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Featured Music: Doxa for Viola and Piano

  • Kassia

    The Kassia Ensemble commissioned Kassia in honor of their namesake, the 9th-century Byztantine Abbess, poet and hymnographer, and the only woman whose hymns are included in the Eastern Orthodox liturgy. She is also likely the first woman whose music has survived until now. Kassia is scored for the entire ensemble of clarinet, harp and string quintet. I drew some motivic shapes from two of her most well-known chants: The Fallen Woman and Augustus, the Monarch. I am grateful for the important work of musicologist  Diane Touliatos-Banker both for her translation of Kassia’s music into contemporary notation, and for her deep study of Byzantine music. I was also inspired by rhythms of Kassia’s poetry, and had verses read in the original Greek by Christina Boltsi to get a better feel for them. Kassiaunfolds in one movement, whose emotional character ranges from the gentleness of the opening to wild cries of pain, from pensive yearnings to dreams of the world beyond. While the Covid-19 pandemic precluded the planned meeting with the entire ensemble during the compositional process, virtual sessions with the individual members provided welcome connections in dark times. I also wish to thank the Spark Foundation and Opportunity Fund of Pittsburgh for their support of this project.

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Breaking News

  • Kassia

    The Kassia Ensemble commissioned Kassia in honor of their namesake, the 9th-century Byztantine Abbess, poet and hymnographer, and the only woman whose hymns are included in the Eastern Orthodox liturgy. She is also likely the first woman whose music has survived until now. Kassia is scored for the entire ensemble of clarinet, harp and string quintet. I drew some motivic shapes from two of her most well-known chants: The Fallen Woman and Augustus, the Monarch. I am grateful for the important work of musicologist  Diane Touliatos-Banker both for her translation of Kassia’s music into contemporary notation, and for her deep study of Byzantine music. I was also inspired by rhythms of Kassia’s poetry, and had verses read in the original Greek by Christina Boltsi to get a better feel for them. Kassiaunfolds in one movement, whose emotional character ranges from the gentleness of the opening to wild cries of pain, from pensive yearnings to dreams of the world beyond. While the Covid-19 pandemic precluded the planned meeting with the entire ensemble during the compositional process, virtual sessions with the individual members provided welcome connections in dark times. I also wish to thank the Spark Foundation and Opportunity Fund of Pittsburgh for their support of this project.

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Recent News

  • Watershed Commission

    Michigan Technological University in collaboration with the Great Lakes Research Center has commissioned Watershed, scored for septet (sop sax, trpt, trb, vn, vla, vc, perc) and electronics. The Great Lakes are a crucial source of water as well as critical habitat for a vast array of fauna. I am drawing on field recordings of the lakes as well as the creatures they support. I am indebted to many naturalists and institutions such as the outstanding Macaulay Library. For more info, go here. Looking forward to the premiere during the weekend of 10/8-9/21.

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  • La Frontera

    I felt called to compose La Frontera (The Border). a setting of the poem for SATB + piano. The poem bears witness to the struggles of an undocumented  youth trying to immigrate, but held in a maximum security detention center in the US. Information about the piece and free download of the scores are available here. Performance royalties will go to the Detained Children’s Program of CAIR, as do profits from the book Dreaming America: Voices of Undocumented Youth in Maximum Security Detention, published by Settlement House Books. Thanks go also to poet Seth Michelson, who led poetry workshops in one of these centers resulting in these poems.

    This image is by Tony Webster, and licensed via Wikimedia Commons   CC BY 3.0 ; it has not been altered.

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  • Kassia Ensemble Commission

    The Kassia ensemble commissioned the first piece composed for their entire sparkling ensemble of clarinet, harp and string quintet, and I have responded with Kassia,  inspired by the 9th-century abbess, poet and hymnographer. She is the only woman whose music is included in the Eastern Orthodox Church liturgy, and likely the first woman whose music has survived until now! I have referenced fragments of two of her chants and was also inspired by rreadings of her poetry in the original Greek. This ensemble affords a wealth of timbral beauty. Stay tuned for the premiere date!

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  • Hehuanshan for Bass Drum & Optional Interactive Electronics

    Hehuanshan (Mountain of Joy) is scored for solo bass drum and optional interactive electronics. It was inspired by, and is a tribute to, I-Jen Fang, with whom I have studied percussion for two years. The title reflects the ongoing delight of this experience with hours that had the fleet feel of minutes. Hehuanshan is located in Taroko National Park in Central Taiwan. The pandemic has led to the postponement of the premiere, but stay tuned!

