Ensemble ICC // Interview with Elis Czerniak

Composer Elis Czerniak talks to us about his new work Concentrate, which will be performed by Ensemble ICC on August 15th in the Kevin Barry Room of the National Concert Hall.

Hi Elis, tell us about the concept behind your piece which is being performed by Ensemble on August 15th and your approach to writing for this unique ensemble, timbres that are rarely placed together.

I chose writing for this Ensemble because of the interesting combination of sound obtainable from the group. It is a very thin group of instruments, which I really like, with very set pitch ranges. The wide range of timbres that you can choose from was also a driving force for me.

Have you written for sax, baritone, guitar or viola before? and if so, did your past instrumental writing for any one of those instruments influence your approach to writing this piece?

No I have never written for these instruments combined before. I have written for each one individually so that helped in knowing what was capable. It was then just a matter of sticking them all together and trying to compliment/contrast their stylistic qualities.

Did you workshop with the ensemble and if so how did the interaction with them influence your edits if you made any? 

Yes we had a few workshops and luckily very little edits had to be made. With music that is quite free and timbre based it is always necessary to speak with the performer(s) just to make sure they know what you are looking for. You have to be quite sure of the sound you want otherwise it can get quite messy. 

Has your experience working on this piece instilled a want to continue writing for this collection of instruments/timbres? 

There is always a want to write for new and exciting ensembles regardless of the instrumentation. If the group are up for trying different things and experimenting a little with their instruments, then I don't see why anyone wouldn't want to write for them.

Where does this piece sit in your repertoire? 

This is the first ensemble piece I have written in a while. At the moment I am mainly focusing on works for solo instruments, sometimes with electronics, so it is a nice break from that I suppose.

Do you find that you have a specific style or voice as a composer and if so how would you define it?

I don't think I can answer that with a yes or no. I'm always trying to find a voice, I think thats what being a composer is all about. 

Are you currently influenced by specific tutors or teachers from your time in academia and/or other contemporary active composers? Who are they?

Jonathan Cole, my teacher at the RCM London was a huge influence on me. He opened up a whole new thought process for me about music and introduced me to a lot of my major influences.

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