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We thought you might like to know a little more about the composers we’re going to be featuring on our upcoming CD, which we’re trying to fund through Kickstarter. If you haven’t visited out project site yet, please do and please donate to the cause. We’re very, very excited about the project and we can’t wait to get started, but we need your help to get it off the ground!! Donate and help spread the word!

Since charity starts at home, our first profile features composer and GNE Artistic Director and conductor Armando Bayolo, whose off-the-wall sense of humor keeps us laughing and whose passionate commitment to new music is the anchor to GNE’s commitment to finding, performing and championing new music and up-and-coming composers. We’ll be featuring his piece, Chamber Symphony: Illusory Airs on our upcoming CD. If you’d like a taste of what you’ll be hearing (though better recorded– this was a done in a REALLY live hall) check out the third movement of the piece from a concert we did a couple of years ago:

Armando Bayolo: Chamber Symphony: Illusory Airs, Movement III [audio:|titles=Armando Bayolo – Charmber Symphony: Illusory Airs – Movt III]

GNE: “So, first things first: what inspired you to become a composer?”

Bayolo: “Well, at first the voices in my head told me to burn things. I was worried. After all, I had no idea what my extremely strict parents (who were Dickensian factory workers in Victorian London) would do if I set their “house” (a hovel, really…nay, more of a shoebox) aflame. Thankfully, bout the age of 12 I found a way to channel my crippling dementia into the creative outlet of music, and the rest, as they say, is history (or infamy, depending on your point of view).”

“Okay, maybe not. The serious version comes down to two words: Star Wars. Yes, the George Lucas film. Or, more precisely, the John Williams soundtrack to that film. When I was four I saw Star Wars for the first time, the soundtrack to which marked the first time I’d ever heard an orchestra. From that point on I would go around the house making tunes up in my head, and having no idea what I was doing until I started taking piano lessons at age 12 or so. By then I’d heard stories of my mother’s piano playing and the one piece she’d composed, which, sadly, she never wrote down. I decided that, hey, if my mom could do it, I would too, but I would actually write the thing down.””

“And now, 26 years later, here we are.”

GNE: “What type, style, or genre of music being created right now (be it classical, pop, country, Broadway, whatever) inspires you or interests you the most? In other words, what artists and composers are speaking to you most with their new work?”

Bayolo: “I try to be as varied in my listening as possible. When I first discovered “classical” music I devoured everything I could get my hands on so that by the time I was 18 I had a vast knowledge of the standard repertoire. So in college I devoured a lot of early and recent music. All of that repertoire was incredibly formative and foundational to me. These days, though, I’m particularly interested in the connections between popular music and concert music and how they can inform each other. I continue to be a big Beatles fan (which is like saying you like Beethoven, I suppose) and have been trying, in my music, to apply some of the interesting things they did with their song forms (like having a little coda that doesn’t relate to the rest of the song before it, things like that) to large scale concert music. I’ve also discovered Radiohead in the last six months or so and am a little bit obsessed with them right now. I think what they’re doing is akin to what I’d like to do in concert music but on the other end: trying to apply things from contemporary concert music to the pop language. I’ve also been listening to the New Amsterdam Records crowd, particularly Judd Greenstein, whose music has an infectiously joyous quality that I quite admire and even envy a little bit.”

“And, of course, there’s Andriessen. That guy is to me what Beethoven or Wagner were to composers 100-200 years ago.”

GNE: “What was your inspiration for composing the piece we’re featuring on the CD and what kind of process do/did you go through when composing it or similar pieces?”

Bayolo: “Chamber Symphony, “Illusory Airs,” like most of the rest of my ouvre, involved a complex negotiation with the Dark Lord Mephisto. In essence, my creative life is part of a long-standing bargain my family made with the devil millenia ago that allows us to rule the territories of…”

“…you know what? Forget I said all of that. I’ve said too much already. Let’s just say that the piece was written to give Great Noise Ensemble a significant display piece that it could maintain in its active repertoire. It was written in 2006 while I was teaching at Hamilton College and teaching a course on the history of the symphony, which got me thinking about what the genre is supposed to mean for a contemporary composer and his/her audience. It’s written around a theme that is never completely heard in the piece (hence why it’s an “illusory air”) which, to my mind, represents the connections we all share through technology while still staying separate in the physical world.”

“We’ll go with that. Mephisto would like that.”

For more information about Armando Bayolo’s work and to listen to some examples, please visit his website ( or his Reverbnation site ( For more of his writing, visit

As of today, we have thirteen days to get our project funded, and about $4,500 to go. If you’re a fan of GNE or simply want to find out more about our project, please visit our Kickstarter project website.