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  • The Best Angel in Heaven, for Sandra Santos-Vizcaino

    I composed The Best Angel in Heaven in the cruel month of April, 2020, in memory of Sandra Santos-Vizcaino, the wonderful third-grade teacher at PS 9 in Brooklyn, NY who passed away from Covid-19. You can hear the beautiful performance by soprano Victoria Erickson and pianist Arlene Shrut here. 

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  • Zipper Music Digital Performance for NIME 2020

    Zipper Music, performed on  a UVA New Music Concert, included in the Covid-online version of  NIME 2020.   The conference was scheduled for the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, but circumstances led to its on-line migration.

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  • Respecting the First (Amendment) San Jose Chamber Orchestra Commission

    The San Jose Chamber Orchestra, with their adventuresome conductor Barbara Day Turner, has commissioned Respecting the First (Amendment) for string orchestra and electronics made from readings of and about the first amendment. The premiere is coming right up on Sunday, 3/29 at St. Francis Episcopal in San Jose, CA. At a time when the rights guaranteed by this amendment are disputed, and when  knotty issues surrounding the limits of free speech have come to the fore, Respecting the First (Amendment) reminds us of what is at stake.  Find out more on the composition page!

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  • unter sorele’s vigele: Yiddish Song, YIVO Commission

    The commission from  YIVO for a song that used a traditional Yiddish folksong as a jumping-off point inspired me to compose Unter Sorele’s Wigele. This cradle-song was one of four options offered as starting points. I found the unsettled core motif of this one to be beautifully strange, as are the imaginative, elliptical lyrics. I scored my song for mezzo and piano, and turned the core motif into a prism for coloring the timbral world of the piano and the melodic shapes of both instruments. The unsettled character of the original melody also prompted my choice to use floating whole-tone scales that only alight on triadic harmonies in a few key spots. The premiere will take place on Thursday, June 18 at 7:00 p.m. at the Center for Jewish History in the same location as YIVO in New York City. Check out more information under Backstories!

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  • Resident Composer, Bennington Chamber Music Festival

    The Bennington Chamber Music Festival of the East welcomes chamber musicians who are amateurs in the best sense of the word, and provides the opportunity to perform both traditional and contemporary music. They also welcome featured composers, who each spend a week in residence. Each creates a commissioned piece to premiere during the residency, and also mentor a composition fellow. Shatin will be in residence the week of August 4-11. Her commissioned piece is a wind quintet, called Cinqchronie, suggestive of the close interaction of all members of the ensemble to weave together the harmony of the whole. During her residency, Shatin will also mentor composition fellow Kristina Warren, as well as meeting with the other composition fellows. She will also give a presentation on her music and, in addition to the premiere by the program participants, will coach faculty performers on their interpretation of Ockeghem Variations.

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  • Guest composer at the Aspen Music Festival

    I am so pleased to return to the Aspen Music Festival this summer, when Mehrdad Gholami will perform my flute concerto, Ruah, with the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, conducted by Timothy Weiss on 8/3/19. Originally composed for flutist Renee Siebert, who also recorded it, the concerto reflects my long love of the instrument, one of the two I studied as a child.

    And, it’s one I have continued to explore on my own, as well as through compositions for, and collaborations with flutists such as Lindsey Goodman (Penelope’s Song, For the Fallen) and Patricia Spencer (Kairos, Fasting Heart). Both of these amazing performers have also recorded my music.

    This will be my third return to the festival as a guest composer, and the joy of the first encounter as a student is still very much with me. Previous visits have included the performance of Glyph, with violist James Dunham, accompanied by string quartet and piano; and Gregor’s Dream, for amplified piano and electronics that I fashioned from field recordings of beetles shared by bioacousticians. That piece was commissioned by the Jerusalem-based Atar Trio, who also toured with it.

    Both visits have also included meetings/presentations with the composition fellows, as will this one.

    It is hard to overstate the extraordinary effect of the Aspen Music Festival on my musical development, and indeed my decision to follow my path as a composer. My first summer there, in 1971, was a summer of firsts: sitting in on extraordinary master classes, such as those with Jan DeGaetani, hearing presentations by lannis Xenakis and George Crumb, attending multiple concerts every day. And, my first experience of the Buchla synthezier, in Mike Czaikowski’s course. On the personal front, meeting musicians who became life-long friends and collaborators such as violist Rosemary Glyde, pianist Gayle Martin and mezzo Katherine Soroka.

