Take a Place in the Light

Program Notes
When I first began to assemble the materials for "Take a Place in the Light" my intent was to create a piece that was a commentary on the evolution of the electric guitar. I wanted to highlight the ways in which the technological and physical changes to the electric guitar have affected the way in which we approach the instrument, focusing particularly on the music and playing of Jimi Hendrix. To that end, I recorded a series of short guitar phrases, mostly based around sounds unique to the instrument. While I was in the process of editing the clips together, I received word that one of my good friends from my teenage years had died suddenly at the age of 25. As I continued working on the piece, it was clear to me that this event, and the ways in which it made me reflect on my own life, were heavily influencing the direction of the work. Without me consciously realizing it, the piece was becoming much darker and more directly emotional than I had originally intended. Rather than changing course to try and fit my original plan (which I had been struggling with), I decided to let the piece develop more intuitively. This proved an interesting challenge in bending the clips that I had recorded to fit a completely different musical and emotional conception. I do not consider the piece to be a memorial to my late friend, but rather an acknowledgment of the effect that his life had on me. The title is taken from a line in Allen Ginsberg's poem "Transcription of Organ Music," and is not meant to specifically reference any religious tradition, only a spiritual awareness one often has when contemplating their own mortality.

Biographical Sketch
Corey Cunningham is a second year master's student in music composition at the University of Michigan. He earned his bachelor's degree in composition from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, where he graduated magna cum laude. He has studied composition with Michael Daugherty, Ethan Wickman, and Michael Cunningham, as well as further studies in electronic music with Evan Chambers. He has participated in lessons and master classes with Sydney Hodkinson and Libby Larsen, and has been invited to participate in the 2012 highSCORE festival in Pavia, Italy, with composers Amy Beth Kirsten and Christopher Theofanidis. In addition to composing, Corey is also an active performer and teacher. He has directed ensembles at both UW-Eau Claire and UW-Stout, as well as maintaining a private studio teaching composition, saxophone, guitar, and bass. As a jazz saxophonist he has toured and recorded professionally, and won a Downbeat award for Best Large Jazz Ensemble with UW-Eau Claire's Jazz Ensemble I. As a guitarist, he has been active performing in a variety of styles, from folk to heavy metal to hip-hop.