Mythical Spaces

Program Notes
Mythical Spaces explores the intersection of myth and place. Mythical spaces are imaginary, real, natural and human-made. They are the sites of mythical events and bridges to the spiritual world. Sonically, Mythical Spaces captures the essence of each space as well as its mythical significance by reproducing material physicality through the use of a different amplified “vessel” in each movement.

i) Underground
People and gods used to live underground until they emerged from the depths and into our world. These myths are prevalent in the American southwest as well as the Trobriand Islands. This movement explores the idea of the subterranean world as primordial, where the emergence into our world represents a journey from darkness to light.

ii) Water
The “earth-diver” myth, where a being dives to the bottom of the ocean to grab a particle of sand that will be used to create the Earth is one of the most diffuse and common origin myths in the world. This movement sonically retells the narrative of the creation of the Earth—from a single particle to shimmering harmonic landscape.

iii) Forest
From Sub-Saharan Africa to Japan, forests are viewed as sacred by cultures worldwide. Animist beliefs imbue the individual elements of the forest with living spirits. These forests may be viewed as natural temples, places where humans can enter the supernatural world. Wind rustling through the trees and an environment rich with the energy of spirits pervade this movement.

iv) Mountain
Valhalla, Mt. Everest, Mt. Olympus, Mt. Denali, and Mt. Fuji are examples of mythical and real mountains that are considered sacred. Mountains are home to the gods. Evoking a sense of heroism, this movement contains the sounds of dramatic rumbling gestures broadcast over great distances.

v) Temple
Earthly temples have their duplicates in the transcendental sphere—the heavens. The temple represents the efforts of more centralized societies to build a bridge to a mythical place. This movement employs sounds of sacred instruments and a strong element of ritual that constructs a ceremony of transcendence.

Biographical Sketch
Steven Kemper composes music for acoustic instruments, instruments and computers, musical robots, dance, video, and networked systems. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Virginia in Composition and Computer Technologies. Steven received a M.M. from Bowling Green State University in composition and a B.A. from Bowdoin College.

Steven’s works have been performed by the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, NOW ensemble, and the Grupo Sax-Ensemble and presented at ICMC, SEAMUS, SIGCHI, FEMF, Pixilerations, American Composers Alliance Festival of American Music, and the Seoul International Computer Music Festival. In 2010, Steven won the International Computer Music Association 2010 Student Award for Best Submission for Shadows no. 5, part of a collaborative series of pieces with composer and dancer Aurie Hsu, for tribal fusion belly dance, electroacoustic music and RAKS (Remote electroAcoustic Kinesthetic Sensing) System, a wireless sensor interface designed specifically for tribal fusion belly dancer.

Steven is a co-founder of Expressive Machines Musical Instruments, a collective dedicated to creating and composing music for robotic instruments. He is also a member of UVA’s Interactive Media Research Group (IMRG) where he is a software developer for NOMADS (Network-Operational Mobile Applied Digital System), a web based tool for artistic creation and teaching in large-scale classroom and performance contexts.