Play | Pen Symposium
Feb. 4 & 5, 2022
As part of ReSounds, Elizabeth Ogonek and Ryan McCullough welcome an esteemed slate of musicians, composers, and instrument builders for a two-day virtual play | pen symposium on February 4-5. Looking at tradition and past inventions as a way forward, the presenters will showcase their innovations and design sensibilities, highlighting connections between music and technology. The symposium also serves as a kickoff for the new class Ogonek and McCullough are co-teaching, a multidisciplinary cross-arts lab for students that emphasizes the dialogue between past and future by considering new music written for old and newly constructed instruments.
The schedule of presentations and biographies of presenters are listed below. Attendees may register for each day and attend any or all sessions.
Friday, February 4
2:00 | Emily Dolan
3:00 | Mark Stewart
5:00 | Andrew McPherson
6:00 | Cory Smythe
Saturday, February 5
11:00 | Jesse Jones
12:00 | Devin Hough
3:00 | Bart Hopkin
[Q&A with Ryan, Elizabeth and Bart]
Emily I. Dolan is Associate Professor of Music and Department Chair at Brown University. Previously, she held positions at the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard University. Dolan works on the music of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. She focuses on issues of orchestration, timbre, aesthetics, and instrumentality, exploring in the intersections between music, science, and technology. She has published articles and essays in Current Musicology, Eighteenth-Century Music, Studia Musicologica, Keyboard Perspectives, Representations, and 19th-Century Music. Her first book, The Orchestral Revolution: Haydn and the Technologies of Timbre, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2013. In 2018, she guest edited a special double issue of Opera Quarterly entitled “Vocal Organologies and Philologies.” The Oxford Handbook of Timbre, co-edited with Alexander Rehding, was just published this past autumn. She is currently finishing her second book, Instruments and Order, which explores the concept of instrumentality. Dolan’s talk will explore some of the “ethereal material,” framing it around ways in which we can see a long history of wrestling with instrumental materiality.
Mark Stewart is a multi-instrumentalist, singer, song leader, composer, improviser, and instrument designer that has been heard around the world performing old and new music. Since 1998 he has recorded, toured and been Musical Director with Paul Simon. A founding member of the Bang on a Can All-Stars and the duo Polygraph Lounge with keyboard and theremin wizard Rob Schwimmer, Mark has also worked with Steve Reich, Sting, Anthony Braxton, Bob Dylan, Wynton Marsalis, Meredith Monk, Stevie Wonder, Phillip Glass, Iva Bittova, Bruce Springsteen, Terry Riley, Ornette Coleman, Don Byron, Joan Baez, Hugh Masakela, Paul McCartney, Cecil Taylor, Bill Frisell, Jimmy Cliff, the Everly Brothers, Steve Gadd, John Adams, Fred Frith, Alison Krauss, David Krakauer, Bobby McFerrin, Patty Scialfa, David Byrne, James Taylor, The Roches, Aaron Neville, Bette Midler, and Marc Ribot. He has worked extensively with composer Elliot Goldenthal on music for the films The Glorias, Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Tempest, Across the Universe, Titus, The Butcher Boy, The Good Thief, In Dreams, and Heat.
He has designed instruments for Julie Taymor’s Across the Universe, Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Theater For A New Audience’s production of King Lear, and is the inventor of the WhirlyCopter, a bicycle-powered Pythagorean choir of singing tubes and the Big Boing, a 24 ft. sonic banquet table Mbira that seats 30 children playing 490 found objects. Mark is a co-founder (w/ Karen Curlee) of soundstewArt, a company that designs and builds immersive musical environments & instruments for all to play upon while presenting workshops to facilitate just that. Since 2012, he has been the Artistic Director of Guitar Mash, leading the participatory communal Urban Campfires together with renowned artists sharing their favorite songs and life stories, and is a Visiting Lecturer in musical instrument design at MIT. He is also curator at MASS MoCA of the immersive Gunnar Schonbeck exhibit of musical instruments.
He lives in Brooklyn, NY and North Adams, Massachusetts making his living playing and writing popular music, semi-popular music and unpopular music, whilst designing instruments that everyone can play.
Andrew McPherson is a computing researcher, composer, electronic engineer, and musical instrument designer, and a Senior Research Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering. He is Professor of Musical Interaction in the Centre for Digital Music at Queen Mary University of London, where he leads the Augmented Instruments Laboratory. Andrew holds undergraduate degrees in both engineering and music from MIT, an MEng in electrical engineering from MIT, and a PhD in music composition from the University of Pennsylvania.
Andrew’s musical instruments are widely used by performers and composers across many genres, and his research has led to two spinouts: Augmented Instruments Ltd, which develops Bela, an open-source audio maker platform, and TouchKeys, a transformation of the keyboard into a versatile multi-touch control surface. He is deeply committed to teaching: Bela is used in the classroom by over 20 universities, and his online course on audio programming has been followed by learners around the globe.