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  • Shatin Music Month at UVA
  • I Love premieres

    The Illinois Wesleyan University Collegiate Choir, director by J. Scott Ferguson, premieres I Love, with poetry by Gertrude Stein, on 3/2/19, First Presbyterian Church, Springfield, IL

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  • Judith at the VCCA

    Judith awarded a residency at the Virginia Center for Creative Arts
    in late May, 2018. She will be one of 25 fellows in residence, focusing on creative projects.

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  • Ice Becomes Water

    Ice Becomes WaterMy music often reflects my experience of and concerns about the world around us. Ice Becomes Water is informed by the danger that scientists are warning about caused by human-induced climate change, and what it means for our interconnected ecological web. Ice Becomes Water is scored for string orchestra and electronics which I fashioned from field recordings shared by Oskar Glowacki, who studies acoustic signatures of glaciers. As I mentioned in my program notes, my piece is a lament for our role in this process and a call to change.

    When Barbara Day Turner, the innovative conductor of the San Jose Chamber Orchestra approached me about commissioning a piece, I spent a good deal of time thinking before this topic came into focus. Aware of Mr. Glowacki’s research project, I contacted him, and am grateful for his willingness to share his field recordings. As is typically the case, I began by exploring the timbral world of the field recordings, processing them in a variety of ways and thinking about the continuum from recognizable to radically transformed sound. At the same time, I thought about the types of interactions between the string orchestra and the electronics, and gradually the dynamic interactions between the two emerged. I knew almost immediately that I wanted to start with high, thin sounds that I imagined as the blue tint of a glacier reflecting the early-morning sky, and that this stratospheric quiet would be interrupted in increasingly violent ways, before giving way to a yearning lament over the low tones of a glacial night, with ghost images of the earlier eruptions.

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  • Illinois Wesleyan University Symposium of Contemporary Music

    IWU-ChorusIllinois Wesleyan University has had an annual Symposium of Contemporary Music since 1952, and I am delighted to be the featured composer this year, with great thanks to composer David Vayo for his tremendous organizational efforts. It will be a packed couple of days, 11/16-17/17! I will be giving a talk on Thursday, 11/16 at 4:00 p.m. called ‘Music and the Surrounding World,’  with a focus on the expansion of sonic sources that digital media offer , and demonstrate with pieces that draw on the natural world (Singing the Blue Ridge, For the Birds) and the built world (For the Fallen, Penelope’s Song and Tape Music).

    There will be a concert of my music that evening in Westbrook Auditorium. The Collegiate Choir, led by J. Scott Ferguson, will perform Hark My Love, a setting of verses from the Song of Songs in Martin Pope’s beautiful translation. It also includes several chamber vocal pieces. The first is A Line-Storm Song a setting of an early Frost poem for soprano and piano. The second is one of my Akhmatova Songs (Everything is Plundered) in the original Russian, with poetry by the masterful Russian poet Anna Akhmatova. The last is Vayter un Vayter (baritone, clarinet, cello, piano), a setting of three poems by Abraham Sutzkeve in the original Yiddish. A survivor of the Vilna Ghetto and a partisan fighter against the Nazis, his poetry is intense and moving. I chose three contrasting poems and set them in the original to honor my paternal grandparents and father, whose first language was Yiddish. The program will be rounded out with a brass quintet, Fantasia sobre el Flamenco, inspired by my travel to Granada, as well as two electronic pieces: Hosech Al P’ney HaTehom (Darkness Upon the Face of the Earth), A Little Water Music and Rotunda, my video collaboration with Robert Arnold. Then, on Friday, 11/17 at 7:30 p.m. the Illinois Wesleyan Symphony Orchestra will perform Black Moon (orchestra and electronics), originally commissioned by Carnegie Hall for the American Composers Orchestra. During my residency, I will meet with student composers, and look forward to this adventure!



