MFA in Music Composition

Summer 2017 Anna's Ghost / Visiting Ensemble

Anna's Ghost image

Equally at home performing new contemporary and experimental works, playing to picture, improvising on jazz pieces, backing songwriters, and more, Anna’s Ghost plays and performs at most MFA in Music Composition residencies and features an ever-changing roster of multi-talented instrumentalists. This adaptive group reforms itself in different configurations each semester, welcoming back VCFA veteran musicians and introducing exciting new players to the program. Musicians at the top of their field lend their individual artistry to create a cohesive sound.

The ensemble’s name, Anna’s Ghost, refers to the legend of Anna, the resident ghost of Vermont College of Fine Arts, whose story you can read about here.

Kamala Sankaram, soprano and accordion  

Kamala has been hailed as “an impassioned soprano with blazing high notes” (Wall Street Journal). She has performed with and premiered pieces by Anthony Braxton, Beth Morrison Projects, the Philip Glass Ensemble, the Wooster Group, Anti-Social Music, and Petr Kotik, among others. She is the frontwoman for the band Bombay Rickey, whose debut album won the 2015 Vox Pop Award for Best Eclectic Album from the Independent Music Awards. Bombay Rickey’s opera cabaret on the life of Yma Sumac premiered in the 2016 PROTOTYPE Festival, where it was praised as a “rocking musical show” (Wall Street Journal). Most recently, Bombay Rickey was invited to perform the piece in London at Téte á Téte Opera’s Cubitt Sessions. See more at the bio section of her website.

Red Wierenga, piano, accordion, and RISE  

Red Wierenga is a pianist, accordionist, respectronicist, improviser, and composer based in New York City. His longest creative association is with the Respect Sextet, called “a group which has released one of the most compelling recordings of the year” by the Wall Street Journal, and “one of the best and most ambitious new ensembles in jazz” by Signal To Noise. He has performed and/or recorded with artists including The Claudia Quintet, Ensemble Signal, Salo, the Fireworks Ensemble, and David Crowell. Wierenga builds and performs with new interfaces for electroacoustic improvisation, working with analog and digital synthesizers. He received his bachelor’s degree from the Eastman School of Music, studying with Harold Danko, Ralph Alessi, and Kevin Puts. After having studied at the Institute of Sonology in The Hague with Joel Ryan and Paul Berg, he earned a Ph.D. in composition from CUNY Graduate Center, where he was an Enhanced Chancellor’s Fellow and where his teachers included Jason Eckardt and Douglas Geers. Having taught at Baruch College, he currently teaches at the Brooklyn College Center for Computer Music and is Creator Support Manager at ROLI.

Pat Swoboda, electric and acoustic bass  

Pat Swoboda is a NYC-based bass player dedicated to performing the works of living composers. Recent highlights include Silent Voices a collaboration between the International Contemporary Ensemble and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus at the 2017 Prototype Festival, Shawn Jaeger's The Cold Pane for voice and small ensemble with Dawn Upshaw at the 2015 Resonant Bodies Festival in Merkin Hall, and soloing in Chris Cerrone's High Windows with the String Orchestra of Brooklyn. As a founding member of the trio Bearthoven, Swoboda engages young composers to commission and present music for bass, piano, and percussion in largely unexplored new contexts. He has also held the position of upright and electric bassist for NYC-based contemporary chamber orchestra Contemporaneous since 2012. Swoboda is a core member of the punk-jazz quartet Gutbucket which released Dance in 2016, an album of new original material recorded live at The Stone in NYC. In years past, Swoboda participated as a fellow in both OneBeat's 2015 residency and tour on the west coast and OneBeat Istanbul. OneBeat is a program which employs collaborative original music as a potent new form of cultural diplomacy. In 2016, Swoboda was very happy to join fellow OneBeat Alumni Ladama, a group of four women from across the Americas. The band performs a mix of original cumbia, joropo, and samba and focuses gender inequality in all aspects of music. In the Summers of 2013-14 Swoboda was a Robert Black bass fellow at the Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival.

Brian Adler, drums and percussion

Brian Adler is a drummer, composer, and educator. Often playing a drum set augmented with percussive instruments from India and South America, critics have noted his earthy, nuanced sound, minimalist attention to texture, and his forward thinking rhythmic concepts. “Adler’s music flows organically in pursuit of mystery, movingly existing in an ultimate state of fluidity,” says Jordan Richardson of Canadian Audiophile. He has created and presented music in halls, clubs, museums, studios, and sacred spaces including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Symphony Space, Smalls, and Joe's Public Theater. He has worked with: Bash the Trash, Bombay Rickey, La Bomba de Tiempo, Harvey Diamond, Four Across, Guillermo Klein, Kate McGarry, Elizabeth Swados, Ray Vega, among others. He has been featured on WNYC's "New Sounds," on various film, commercial and theatrical scores including “Of Many,” a film produced by Chelsea Clinton and shown at the Tribeca Film Festival.