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Written by Lindsay Westley   
Published on Tuesday, 03 June 2014 02:15

June 3, 2014 - Jordan Dodson is a young, classically trained guitar player who graduated from the Curtis Institute of Music — but he’s equally at home playing Bach as he is pop, minimalist or electronic music. He’s commissioned scores of new works from young composers to play as solos and with his group Marcel (founded at Curtis under the guidance of composition faculty — and previous LiveConnections collaborator — David Ludwig). In our May 4, 2014, concert at World Cafe Live at the Queen in Wilmington, co-presented by the Wilmington Classical Guitar Society, Jordan performed works by several of his favorite young composers. We caught up with Jordon to hear more about his passion for new music.

Kristin LeeThis program includes a wide range of music — why is it important to you to play works from new composers?
It has always been more meaningful to me to play music that responds to the world as it is. I do still play older music, but there is just too much great music being written today that comes from people who grew up with world, pop, electronic, minimalist, experimental, etc., music.  Some composers are good at taking these sound-worlds and synthesizing them or just vaguely referencing them in their own compositions.  I’ve been fortunate enough to have friends that write truly amazing music and I’m excited to play some of their pieces with LiveConnections. 

One of the composers on your program is Paul Lansky, best known for the electronic-music riff he composed for Radiohead’s “Idioteque.” How does that fit into your program?

Paul Lansky was definitely the grandfather of electronic music, but he mostly gave that up in the ’80s and is now doing purely acoustic compositions. It’s interesting because he has this kind of Americana-influenced finger-style guitar sound that sounds almost a little bit country — but in a minimalist context. He’s actually a good friend of David Ludwig’s, and the piece I’m playing is part of a piece David commissioned for guitar and percussion.

And that piece closes a set of three short works by contemporary composers, right?
Yes — so that set begins with a short piece by Dai Fujikura. It’s only two minutes long and it’s mostly harmonics. The ending sounds really ethereal, so I decided to lead straight into a two-minute piece by Eliot Carter called “Shard,” which has a similar focus on harmonics. After Carter comes Lansky.

You’re also playing a piece by composer Elliot Cole, from whom you’ve commissioned pieces in the past. What is it about Cole’s style that appeals to you?
Elliot will do these great hip-hop things and then will compose these tender singer-songwriter pieces where he brings in the harmonium — he’s endlessly versatile in his writing. I really love the hip-hop element that he brings.

Do you ever find it challenging to put together programs that include both traditional music and new music?
I think the contemporary music is definitely my starting point, and I’ve just started asking people to write me pieces. But I’m also always striving for an interesting cross-over, both personally and with my ensemble Marcel. I’m trying to find ways to incorporate more world music and older music into an avant-garde or minimalist program. I think you can be doing works by Chopin and Bach and also fit in the sounds of bossa nova or pop. As long as you do it artfully and don’t try to do everything, I think you can find a place for all of it on a program.


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