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2016-17 Call for Scores Winners

Alex Marthaler

Alex Marthaler is a composer, pianist, and educator based in Pittsburgh, PA. His music has been praised for its “color and translucency,” and is frequently inspired by physical spaces: both natural and man-made structures and phenomenon. Compositions often combine harmonic and rhythmic elements from music around the world, including Indian classical drumming (tabla) and Eastern European folk music. In addition to composing, he is an improvisatory pianist for modern dance and ballet classes at Point Park University. Alex Marthaler studied with Nancy Galbraith at Carnegie Mellon University where he graduated in 2016 (MA).

Alex's program note:

"(Un)organized Lightning has at its center, an incisive, nearly violent obsession with rhythm. Clashing accents tumble forward in asymmetrical groupings, when suddenly the ensemble arrives at a tutti rhythm that lurches and drags uneasily. In the middle section, a tangled counterpoint between the flute and clarinet dances along while the piano and vibraphone trade echoes. The music loses momentum briefly, fizzling out with the strings before jumping immediately back into time. When the final rhythmic section arrives, the ensemble threatens to lose control, the register continually widens. The entire piece is meant to be unpredictable yet inevitable, with the pointed power of electricity."

Brian Riordan

Brian Riordan is a composer, performer, improviser, producer, and sound artist originally from Chicago, IL. and is in his fourth year as a PhD student in music composition and theory at University of Pittsburgh. His research interests involve real-time digital signal processing, and laptop performance aesthetics. He comes from a very diverse musical background and creates music that reflects the eclecticism that he has experienced by attempting to fuse traditionally separate sound worlds generated by interaction of instrumental performers and computerized gestures. He has also studied folkloric drumming in Havana Cuba, and Morelia Mexico. As an avid collaborator, he has performed in numerous ensembles ranging from rock, jazz, classical, and experimental throughout the united states. His compositions have been performed by The JACK Quartet, Ensemble, Linea, Wet Ink Ensemble, The Meridian Arts Ensemble, The H2 Quartet, Alia Musica, Kamraton, and Wolftrap. His music has been featured at SICPP, New Music On The Point, SPLICE, NSEME, and The Walden Creative Musicians Retreat.





Brian's program note:

"The Moon Is Drifting Away From The Earth, Don’t Think About It was composed for Ensemble Linea for their Residency in Pittsburgh in 2016. The title comes from a discussion I overheard on a local radio station."

Adam Shield

Adam Shield is a composer, sound designer, and audio engineer specializing in both concert and film music. He completed his Master's in Music Composition at Carnegie Mellon University where he also studied as an undergraduate. Recently, he returned from additional studies in Scoring for Film and Visual Media at Pulse College in Dublin, Ireland. He has worked extensively under renowned composer Prof. Reza Vali and audio savant Prof. Riccardo Schulz.

Adam has composed a vast array of concert music in many different styles often exploring rich timbral and rhythmic complexity, aggressive drive, and surrealistic undertones. His first album "Sonic Eugenics" is available to purchase on Amazon. He has composed the score and provided audio work for multiple films and video games. He is currently working as the composer sound editor for the upcoming documentary “Life in Decay.” Adam has written for contemporary dance and has specialized in electronic music, even designing his own electronic instrument and a sound art installation at Kennywood Park. For music and other information, visit

Adam's program note:

"Intersubjectivity is an experimental work for chamber ensemble and electronics that cannot be performed with a conductor. Each player is performing at different, unrelated tempos which often change independently. The ensemble is coordinated through individual click tracks fed to their headphones. I designed this approach so that I could create extremely complex rhythmic counterpoint within the music while still writing clear and more simplistic lines for each individual part. The final result is a constantly evolving soundscape of controlled chaos that is further supplemented with the chaotic electronic sounds."

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