Oceans Eat Cities
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Music by one of the pioneers of using computers in musical performance.

Composer Neil Rolnick pioneered the use of computers in musical performance, beginning in the late 1970s. His music has been performed worldwide and appears on 21 recordings. The recipient of numerous awards, residencies, and commissions, his music often explores combinations of digital sampling, interactive multimedia, and acoustic vocal, chamber, and orchestral ensembles. He developed the first integrated electronic arts graduate and undergraduate programs in the US at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's iEAR Studios, where he was a professor for 32 years. The three works on this recording include one for string quartet with computer; a work for piano and laptop computer; and a work for violin, piano, and laptop computer.
Neil Rolnick, composer
Oceans Eat Cities
VOXARE String Quarter; Neil Rolnick (computer)

Neil Rolnick, composer
Neil Rolnick (piano & computer)

Neil Rolnick, composer
Deal With The Devil
Jennifer Choi (violin); Kathleen Supové (piano); Neil Rolnick (computer)

"Sculpting sonorities both gorgeous and grungy, composer Neil Rolnick is doing some important story telling here. String quartet, violin, and piano performances get manipulated and modified by computer…And don't miss Deal with the Devil: V. Transition 2, with vivid sonic gymnastics by violinist Jennifer Choi and pianist Kathleen Supove." (American Record Guide)

“Interaction between man and environment, and between man and technology, inform this disc. This appears to have been a long-term interest of Neil Rolnick’s…Using two of the more extreme results from a climate modeling by Climate Central, Princeton, Oceans Eat Cities (2015) explores how we would be impacted by climate change…The 2017 piece Mirages is scored for piano and laptop computer. The composer plays both, simultaneously in a piece inspired by the idea of perspectives…The dialogue between piano and computer in this finale is remarkably fruitful — less an exchange, more of a sparring, often with delightful results…Written in the same year as Mirages, Deal with the Devil for violin, piano, and laptop computer emerged from a residency at the Bogliasco Foundation near Genoa in Italy. Being Genoa, Paganini was much in Rolnick’s mind in this piece…There is wit here, in how the laptop “shadows” the violin in the second section…with the piano interspersing jazzy commentaries…And we certainly get Lisztian virtuosity (in a very different vocabulary, though) in the piano’s contribution to the second “Transition.” (Rolnick is clearly an exceptional pianist as well as an exceptional composer).…This is a great piece, very varied, superbly written and performed with real inspiration. A whole new world of sounds is present here, beautifully realized in both execution and recording. Rolnick is a fabulous musician and his own best advocate. A very rewarding disc indeed.” (Fanfare)

A pioneer who introduced computers to music way back in the late ‘70s, Neil Rolnick’s esteemed use of digital sampling, interactive media, acoustic vocal, chamber and orchestral sounds has been present on over 20 recordings, and here he welcomes several players to flesh out 3 very elaborate compositions. “No Change In Carbon Emissions, RCP 8.5” starts the listen with quivering strings and no lack of atmosphere as the mood shifts from haunting to mysterious alongside plenty of glowing work from Wendy Law’s cello, Erik Peterson’s viola, and violins by Emily Ondracek and Galina Zhdanova. “Mirages” lands in the middle, and hosts Rolnick’s profound talent on piano and computer, as low rumbling and exploratory key work covers themes related to the chapters “Water”, “Desert” and “Highway”. The album ends with “Deal With The Devil”, where Jennifer Choi lends her violin talent, and Katherine Supové’s piano and Rolnick’s computer skills make for a very playful, meticulous and unconventional form of chamber and orchestral hybrid. Tragedy struck Rolnick in 2018 with the passing of his wife, Wendy. He vowed to continue with his music, while keeping her spirit alive with his art. It’s safe to say that his inimitable vision is still as exciting today as it was decades ago, and he’s certainly keeping his word to his late wife with some of his most creative work yet. (Take Effect)
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