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  • ‘Tis You: Music for Douglass College Centennial


    I composed ‘Tis You, a setting of Amy Lowell’s poem, Listening, for the Centennial of Douglass College. Created for the Voorhees Choir, in my day the women’s chorus of Douglass College (now of Rutgers University), the premiere takes place on 12/2/17 during the Choir’s fall concert, and on 12/3/17 during the Yule Log Ceremony at the Voorhees Chapel on the Douglass campus. I searched far and wide for a text. After months of research, I looked at An Anthology of Great U.S. Women Poets 1850-1990, edited and with notes by Glenn Richard Ruihley. After discussing the project with Dean Jacquelyn Litt, I returned to this book,  and by chance opened it to the Lowell poem. The first line is ‘Tis you that are the music, not your song.’ I love the way the poem speaks of the internal music of our beings, the meaning of our individual contributions, and also our role in the larger ocean of life. I had finally found the text! Brandon Williams, conductor of the Voorhees Choir, requested a version for treble chorus, string quartet and piano; there is also a version for treble chorus and piano.

    My education at Douglass College, and in particular my music studies with Professors Robert Lincoln and James Scott, and composer Robert Moevs at Rutgers College, started me on my path as a composer. As a senior, after much discussion, I was given permission to present a senior composition recital, the first in the history of the school. I was required, in addition to composing multiple pieces, to perform one of my piano compositions, to find all of the performers, organize rehearsals, and attend to all details surrounding the recital. It was an inspiring experience, and confirmed me in my strong, if, at that time naïve, desire to pursue composition as my life’s work. I was pleased to return to Douglass College in 1990, when I was inducted into the Douglass Society of Distinguished alumnae, and to recall the importance of this institution for myself and the many thousands of fellow alumnae who were inspired by the education that helped them on their own life paths. –JS


    by Amy Lowell

    ‘Tis you that are the music, not your song.
    The song is but a door which, opening wide,
    Lets forth the pent-up melody inside,
    Your spirit’s harmony, which clear and strong
    Sings but of you. Throughout your whole life long
    Your songs, your thoughts, your doings, each divide
    This perfect beauty; waves within a tide,
    Or single notes amid a glorious throng.
    The song of earth has many different chords;
    Ocean has many moods and many tones
    Yet always ocean. In the damp Spring woods
    The painted trillium smiles, while crisp pine cones
    Autumn alone can ripen. So is this
    One music with a thousand cadences.


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  • Guest Composer, Aspen Music Festival

    Judith returns to theGregor’s Dream on their July 24th program in the Benedict Music Tent, together with music by Reich (Vermont Counterpoint), Respighi (Violin Sonata in B minor) and Mozart (Piano and Wind Quintet in E-flat major, K. 452). You can purchase tickets here. Judith will also give a talk for the Composition Fellows, and plans to focus on the exciting new options afforded by the combination of acoustic and digital media that she has explored in her own music, as well as on the study of music perception behind our musical experiences. Once a student at the festival herself, she encountered her first synthesizer, a Buchla, in Michael Czaikowski’s terrific class. Already fascinated by timbral exploration, this encounter provided a crucial bridge between the acoustic and electronic worlds. The opportunity to hear such a terrific range of music, and attend talks by composers such as Xenakis and Crumb, as well as attending masterclasses by performers such as Jan DeGaetani, offered unforgettable experiences.

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  • Black Moon Commission

    Carnegie Hall commissioned a new piece to premiere on October 28, 2016 at Zankel Hall at Carnegie. Meanwhile, I gave a public presentation on the technology and tried  out some sketches, called Red Moon, at the DiMenna Center for Classical Music in New York on March 5, 2016 in their CoLABoratory series. More details here. After the music program, members of the audience had a chance to try out the Kinect Controller, and conduct music themselves.

    The summer has zoomed by, and the piece is finally complete. With the assistance of composer Paul Turowski (who has just finished his Phd here at UVA and joined the faculty at the University of Liverpool), we made a couple of technology shifts after the experience of the CoLAB. Rather than using left-hand gestures to start the electronic sounds, we are using a foot switch, and saving the gestural control for moving the sound in space. This gives the conductor a lot more flexibility, as it is no longer crucial to control the left hand movements so much. Now, it is only used to move the sound in the stereo space, and I have been careful to use that only at special moments in the design of the piece. Looking forward to putting it all together the week of October 28! You can find out more and get your tickets here.

