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Pillars and Glisses

I observed a simple grill covering the organ across the back wall and was immersed in its implicit motion and systematic structure...

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Chicago premiere

Posted on March 22, 2014 by Nomi Epstein

Foname Consort gave the Chicago premiere of Pillars and Glisses to a wonderful packed audience at Constellation Chicago on Feb 16, 2014. 


Pillars and Glisses was inspired by an experience that I had just after learning of my Wild Rumpus commission. At a new music concert in Chicago I attended, I was struck by a design I saw in the concert hall. I observed it – a simple grill covering the organ across the back wall – and was immersed in its simplicity and more importantly its implicit motion and systematic structure. I immediately saw the potential translation of the grill design into a musical shape/design, and I was inspired to create a piece demonstrating this translation.

I wrote the piece Pillars and Glisses for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, electric guitar and piano. Wild Rumpus premiered the piece on June 8, 2012 at ODC Dance Commons in San Francisco, CA. This was a really significant piece in the development of my compositional aesthetic and notational approaches.

I have long been interested in alternative approaches to notation including graphic, spatial, time-duration, and modified tablature notations. I have taught courses on alternative notation practices at universities, and my dissertation focused on areas of this as well. I am particularly drawn to the idea that one piece may involve multiple approaches to notation depending on the specific material’s characteristics. As a user of music notation software in addition to handwriting scores, I frequently find it problematic to notate certain graphic, or alternative notations successfully within any one given program. In these cases, I juxtapose hand written sections with partially computer-notated sections.

I began experimenting with new ways to achieve my desired type of notation through new programs around the same time that Wild Rumpus commissioned me to write a piece for their 2nd concert to date. I was so excited to work with these talented and motivated players and to also write a larger ensemble piece for eight players. The end result, Pillars and Glisses, was an intersection and culmination of my new explorations in notational, musical, and ideological frontiers. I am grateful for having had this opportunity, and plan on continuing these pursuits and discoveries.

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Pillars and Glisses (2012) premiered by Wild Rumpus Ensemble, ODC Dance Commons, San Francisco, CA. June 8, 2012

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San Francisco, California

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Last update on March 22, 2014

Project Created By

Chicago, Illinois
a Chicago-based composer, and also a curator and performer in my experimental music ensemble, a.pe.ri.od.ic. Writing music is an exploratory and experimental experience, where I find myself in a discourse with sound.   I am drawn to create intimate sound worlds where music is presented in a very bare form, without pretense. The small palettes of…

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San Francisco, California


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