Saturday, August 1, 2015

Richard Carrick 13 Questions

Richard Carrick, a Guggenheim Fellow, writes music of spatial depth and robust stasis, characterized by continual development and the evocation of profound human experiences. Described both as "charming, with exoticism and sheer infectiousness" and "organic and restless" by The New York Times, Carrick's music is influenced by his multicultural background and experiences as well as his commitment to inspire professionals and youth through composition.

His 2015 CD release, Cycles of Evolution, includes pieces commissioned by the New York Philharmonic, Either/Or, Sweden’s Ensemble Son, Hotel Elefant, String Orchestra of Brooklyn, and DZ4.  Other recent CD’s include The Flow Cycle for Strings (2011 New World Records) and Stone Guitars (2014). 

Lauren Cauley and Elisabeth Jeffrey in "Trust," by Miro Magloire and Richard Carrick. Photography by Jaqlin Medlock.

He has been programmed and presented internationally at festivals including ISCM World Music Days-Switzerland, NYPHIL BIENNIAL, Mid-American New Music Festival, Konzerthaus Wein, and Darmstadt Summer Festival, and performed by musicians including the JACK and Mivos Quartets, Nieuw Ensemble, Sequitur Ensemble, Tony Arnold, Magnus Andersson, Steven Schick, Rohan de Saram, and many others.    

Richard Carrick's "Prisoner's Cinema" Photo by Dominica Eriksen 

Carrick is co-founder, co-artistic director and conductor/pianist of the New York-based contemporary music outfit Either/Or, which promotes work of the most vital contemporary composers and is declared "first rate" and "a trustworthy purveyor of fresh sounds" by The New York Times.
Carrick has taught composition at Columbia and New York Universities and has presented masterclasses and lectures throughout the US, Europe, and Asia. He is a cornerstone of the teaching artist faculty for the New York Philharmonic, through which he has mentored hundreds of young composers internationally.

Born in Paris of French-Algerian and British descent, Carrick received his BA from Columbia University, PhD from the University of California-San Diego with Brian Ferneyhough, and pursued further studies at IRCAM and the Koninklijk Conservatorium in The Hague.  Recent works distributed by Project Schott New York.  
Bio by Brad Balliett

1. What do you remember about your first approach to sound?

2. Which was the first and the last record you bought with your own money?

3. How's your musical routine practice?

4. Which work of your own are you most surprised by, and why?

5. What's the relevance of technique in music, in your opinion?

6. Why do you need music? Can we live without music?

7. Tell me one impossible project do you like to realize?

8. What are the challenges and benefits of today's digital music scene?

9. Depict the sound you're still looking for, or the sound you'd like to hear.

10. How do you feel listening to your own music?

11. What special or extrange techniques do you use?

12. Which is the main pleasure of the strings? What are their main limitation?

13. What’s your craziest project about?

1. Can you describe a sound experience that you believe contributed to your becoming a musician?

2. What do you recall about your playing learning process?

3. Tell me one musical work which has provoked a change in your music.

4. What is your relationship with other disciplines such as painting, literature, dance, theater ...?

5. Where are your roots? What are your secret influences? (Non musical ones, books, people, experiences, art...)

6. What would you enjoy most in an art work?

7. If you could, what would you say to yourself 30 (or 35) years ago, about your musical career?

8. What quality do you most empatize with in a musician?

9. Which living or dead artist would you like to collaborate with?

10. What is some valuable advice that someone has given to you in the past?

11. What instruments and tools do you use?

12. What is the most recent musical experience that has attracted your attention?

13. What projects are you working on now and what does the future hold?

What do you remember about your first approach to sound?

I remember recreating classical music on the piano (I had a good ear but didn’t like sightreading) so I would just re-orchestrate pieces on the piano instead of really learning every note. I used to add lower octaves to Beethoven sonatas, thinking it sounded better! Of course it did, but only years later did I realize he was writing for a smaller piano and had he had those lower notes available to him, I wonder if he might have also added them?

How's your musical routine practice?

Ha, that is funny. Wish I had a routine. Juggling composing, performing and conducting makes a daily routine impossible, but I do spend plenty of time preparing for each project, months in advance, so I don’t try do to anything at the last minute.

What's the relevance of technique in music, in your opinion?

Big question with a short answer! Technique is a tool; it is something you need in order to forget about it and make music. But there is no standard technique you need, everyone studies until they can do what they want with their instrument. I have way more piano technique than guitar technique, but (or because of?) I often find the guitar more inspiring to improvise on.

Depict the sound you're still looking for, or the sound you'd like to hear.

After having performed Helmut Lachenmann’s Salut fur Caudwell numerous times, I wrote a solo classical guitar work in 2009 for the Swedish guitarist Magnus Andersson. I composed my piece entirely on the instrument and heard every sound with my ears next to the instrument. I fell in love with the intimate nuances of the guitar sound up close. But when I head it in performance, beautifully performed by Magnus, I realized so many of those rich details were lost in the concert hall.

I’m still looking for a way to capture and project these rich, soft sounds of the guitar in larger halls, without them sounding loud or amplified. It might be acoustical impossibility, but I keep trying with different pedals and amps! And if anyone has suggestions on how to do this, I’d love to hear from them.

How do you feel listening to your own music?

Used to feel very strange and too intimate, but these days it feels really good in general. More specifically, each piece is so different from the next that I never have one feeling towards my music, each piece has its own feelings. I’m always hearing the reason for writing it, how it was presented, what I’m hoping to accomplish with the piece, and those unexpected happy results that sometimes appear from myopic composing practices.

Richard Carrick - piano, Stephanie Griffin - viola, Margaret Lancaster - alto flute, Chris McIntyre - trombone, Josh Rubin - bass clarinet, David Shively - percussion, Alex Waterman - cello

What special or strange techniques do you use?

I use whammy bar way too much compared to ‘legit’ guitarists! You have to remember I’m a pianist by training, and I returned to the guitar precisely because it does so many things the piano doesn’t do: microtonal tuning, pitch bend, crescendo, electronic processing, etc. So my guitar playing focuses on these aspects of the instrument.

Which is the main pleasure of the strings? What are their main limitation?

I am in total love with the purity of the sound. and how it evokes music from such diverse and rich cultures. Piano always sounds like a western instrument. Guitar can sound like it is from anywhere in the world. Very liberating, but also makes it very difficult to write for, since it is easy to fall into cultural cliche’s.

What projects are you working on now and what does the future hold?

After over 10 years in NYC, I’m now into working in new musical environments. I just spent time in Seoul studying Korean Gugak (Traditional) Music where I learned the vocal traditions and how to play the Piri (a double reed wind instrument), and will be spending time in Kigali, Rwanda, where they have a rich drumming tradition. It is important not to take too many things for granted, and also immerse yourself in other traditions to fuel and develop your own ideas. Somehow, your own ideas become clearer.