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  • 10th Anniversary Commission and Recording: UVA Percussion Ensemble

    The UVA Percussion Ensemble, led by I-Jen Fang, commissioned Khamsa for percussion quintet to celebrate its 10th anniversary and premiered on 4/11/15. They are now recording it for release in the spring of 2017. While thinking about the piece, and working on it during the 2014 summer of war in the Middle East, I decided to call it Khamsa, which means ‘five’ in Arabic, and refers to an ancient palm-shaped amulet that has been used as a sign of protection against the ‘evil eye.’ It has meaning in all three Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam, though it predated any of them. I chose this title, and created a structure based on the Khamsa, as a way of expressing hope for better times ahead, for protection for all people against intolerance based on religious creed or ethnicity.

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  • Time to Burn

    Fanfare Review 1

    SHATIN Glyph.1 Time to Burn. 2 Grito del Corazón. 3 Sic Transit. 4 Hoshech Al P’ney HaTehom. 5 Elijah’s Chariot6 • 1James Dunham (va); 1Margaret Kampmeier (pn); 2Aaron Hill (ob); 2, 4I-Jen Fang, 2Mike Schutz (perc); 3F. Gerard Errante, 3D. Gause (cl); 1, 6Cassatt Str Qrt • INNOVA 845 (75:08)

    Over the course of a mere 75 minutes, this disc introduces the listener to the sheer depth and variety of Judith Shatin’s music. The above interview speaks much about interdisciplinary modes of inspiration and the use of either obscure instruments (shofar) or technology (electronics, CADI). It is interesting to note that the first piece, Glyph (1984, for solo viola, string quartet, and piano), begins in rather welcoming fashion. This movement is marked “Luminous” (the others are “Flickering,” “Ecstatic,” and “Incandescent”). The playing here by soloist James Dunham is stunning: resonant and vital. The first movement invokes large open spaces (of time, possibly, as well as space); the more spiky “Flickering” offers excellent contrast and is superbly performed, especially in the virtuosity of the speedy pizzicatos. The ecstasy of the third movement is quite reverent in nature; the virtuosity of the beautifully, skillfully written finale is most satisfying.

    The piece from which the disc takes its name, Time to Burn (2006), is far more overtly Modernist. Scored for oboe and two percussionists, it is a visceral reaction to world events, including holocausts and racism. The title refers back to the burnings of witches. The oboe part presents huge challenges (including multiphonics), magnificently overcome here by Aaron Hill, while the percussion element provides a terrifically exciting sense of momentum.

    The Goya-inspired Grito del Corazón (2001) for two clarinets and electronics is far more than atmospherics. Again, there is a clear narrative thread that moves us through the piece’s five-minute duration. Sic Transit (2011) is the piece for percussionist and CADI (it is worth searching out the video mentioned in the interview above, also, just to see how it all comes together). Here, I-Jen Fang is the intrepid percussionist. As a critic who sometimes feels he has been exposed to too much percussion-only music in his time (and who has tended to relegate these pieces and discs to a space of interest only really open to percussionists), it is quite something to say that this piece grips throughout. The 1990 piece Hoshech Al P’ney HaTehom (1990, “Darkness upon the face of the deep”), for electronics, musically depicts the birth of a world. As Shatin points out above, it is not quite Wagnerian in that there are depictions also of lightning; but the link seems to remain, for this listener at least.

    The ancient sounds of the shofar make the final piece, the 20-minute Elijah’s Chariot of 1995, a most stimulating experience. The sudden juxtaposition of the shofar’s primal sound and that of string quartet (which, some would claim, is the very embodiment of civilization itself) is marked. This is the longest piece on the disc and demonstrates clearly how Shatin’s feel for narrative can sustain longer timescales. The performance is magnificent, exuding confidence at every turn.

    Colin Clarke
    This article originally appeared in Issue 37:6 (July/Aug 2014) of Fanfare Magazine.

    Fanfare Review 2

    Judith Shatin is a true sound artist. She applies sound to the airwaves in the same way a painter applies colors to canvas. She is not trying for melodies that the listener will walk away singing, but she uses melodic material for dramatic effect. The holder of advanced degrees from Juilliard and Princeton, she is professor of music at the University of Virginia where she founded and now directs the Virginia Center for Computer Music. Glyph is a four-movement study in light and shadow with the emphasis on various qualities of light and reflection. Light is represented by close harmonies between the solo viola and the members of the string quartet. There is some correspondence with Debussy and Impressionist music, but its movement is constantly surging forward into the diverse rhythms of the late 20th century. “Luminous” is lyrical, but “Flickering” is spicy and hard to pin down. Her music reminds me of the Norse legendary character Loki. “Ecstatic” brings its own atmosphere along for the memorable ride that culminates in the driving force of “Incandescent.”

