Chamber music in the genre accelerator | Music | Indy Week

Chamber music in the genre accelerator

New Music Raleigh and Timothy Myers collaborate on D.J. Sparr’s debut album

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Composer D.J. Sparr, working with New Music Raleigh and North Carolina Opera conductor and musical director Timothy Myers on his debut album 21207, is in the final days of a fundraising campaign for the album’s release.

It’s a worthy debut by an emerging composer, as well as another affirmation of Raleigh’s emergence as a legit New Music scene. Both independently and through the New Music Raleigh ensemble they founded, Shawn and Karen Galvin are expanding the definitions of chamber and classical music at an impressive rate. Myers’ adventurousness tosses gasoline on the Galvins’ fire.

Their far-reaching collaborations are beginning to add up. Monday night at CAM Raleigh, they’ll join forces to perform Durham-based composer John Supko’s All Souls with Canadian vocalist Ashleigh Semkiw.

The Myers/New Music Raleigh team plays on three tracks on 21207, and NMR’s Karen Galvin plays a duet on electric violin with Sparr on electric guitar. All four of those tracks were recorded locally in September 2012 and January 2013. Dutch group Hexnut and flutist Donna Shin also worked on tracks, and mixing/mastering guru David v.R. Bowles at Swineshead Productions brought the album together.

The project was a little over halfway to its goal of $3,750 with four days remaining until its Wednesday, Nov. 27, deadline. The album is scheduled for release in early 2014.


Sparr is an accomplished composer, but 21207 is his recording debut. Currently in residence with the California Symphony, he recently premiered compositions with the Washington National Opera, cutting-edge new music group eighth blackbird and Hexnut. Triangulate those ensembles and you get an idea of Sparr's genre-bending work.

“D.J. very naturally has sensibilities that fit in between genres,” says NMR curator and percussionist Shawn Galvin. NMR joins Shin in a “Pierrot ensemble plus percussion” on the album. Named after 20th-century composer Arnold Schoenberg’s work Pierrot Lunaire, the grouping of violin, cello, piano, flute and clarinet has become a new music standard.

One piece, “Woodlawn Drive,” revels in the sheer Pierrot instrumentation. “The acoustic nature of the ensemble creates really beautiful, serene sonorities,” Galvin notes. A track called “Glam Seduction,” however, is “sort of a concert music version of '80s rock inspirations, a mashing together of what he learned in school combined with the fact that he loved Van Halen too.”

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