Three RI-based Composers Awarded MacColl Johnson Fellowships

Three RI-based Composers Awarded MacColl Johnson Fellowships

Three Rhode Island-based composers—Erik Carlson, Evan Johnson, and Dan Moretti—will each receive a $25,000 MacColl Johnson Fellowship from The Rhode Island Foundation. The fellows were chosen from 41 applicants by a panel of four out-of-state jurors who are either recognized practicing composers or distinguished academics in the field. Applications were reviewed based on artistic vision and creative excellence, as well as the potential of the fellowship to advance the career of emerging to mid-career artists. Composers working in chamber, choral, jazz, electronic, experimental, symphonic, opera, contemporary, nontraditional, world music genres, and musical theater were eligible for the fellowships.

“The Robert and Margaret MacColl Johnson Fellowships are among the largest offered in the United States and provide significant financial support that enables artists to further their work,” according to Daniel Kertzner, grant programs officer at the Foundation who along with Wanda Miglus, grant programs associate, administered the selection of the MacColl Johnson fellows.

Erik Carlson

Erik Carlson, who has worked simultaneously in the fields of music and architecture for the past 15 years, creates compositions for particular spaces that result in new ways of composing and presenting work. The fellowship will provide him with an opportunity to expand his site-specific work of composing for unique physical spaces. He also will broaden his knowledge of audio processing equipment, with the goal of implementing it for music composition, performances, and installations, and will pursue larger public art opportunities. Carlson has recorded and performed under the name AREA C since 2000 where he is primary writer. He also is a principal of AREA Design where he does architectural and installation design work. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English literature from the University of Virginia in 1992.

Evan Johnson

Evan Johnson’s music explores the physical circumstances of performance, both the muscular contortions and artificial breathing patterns of performers and the bodily auditory experience of the audience. The fellowship will allow him to travel internationally to be present at rehearsals and performances of his work, to create commercial-quality promotional recordings, and to pursue new commissions and other compositional projects. Among his plans for this year is a major project with Britain’s EXAUDI Vocal Ensemble and flutist Richard Craig. Johnson currently is a postdoctoral teaching associate in music theory and composition at Northeastern University, Boston. He earned an undergraduate degree in music from Yale University in 2002 and a Ph.D. in music composition from State University of New York at Buffalo in 2006.

Dan Moretti

Jazz saxophonist Dan Moretti, who has been an active on the Rhode Island scene as a performer for many years, has only recently begun composing original pieces. The fellowship will provide him with necessary resources to research, write, produce, record, edit, and promote a collaborative project exploring African inspired rhythms and melodies with the Italian orchestra, La Piccola Orchestra La Viola, which consists of 12 concertinas, an Italian percussion section, drums, bass, and vocals. This process will include a two-week trip to Italy for rehearsals and recording. Currently a professor in the contemporary writing and production department at the Berklee College of Music, Boston, Moretti earlier worked for the Rhode Island Conservatory of Music, Rhode Island School of Music, and the Providence School Department. In 1977, he earned an undergraduate degree in music education, arranging and composition from the Union Institute, Cincinnati, OH.

In addition to the three fellows, three applicants also were named MacColl Johnson finalists. Although they are not receiving cash awards, they are being recognized for their works’ artistic merit and strong showing in the jury process. The finalists are: Michael DeQuattro, adjunct professor of percussion at Rhode Island College and accompanist for the dance department at Roger Williams University; Bevin Kelley, who combines her training as a classical violinist with her interest in electronic music; and Nicholas Sadler, a guitar player and composer whose rock band Daughters attempts to take music apart and put it back together in abstract ways.

The MacColl Johnson Fellowships are awarded on a three-year cycle to composers, writers, and visual artists. The fellowships’ namesakes, Robert and Margaret MacColl Johnson, were both dedicated to the arts all their lives. Mrs. Johnson, who died in 1990, earned a degree in creative writing from Roger Williams College when she was 70. Mr. Johnson invented a new process for mixing metals in jewelry-making and then retired to become a fulltime painter. Before his death in 1999, Johnson began discussions with The Rhode Island Foundation to design what has become a $1.2 million artist fellowship program in music composition, literature, and visual arts, offering among the highest no-strings awards in the nation, for Rhode Island-based artists. Guidelines and applications for the 2009 fellowships, which will be awarded to writers, will be available on the Foundation’s website after June 1. Application deadline is September 1. (—From the press release)

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