    Written in 2006, Time to Burn speaks of holocausts, not just the one in Germany, but more recent ones that no one has succeeded in stopping. Shatin likens the ethnic and religious hatred of our own time to the Inquisition and the burning of witches. Her piece for oboe and percussion gives a moving description of 21st-century religious persecutions. Grito del Corazón (Cry of the Heart) is a 2001 piece inspired by Goya’s most disturbing paintings. His “black” paintings are fearsome works he created in old age to exhibit the inhumanity of war. Shatin describes their dark themes with intense music for two clarinets and intriguing electronic sounds.
    The score of Sic Transit calls for a single percussionist and a Computer Assisted Drumming Instrument that reflects the interaction of time and human beings. To the listener, the sounds seem to occur surrounded by spaces of varying sizes that produce constantly changing rhythms. This is quite a fascinating piece that seems different at each hearing. In Hoshech Al P’ney HaTehom (Darkness upon the Face of the Deep) Shatin provides a musical creation myth as she describes the formation of the world out of chaos and infinite darkness. Sounds and matter coalesce. Tones strengthen and ooze out of the abyss. There is lightning, and eventually, life. Elijah’s Chariot is perhaps the easiest of Shatin’s works for a neophyte to grasp at first hearing because it tells a story. For this work she uses the sound of the ancient ram’s horn, the shofar, usually heard on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. She processes the notes of the horn electronically in order to obtain the bright and rousing sounds that describe the prophet being swept up into the heavens in a glowing chariot drawn by fiery steeds. To finish the story, she adds the melody of a familiar folksong, Eliahu HaNavi (Elijah the Prophet) in which the people invite him to return with the Messiah. When you listen to her piece, you feel as though you too are being swept up to Heaven by strong winds. Shatin’s music is powerful and most distinctive. As performed here and recorded in Innova’s clear sound, it is also most inviting. I think anyone who is interested in the creation of new music should sample her offerings.

    Maria Nockin
    This article originally appeared in Issue 37:6 (July/Aug 2014) of Fanfare Magazine.

    “There is something stable, solid, in the music of American composers. In contrast to the thousand-year European tradition, they are mere babies; but that makes no difference: even a little over 100 years are enough, it would seem, to build a corpus that has character and is convincing. Not that there is a distinct essence of American musicality that one can define, quantify and classify stylistically. Nevertheless, it has something – a certain indefinable confidence. The works of the composer Judith Shatin always radiate such confidence, as it does in her new CD, to be officially released at the end of April, and is therefore now only distributed as a promo on the Net.

    The album Time to Burn is about light and fire, and not necessarily about their positive aspects – especially not in the work after which the CD is named (from 2006) for oboe (Aaron Hill) and percussionists (I-Jen Fang and Mike Schutz). This is a work Shatin composed, she says, in response to the holocausts that continue to plague the world, and widespread acts of violence that remind us of dark times such as the burning of witches and the Inquisition. It so happens that this work is one of the less interesting on the CD: it is nervous, bright and sharp, and although it may capture well the mood of catastrophe that its name suggests, it does not elicit a desire to listen to it.

    Another work that has a certain strangeness is Elijah’s Chariot, [based on the story of Elijah] who as is well known, rose to the Heavens in fire and smoke. Here Shatin draws upon a pseudo-folkishness, which takes her to the edge of the precipice of orientalism. The music begins with an expressive cello, as it were ‘Jewish,’ followed by the emergence of human voices with a mideastern effect, and after after which comes a theme in the same spirit, a kind of galloping Hora that is cut short by a bleating shofar electronically transformed, which in turn breaks into a quiet section – and as if that were not enough, the melody Eliahu HaNavi emerges after that. This search for the different and the ‘other,’ arouses a sense of forgiveness, one that only someone who has a ‘first-person perspective’ – such as Israelis – can feel towards those with good intentions who observe the culture from outside.

    But these works do not diminish the value of the wonderful music on this CD, and above all the opening work, Glyph (from 1984), which means a kind of carving.This work consists of beautiful, sweeping, imaginative music in four movements titled Luminous, Flickering, Ecstatic and Incandescent. The delicate piano performance of Margaret Kampmeier; James Dunham, with his viola, which is all song and virtuosity without showing off, and the French (sic) Cassatt Quartet, which can proudly stand beside the famed Kronos Quartet that commissioned Elijah’s Chariot and premiered it. This tonal, romantic music shows how little style is the measure of good music, and how one can write romantic music and be at the same time contemporary. True, this is not likely, but it is nevertheless possible – and rare as it may be, here the possible comes into being.

