Kari Besharse


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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.

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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.


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The Anemone Fragments

For the past several months I have spent every ounce of time I could squeeze from my busy teaching schedule into composing a new work for cello and electronics for new music cello guru Craig Hultgren. “The Anemone Fragments” was premiered October 31 at the Southeastern Louisian University. Craig put on an exceptional concert that was well received by students and faculty who took time out of their busy Halloween evening schedules to come hear some crazy new music.

“The Anemone Fragments” was a product of many ideas that I have been deeply engaged with over the course of the summer and into the fall. One of the main ideas, or I should say sounds that has been foremost in my mind has been the wind. Not the generic “wind” but the multitude of unique-to-the-moment wind sounds that can be experienced if one just breathes and listens. Like today for example, I have experienced some great wind sounds in Hammond, the hard steady wind through slowly drying oak leaves, and I felt the wind on my face and skin, always varying in its caress.

When the piece was just an unformed fragment of something “I was to write in the near future,” I spent a month (June) at the Brush Creek Center for the Performing Arts in Wyoming. I loved the wind sounds there, especially the wind through the aspen groves up in the foothills of the Medicine Bow National Forest (the wind on Medicine Bow Peak is an altogether different story). Throughout the summer, I kept coming into contact with more and more mystical wind experiences (dawn wind on Frosty Mountain off the AT in GA, sea wind at Buccaneer State Park in MS), so these sounds and the experience of these sounds was deeply imbedded in my mind before writing the piece.

Of course, the piece isn’t just built on wind sounds, there are many other conceptual ideas behind the piece, most of which are hard to explain.

Here is my official program note:

The Anemone Fragments, for cello and live electronics draws together several aspects of human experience and myth, most importantly, the emotions of solitude and passion. The experience of listening to the various qualities of wind also figures prominently in this piece, for example, the subtle contrasting sounds of a gentle breeze through aspen leaves, or the wind through an oak forest at dawn.

“Love shook my heart

Like the wind on the mountain

rushing over the oak trees.”

― Sappho  

I have grown weary of the winds of heaven.

I will not be a reed to hold the sound

Of whatsoever breath the gods may blow,

Turning my torment into music for them.

They gave me life; the gift was bountiful,

I lived with the swift singing strength of fire,

Seeking for beauty as a flame for fuel —

Beauty in all things and in every hour.

The gods have given life — I gave them song;

The debt is paid and now I turn to go.

— Sara Teasdale, Rivers to the Sea, (1915), “Sappho (Rivers to the Sea)”

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Recent performances of Dissolution

I am very grateful to the fabulous trombonist Dylan Chmura-Moore, who took my piece Dissolution on a mini-tour last month. He has recently performed it at University of Wisconsin – Osh Kosh, University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, Ohio Wesleyan University and the Baldwin-Wallace Conservatory of Music. Dylan is the first trombonist to run the Max/Msp patch on his own from the stage, stepping through the cues with a foot pedal. On this tour, Dylan has been performing Dissolution with Carolee Schneemann’s film Plumb Line (1971).


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ICMC 2011, University of Huddersfield

Sunday, I returned home to Louisiana after traveling to England for the annual International Computer Music Conference. This year’s conference was very well organized by the conference committee and I felt very welcome as soon as I arrived. All events took place on the University of Huddersfield campus, and many of us even stayed in one of the student dormitories. This made for a very close-knit community of electroacoustic composers, researchers, and performers and I had the opportunity to meet a lot of new friends and colleagues. Special thanks to Michael Clarke, conference chair; Pierre Alexandre Tremblay, music chair and technical director, Monty Adkins, paper chair, and Alex Harker, the board operator and my mix assistant at St. Paul’s Hall.

I was privileged to have my piece Dissolution for trombone and Max/Msp performed at the conference by Andrew Digby, a fabulous trombonist and new music expert who lives in Germany. Andrew frequently performs new music all around Europe and is a member of Ensemble Ascolta and the Composers Slide Quartet.

View of St. Paul's Hall (where Dissolution was performed) from the Creative Arts Building (photo by Steve Benner)

The Creative Arts Building at University of Huddersfield

It was an extremely intense week of concerts (I saw 12/13 concerts plus some UnConference concerts) and paper sessions. There was so much to do that of course there was no way to go to everything, but I did hear a lot of new electroacoustic/computer music and learn about some of the research people are doing in the field. Wednesday, there was a special field trip to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park for the ICMC banquet. I did not attend the banquet, but I did have some time to look around the park and at a fantastic Jaume Plensa exhibit. There was also a special “walk” organized by Michael Clarke on Saturday at the Mardsen Moor which I was able to attend part of before departing for Manchester.


Well, unfortunatly, my summer adventures are over. Classes at Southeastern Louisiana University start back up on August 17th. My next big adventure (to Africa) is about four months away.


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Electric Monster and the Invasion of the Incredible B.S.O.s VIDEO!!!

I have finally uploaded the video of the world premiere performance of my laptop ensemble piece, Electric Monster and the Invasion of the Incredible B.S.O.s to YouTube (embedded below). The B.S.O. soloists did a great job, showing great mastery over their bouncy, mischievous instruments. I was also very happy with the laptop performers who got to know their patches very well and came up with many interesting sounds during the performance. Overall, the performance was a success and I look forward to seeing future interpretations of the piece.


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Electric Monster and the Invasion of the Incredible B.S.O.s World Premiere!

My new work for laptop ensemble, Electric Monster and the Invasion of the Incredible B.S.O.s will premiere this Tuesday, May 4th at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts Tryon Festival Theater in Urbana Illinois!!!

I put together an ad hoc laptop ensemble featuring University of Illinois students, staff, associates, and an alumni (me). The piece has come together very well, and each member of the ensemble is contributing in new and exciting ways each time we run the piece. It’s one of those pieces where each performance is different because each player has a lot of leeway in the sounds and effects that they can use, and new juxtapositions of sound are constantly created.

Here is a brief preview of the piece. I’ll post more video and audio soon after the performance Tuesday.

My wonderful performers:

Mark Smart and Philip Schuessler, B.S.O. soloists

Kurt Werner, Gautam Srikishan, Jason Mitchell, Jake Rundall, Ming-Ching Chiu, and myself, laptops