John Kosch


website: johnkosch.com
e-mail: johnkosch@johnkosch.com

John Kosch is a composer and arranger currently living in Lawrence, Kansas. His music draws from a variety of styles and genres, including both popular and classical influences. He has won several awards for compositions in contrasting idioms, including: A Student Downbeat Award (jazz orchestra), a Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Award (big band), first place in the NAfME Young Composers Compeition (SATB choir), and a merit award from the Tribeca New Music Young Composer Competition (percussion ensemble). Before moving to Kansas, he worked as an instrumental music teacher and church choir director in central Nebraska. He holds a bachelor’s degree in music education from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

If you wish to commission John, please send an e-mail to johnkosch@johnkosch.com . Whether you need an original work or an arrangement, all requests are welcome!

Compositions

Constellations
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"Constellations" an experiment of mine in which I tried to write serial music that sounds tonal. This piano piece starts with a series of chords, each containing 4 notes. The first 3 chords contain all 12 pitches of the octave, as do the next 3 chords. I built most of these chords in thirds so they remind us of sonorities commonly used in popular music. These chords serve as tonal islands (or constellations, if you will) amidst other components that are freely atonal. The melody enters, using tones mostly contained in the chords, with a few exceptions. Nonetheless, the melody is a tone row – a series of 12 unique pitches.

The second chord progression uses chords that are an inversion or reflection of the chords in the first section. The melody is loosely inverted as well (I altered the first half to better fit the harmony – the second half is a literal reflection). Since I was flipping everything on its head, I inverted the texture as well. The melody occurs in octaves in the left hand, with an accompanying figure in the right.

The relationship between the two reflections becomes more clear at the end of the piece when the tone rows occur simultaneously. We hear them without rhythmic or harmonic embellishment, and their atonal nature is obvious. This comes as a contrast to the previous section, which uses components of the tone rows in a deliberately tonal fashion. The piece then ends as it began, with the first six chords that started the piece.
Spectrum (mvt. 1 "Crystalline")
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Spectrum is an experiment in tone color. Essentially, it is a survey of the full spectrum of colors offered by the percussion ensemble. Each movement explores a particular subset of percussion instruments: Crystalline uses metal percussion; Membranic uses drums with membranes; Ligneous uses wood percussion. Similar musical ideas return in every movement, but they are altered slightly to more appropriately fit the character of that respective subset. The metal instruments evoke a cold and eerie feeling. In contrast, Membranic presents similar material in a more intense and aggressive manner, and the wooden instruments of Ligneous provide a more organic, “folky” character.
Spectrum (mvt. 2 "Membranic")
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Spectrum is an experiment in tone color. Essentially, it is a survey of the full spectrum of colors offered by the percussion ensemble. Each movement explores a particular subset of percussion instruments: Crystalline uses metal percussion; Membranic uses drums with membranes; Ligneous uses wood percussion. Similar musical ideas return in every movement, but they are altered slightly to more appropriately fit the character of that respective subset. The metal instruments evoke a cold and eerie feeling. In contrast, Membranic presents similar material in a more intense and aggressive manner, and the wooden instruments of Ligneous provide a more organic, “folky” character.
Listen to a Jubilant Song
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This is a setting of a text by Walt Whitman, performed by the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) National Honor Choir under the direction of Anton Armstrong.