    Grito del Corazón (The Cry of the Heart) from 2001, for 2 clarinets and electronics, inspired by the Black Paintings of Francisco de Goya; Sic Transit, premiered in 2011, for percussionist and six robotic arms – whose repetitive rhythm moves from fulfillment of expectation to surprises, and explores our relation to time; and Hosech Al P’ney HaTehom for electronics, from 1990 – they too are beautiful works that reveal Shatin’s originality and her ability to say in sound something uniquely personal. Hosech Al P’ney HaTehom shows this: electronic music in which the noise of chaos moves and breaks as its sounds collide; and then a lightening flash triggers a wild storm, eruptions of lava, from which emerges a sound of definite pitch – and then stability.

    Judith Shatin, born in 1949, studied at Juilliard and Princeton, among other schools. She is a professor at the University of Virginia and founder and head of the Center for Computer Music there. According to her, the social aspects of music, the sounds of the world, as well as literature and visual art, find their place in her work. In an interview on the American Music site, she explains that she is looking for new sounds – “I live my life with my musical antennas up,” as she says, but that all her works have a direct and deep connection with music of the past: “sometimes I have the feeling that the past is the present,” she says.”

    –Ha’Aretz (Noam ben Ze’ev, Trans. Michael Kubovy)

    The title track “Time to Burn” is an engaging work for oboe and two percussionists. Extended techniques make the oboe sound almost like an electronic instrument in places. The interplay between the three instruments, and the imaginative way in which they’re used gives the music a sense of energy and even urgency. –WTJU Classical Comments (Ralph Graves)

    Terapija Netmjuzik Review

    Judith Shatin is a great role model and inspiration for Mary Kathleen Ernst, who you have had the chance to meet through the recently released album “Keeping Time,” and therefore, besides music and a general creative reach, it is very interesting to observe how the teacher is more nimble than her student, although they spent some time together in Juilliard School. Also, after many years, they jointly made a much acclaimed album “Tower of the Eight Winds” (2010), and renewed cooperation on the aforementioned album in which Kathleen remade several of Shatin’s compositions.

    Just to refresh our memories and renew our knowledge: Mary Kathleen is a pianist. Judith is a very versatile artist with a rich discography behind her, and she has covered many musical genres – classical and abstract, even experimental in the domain of modern classical music, as evidenced by her numerous awards. Moreover, from the years 1989 to 1993 she was the President of the Association of American Women Composers. The scope of her genre is very wide: using computer electronic and acoustic music, constantly cooperating and making various collaborations with various soloists and ensembles, with a main focus on instrumental performances.

    Here, on her third album for Innova Recording, through almost 80 minutes of music, she presents a trans-genre scenario of acoustic and electronic music, dividing compositions into separate sessions of acoustics and electronics, with just a few of them arranged as a combination of both expressions. She seems very peaceful and calm, focusing on improvisation of accompanying musicians (solo viola, string quartet, piano, percussion, drums, oboe, clarinet …) with her own inspirations of electronic enterprises, using the imagination of real instruments produced by computer programs. In other words, why bother playing some conventional instruments when they can be adapted to chords and notations in a binary system?

    This whole collection of different things which alludes to “live” music undisputedly associated with electro-acoustical achievements from half a century ago (or even longer) is impregnated with exhibitions in which there is no virtuous legalities of the “classics”: it focuses on melody, rhythm and harmony. We are talking about these factors in the traditional sense, but in her music, all of this exists on a completely different level – where a skilful skill of improvisation comes to its full expression. The first four mutually interrelated themes: Glyph – I. Luminous, Glyph – II. Flickering, Glyph – III. Ecstatic, and Glyph – IV. Incandescent, played by violist James Durham, pianist Margaret Kampmeier and the Cassat String Quartet, are differently painted pieces with constant changes of stylish performances in clean formats, and then, in the main one called “Time to Burn” a picturesque sifting and screening of I-Jen Fang percussion follows in [extended techniques] of the oboist Aaron Hill, also continuing in the dark “Grito del Corazon” inspired by Goya’s “Black Paintings,” where an electronic drone background has been used as well.

