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Undergraduate Composers Concert

Saturday, June 3, 2023 - 7:30pm
  • Cosmic nature scene

The UW Composition program presents a year-end concert of works by undergraduate composers Arshia Ashari, Maxwell Williams, Alex Ryan, Taylor Buehler, Sophie Ma, Ethan Wu, Nick Mendonsa, and Ryan Rose.


Arshia Asharix(P(x)¬P(x)) for solo piano and electronics
Emily Chua, piano
Arshia Ashari, electronics

Maxwell Williamsdiseventual for clarinet and piano
Brian Schappals, clarinet   
Ellen Kwon, piano

Alex Ryan - Braving the Obscure for solo piano
Alex Fang, piano

Taylor BuehlerBlind for two voices and electronics
Diann Spicer, soprano
Taylor Buehler, baritone 


Sophie MaI See Through for three voices
Sophia Parker, soprano
Kate Connors, mezzo-soprano
Sophie Ma, alto

Ethan WuH (eartbeat) for violin and fixed media
Ethan Wu, violin and processed violin

Ryan Rose - Distractions for trumpet and fixed media
Ryan Rose, trumpet
Ethan Wu, processed violin

Nick MendonsaBones Of A Shadow for electric bass, metal percussion, electronics, and voice
Nick Mendonsa, electric bass, metal percussion, electronics, and voice


Arshia Ashari, x(P(x)¬P(x))
Within the scope of basic classical logic, which often shares the same fundamental structures as that of the average intuition, the entailment of a contradiction is deemed false and invalid. Yet, when it comes to the contemplation of what someone like Albert Camus would refer to as “the Absurd”—which eventually and inevitably creeps upon every corner of one’s consciousness—the same notions of paradox and tension are bound to arise. Consequently, in such instances, rationality proves to be inadequate, leaving only the essence of contradiction to ultimately prevail and provide any semblance of what one might consider an answer.
Thus, the work is not to master reason and intellect so proficiently to tame the seemingly untamable, nor is it to discard all attempts at value with an indifferent shrug. Rather, it is to embrace one’s position as that of the “Absurd Hero” and awaken day upon day, not by virtue of habit, but as a result of the choice to walk down the slope upon every descent of the falling boulder. And in that regard, it is exactly this choice which reveals a higher degree of freedom within the restraints of obligation.

Maxwell Williams, diseventual
Diseventual [adj]: Referring to a state or condition characterized by the apparent absence of eventual or possible outcomes. It suggests a situation or circumstance that lacks any potential at first glance or likelihood of progressing or culminating in a future event or outcome but still has the chance to achieve finality.

Alex Ryan, Braving the Obscure
This piece is about the threshold between familiarity and chaos and the journey we undertake when we dare to plunge into an alien darkness.  The primordial terror that stirs, halts us, prods us on, and leaves us changed. The puckishness we summon in the face of the unknown.

Taylor Buehler, Blind
Blind was created to give an insight into my own personal struggles with autism and fibromyalgia, a chronic pain disease. It's meant to represent the alienation I feel towards people and their ulterior motives, and the resulting, lonely isolation I experience between that and my chronic pain.

Sophie Ma, I See Through
“I”/“eye” [aɪ]: Recognition of the self “I” and vision. A liminal state of doubt without clear direction.
“I See” [aɪ siː]: Seeking, gaining perception little by little; pathways of reflection.
“I See Through” [aɪ siː θruː]: Claiming ownership of clarity, agency, and power. self-actualization.

Ethan Wu, H (eartbeat)
I. over
II. orror
III. aze
Inspired by three personal experiences of sleep paralysis.

Ryan Rose, Distractions
The first half consists of one main melodic figure that gradually shifts and shortens over time, interrupted by brief journeys into new harmonic territory until the harmony overtakes the motif. The second half features a fragmented version of the motif that becomes more agitated until it is eventually unable to sustain itself.

Nick Mendonsa, Bones Of A Shadow
In this new world whose beauty and treasure
Are hidden by a forever sunless sky,
Freshly illuminated by my neon blooded elevation,
My brilliantly branching reflection now terminally
Marks new prey 
-Lynn Mecula

Director Biographies

Faculty Composer Huck Hodge

Huck Hodge is professor and chair of the composition program in the school of music. A composer of “harmonically fresh work", "full of both sparkle and thunder” (New York Times), his music has been praised for its “immediate impact” (Chicago Tribune), its "clever, attractive, streamlined" qualities (NRC Handelsblad, Amsterdam), and its ability to "conjure up worlds of musical magic” with “power and charisma" (Gramophone Magazine, London). There is a dramatic interplay of color, light, and darkness in his music, which emerges from an uncanny blending of pure and dissonant harmonies, widely spaced orchestrations and vast, diffuse timbres. 

