David Morneau is a composer of an entirely undecided genre. Described by Molly Sheridan as a “shining beacon” of inspiration, his diverse work illuminates ideas about our culture, issues concerning creativity, and even the very nature of music itself. His eclectic output has been described variously as “elegantly rendered”, “happily prissy”, “impressive”, “unusual, esoteric, and offbeat”. His chiptune album, Broken Memory, “absolutely wrecks shop.… For that, David Morneau wins.”
In 2015 New Thread Quartet commissioned Morneau to compose an evening-length piece inspired by Henry David Thoreau’s Walden. Not Less Than the Good simulates a sunrise by combining the meditative playing of the saxophone quartet with ambient synthesizers. Underneath this are sounds recorded during the pre-dawn and early morning hours at Walden Pond: a chorus of insects, the lone song of dawn’s first bird which is joined by others in a raucous counterpoint, and the splashing of morning swimmers. The hour-long performance is punctuated by readings of excerpts from Walden, selected as a secular prayer of hope for enlightenment and performed by poet J. D. McClatchy. Not Less Than the Good was premiered at The Morgan Library & Museum in New York and presented at 51 Walden in Concord, MA, as part of the town’s bicentennial celebration of Thoreau’s birthday.
In January 2016, Morneau co-founded l’Artiste ordinaire with Melissa Grey. Their collaboration pushes beyond the usual contemporary classical music conventions in every way. Their Photon Ecstasy project is a series of endless compositions inspired by Dan Rose’s The DNA-Photon Project. Photon Ecstasy began with the commission for Photon Ecstasy (HD 7924)from the University of Pennsylvania’s Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts and continues with the recent release of PETITE ecstasy, an album of music from this project in collaboration with mezzo-soprano Jessica Bowers.
Their Biophonic Beats is a conceptual response to the sonic ecosystem, a structured improvisation for benjolin synthesizer, trombone, and beats. Like many of the projects that Grey & Morneau create, Biophonic Beats is a matrix for collaboration. They have performed with bassist Gahlord Dewald, clarinetist Thomas Piercy (performing on hichiriki), live visualist Marc Fiaux, and a consort of toy pianists during their residency at the Boyd Hill Nature Preserve (St. Petersburg, FL) in January, 2018. They have also developed an improvisation workshop for students using this music. During their tenure as Joan C. Edwards Distinguished Professor of the Arts at Marshall University, they led the students through a four-hour improvisation workshop using the structure and language of Biophonic Beats.
Morneau’s music can be found on Composers Concordance Records, Immigrant Breast Nest, and Irritable Hedgehog. His words have been published in Emergency Index (an annual document of performance practice), published by Ugly Duckling Presse.
[photo credit: Rachel Cheetham-Richard]
Articles by David Morneau:
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