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Toby Twining
1958 -
United States of America, OK
T. Twining
Toby Twining (01/01/1958), an American composer (born in Oklahoma City, raised in Texas). His musical roots lie in rock, jazz, gospel and country swing. He studied composition with Ben Johnston and performed experimental vocal music with William Brooks at the University of Illinois, then moved to NYC in 1987 to work with choreographers. Since 1991 he has performed his music featuring extended vocal techniques and extended just intonation across the US and Europe with Toby Twining Music.
Chrysalid requiem
Composed in:1999
Musical form:free
Label(s):Cantaloupe CA 21007
Chrysalid requiem (1999) is for 12 voices unaccompanied. Length: 60:00. First performance: “Festival of New Spiritual Music,” Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, 11/10/99.
There's good music, there's great music, and every once in a while there's mind-blowing music. Toby Twining's Chrysalid Requiem certainly falls into the last category. Cantaloupe's newest release is by Twining's own ensemble, a group of singers possessed with superhuman powers. The requiem is sung a cappella, though if I hadn't had the score I would swear some kind of digital manipulation had taken place. All the singers are classically trained, graduates of our nation's finest conservatories. But they go far beyond what most singers are capable of. Not only can they sing conventional pitched material, but they can also sing an incredible variety of microtones and practice extended techniques. These techniques are not treated in a gimmicky way. Like a great wizard, Twining seamlessly weaves them into the fabric of the music. Really, this is dangerous stuff. Young composers should definitely not get hold of the score. They might think this is common writing for a choral group. But these are the singers of the future. Think of the Tallis Scholars with bionic additions, like something out of a cyberpunk novel. Twining's musical ideas are new—so new that a perfected notation system doesn't yet exist. He's currently using Ben Johnson's system, where almost all the notes have additional symbols next to them to indicate very specific changes in pitch. The work is in just intonation, and developed in such a way that the phrases can modulate microtonally. There are only a handful of singers in the world who can do this accurately, so this type of writing is rare in the West. If you're not used to hearing this, it may just sound out of tune. However, after repeated listening you begin to realize that Twining supports and underlines the text in subtle but powerful ways, all through the use of microtones. But beyond all the incredible technique that goes into a performance of this piece, what really stuck with me for days after only the first hearing was the profound sense of humanity in the work. The phrases just sang in my head, not in that annoying way that pop tunes do, but in that serious, expressive way that the best classical music of the past 800 years does. I felt like a better person after hearing this, more creative and sensitive. I can't recommend the disc highly enough; it's simply beautiful. Pulitzer, perhaps?
Author:Payton MacDonald