famous brand music Clark Suprynowicz
New Dramatists hosted a workshop of "Before
Midnight" in October of 2012 in NYC, a new music-theater piece about the
Black Panther Party commissioned by the Oakland-East Bay Symphony. Other
2012 events included a performance of Clark's string quartet "Elegance and
Superstition" at the Hell Hot Festival in Hong Kong, August 5th, in a
program with works by the Hear Here Composers Collective and
Mr. Suprynowicz spent many years in the trenches as a jazz musician before decamping to compose full-time. He has worked as a bassist with John Zorn, Bill Frisell, Art Lande, Max Roach, and Tom Waits.
Moving to the San Francisco Bay Area from the East Coast in 1982,Suprynowicz founded the Bay Area Jazz Composers Orchestra with composer Paul Nash and wrote numerous scores for that ensemble. The Bay Area Jazz Composers Orchestra met with critical acclaim and performed widely, including an appearance in the 1987 San Francisco Jazz Festival.
Suprynowicz has written theme music and incidental music for National Public Radio. He has composed songs and chamber music, as well as jazz works. A quintet for percussion, winds and strings, commissioned by the American Composers Forum, premiered in 2003, one of a series of works commissioned by ACF. But his output as a composer for the last decade has focused on work for the stage. Suprynowicz is a founding member of the New Music Theatre Project, a forum for new work in the singing theatre at Z Space Studios in San Francisco. His opera Ariadne, with librettist Ken Prestininzi, was developed at Z Space, and was premiered in 1998 by City Summer Opera at the Diego Rivera Theater, City College, San Francisco. Kevin Ottem reviewed Ariadne in 20th Century Music:
"The score is not just a collection of songs woven into a literate script, but a rich punch of sound, sometimes lyric and explicit, sometimes wordless and mysterious. At its best, Suprynowicz extends the idea of a traditional musical score into the realm of a soundscape."
Joshua Kosman, reviewing the 1987 collaboration with Rinde Eckert, Paramus New Jersey and Other Places, in the San Francisco Chronicle, called Suprynowicz' music "Powerful and often distinctive." A recording of this work, entitled In Sleep A King, featuring vocalists Rinde Eckert and Jai Uttal, is available from the German label Sound Aspects, and from Famous Brand Music.
Works for the stage include an original score for the West Coast premiere of Eisa Davis bulrusher, which was earlier nominated for a Pulitzer Prize; also scores for Amanda Moody's Serial Murderess, Harold Pinter's The Birthday Party (Shotgun Players production),and The Taming of The Shrew (for the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival). Through his work as director of the New Music Theater Project at Z Space, Clark has overseen the creation of new work by more than two hundred Bay Area performers, composers, librettists, and directors.
The opera Caliban Dreams, with librettist
Amanda Moody, was inspired by Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and originally
commissioned by the San Francisco
Clark Suprynowicz earned his B.A. in music from Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, and received additional training in composition with Elinor Armer and David Conte (SF Conservatory Faculty), with Ken Durling, Joel Lindheimer. Piano studies with Jim Carmichael and Thomas Wyse. Electronic music with Wayne Organ at Contra Costa College.
I came up with rock, with singer-songwriters, and with the music of other countries(Wesleyan University, where both my father and my brother went to school, has a great world-music program). Then, too, I’m a jazz musician. And, then once again, I fell in love with classical music in my college years. It was the last music I came to rather than the first. Because of all this, I seem to have a different sensibility than most composers writing for the singing theater.
The world that we call opera is a musical world that is in transition: The musical vocabulary is always evolving, of course, and, to an extent, the subject matter. But pieces are also made differently than they once were. There's more collaboration, more process and development. A designer or choreographer may shape the end-result as much as the composer or librettist. I'm currently enjoying a collaboration with a playwright / librettist, and we are sharing the lyric duties. Though this may not seem revolutionary, consider how Verdi operated in his day, writing hectoring letters to his librettists (there were a string of them) and waiting for something adequate so he could get to work.
Another change we're witnessing: There's an audience of younger people who have grown up with rock ‘n roll, and some of them are reaching out. They’ll go out to the theater if they hear it is something wild and wonderful. Yet they are not (usually) the same people who are giving a half-million dollar bequest to the Opera, and so Artistic Directors - at SFO, at Long Beach, in Houston, and so on - they’re in a challenging position. They not only can’t please everyone, they are more or less guaranteed to be pissing off some of their customers while pleasing the rest. This can lead to some radical juxtapositions. I don’t know if, twenty years from now, you’re be as likely to see Ligeti’s Grande Macabre back-to-back with Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, as I witnessed not long ago here in San Francisco at SFO. It’s a tough time to be an Artistic Director (Who can afford to alienate anybody? Who can avoid it?) but it's a very interesting time to be in the audience, and not such a bad time to be a composer.