    In “Sic Transit,” she plays again with I-Jen Fang percussion, including this time computer-controlled instruments, while strangely named “Hoshech al p’ney HaTeh” is a real electronic mini-symphony with psycho-drone attributes about the birth of the world, the creation of a relationship between dark and light, and the exit out of chaos and the beginning of life. The last piece – “Elijah’s Chariot”- screams for a full 20 minutes with combinations of the amplified Cassatt String Quartet and electronic processors, suggestive of fiery combustions of the mythical fiery chariots of Elijah and thundering rides on the heavens.

    Just saying that the whole material affects us as simply steady and balanced would be too little. Here we have Judith presenting herself, again, as a versatile artist who manages to connect alongside both traditions and conventions with current underground stylizations of electronics, absorbing essences and important items from both sound worlds. She is clearly focused on themes and plots, she allows games and improvisations, and she creates chaos and unravels it in very calm layers of elevations, but then again swirls all of them with excitement and ecstasy.

    She is playing within her own control and permits a lot to an enjoyable series of different stylistic flourishes, which only sometimes and periodically repeat.

    Her horizons and spectrums are very rich and impressive, and after you finish listening to the last, a very interesting and dramatic theme of “Elijah chariot” (with shorter “dumb” vocal arias!), the whole impression irresistibly compels you to press the replay key.
    –Trans Mirela Savic-Fleming

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  • Commission for String poet!

    The Journal String Poet has commissioned a piece to be inspired by the winner of its 2014 poetry competition. This unusual program combines a poetry prize with a musical response. The piece will be premiered in September, 2014 at the same time as the reading of the poem at the Long Island Violin Shop in Huntington, NY.

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  • Trace Elements for Ensemble Berlin PianoPercussion

    Playing with Resonance

    Ensemble Berlin Piano Percussion has commissioned Trace Elements, for two piano and two percussion. I had a wonderful time in June, 2014, rehearsing with them in in Berlin, with the kind support of the American Embassy. And, I returned for the premiere at the Konzerthaus in Berlin on December 9. Having studied percussion semester with our ace percussion faculty, I-Jen Fang, I had an extensive opportunity to try out all kinds of techniques. And between the two of us, we came up with some that neither anticipated – one of the reasons why I love the collaborative process. While I’ve already composed numerous pieces with percussion, I value as much tactile instrumental sense as possible. And I-Jen and I both enjoyed experimenting with every possible mallet, instrument, and performance mode. The performance was a success, as was the pleasure of working with these extraordinary musicians. And, of course it is always fascinating to visit Berlin, with its complex history and vibrant present.

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  • Judith Shatin one of top 26 Women Professors in Virginia

    Judith has been chosen one of the top 26 women professors in Virginia for her innovative work combining the sounds of the world around us, both natural and built, in her award-winning compositions.

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  • Master Artist, ACA

    Judith served as  Master Artist at the Atlantic Center for the Arts  May 12-June 2, 2013, working with an exciting group of Associate Artists.
    Writer Geoff Dyer and Performance Artist Cosco Fusco are the other Master Artists for this residency.

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  • Shatin to be featured Composer at Roosevelt University Electro-acoustic festival

    Shatin to be featured Composer at Roosevelt University Electro-acoustic Festival 4/12/2013

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  • USingers

    University Singers, with Conductor Michael Slon: Winter Tour, 2013

    The program features Judith Shatin’s Birkat Hakohanim (a setting of the original Hebrew of the Priestly Blessing, which begins ‘The Lord bless you and keep you…’) Read More –>

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  • Kandinsky Trio commission

    The Kandinsky Trio has commissioned a new trio for their 25th Anniversary Season

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  • SMC 2012
  • Shatin named as a 2012 Woman in History by the Virginia Library
  • Shatin Composer-in-Residence 2012 Women Composers Festival of Hartford 3/7-10/12
  • Shatin’s popular Hanukah round available from Colla Voce Music

    Nun, Gimel, Hei, Shin – Shatin’s popular Hanukah round, available from Colla Voce Music

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Kubovy/Shatin: Mind of the Artist, Library of Congress Lecture

Tape Music

Here’s my take on Tape Music! I took packing tape, masking tape, binding tape, scotch tape, you-name-it-tape, and brought it to The Sound Studio in Charlottesville, where mic expert and composer Scott Barton assisted with the session, as did The Sound’s own Mark Graham. We used a bunch of mics, including Telefunken, Beyer and KSM, and now I’m having a great time making the piece.