Jon Kulpa

Performing Arts - Music | April 30 | 7:30 p.m. |  Hearst Memorial Mining Building

 Department of Music

Spaced Out
"Spaced Out” presented by Friction Quartet is a concert that follows the theoretical evolution of a cyclical universe.
World premiere of Negative Expanse by Jon Kulpa.

Berkeley- On Sunday, April 30, 2017, at UC Berkeley’s Mining Building, Friction Quartet presents Spaced Out, a concert that follows the theoretical evolution of a cyclical universe, taking the listener on an evening-long musical journey inspired by science and our understanding of the cosmos. Spaced Out includes the world premiere of Negative Expanse by Jon Kulpa which explores what it would be like to fall into a black hole. Throughout the piece, the amplified quartet interacts with sampled sounds and other electronics played through speakers positioned around the space. The players begin in the four corners of the room, conveying a scene outside the event horizon where matter becomes redshifted as it falls inward. As the players continue their journey, the music gradually becomes more frenetic and high-pitched, depicting the infinite blueshifting of energy. Ultimately, the quartet reaches the singularity, the very center of the black hole where time is nearly frozen except for quantum particles zipping in and out of existence and tunneling into other universes.

Adam Cuthbert’s Universe Explosion is a ten minute summary of the life of the universe-- from rapid inflation to eventual heat death-- illustrated with aleatoric passages, rhythmic grooves, pre-recorded and processed string quartet, and changing durations of the same theme. Satellites by Garth Knox is a three movement programmatic work about space exploration, portraying several scenes from the vantage of being in orbit. Knox utilizes a range of extended techniques, colors, and sounds coupled with baroque forms to showcase humanity’s pioneering into outer space. Gabriella Smith’s Reflections Nebulae explores the birth of planets and stars within clouds of interstellar material using ambient textures, extended techniques, and strings prepared with paper clips to create an alien effect. As the material coalesces we achieve fusion, and the music becomes full of melodic interest and counterpoint, ending in a folk-like jam. All of these compositions were inspired by our expanding knowledge of the universe-- its birth, growth, the morphology of energy and matter, and the multiple facets that can create life. By performing these works together, the aim is to provide a visceral experience of all that lies within the vast magnitude of the cosmos.

Negative Expanse was commissioned by Friction Quartet with support from Sounds of Science Commissioning Club. This program is made possible by UC Berkeley, Department of Music; CNMAT (Center for New Music and Audio Technologies); Eric Paulos and the UC Berkeley Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science; and Jeremy Wagner, Sound Engineer and Installation.

About Friction Quartet: Friction Quartet, whose performances have been called “terribly beautiful” (San Francisco Classical Voice), “stunningly passionate” (Calgary Herald) and “chillingly effective” (San Francisco Examiner), exists to expand the string quartet repertoire and audience for adventurous contemporary music through commissioning composers and performing in underserved schools and communities. Recently they gave their Carnegie Hall debut as part of the Kronos Quartet Workshop. They also participated in the Shouse Institute at the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival where they gave their Detroit debut and appeared with Paul Watkins of the Emerson Quartet. Over the last five years Friction has given 70 world premiere performances and commissioned 32 works for string quartet.​ They are the second place winner of the 2016 Schoenfeld International String Competition and were quarter finalists in the 2015 Fischoff Competition.
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About Jon Kulpa (1980)
Jon Kulpa’s compositions utilize physical space as an important element of form and evolution. Additionally, he thinks of his works as environments or systems that behave according to chosen “laws of physics”, i.e. rules of correlation and critical mass that create events and large scale shifts. He is currently working on an interactive music installation for an overhead grid of speakers and visual projection of virtual objects. As visitors move around they cause these virtual objects to move and collide with each other, in turn triggering various sounds; as this system reaches a critical density, the room evolves into a new section of the musical space entirely.

Jon studied composition at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music with David Garner, graduating in 2010. He obtained his M.A. (and is currently pursuing his Ph.D. at the University of California Berkeley, where his primary teachers have been Edmund Campion and Franck Bedrossian.

Calendar Listing:
Who: Friction Quartet
What: Spaced Out
When: Sunday, April 30, 2017 at 7:30 PM
Where: Hearst Memorial Mining Building
210 Hearst Mining Building
University of California
Berkeley, CA 94720-1760
Ticket Information: FREE ADMISSION

Universe Explosion - Adam Cuthbért
Reflections Nebulae - Gabriella Smith
Satellites - Garth Knox
Negative Expanse - Jon Kulpa (world premiere)