...Rio Grande Gorge...yeah...

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Robert Honstein is a composer, pianist, singer, and arranger living in Austin, TX. Currently he is pursuing a Masters of Music degree in composition at UT Austin where his teachers have included Donald Gratham, Dan Welcher, Kevin Puts and Russell Pinkston. Prior to studies at UT, Robert earned a BA in Music from Yale Univeristy. While at Yale he sang with the Yale Whiffenpoofs, a touring vocal ensemble that took him from the White House to Nepal, among many other wild and wooly destinations. His teachers at Yale included John Halle, Matthew Suttor, and Kathryn Alexander. Since moving to Austin, Robert has been active as a singer and pianist, performing with a diverse number of groups including Conspirare, the Texas Early Music Project, and St. David's Episcopal church. As a composer Robert's work has been eclectic. He writes for whatever opportunities come his way, which recently have included works for choir, large chamber ensemble, saxophone quartet, and an upcoming brass quintet. Some recent honors include a 2006 Morton Gould Young Composers Award for his piece 'Night Mixes' for 15 player chamber ensemble, and the selection of his work 'Waterloo Dance Hall' for Sax Quartet for the 2006 SCI National Student Conference. When not music making Robert can be found on his bike, on his feet, or on the couch watching his favoriteTelenovela (to practice his spanish, of course!)

Compositions

Night Mixes for Large Ensemble


PDF score

Night mixes is a short essay on the ebb and flow of small rhythmic phrases beneath the arching contours of a plaintive lyrical line. The title, Night Mixes, refers to both the nocturnal mood evoked by the music and the formal idea of repeated iterations of the same melody, each time slightly recomposed and slightly altered by the slowly changing accompaniment underneath.


Waterloo Dance Hall for Sax Quartet


PDF score

Waterloo Dance Hall is a joyful romp through a beer-cloud maze of smooth tunes and toe-tapping dance rhythms. The title takes its cue from a popular watering hole in Austin, TX: the Waterloo Ice House. Following a certain night of revelry, which included a few longnecks, spirited full-body gyrations, and an excellent afro-pop band, I began to compose the work before you today. After some time, it became apparent that the music I had written was in many ways a reflection and fantasy on the experiences of that evening. As such, Waterloo Dance Hall is a kind of musical vignette whose structure gives form to a story that may or may not have actually unfolded that spirited evening. In either case, I hope you enjoy.


Barton's Blues for Solo Guitar


PDF score

Bartonís Blues is most emphatically a Ďplaceí piece. That is to say, I absolutely would not have written it had I not moved to Austin. This is true in the most obvious sense, namely that if I hadnít moved here I wouldnít have been involved in the Hammer/Nail project, but also in the sense that I would not have used the kind of material I used had it not been for my recent exodus from the frosty deserts of the northeast. I started the project wanting to write something idiomatic for guitar, but also something that addressed the questions of what a guitar, as a sort of abstract symbol, meant to me and to others. These questions had many answers, of course, but I eventually settled on the idea of guitar as expressive tool for the wayfaring traveler. So basically I had this concept, romanticized and fictionalized, of some freeloading vagrant trainhopping around the countryside with cares thrown to the wind, guitar in one hand, and probably something illegal in the other. Bartonís Blues is a small account of his journey. It moves from a care-free opening, to someplace a bit darker and a bit less clear, and finally back to where he came from, no worse for the wear, but happy all the same to have not strayed too far. I would like to thank Jon Yerby for his patience and diligence throughout this project, and also for his invaluable assistance in editing and revising the score.


Incantation for Alto Flute and Double BAss


PDF score

As the title Incantation suggests, this piece has an air of the supernatural about it. I like to think of man-witches crouched in shadows and alleys, chanting over cauldrons of burning refuse and soiled underwear, slowly raising their voices as each spell approaches its terrible conclusion. Well, thatís not exactly what I had in mind, but nonetheless, the piece does involve the repeated unfolding of a single, unchanging idea, where the climax comes not from the development of this idea, but through the continual recontextualization of successive recitations of the idea. That said, you probably didnít need to know any of this to enjoy my piece. Although, pretending to be a man-witch could help, or at the very least proffer some well-deserved amusement.