Hodge is the recipient of many prestigious awards and distinctions. Among these is the Charles Ives Living, the largest music award conferred by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His other major awards include the Rome Prize (Luciano Berio Fellowship), the Gaudeamus Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, commissions from the Koussevitzky Foundation in the Library of Congress, the Fromm Foundation at Harvard University, the American Composers Forum (JFund), the Barlow Endowment, Music at the Anthology (MATA), the American Academy in Rome, Muziek Centrum NederlandMusik der Jahrhunderte, and the National Theater and Concert Hall of Taiwan, in addition to multiple grants and awards from ASCAP, the Bogliasco Foundation, Copland House, the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD), MacDowell, New Music USA, the Siemens Musikstiftung, and Yaddo.

His music has been performed at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and at numerous major festivals — the New York Philharmonic Biennial, Berliner Festspiele, Gaudeamus Muziekweek, Shanghai New Music Week (上海当代音乐周), ISCM World Music Days, and many others in over twenty countries on six continents. Other performances include those by members of the Berlin Philharmonic and Ensemble Modern, the ASKO / Schönberg Ensemble, the Seattle Symphony, and the Orchestra of the League of Composers. His chamber music has been premiered, performed and recorded by a long list of soloists and ensembles such as the Daedalus, JACK, Mivos, and Pacifica string quartets, the Adapter, Aleph, Argento, Dal Niente, Divertimento, Insomnio, SurPlus, and Talea ensembles, and his colleagues David Gordon, Donna Shin, Cristina Valdés, Cuong Vu, and Bonnie Whiting. His published music is distributed by Alexander Street Press (US) and Babel Scores (France). Recordings of his music appear on the New World and Albany record labels and have been featured in numerous national and international broadcasts.

Before joining the University of Washington, Hodge taught composition at Columbia University, where he earned his M.A. and D.M.A. studying with Fred Lerdahl, George Lewis, and Tristan Murail. Prior to this, he studied composition, theory, and new media at the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst in Stuttgart, Germany, with Marco Stroppa and Georg Wötzer as well as music, German literature and philosophy at the University of Oregon and the Universität Stuttgart. He has been a visiting professor/invited lecturer on music and aesthetics at a variety of institutions including the University of Chicago, CNMAT/UC Berkeley, UCSD, Columbia University, Eastman School of Music, Manhattan School of Music, NYU, and the Universität der Künste in Berlin, and he served for three years as the director of the Merriman Family Young Composers Workshop at the Seattle Symphony.

Composer Yigit Kolat

Yiğit Kolat’s music explores the liminal frontiers of musical activity and potentialities in processing extra-musical data as musical information. The complicated political and social environment of his native Turkey is a recurring theme in his diverse output, which includes acoustic, electro-acoustic, and electronic works written for orchestra, chamber ensembles, voice, and solo instruments.

His works, described as “touching and convincing...a multi-sensory universe,” (K. Saariaho) have been recognized by a prestigious array of international organizations, including the Bogliasco Foundation (2016 Edward T. Cone Bogliasco Fellow in Music), the Tōru Takemitsu Composition Award (1st Prize, 2015), the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Belgium (Finalist, 2013), and the Concours International de Composition Henri Dutilleux (2nd Prize, 2012).

His music has been featured throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia by leading ensembles and soloists, among them the Tokyo Philharmonic and Ryoko Aoki (Japan); Solistes de L’Orchestre de Tours, Donatienne Michel-Dansac, and Pascal Gallois (France); The Nieuw Ensemble, The Black Pencil Ensemble, and the Duo Mares (The Netherlands); Eric Wubbels, Jonathan Shames, the Talea Ensemble, and the Argento New Music Project (USA); the Presidential Symphony Orchestra of Turkey; Peter Sheppard-Skaerved and Aaron Shorr (Great Britain). His music has been broadcast by the Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK) and Turkish Radio Television (TRT).

Kolat earned his Doctorate of Musical Arts at the University of Washington, studying with Joël-François Durand.