Alexander Blank

PortraitMaker2019-06

Bio:

Alexander Blank (b. 1991) is a composer currently living in Montreal, Canada, where he is pursuing a D.Mus. in composition at the Schulich School of Music at McGill University as a student of Melissa Hui. Mr. Blank received his M.M. in Composition at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, studying with Sven-David Sandström, Claude Baker, and P.Q. Phan. He also received his B.M. in Composition at the Jacobs School of Music, studying with Don Freund, P.Q. Phan, Aaron Travers, and Claude Baker, and electroacoustic music with Jeffrey Hass and John Gibson.

Mr. Blank’s research interests include microtonal music, spectral/post-spectral theory, algorithmic/interactive recomposition, music encoding, tuning theory, and adaptive approaches to writing and performing electroacoustic music. These research areas an integral component of his music: Pleiades for solo flute, uses algorithmic recomposition techniques to dynamically alter musical parameters based on the performer’s choices.

His Master’s thesis, Parallax for large orchestra, moves between formal and harmonic sections via common-partial modulation. Other pieces include two string quartets, Until the Sun Dies for large chorus, F.Au.St. for guitar and live electronics (using 6-channel spatialization), and Kaleidoscope, for clarinet, bass clarinet, bassoon (doubling contrabassoon), percussion (1 player), toy piano (or, alternatively, celesta), piano, viola, cello, and double bass.

Aside from his work as a composer, Mr. Blank is also active as a conductor; in the summer of 2013, he served as assistant conductor for Orchestrating Divserity: El Sistema Saint Louis, an after-school music education program which serves at-risk and disadvantaged teens in Saint Louis.

Mr. Blank is active as an engraver and copyist, with a broad and growing list of clients. He is an expert in Finale, specializing in large and complex scores, including aleatory and graphical notation. Additionally, he is a font developer and a contributor to the Standard Musical Font Layout (SMuFL).

About the Piece:

Written over the course of 15 months, String Quartet #2 is a methodical exploration of interconnected musical spaces, particularly that of timbre, gesture, density. The work is organized into 21 sections of various lengths, with some as short as just a few seconds in length while others span several minutes. Harmonic language throughout the piece is treated rather systematically, with each section using a unique subset of pitches afforded by dividing the octave into 36 equal parts, creating an ebb and flow where some adjacent sections share many similarities while others highlight striking contrasts. However, these processes are not intended solely as ends unto themselves, but rather form the framework from which I have sought to create a piece that immerses the listener in a sea of slowly evolving colours, shapes, and textures.

 

Part of this work was completed while in residence at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Additionally, special thanks goes to Quartetto Indaco (Italy) and the Friction Quartet (USA) for their invaluable input during the creation of this piece.

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