Witnessing a powerful, fast-moving object fly past elicits both excitement and fear. There is a certain thrill to seeing a train whiz by at close range, but not without some implication of danger. I reflect this emotional content in locoMotives with dissonant, violent sounds in the electronics and harsh extended techniques in the harp that elicit the same excitement and fear. There are also moments of peaceful repose throughout the work, highlighting the beauty of the harp and embodying the comfort of riding in a train while watching the landscape pass by through the window. The visual component, a series of live shadow projections onto a wall, places the viewer both inside and outside the train and reflects these various emotional responses. The title, locoMotives, lends itself to a tongue-and-cheek word play between the train theme and the musical terms inherent in the word: loco for “at pitch” and motive for a short musical idea. The germinal sound source in locoMotives is a recording of one of Philadelphia’s Regional Rail trains passing by. Most of the melodic material in the piece is derived from the pitches inherent in the train whistle and the crossing gates. The Doppler effect became the connective element in the piece. I recorded the harpist playing several pitch bends on the harp that mimic the train whistle’s pitch bending as it passed by my recording device. Other sounds in the raw audio include the ticking noises of the lowering crossing gates at a nearby road and the whoosh of the wind as the train passed by. These sounds are all imitated in some way by the harp and augmented by the electronics. Finally, the natural dynamic arc of a train approaching from a distance, passing by, and fading away again is imitated in microcosm throughout the piece. All aboard!
Anne Neikirk (ASCAP) was born in 1983 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and grew up in Scotia, New York. Her compositional interests include vocal and sacred music, symmetrical modes, and music in nature. Her works have been performed throughout the United States and abroad, including Italy and France. She has been a participating composer in various festivals and conferences, including the College Music Society National Conference, the Philadelphia Fringe Festival, the National Student Electronic Music Event, the University of Central Missouri New Music Festival, the North American Saxophone Alliance Biennial Conference, the Amphibian Series at the HiArt! Gallery in New York, and several regional and national SCI conferences. She has worked with ensembles such as the Momenta String Quartet, the Arneis String Quartet, the Glaux Trio, the University of Delaware Percussion Ensemble, the Bowling Green State University Collegiate Chorale, and the Hamilton College Hill Singers, as well as vocalists Silvie Jensen and Christina English. An alumna of the Brevard Music Institute‘s composition program in North Carolina and the European American Musical Alliance program in Paris, Anne has received commissions from various solo and chamber performers as well as the Women’s Sacred Music Project and Network for New Music in Philadelphia. Anne is a recipient of the 2012 Presser Music Award. In the same year, her song cycle Years Later was a regional winner and national finalist for the SCI/ASCAP Student Composition Commission.
Anne received a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in 2013 from the Esther Boyer College of Music and Dance at Temple University. She currently serves as an Assistant Professor in the Theory and Composition Department at the University of Delaware. She holds a Master of Music degree in composition from Bowling Green State University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in music from Hamilton College. Her compositions have involved several collaborative projects, including partnerships with artist Kristen Moore, poet Penelope Cray, and ecologist Patrick McLaughlin. Anne is a co-founder and former president of conTemplum, Temple University’s student chapter of the Society of Composers, Inc. Her dissertation, Symphonic Prayers for orchestra and soprano soloist, was premiered in February 2014 by the Temple University Orchestra with Luis Biava conducting. Her primary composition teachers include Samuel Pellman, Marilyn Shrude, Cynthia Folio and Maurice Wright. She has had additional studies with Matthew Greenbaum, Aaron Travers, Lewis Rosengarten, Burton Beerman, Robert Aldridge, Kevin Puts, David Dzubay and Michel Merlet. Anne is a member of Pi Kappa Lambda, SCI, ACF and New Music USA. She lives in the East Falls neighborhood of Philadelphia.
Performer Biographical Sketch
Harpist Elizabeth Morgan-Ellis has dedicated much of her career to furthering audience appreciation of music by living composers through advocacy, education, and performances, and has been credited with helping to “bring the harp into the 21st century” by Harp Column editor Kimberly Rowe. Elizabeth received her master's degree in harp performance from Temple University. Since graduation, she has maintained a rigorous performance schedule, including solo appearances in the Delaware Center for Contemporary Art, the Grand Ballroom of the Philadelphia Conference Center, Dalet Art Gallery, the Maas Center for Performing arts, among others. She has performed harp composition workshops at Temple University and Western Washington University, as well as one-on-one work with composers across the US. She is also involved with the Lyra Society, a harp society that specializes in fund raising to commission works from young composers and provide harp education to underprivileged youth. Elizabeth is currently serving her first term as the president of the Philadelphia Chapter Harp Society.