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New York Miniaturist Interview

Posted on 30 May 2006. © Copyright 2004-2021 Composition:Today

CT talks to Erik Carlson from the New York Miniaturist Ensemble, a group that only plays music with 100 notes or fewer.

New York Miniaturist Ensemble
Tell us something about your background.

The ensemble was founded in 2004 by graduates of the Juilliard School. We've premiered works by over 100 composers from around the world. We receive most of
the music we play through an open call for scores that is managed through our website.

What's the idea behind the New York Miniaturist Ensemble?

The ensemble is dedicated to the performance of music composed of 100 notes or fewer. In each concert we present anywhere from 10 - 30 works by as many
composers. The styles and aesthetics of the pieces are extremely diverse, but each piece carries a concentration of idea and essence that is very powerful. People have likened our perfermances to collections of musical haiku.

Is the group a gimmick or is there a serious artist reason behind the idea?

The music speaks for itself. We have performed hundereds of works, and the 100 note limit remains extremely interesting to me because it leads composers to a profound level of focus and expressive power which I feel is unique and exciting.

What excites you about a piece of music - what keeps you interested?

There are as many answers to that as there are pieces of music. Each piece carries its own set of thoughts, questions, answers, emotions, rules, gestures,
associations, etc. One of the challenges of music in general and the New York Miniaturist Ensemble specifically is trying to understand each new piece and to internalize it on its own terms. In our concerts there can be up to 30 pieces, which can make one feel a little crazy, but it's also exhilarating.

What do you see as the role (intended and actual) of new music in the modern world?

That is a difficult question to answer. More interesting than my personal opinions about the role of new music are the diverse thoughts of the composers
who write for us. I have spoken at length with many of them, and it always impresses me how composers not only have different ideas of aesthetics and sound, but diverse philosophies on the purpose of music and on the role and the future of music. I love that the ensemble can take on a wide range of world views and present them together to an audience.

What are your plans for the future?

We have simple plans: more concerts, more music. We are in the process of arranging two tours to Europe and some specialized performances, such as a series of 100-notes operas and miniature silent film scores.

How can people find out more about you?

People can find out more about us on our website,

Interview by Composition:Today © Copyright 2004-2021

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