Fuse Ensemble presented Nimbus, (2019) for electroacoustic chamber ensemble, voice and spoken word to two DC audiences in April of 2019 at Georgetown University’s Friday Music Series and at St. Stephen and the Incarnation Episcopal Church. The season includes music by Caroline Shaw, Marc Mellits, Kevin Puts, Alexis Bacon, Ethan Foote and a premiere of Nimbus by Gina Biver. with poetry by Colette Inez and Interactive Video by Ethan Jackson. Watch/listen on our Music Page!!
From the New Music Website I Care If You Listen
“Biver creates a playground for internal exploration that is both fascinating and deeply effective….The best of Biver’s music lies in the layers; the moments where one instrument feels too close, or too separate, or where the listener questions whether the tapping and clicking audio tracks are coming from the album or from somewhere outside. Fuse Ensemble’s 3: The Music of Gina Biver demonstrates the enormous possibilities that come with composer-engineer crossovers–and it is just so much fun to listen to.” -Hannah Rosa Schiller
GRAMOPHONE Review: “Gina Biver is a musical force of nature…”
Review from Cinemusical online, awarding the album a perfect score for both the recording and performance:
Review from Textura: http://textura.org/archives/b/biver_3musicginabiver.htm
Feature spot for 3 on the Classical Music Discoveries podcast: https://www.podomatic.com/podcasts/khedgecock/episodes/2018-08-07T23_00_00-07_00
Interesting review for 3 from Midwest Record online: http://midwestrecord.com/MWR1394.html
Nimbus Premiere: This will be a busy weekend!! Fuse Ensemble will be performing two Washington, DC concerts — the first at Georgetown University’s Friday Music Series on April 5 at 1:15 p.m., and then will perform the same set again at St. Stephens and the Incarnation Episcopal Church in Columbia Heights neighborhood at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 6, 2019. Both shows are free and open to the public!
More concerts in Baltimore and New York to be announced soon :-)
Here is a link that includes all points of sale for the album, allowing you to choose where you would like to purchase the album! You'll have less clicking to do to access the page.
I'm in my last couple of days of residency at Moulin a Nef, and it has been a wonderful and productive stay. All seven miniatures (each piece about two minutes) that will make up the larger work entitled Nimbus, are composed, and ready for (much) fine tuning.
Before I left Nerac and my lovely hosts (Colette's cousin Jean-Jacques and his friend Anne Veaute), I was saddened to get a call from New York, where I learned that Saul Stadtmauer, Colette's husband of fifty years, died after a short illness. I had spoken with him just before I left for France and am glad I had the opportunity to tell him how very grateful I was that he connected me with Colette's family in Nerac and that I was able to compose Nimbus in the home where her mother, sister Jeanne and grandparents had lived.
Please follow me on Instagram @ginabiver and also on our facebook.com/fuseensemble/ page for all of my photos and updates on my trip. I am halfway through my artist residency, having stayed for the first ten days in Nerac at the Dulong residence (Colette's cousin Jean Jacques). Tomorrow morning I will leave for Auvillar (a 40 minute drive from Nerac) for a residence at Moulin a Nef. I have worked on four miniatures and have three more to go; each short piece corresponding to one of Colette's poems. Stay tuned for more details!
I want to share with you the story behind a piece of music I am working on. I have been researching and conceptualizing this work, a collaboration between poet Colette Inez and myself, for more than a year. The music is based on seven of her poems – specifically those that deal with her childhood. The final work will be for chamber ensemble (flute, clarinet, violin, cello, bass, piano and percussion), voice and spoken word. It will be premiered by Fuse Ensemble on Saturday, October 6, 2018, at St. Stephen and the Incarnation Episcopal Church in Washington, DC. The concert is free and open to the public. The ensemble will also perform works by Caroline Shaw, Mark Mellits and Ethan Jackson and will feature video work by visual artist Ethan Jackson.
For social media, I’ve divided the story into several parts, and will be releasing them individually. It’s a lot to read – but I think it’s an interesting story, and I hope you will too. On this website you'll find the whole story in one piece.
In 2010, while at an artist residence in the mountains of Virginia, I met a poet named Colette Inez. We had much in common -- a zest for life, a feisty feminist nature, and even a Catholic upbringing and later abandonment of the church for the spirit and solace we found in nature. We lunched together at the fellow’s table and went for walks on the bucolic property of the residence. Once we both returned to our homes, she to New York City, and I to Northern Virginia, we kept up our friendship through letters – many of which I would read to my children at the dinner table because of the beauty of her prose. The year after we met I created a piece of music based on her poem Empress in the Mirror, which was premiered by Fuse Ensemble in New York. I found Colette to be the most remarkable woman – vibrant, humorous, grounded, wise, liberated, self-made, humble, and kind. She wore a red hat and bright lipstick the day we met and I remember thinking I wanted to be like her when I grew up.
It wasn’t long after meeting her that she shared her extraordinary story. Colette Inez was the love-child of a French/American Catholic priest (a well-known and highly respected Monseignor) and a French scholar (the young researcher assigned to assist him). As an infant, Colette was left at a Belgian orphanage and raised in austere surroundings by strict Catholic nuns, where she lived until the age of eight, when she was brought to the United States to live with a foster family.
The life she had with this family was quite difficult -- even harrowing at times. Only through her own astonishing resilience, intelligence and chutzpa, plus a few kind adults along the way, did she find the means to break out on her own after high school and work her way through college.
