also been working away on finishing two pieces, Icons for clarinet, violin, bass, electric guitar, and percussion and Crickets and Gongs for orchestra.


Leave a comment

Worlds of Discovery and Loss: The Art of Migration

A few weeks ago I attended the Worlds of Discovery and Loss: The Art of Migration, a festival hosted at the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts at UC Davis. This festival was more than a new music festival, it was a collaboration between several artistic disciplines including visual arts and theater. The festival was also infused with scholarly discourse through the inclusion of fascinating scholars like Isabel Wilkerson, Professor of Journalism and Director of Narrative Nonfiction at Boston University and Peter Kulchyski, Professor of Native Studies at the University of Manitoba. This diversity created an interesting environment of dialogue and cross-pollination between disciplines with space to reflect on the overall theme of the festival, which was to examine “the creative worlds generated by different kinds of migration” and to explore “the ways in which artists cross various boundaries, both real and imagined.”

Within the larger theme of the festival, the musical offerings were diverse and quite strong. Participating ensembles included The Empyrean Ensemble, Rootstock Percussion, the Calder Quartet, and the UC Davis Symphony Orchestra performing five concerts over the course of three days. The concerts included a variety of recent works, some classics, and works by composer fellows and the composer-in-residence, Lei Liang. As a composer fellow, I was fortunate to get the know the other composer fellows during seminars, concerts, meals and walks. Our guides were Lei Liang, the composer-in-residence along with UC Davis composition professors Laurie San Martin, Sam Nichols, and Kurt Rodhe.

Annie Hsieh, Ryan Suleiman, Tina Tallon, Kari Besharse

Composer Fellows Annie Hsieh, Ryan Suleiman, Tina Tallon, Kari Besharse duing a pre-concert talk

The Empyrean Ensemble premiered Black Grey Red Orange Grey Blue Grey for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, and percussion, written last November specifically for the festival. When I was composing this piece, I was feeling an intense connection between emotional states, colors, and sounds almost in a synaesthetic way. Here is the recording from the world premiere performance:

“From glowing prismatic intensity to the blackest black, this piece explores specific colors and associated psychological states such as anger, despair, passion and contemplative sublimity. The emotional states came first, and when immersed in these states, one cannot help but see vivid colors and hear prismatic sounds. The colors refract and collide, ebb and flow, bleed into one another, intensify, are erased, then dissipate.”


1 Comment

Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts

I spent the majority of June at Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts, a unique slice of artistic paradise near Saratoga, Wyoming. This residency center is on a 15,000 acre ranch, traditionally used for ranging cattle and horses. This place is truly amazing and inspiring. I spent my mornings, early afternoons, and evenings working on a new orchestra piece (still pending), and my late afternoons hiking around the ranch. The setting was incredible, high dry mountains (about 7,500 feet) with rocky outcroppings, moosey wetland areas, magical aspen groves, spring wildflowers, and the rocky creek itself, there was a lot of space and things for me to lose myself in. The other artists were fascinating, and I enjoyed our dinner conversations and extracurricular activities (Saratoga hot springs, Encampment Woodchoppers Jamboree and Rodeo, and Medicine Bow Peak hike) immensely.

The accommodations were great. I am especially missing my studio, The Armstrong Cabin, which was the original homesteader cabin on the ranch from the 1800’s. I especially loved my cliff swallows which nested right outside the window of the cabin and my Bosendorfer (I am currently piano-less).

I have left this paradise, but I hope to keep its magic and peace with me for a long time. I’m back in Louisiana now, working away on my orchestra piece and moving on (real) soon to a cello and electronics piece for Craig Hultgren.