Get to Know...Charles Halka
Charles Halka’s work for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, and piano, Por las Fuerza las Tierras, received a lot of recognition last year. It earned an Honorable Mention in the Chamber Music Category of the 2016 FNMC Composition Contest and was the winning piece in this year’s Tribeca New Music’s Young Composer Competition. We are excited that the first performance by an FNMC member will occur on Saturday April 29th when John Ross performs it in Tallahassee, Florida. We look forward to more performances in the near future.
Q&A with Charles…
What about new music for the flute appeals to you?
The sheer amount of good and unique new music for flute is overwhelming, partly because of the flexibility of the instrument in terms of color, character, and virtuosity, but also because flutists are some of the most enthusiastic performers of new music. I think these are the reasons why composers keep writing such good music for flute - there's such a rich palette to explore and plenty of performers eager to accompany them into risky or uncharted territory. Every flutist I know is an adventurous and thoughtful performer, so it's the ideal collaborative experience when writing new music for flute.
Describe your musical background and current activities.
I came to composition a little later than many composers do nowadays, but I'm grateful for some pretty diverse musical experiences throughout school and into college (Peabody Conservatory), where I was a piano performance major before pursuing graduate degrees in composition (both at Peabody and at Rice University). Having been involved in classical music as well as jazz and popular music really helped develop my intuition as a composer and performer, but my interest (though certainly not expertise) in electronic music, graphic design, and other literary and visual art informs a good deal of my compositional plans and decisions. My current activities include teaching composition, orchestration, theory, and ear-training at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, where I also co-direct our new-music concert series, and I just finished (March 2017) a new work for dance that will be performed next month in Houston.
Do you have any upcoming events that you would like our friends and followers to know about?
I'm really excited about an upcoming performance in Boston of "Potato Face Blind Man," a piece for voice and mixed chamber ensemble (including flute) I was commissioned to write last year. Callithumpian Consort will perform it on April 20 at New England Conservatory (http://www.callithumpian.org/apr-20th-sicpp-2016-commission/). Also, the work that received Honorable Mention in FNMC's Competition, "Por la Fuerza las Tierras," was the winning piece in this year’s Tribeca New Music’s Young Composer Competition
(http://www.tribecanewmusic.org/2014results/), and TNM will perform the piece NYC sometime this summer or fall.
More About Charles…
Charles Halka’s works have been performed in North America, Europe, and Hong Kong by the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra led by Marin Alsop, the Mexican National Symphony Orchestra, the Lviv Philharmonic, Mivos Quartet, Fort Worth Opera Studio, counter)induction, Volti, Callithumpian Consort, ÓNIX Ensamble (Mexico), PRO ARTE eNsemble (Russia), Aquarius (Belgium), and Jauna Muzika (Lithuania), among others. Performances have taken place at venues and events such as the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, The Kennedy Center, ISCM World Music Days, Foro Internacional de Música Nueva, the Coolidge Auditorium of the Library of Congress, and the Intimacy of Creativity partnership led by composer Bright Sheng.
Halka is a recipient of the Copland House Residency Award, and over the last few years, was in residence with Houston’s critically acclaimed Musiqa (2014-15) and the Foundation for Modern Music (2011-14). Other residencies include those at the MacDowell Colony and the Sarbievijaus Cultural Center in Kražiai, Lithuania, where he wrote And Jill Came Tumbling After, a chamber opera (libretto by John Grimmett) for the Baltic Chamber Opera Theater that was selected for Fort Worth Opera’s 2015 Frontiers showcase. Imaginary Spaces, a dance and percussion project in collaboration with Frame Dance Productions, was awarded support from the Aaron Copland Fund for Music.
Charles earned undergraduate and master’s degrees from The Peabody Conservatory and a doctorate from Rice University. He is Visiting Lecturer at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where he teaches composition, orchestration, and musicianship, and co-directs Nextet, UNLV’s contemporary music ensemble.
More information at www.charleshalka.com
The Flute New Music Consortium is an organization dedicated to the creation and support of new music for the flute.