Marc Mellits: OCTET (2010)

    Duration: 14 minutes
    Instrumentation: string octet
    Commissioned by the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra
    Premiered by the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra String Quartet & the Syracuse Symphony Youth Orchestra String Quartet on March 14, 2010, at the John H. Mulroy Civic Center in Syracuse, N.Y.
    Copyright/publisher: Dacia Music

    The composer writes:
    “I composed my Octet during the winter of 2009-10. The majority of the music was written at the Banff Music Center, where I was invited to be an artist-in-residence in January 2010. The incredibly beautiful mountainous surroundings of the Banff Centre had a profound impact on me. My composing studio overlooked the Canadian Rockies, pristine and covered with snow and ice. The weather was brutal, with a level of cold I had never felt. This, juxtaposed with the astounding frozen beauty all around me, provided the inspiration for the music. My studio had a glorious enormous picture window that overlooked the Rockies. The music came quick and it came easy; before I knew it I had material for all four movements. The outer movements are aggressive and have the biting cold I felt, while the second and third movements reflect more of the warmth I felt inside, sharing my thoughts with a wide range of artists who were also in residence.”

    About the composer:
    Composer Marc Mellits is one of the leading American composers of his generation, enjoying hundreds of performances throughout the world every year, making him one of the most performed composers in the United States. From Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center, to prestigious music festivals in Europe and the United States, Mellits’ music is a constant mainstay on programs throughout the world. His unique musical style is an eclectic combination of driving rhythms, soaring lyricism and colorful orchestrations that all combine to communicate directly with the listener. Mellits’ music is often described as being visceral, making a deep connection with the audience. He started composing very early, and was writing piano music long before he started formal piano lessons at age 6. He went on to study at the Eastman School of Music, Yale School of Music, Cornell University and Tanglewood. Mellits often is a miniaturist, composing works that consist of short, contrasting movements or sections. His music is eclectic, all encompassing, colorful, and always has a sense of forward motion.

    Mellits’ music has been played by major ensembles across the globe, and he has been commissioned by groups such as the Kronos Quartet, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Duo Assad, Bang On a Can All-Stars, Eliot Fisk, Canadian Brass, Nexus Percussion, Debussy Quartet, Real Quiet, New Music Detroit, Four-In-Correspondence (National Symphony Orchestra), Musique En Roue Libre (France), Fiarì Ensemble (Italy), Percussions Claviers de Lyon (France), Third Coast Percussion, Talujon, the Society for New Music, Syracuse Symphony Orchestra, and the Albany Symphony’s Dog’s of Desire. Additionally, Mellits’ music has been performed, toured, and/or recorded by members of the Detroit Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Boston Symphony, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Minneapolis Symphony, Brooklyn Philharmonic, eighth blackbird, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, New Millennium Ensemble, Da Capo Chamber Players and the American Modern Ensemble, among many others.

    On film, Mellits has composed many scores, including the PBS mini-series Beyond the Light Switch, which won a 2012 Dupont-Columbia Award, the most prestigious honor in documentaries. Mellits also directs and plays keyboards in his own ensemble, the Mellits Consort. He was awarded the prestigious 2004 Foundation for Contemporary Arts Award. On CD, there are over 50 recorded works of Mellits’ music that can be found on the labels Black Box, Endeavour Classics, Cantaloupe, CRI/Emergency Music, Santa Fe New Music, Innova and Dacia Music. Marc Mellits is on the music faculty of the University of Illinois at Chicago where he teaches composition. He lives in Chicago with his wife and two daughters, and spends significant time in Romania.