To counter the concern some of us feel when we look at the state of contemporary classical music, there are new operas and musicals put up every year, and people do come out to see them. I am deeply grateful to be coming into contact with so many fine musicians and performers, writers and directors, creative people of all stripes. People are always saying "I learned so much," but, really, this has been my school, and it continues to be, lending strength and imagination to all the creative work I do.
Premiere of Machine, for the Crucible in Oakland, January 11-14 and 18-21
The string quartet Elegance and Superstition to be included in the Hell Hot Festival in Hong-Kong on Sunday, August 5th, 2012
Premiere of Caliban Dreams by Berkeley / West Edge Opera
Caliban Dreams on Vimeo
Premiere of Tectonic, for the Mill Valley Philharmonic
Singing in the Dark, for flute / harp / viola. Premiered as part of the 3rd annual John Adams Young Composers Program Faculty Concert @ Crowden School, Berkeley, CA. March 20, 8 PM
Commission from the Crucible in Oakland, Ca. for a new opera with writer / director Mark Streshinsky, Machine, to premiere January 2011. Based on a short story by Derek J. Goodman.
NEA provides funding for Caliban Dreams, an opera with librettist Amanda Moody, featuring tenor John Duykers. To premiere 2011 by Berkeley Opera and 6th St. Playhouse (Santa Rosa)
Music for Andiamo, a film by Mark Altenberg
The Magic Shop for flute, clarinet, piano, cello
with the Berkeley Symphony as part of their Under Construction series.
Score for West Coast premiere of Eisa Davis' Pulitzer-nominated play Bulrusher at Ashby Stage (Shotgun Players production). Sounds and images here.
Eidolon, concerto for piano and string orchestra. View score
Adagio for Strings
Mantra, for String Quartet
Chrysalis, a new opera with librettist John O’Keefe. premiered by the Berkeley Opera at the Julia Morgan Theater in Berkeley, California April 22 - April 30
Dog Songs for Woodwind Quintet:
Performed by City Winds, San Francisco. May.
Chrysalis, an opera, with playwright John O'Keefe, commissioned by the Berkeley Opera. Watch: Chrysalis Video Clips
Affirmative Action for String Quartet
Mmm for solo piano
Caliban Dreams, staged workshop at Sonoma State College, conducted by Lynne Morrow. Quantum Summer Opera.
Outright Radio. Theme & incidental music for the nationally syndicated radio-show on NPR.
Caliban Dreams, an opera commissioned by the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, with libretto by Amanda Moody. The first complete workshop of this opera was presented at the Magic Theater In San Francisco in May, 2003 with John Duykers as Caliban, and Amanda Moody playing Ariel.
The Caliban Quintet, for violin, cello, flute, clarinet and percussion. Premiered May 31, 2003 by the Left-Coast Ensemble at Trinity Church, Berkeley. Commissioned by the American Composers Forum.
Now You're Talking for woodwind quintet. Premiered by City Winds in Berkeley, California, Spring of 2002. A commission from the American Composers Forum.
Dog Songs. Five pieces for piano solo
Super String Theory, for string trio. Premiered at Tuva, Berkeley, California, December, 2001.
The Amanda Variations for flute, clarinet, violin, cello. Premiered May 19, 2001 at St. Johns Church, Berkeley, California. A commission from the American Composers Forum, Bay Area Chapter.
Serial Murderess (a play in 3 axe), commissioned by writer/actor/singer Amanda Moody, scored for solo oboe and electronics. Premiered San Francisco, Venue 9, Winter.
Commission from San Francisco Shakespeare Festival: Caliban Dreams, an opera with libretto by Amanda Moody.
Samalhaut, for string quartet, commissioned by the American Composers Forum, Bay Area Chapter. Premiered Berkeley, St. Johns Church, April, 2000
The Taming of the Shrew,original score for accordion, clarinet, mandolin, tuba and percussion. Commissioned by the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival. Premiered San Francisco, Gershwin Theater, May, 2000
July 23 - Aug. 1 : Ariadne, an opera in 2 acts, scored for piano, woodwinds, trumpets, percussion and choir. Libretto by Ken Prestininzi. 1999 summer season premiere produced by City Summer Opera at the Diego Rivera Theatre in San Francisco.
