Contemporary Composer

Posted on June 5, 2017

Hello and thanks for visiting my site!

If you wish, you can contact me at richardpressley@gmail.com.  If you happen to be interested in performing a work of mine or having me write a work for you, please email me at the link above.  I am more than happy to send along pdfs of scores and mp3 recordings for your consideration.

June 5, 2017

Apologies for not having posted in such a very long time.  Much has happened in the last two years!  Be sure to check out some of my new recordings on the Listen page!

Personal News:

My wife, Johanna, and I welcomed our second child to our family in June 2015: a girl, Alina Jeanne.  Our son, Silas, will soon be four, so we have had quite the handful, and this partly explains my making excuses rather than updating this website!  I am still Assistant Professor at The Horton School of Music at Charleston Southern University, where I just finished my fourth year of teaching.

Composition News:

There’s a lot to relate, so for clarity’s sake I will proceed backwards by years to where my last post left off in February 2015.  (Wow, two years flies by fast!)

2017 News (so far):

I had an Italian premiere!  I finally composed an electronic piece and it was premiered on May 6 at the Cluster Musica Contemporanea Associazione di Compositori concert in Lucca, Italy, AND premiered again May 7 at the Contrasti New Music Festival in Trento, Italy!  My very good friend and excellent composer, Girolamo Deraco, was very kind to request a work from me to include in his concerts in Trento and Lucca, so I “took the plunge” and wrote a piece for fixed media.  Five Cretti (after Burri) was written entirely using stock sounds on GarageBand.  The work was inspired by the Arte Povera artists in Italy and in particular by Italian artist Alberto Burri who was a big influence on them.  Burri called many of his works cretti (“cracks”) because of the way the painted medium would often crack as it dried on the surface of the the work.  Since the Arte Povera artists most usually limited themselves to common and/or easily found materials, I thought GarageBand would be an interesting, analogous self-imposed limitation.  You can listen to the piece on the Listen page.

My in memoriam, for solo piano, on the CD Felt: Striking Works for Solo Piano was re-released by Navona Records as part of 5-CD bundle What Are They Doing to That Piano? in May (available nationally and internationally via iTunes, Amazon, et. al.).

Two former students of mine, Jeremy and Mallory Glover, requested a new work for harp and percussion, so I wrote Three Ecstatic Dances for them, which they then premiered at Jeremy’s Senior Percussion recital at Lightsey Chapel at CSU on April 1.  They played it very well and I received lots of nice compliments on the piece afterward!  I will post a recording when I get it.

My work, Patina, for solo glockenspiel was performed yet again.  This time at the Southeastern Composers League Forum at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, VA on March 24.  You may view the performance — played very beautifully by Stacey Jones-Garrison — on YouTube here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZACveLMx5A.

2016 News:

In November, the JCA Composers Orchestra led by my good friend and very talented composer, Frank Felice, at Butler University performed my flattery of fire for four unspecified performers.  This time the instrumentation was flute, tenor sax, violin, and viola!  You can listen to the performance on the Listen page.

Percussion master Robert McCormick led a transcendent performance of my Percussion Quartet at the University of South Florida New Music Festival in Tampa in March!  You can watch a performance of it on YouTube here:

Also in March, my Seven Haiku, for wind quintet was given two performances at Winthrop University.  The first was at the Delta Omicron New Music Concert, then several days later at the College Music Society Mid-Atlantic Chapter Conference.  The students who performed it really attacked the piece with zeal and I was very pleased with the outcome!

I wrote an OPERA!  Ruth, was premiered in February 2016: a one-act in three scenes lasting about 40 minutes, and based on the Book of Ruth in the Bible.  If you’re interested, you can watch it on YouTube here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sK1gp3rX4k0.  The synopsis of the storyline is available in the comments box.

A bit of explanation: when I mentioned my thoughts for writing a more traditional (musically (for me)) one-act opera based on the Book of Ruth, for music schools like mine, that are modest in size in terms of the number of music majors and of which not too many are music performance majors, my colleague, Dr. Jennifer Luiken, very generously immediately said that if I wrote it, she would stage and perform it with the Lyric Theatre.  I accepted on the spot and promptly contacted my excellent friends (and librettists) Dr.s Jack and Woody Simons at The Master’s University in Santa Clarita, CA (where I taught from 2006-2009), they finished and “polished up” the libretto (already in progress when I mentioned it to Jennifer), and I spent Spring Break and the better part of Summer 2015 writing it — during which time my daughter also was born!  Needless to say, it was a very busy year!!

I am very pleased with the opera, it was extremely interesting writing it given that my own compositional style is non-tonal and usually pretty dissonant.  It does everything I had just taught my fourth semester music students about late Romanticism although it doesn’t sound overly late-Romantic to my ears.  I was also very pleased to know all of the singers and players personally, which really influenced what and how I wrote the music.

The performances were all a great success.  It was premiered by the CSU Lyric Theatre under conductor Dr. Nicholas Holland at the College Band Directors National Association Southern Division Conference on February 18 at the Gaillard Center in downtown Charleston, SC, then given two further performances on February 21 and 22 at Lightsey Chapel on the CSU campus.  Somewhat sadly, the February 21 performance was the only one that was recorded, and there was some mix up as to who would be doing the recording, so we had to make do with the microphones we were able to get hold of at the last minute, so the quality of the audio could be better, but it is what it is.

In July, my short piano work, Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star (Starlight Variation), was finally published in the anthology, More Variations on the Theme of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star for Solo Piano (and recorded on accompanying CD included with the anthology) by Shanghai Conservatory of Music Press.  This project was the brainchild of composer Julian Yu in Australia and has taken about two years to come to fruition.  It is a compilation of 50 modern variations on the famous song by various selected and call-for-scores-winning international composers (ISBN 9787556601325).  The pieces were already recorded and released on CD by Move Records in Australia in 2015.

2015 News: 

My short piano work, Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star (Starlight Variation), for solo piano, was recorded by Michael Kieran Harvey, and released nationally and internationally on CD by Move Records (Australia) on their 70 More Variations on Twinkle Twinkle Little Star release in November.  You can read more about it at the following link: http://www.move.com.au/news/85.  It is available on iTunes as well.

My piano suite, Sola gratia, sola fide e soli Deo gloria, was given a truly magnificent performance by Daniel Koppelman at the SCI 50th Anniversary National Conference at the University of Florida in November.  Written while I was an undergrad at Butler University, the work has only had one performance of the entire piece (the premiere by Richard Ratliff you can hear on the Listen page), and hasn’t been performed even in part since my first quarter at the University of Minnesota in Fall of 1998!

I had a Serbian premiere!  Patina for solo glockenspiel was given its Serbian premiere in Belgrade in September at the 24th International Review of Composers presented by the Composers’ Association of Serbia in September.

My work, Psalm 119: 41-48, was performed — this time on solo oboe! — at the Southeastern Composers League Forum at Converse College in Spartanburg, SC on February 26-28 .  You may view the performance — wonderfully realized by Kelly McElrath Vaneman  — on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ok3kFna9eBE

At the same SECL Forum, Laurie Peebles gave a lovely performance of my short work for solo piccolo, Aspiration, which you can watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KyDk2lR84AA

My Three Haiku was performed twice more in Ireland by the Concorde Ensemble: in Galway at the Nun’s Island Theatre in March, then once again in Dublin in April at the Hugh Lane Gallery.

My Percussion Quartet was performed under the baton of Michael Haldeman in Lightsey Chapel at Charleston Southern University in April.