Shunned by her parents because of the scandal their illicit relationship - if discovered - would create, the young Colette was hidden away. But the girl grew into a woman who lived to tell the tale and create a beautiful life for herself. Colette Inez became an award-winning poet, going on to publish eleven books on poetry and a memoir. She taught at Columbia University and won numerous prestigious awards including the Guggenheim, National Endowment for the Arts and Rockefeller Grants. Her work was included in hundreds of poetry anthologies and textbooks. She found love with Saul Stadtmauer, her husband for over fifty years, a kind and wonderful man with whom she flourished. Both writers, they lived a meaningful, beautiful life together in New York City, enjoying concerts, readings, the nature of Central Park.
During a trip to New York in December 2016, Colette and I met for lunch in the Upper East Side neighborhood where she lived. I told her I was interested in applying for an artist residency at Moulin a Nef in Auvillar, in the southwest of France. She said that her mother’s family hailed from the area very near there. On my way home on the bus from NYC, I was inspired while reading her gift of a collection of her poems entitled “Spinoza Doesn’t Come Here Anymore”; specifically her poem “My Priest Father’s” and the idea started to form. By spring of 2017, I wrote to tell Colette that I would like to create a work based on her early life, and ask for her blessing. Colette said she didn’t want it to be too dark, and I readily assured her that I saw it as a work of transformation, resiliency, the creative force behind anger and the creative power of love.Of the many poems she wrote about her early years and her imaginings of her parents’ moments together, I chose seven. As I read through the stack of poems Colette mailed me -- those that dealt with her thoughts on her father, on the feelings her mother had or did not have about the relationship, and on her own memories of life at the orphanage – I was struck by her frequent use of the word clouds within these poems. Colette told me that she finds solace in nature, in the trees and especially the sky. Forever in search of visual components to my work, I immediately thought of Ethan Jackson, an artist I met while on retreat at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts – the same place I had met Colette ten years prior.
So Nimbus would be an artistic collaboration between Colette, visual artist Ethan Jackson and myself, a music composer. It would be a work for chamber ensemble, voice and spoken word. Ethan’s work with camera obscura, time-lapse landscape, sky imagery and interactive digital video techniques would create a visual representation/projection of the clouds and a space in which Nimbus might exist – tying it all together and realizing a third element to our music/words collaboration.
In June of 2017 I set off to New York, visited Colette and her dear husband Saul in their apartment just off Central Park. I recorded her reading the seven poems I had chosen from the set of a dozen or so she had mailed me. Since I was there, I also recorded her reading of “Empress in the Mirror,” since the piece I composed around that poem was to be on our upcoming album (Fuse Ensemble 3, Ravello Records). We spent the rest of the evening enjoying these most gracious hosts for dinner, wine and much laughter.
We enjoyed several months of collaboration by letters, phone calls and an occasional email. I then applied to the VCCA France residency. Writing this music in southwest France, so near Nerac, the hometown of her mother’s family would be relevant, meaningful, inspiring.
On February 7, 2018, upon realizing she hadn’t returned my last letter or the email I sent -- I called her home phone. It was then that Saul told me with unbelievable sadness “she was no longer with us”. Colette had passed away on January 16, 2018 at the age of 87. It was understandably very difficult for Saul to talk; he told me he would call me the following week to talk, and I was glad when he did.
Saul and I speak often. Sometimes I bake things and mail them to him. He has been incredibly helpful with the project, and I have loved having him become a part of it. One of the first things he asked me was whether I would continue with it, which of course, I would. Honoring Colette in any way I can helps with the sadness of losing her. I only hope I can do it justice.
Saul suggested I contact Colette’s cousin Jean-Jacques Dulong, a lawyer and writer who lives in Paris. The only problem, Saul said, was that he didn’t speak much English. (Saul was surprised and relieved when I told him I was fluent in French). Jean-Jacques and his father, Maurice Dulong, (now deceased first cousin of Colette) had held Colette in high esteem. As Colette shared in her biography “The Secret of M. Dulong,” Maurice had helped her piece together her family history -- one that had been deliberately hidden from her for much of her life – and she adored him.
I immensely enjoy corresponding with Colette’s cousin Jean-Jacques, who is gracious and friendly and quite an amazing writer! I told him of my Artist Residency at Auvillar, France (through the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts or VCCA), and he invited me to stay in their family residence (the home of Colette’s mother Marthe) in Nerac, a very short drive from Auvillar. I was speechless, and so grateful for the opportunity to meet him, and to stay and begin writing the piece there in Nerac. I will spend my first nine days at the Dulong home, and then move on to the Moulin a Nef Artist Residency for the remainder of my stay.
If you want to check out the Moulin a Nef Artist Residency in Auvillar, France, here’s the link: http://www.vcca.com/main/vcca-international/vcca-le-moulin-nef
The story will continue on August 2, 2018, when I arrive in Nerac...
We are so happy to report that our Kickstarter campaign to provide funding for our recording project with PARMA was a success, thanks to 57 awesome backers. The ensemble has completed the recordings and is preparing to hand it over to PARMA to do the rest, preparing it for a fall 2018 release.
Fuse Ensemble is in the throws of a Kickstarter campaign to help fund our new release on PARMA Recordings. Come on board! Be a part of the community that makes this happen! https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/943723707/fuse-ensembles-new-music-release-on-parma-recordin @PARMARecordings
This summer, I will begin composing the score for an 8-minute art film called "How To Make It Rain" by artist Edgar Endress. Edgar filmed scenes for the film while in Bolivia; I am excited to say that percussionist Scott Deal will be performing (with the film) for a live premiere of the score during our upcoming Fuse Ensemble season.
I am very excited to be collaborating with poet Colette Inez on a new work to be premiered in 2018. Details to come soon!