Fulbright Scholar to Hungary 2019 and Fulbright Specialist to the Philippines

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Artist Statement

Chain of Circumstances for solo piano or piano four-hands with optional solo dancer and/or interactive computer music was written in 2020 by Joseph Klein, Chair of the Composition Department at the University of North Texas. The piece explores aspects of recombinance, modularity, and non-linear musical structures. It is conceived as a series of disparate, distinctive, and relatively static musical states that provides an ever-changing sonic canvas, which the pianist(s) may alter at will. In performances that include solo dancer and/or electronics, the result is a kind of dynamic and unpredictable “feedback loop” between the various elements.

Chain of Circumstances was originally written for pianist Richard Shuster and dancer Jordan Fuchs and was made possible by a grant from Texas Woman’s University where they are both professors. In the spring of 2021, when all the previously scheduled rehearsals and performances of Chain of Circumstances were postponed due to the pandemic, we decided to present the piece in video format as an alternative. Each of us worked in isolation to produce the separate elements of the work (piano audio, piano video, dance video). Then the video realization was painstakingly assembled. This first version of Chain of Circumstances, left, seems to capture the sense of languishing, frustration, and profound loss we were all feeling. Looking back, we recognize that the pandemic situation involuntarily impacted the interpretation of the piece and reflected our despair during that very difficult time.

Once restrictions were lifted in the fall of 2021, we were reunited for rehearsals in our familiar physical spaces. Live performances of various versions of Chain of Circumstances happened throughout the state of Texas and in Budapest, Hungary. These collaborative performances were infused with emotional intensity and mutual hyper-awareness which could have only been achieved through actual physical interaction. The experience of live performance presented an opportunity to engage in a space of heightened attention to sound, tone, gesture, time, space, movement, and memory through negotiating the composition. In this space, both pianist and dancer were responsive to the decision-making of each other in the moment of performance, working within the constraints and freedoms of the piece, which provided the foundational structure. The intermedia video, right, which is from a performance in January 2022 in the Merrill Ellis Theater at the University of North Texas, demonstrates these intensely expressive interactions, and celebrate our reunion through live performance.

The piano duo version, below, documents yet another realization of Chain of Circumstances that took place in March 2022 in the Recital Hall at the University of North Texas. The intimate pianist-to-pianist interactions in this version cover a wide range of emotional territory ranging from playful affection to antagonistic hostility. Again, a sense of mutual hyper-awareness pervades this interpretation.

Chain of Circumstances — Video Realization, 2020
Richard Shuster, pianist
Jordan Fuchs, dancer and choreographer
Joseph Klein, audio and video producer
Dayna Ballenger, lighting designer (dance)
Danielle Willis, camera operator (dance)

Chain of Circumstances — Piano Duo Version, 2022
Richard Shuster and Éva Polgár, pianists
Performed March 28, 2022, University of North Texas, Recital Hall

Chain of Circumstances — Intermedia Version, 2022
Richard Shuster, pianist
Jordan Fuchs, dancer and choreographer
Joseph Klein, producer and editor
Stephen Lucas, intermedia software designer
Christopher Poovey, lighting designer
Christine McKinney & Danielle Willis, videographers (intermedia)
Performed January 31, 2022, University of North Texas, Merrill Ellis Intermedia Theater