DYLAN SCHNEIDER c o m p o s e r
Dylan Schneider is widely recognized as a major voice among today’s generation of composers. His work, praised for its innovative structure and dramatic flair, has drawn an international audience and has been performed by Grammy-Award-winning ensembles such as Eighth Blackbird, the Pacifica String Quartet, and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. His latest opera, STRIP-TEASE, a surreal critique of the modus operandi of totalitarianism, received its recent premiere at Chicago’s Logan Center for the Arts. Schneider’s music pioneers a new frontier in performance, traversing the diversity of human experience with a sense of lyricism and play.
A dynamic instructor and mentor, Schneider is dedicated to the artistic development and future success of his students.
This piece employs a cyclic form. At the outset, a constellation of motives, sonorities, and gestures emerges in stark juxtaposition. Each of these minute musical seeds is developed and juxtaposed again, in a more evolved iteration of the cycle. Wash, rinse, and repeat. Before long, it starts to take quite a bit of time to “make it” through any one of these individual strains: they each sprout into entire sections of music, often interrupting one another as bits of one strain intrude on another.
I make a significant distinction in this piece between linear music (forward moving) and more static moments (let's call them hammocks for the brain) that afford the listener opportunities to reflect on where we've come—and how we got there.
— Dylan Schneider, August 20, 2017
STRIP-TEASE received its premiere during the inaugural season of the Logan Center for the Arts, as part of the Contempo series at the University of Chicago. The performance featured three singers and the University of Chicago’s two Grammy-Award-winning ensembles in residence: eighth blackbird and the Pacifica String Quartet.
In the opera, a pair of office workers find themselves detained, for unknown reasons, in an empty room. Instead of escaping through the unlocked doors, the men quarrel about whether or not they are truly free to leave. Soon, however, it is too late: a supernatural, man-sized hand crawls into the room, subjecting the pair to outlandish punishments.
I have always been fascinated by the notion of a piece that would blur the boundaries between composer, performer, and audience. In 2016, my installation project, entitled Hear/Act, allowed viewers in a gallery to interact with an instrument I created using a nine-square MIDI pad linked to a laptop running Max/MSP. My program transforms the participant’s simple inputs of velocity and duration into a rich soundscape, allowing the user to create nuanced improvisations.
STRIP-TEASE, a chamber opera in one act
By Dylan Schneider