February 11 - 19 : Workshop production of Ariadne at Z Space Studios in San Francisco.
Excerpt fromAriadne programmed as part of the Common Sense Composers Collective Composers Marathon Yerba Buena Center, SF.
Original score for Shakespeare's The Tempest: Flute, clarinet and percussion. Chabot College, Hayward.
March 1, 1988 : Act One excerpts from Ariadne @ Open Studio, Z Space Studios, , San Francisco.
Ariadne, workshop production at Z Space Studios, February, 1998.
Workshop production of Ariadne, The
Urban School, S.F.,
Production of Harold Pinter's The Birthday Party with original score for bassoon and clarinet. The Shotgun Players, Berkeley.
Love Does Not Heal All Wounds for piano and soprano voice, to a poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay.
The Care and Breeding of Flying Horses, an original musical.
1992 - 1996
Songs for ECM recording artist Aina Kemanis and OZ (piano, violin, bass, steel pedal guitar and drums) Numerous Bay Area performances. Recording available.
1987 - 1995
Collaborations with Rinde Eckert: score for Paramus, New Jersey and Other Places at the New Performance Gallery. Release of In Sleep A King, a suite of songs, on the Sound Aspects label. For winds, percussion, guitar, bass and voice, featuring Rinde Eckert and Jai Uttal.
Commissions for the Bay Area Jazz Composers Orchestra, an 18-piece jazz ensemble with strings. Numerous Bay Area performances: Song and Dance; Desperate Measures; Feather River Suite.
Eidolon for vocal quartet (Laurie Amat and Ensemble).
Music for String Quartet, Soprano Saxophone and Trumpet. The Composers Cafeteria, Berkeley, Ca.
B.A. in Music from Hampshire College
Composition and Score Analysis with Randall McClellan
Theory with Roland Wiggins
82 - present
Composition with Elinor Armer and David Conte (SF Conservatory Faculty), with Ken Durling, Joel Lindheimer. Piano studies with Jim Carmichael and Thomas Wyse. Electronic music with Wayne Organ.
The Gerbode Fondation made an award to Suprynowicz, and to playwright John O'Keefe, commissioning a new opera, Chrysalis, to be premiered by the Berkeley Opera.
Z Space / Magic Theater New Works Initiative from Columbia Foundation to support Caliban Dreams (major funding from the James Irvine Foundation and the Columbia Foundation)
The Margaret Fairbank Jory Copying Assistance Program, for Caliban Dreams.
The American Composers Forum, Bay Area Chapter, a Subito grant for Caliban Dreams.
1999, 2000 Commissions from SF Shakespeare Festival
1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 Commissions from American Composers Forum
1998 LEF Foundation
1998 REX Foundation
1996 Commission from Laurie Amat, soprano
1987, 1997 Grants from Zellerbach Family Fund
1987 Commissions from Meet The Composer, California
Faculty, John Adams Young Composers Program,
The Crowden Music Center, Berkeley, CA.
2009 - 2012
San Francisco School for the Arts, Artist-in-Residence / instructor in Composition.
Faculty, San Francisco Conservatory of Music:
Summer Music West Composition Intensive
Teacher of Composition at Berkeley High School as part of the American Composers Forum "Composers in the Schools" Project. Mr. Suprynowicz was one of four composers chosen by the American Composers Forum to take part in this program from 1999 – 2004.
Taught symposium on grantsmanship for artists at Hampshire College.
Employed in the CETA program, State of Connecticut, teaching music in the schools (grades 6 - 9), and to inmates of Somerville State Prison.
Mr. Suprynowicz is a bassist. He worked in New York in 1979 - 1980 in ensembles with John Zorn, Robin Holcomb, Wayne Horvitz, Joel Forrester, and others.
After moving to San Francisco in 1982, Suprynowicz founded the Bay Area Jazz Composers Orchestra with composer Paul Nash, and served as musical director of that group for several years.
In 1990, he was part of Tom Waits' ensemble for the recording of the soundtrack to the Jim Jarmusch movie A Night On Earth, later released on Island Records.
Suprynowicz was a student of renowned jazz bassist Dave Holland in New York, with bassist Michael Moore, and also with Lou Bruno of the American Symphony. He has worked and recorded with John Zorn, Max Roach, Herb Ellis, Art Lande, Bill Frisell, and many other fine jazz musicians, some famous, some obscure, some now dead and sorely missed.
Mr. Suprynowicz was a founding member of the Music Theatre Project at Z Space Studios, a forum for new work in the singing theatre.