Pianist Cory Smythe has worked closely with pioneering artists in new, improvisatory, and classical music, including saxophonist-composer Steve Lehman, violinist Hilary Hahn, and multidisciplinary composers from Anthony Braxton to Zosha Di Castri. His own music “dissolves the lines between composition and improvisation with rigor” (Chicago Reader), and his first record was praised by Jason Moran as “hands down one of the best solo recordings I’ve ever heard.” Smythe has been featured at the Newport Jazz, Wien Modern, Trondheim Chamber Music, Nordic Music Days, Approximation, Concorso Busoni, and Darmstadt festivals, as well as at Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart festival, where he was recently invited to premiere new work created in collaboration with Peter Evans and Craig Taborn. He has received commissions from Milwaukee’s Present Music, the Banff Centre for the Arts, the Trondheim Jazz Orchestra, the International Contemporary Ensemble, of which he is a longtime member, and the Shifting Foundation. Smythe received a Grammy award for his work with Ms. Hahn and plays regularly in the critically acclaimed Tyshawn Sorey Trio. Smythe’s interests in spectral harmony and microtonality have led him to many attempted electronic modifications of the piano — perhaps the most successful of which, featuring a second electronic manual tuned a quartertone sharp to the rest of the instrument, can be heard on his most recent record, Accelerate Every Voice. More information at corysmythe.com
Jesse Jones is a composer and multi-instrumentalist with an obsession for innovative instrument design and construction. His music lurks on the liminal lines between folk, bluegrass, roots music, the classical tradition, and the European avant-guard. Described as “striking,…elegant and poised,” in the New York Times, “engaging,…eerie, and well-written” in the Los Angeles Times, “fascinating,” and possessed of “the melodic earthiness of Britten” (New York Classical Review), Jones’ numerous compositions are wide-ranging in style, instrumentation, and affect. His most recent pieces include solo and chamber works, and full-length concertos: one for viola and orchestra, another for piano and sinfonietta, and a third for guitar with an odd mixture of harpsichords, mandolins, viols, and horns each tuned in quarter-tones.
A professional, touring musician in the genre-hopping Jones/Butterfield Duo, Jones is equally at home on mandolin-, guitar-, and banjo-family instruments, and also plays various keyboard instruments. He has even been known to sing on rare occasions, usually after sips of whisky.
Jones is featured as both a composer and instrumentalist on no fewer than 16 commercially-released albums, across 6 different labels, several of which are all-Jones compilations. He has appeared with orchestras, mandolin in hand, has been featured at numerous folk and bluegrass festivals across the states, and even played on the nationally-broadcast “A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor” in the early 2000’s.
When not composing or practicing, Jones is busy at work building instruments, both acoustic and electric. Currently on his workbench are hybrid acoustic guitars, plans for replicas of historical instruments, prototypes for microtonal mandolins with removable fingerboards, schema for multi-manual keyboard instruments with node-inducing stops and industrial strength whammy bars, as well as drawings for simple microtonal flutes in 5- and 7-note equal temperament. Jones currently resides with his family in Ohio, where he teaches at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music as Associate Professor of Composition. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, painting, and smoking a pipe.
Devin Hough is a luthier working and residing in Woodland, California. He is a maker and restorer of bowed stringed instruments, both modern and historic with a specialty in members of the violin and viola da gamba families, as well as the viola d’amore.
Over the course of thirty years, Devin has worked on commissions for clients, creating historic instruments that are sometimes copies of extant instruments from the Baroque or Renaissance periods, while at other times collaborating with clients to create original models. He has restored many old instruments to return them to their original form after they had been modernized, usually at some point during the 19th century.
Devin developed a fascination in these instruments as a youth through his interest in Baroque music, history, and the decorative arts exemplified in instruments of that period. He learned his craft in Southern California, making his first violin at the age of 12 under the guidance of his grandfather, himself a luthier. After moving to Northern CA, he worked under the mentorship of master violin maker Albert Muller in Sacramento. Devin is a member of the American Federation of Violin and Bow makers. His instruments have been used in performance by professional players in the Bay Area and elsewhere.
Also a player of Baroque violin, viola, and viola d’amore, Devin has performed professionally in many period instrument groups in the Sacramento Valley and Bay Area. These include the UC Davis Baroque Ensemble, Capella Antiqua, Motherload Baroque, Arcangeli Baroque Strings, Sacramento Baroque Soloists, to name a few. Devin recently soloed with his viola d’amore with the Berkeley Baroque Strings in the Vivaldi Concerto in A Minor, RV 397. More information at www.devinhoughviolins.com
Bart Hopkin is maker of acoustic musical instruments and student of instruments worldwide. From 1985 to 1999, he edited the quarterly journal Experimental Musical Instruments. Since 1994, he has written numerous books on instruments and their construction, including the leading resource, Musical Instrument Design published by See Sharp Press. He has produced CDs featuring the work of innovative instrument makers, including the very successful Gravikords, Whirlies & Pyrophones from Ellipsis Arts publishers. Since 2012 he has been a curator at the Window Gallery for Invented Instruments in San Francisco’s Center for New Music. In his own work as an instrument maker, Bart’s primary interest has been in exploring diverse acoustic systems. His Savart’s Wheel, a tuned, motor-driven scraper with a range of over two chromatic octaves, is one of the most irritating musical instruments ever devised. Website: www.barthopkin.com Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/bhpkn
The Cornell ReSounds project is funded by a New Frontier Grant awarded by the College of Arts and Sciences, the Cornell Council for the Arts, as well as a Humanities Impact Grant, funded by the office for the Vice President for Research and Innovation.