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HomeMusicVisionary composer and performer Ingram Marshall dies at age 80 : NPR

Visionary composer and performer Ingram Marshall dies at age 80 : NPR


Composer Ingram Marshall, photographed in 2021 by his son.

Clem Marshall/Clem Marshall


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Clem Marshall/Clem Marshall


Composer Ingram Marshall, photographed in 2021 by his son.

Clem Marshall/Clem Marshall

Composer and performer Ingram Marshall, whose honors embody awards from the Guggenheim Basis and the American Academy of Arts and Letters, has died on the age of 80 from problems of superior Parkinson’s illness. His dying was confirmed by his spouse, Veronica Tomasic.

Marshall cast uncommon connections between minimalism and digital music, counting on subtle but understated strategies to render surprising, expressive landscapes, ones that stand in opposition to the extra summary inventive modes favored by his contemporaries. Marshall’s good friend, composer John Adams, referred to as it music “of an nearly painful intimacy.”

“Its essence is deep and brooding,” Adams wrote within the liner notes for the 1984 New Albion recording of Fog Tropes, Gradual Requiem and Gambuh I. “Though its generously layered surfaces are sometimes painted with a wealthy, nearly opiated luxuriance, the message is, never-the-less, all the time religious, one may even say spiritual, in content material.”

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Along with the legacy left by his music, Marshall fostered generations of youthful composers. He held educating posts on the California Institute of the Arts within the early Nineteen Seventies, and Evergreen State School within the late Nineteen Eighties, in addition to visiting positions on the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Brooklyn School and Yale College. His former college students embody the distinguished composers, musicians and musicologists Timo Andres, Armando Bayolo, Christopher Cerrone, Tyondai Braxton, Jacob Cooper, Adrian Knight, Matt Sargent, and Stephen Gorbos, who wrote a dissertation analyzing Marshall’s composition Darkish Waters.

Ingram Marshall was born on Could 10, 1942 in Mount Vernon, N.Y. simply north of New York Metropolis. His formal training included an undergraduate diploma at Lake Forest College in 1964 adopted by graduate work at Columbia College, the place he was affiliated with the groundbreaking Columbia-Princeton Digital Music Heart beneath Vladimir Ussachevsky. He additionally studied with Morton Subotnick, a pioneer who composed with early synthesizers, in a workshop at New York College and on the California Institute of the Arts. Marshall, who would lengthy be related to a West Coast aesthetic, earned his MFA there in 1971.

His actual awakening at Cal Arts, nonetheless, was occasioned by a profound encounter with the varsity’s Javanese gamelan ensemble, which occurred to be led by one of many island’s foremost fashionable composers, Kanjeng Pangeran Harjo Notoprojo. Marshall studied the music intently, eager to do little else for a while, and in the end spent 4 months in Indonesia.

“That actually turned my considering round,” he mentioned in an interview for Yale College’s Oral Historical past of American Music Collections. “I spotted that the ‘zip and zap, bleep and blap’ form of formally organized digital music I had been making an attempt to do merely wasn’t my approach and that I wanted to discover a slower, deeper approach of approaching digital music.”

In contrast to different composers who had fallen beneath the spell of shimmering bronze devices from the East, Marshall wrote little for gamelan itself; gambuh, a Balinese bamboo flute he performed in a number of items, was the exception. As an alternative, the music influenced how he structured time, little question a response to the expansive, suspended high quality of formality time that’s such a big a part of Indonesia’s pre-industrial cultural legacy. These generously layered surfaces of Marshall’s music would additionally appear to mirror the gamelan in its fixed movement, an imitation of nature. In brief, his experiences put him on a path to pursue what he referred to as “the darkish and the gorgeous and the infinite.”

Musician Ingram Marshall in an undated publicity photograph.

Nonesuch Data / Courtesy of the artist


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Nonesuch Data / Courtesy of the artist


Musician Ingram Marshall in an undated publicity photograph.

Nonesuch Data / Courtesy of the artist

Marshall’s earliest works are text-sound items for tape alone, just like the raspy Cortez (1973). They progress to characteristic reside voices and devices with digital processing – a few of which Marshall carried out himself – along with pre-recorded components, as within the windswept The Fragility Cycles (1976).

Fog Tropes (1982), whose premiere Adams performed, is Marshall’s best-known composition (and the soundtrack for a seasick Leonardo DiCaprio within the opening of the movie Shutter Island). Initially a tape collage of foghorn recordings Marshall made in San Francisco Bay, the composition expanded to incorporate a reside sextet with pairs of trumpets, trombones, and French horns. Utilizing his eager intervallic consciousness, Marshall fashions a texture by which the brass gamers make superb companions to the foghorns with their penetrating wails. The careening soundscape instantly conjures a way of place, paradoxically leaving the listener each enveloped and adrift. Equally, Alacatraz (1984), a collaboration with photographer Jim Bengston, is outlined by the vivid slam of a mighty metal gate.

Though Marshall outlined his music on his personal phrases, he possessed an enormous information and appreciation for classical repertoire. His compositions typically incorporate quotations, together with Beethoven’s Waldstein Sonata (Woodstone, 1982), Bach’s Mass in B minor (Holy Ghosts, 1999), Stravinsky’s Orphée (Orphic Recollections, 2006), and a number of other references to Sibelius (The Fragility Cycles, Orphée, Darkish Waters), with whom Marshall felt a particular affinity. However fairly than utilizing these fragments to middle Western excessive artwork tradition, Marshall positioned them inside broader conceptions of sound—and of the globe.

A lot of his items are elegiac, as in 1997’s Kingdom Come composed in reflection on Yugoslavian Wars, and September Canons, a chunk to commemorate 9/11 written in 2003 for violinist Todd Reynolds. Remarkably, regardless of the violent nature of those historic occasions, the works really feel emotionally grounded.

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Reynolds credit Marshall with “quiet energy—and quiet knowledge.” Composer and pianist Timo Andres explains these works within the context of Marshall’s spirituality, which can characterize his reminiscence in addition to his life.

“A lot of his different items are about grieving, coming to phrases with dying, even discovering a form of ecstatic pleasure within the anticipation of it,” Andres wrote in an e-mail to NPR. “Listening to it’s a form of grieving ritual, connecting us to the bigger pool of human grief. But there may be nothing grandiloquent or overstated about it; he by no means tries to sum something up, shake his fist on the heavens, condemn or consolation. Fairly, one has the sense of a person considering vastness, making an attempt to grasp whereas concurrently realizing it is unimaginable to grasp.”

Ingram Marshall is survived by his spouse Veronica Tomasic, son Clement Marshall, daughter-in-law Samantha and two granddaughters, his daughter Juliet Simon and two grandsons. A live performance in Marshall’s honor is being deliberate at Yale for the 2022-23 educational yr.

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