Ben Stevenson and Wavelength Winds collaborate to create a new work
Benjamin Stevenson (b. 1995) is a Music Composition and Oboe Performance student at Peabody Conservatory, in the studios of composer Kevin Puts and oboist Jane Marvine. Previously, he received his Bachelor of Music degree in Music Composition from the University of Texas at Austin, where his teachers included Dan Welcher, Donald Grantham, Yevgeniy Sharlat, and Russell Pinskton. Stevenson enjoys writing for any medium and has a wide variety of musical interests—spanning orchestral and wind ensemble music, film music, music for dance, and chamber music. His piece for soprano and piano trio, “Pla[y/ie],” was awarded the Prix Nadia Boulanger by the Écoles d’Art Américaines de Fontainebleau. Additionally, his “Chamber Symphony: Observations on Homogeneity” – for which he won the George H. Mitchell Award – was premiered by the University of Texas New Music Ensemble. He served as musical director for HOLLOW: a dance collaboration presented as a part of the Cohen New Works Festival, and his music has been showcased in the C.L.U.T.C.H. new music series, Density 512, and the Sound in Sculpture series. In the area of film music, he composed the score for the mini-series “The Biodiversity of Texas” and the award-winning short film/musical “The Letter E.” Stevenson was a member of Andrew Parker’s oboe studio; frequently premiering new works and performing works from the standard repertoire. He performed in the University of Texas Wind Ensemble and the University of Texas Symphony Orchestra.
Based on a painting of the same name by Marsden Hartley, “Carnival of Autumn” reveals how we experiences different forms of art in specific ways. Visual art objects exist in a two- or three-dimensional space across time, while music uses time as its principal medium and typically has physical object associated with it. In this piece, the artistic experience of viewing a painting is transcribed across time. On first sight, the viewer is struck with an explosion of colors, but after spending time with the art, the viewer notices smaller details in different sections of the painting. The musical material mimics the neo-impressionist brushstrokes of the painter, with concise motives placed next to and on top of one another. Each instrument presents a different color of sound, and entirely new colors are created out of the juxtaposition of two colors. The painting itself depicts mountains, rivers, and clouds, with an overall emotional effect of simplicity and nostalgia. Hartley’s vibrant landscapes often portray a healthy interaction between man and nature, where man does not exploit nature and instead lives in communion with nature. After the viewer has decided to move on to the next work in the gallery, the piece of art continues to exist in its own space and time, and its impression remains in the consciousness of the viewer.
Carnival of Autumn was commissioned by Wavelength Winds and will premiered at 5:00 p.m. on Novemeber 30th, 2018 in Gildenhorn Recital Hall at the University of Maryland School of Music.