Neil Rolnick: New Music From Old Music
Composer Neil Rolnick will perform an evening of compositions for solo laptop computer. The concert will include Rolnick's pieces from the early days of sampling technology, in the late 1980s, when he first explored what are now called “mashups” of existing music to create new works. It will also include some of his most recent works, which go back and reconsider this approach to composing in the light of 25 years of technological development and the revolution in thinking about sampling brought on by its use in hip hop and other urban musics. From his earliest sampling pieces like A Robert Johnson Sampler and Balkanization, to his more recent efforts like WakeUp and O, Brother!, Rolnick approaches his often iconic source materials with respect and good humor, reframing the original materials into music which is distinct, accessible and highly personal.
Composer Neil Rolnick pioneered in the use of computers in musical performance, beginning in the late 1970s. Based in New York City since 2002, his music has been receiving increasingly wide recognition and numerous performances both in the US and abroad. Rolnick has often included unexpected and unusual combinations of materials and media in his music. He has performed his music around the world, exploring forms as diverse as digital sampling, interactive multimedia, and acoustic vocal, chamber and orchestral works. Throughout the 1980s and '90s he was responsible for the development of the first integrated electronic arts graduate and undergraduate programs in the US, at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's iEAR Studios, in Troy, NY.
Though much of Rolnick's work connects music and technology, and is therefore considered in the realm of "experimental" music, his music has always been highly melodic and accessible. Whether working with electronic sounds, acoustic ensembles, or combinations of the two, his music has been characterized by critics as "sophisticated," "hummable and engaging," and as having "good senses of showmanship and humor."
In 2012 Rolnick was commissioned to write Gardening At Gropius House for The Juilliard School's 2012 Beyond the Machine Festival. In 2010 and 2011 Rolnick worked on MONO, an evening long meditation on the senses, to be premiered in 2015. Scenes from the work were previewed in 2011 at EMPAC in Troy, NY. In 2010 Rolnick was awarded the Hoefer Prize from the San Francisco Conservatory, which included a commission and an artist residency. Rolnick also received a 2010 NY Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, a 2011 Fromm Foundation Commission, and a 2013 NY State Council on the Arts Music Commission. From 2010 to 2012 Rolnick was awarded two residencies at the MacDowell Colony, and residencies the Ucross Foundation and the Djerassi Foundation. In January 2013 Innova Recordings released his 17th CD, Gardening At Gropius House.
"For over 30 years [Rolnick] has helped to create a much changed musical landscape in the United States in terms of musical aesthetics and the application of technology in concert performance." -Frank J Oteri, NewMusicBox.org feature interview (April 2013)
"Neil Rolnick ... [is] a prolific and inventive composer of electronic music ... revisiting the joys of acoustic instruments." -Allan Kozinn, NY Times Sunday Arts & Leisure Section (May 15, 2009)
"Rolnick's computer echoes and multiplies certain notes and phrases, producing an ivory current that whips and swirls around the performer ... Digits is one of the most effective items in [Kathleen Supove's] repertoire." -Steve Smith, Time Out New York (November 9, 2006)
"Wit, fun and the most delightful virtuosity ... [Rolnick] is a wonderfully sly musician, laid back, easy, but sharply rhythmic, with an ear for just the right sound at just the right time." -Greg Sandow, The American Music Center's NewMusicBox.org (April 1, 2003)
Neil Rolnick on YouTube