Get to Know...Oliver Caplan
One of the things we love about the FNMC Composition Contest is that it provides us with an opportunity to learn about so much great new music of such diverse styles, all of which is beautiful in its own way. Often times people make certain assumptions about what “new” music sounds like. But new music is anything that is recently composed, there is no one new music style. Oliver Caplan is a composer who unabashedly embraces a Romantic style and composes some really beautiful music in the process. His work, My Elephant Cloud for flute, clarinet, violin, and cello, was named an honorable mention in 2014 FNMC Composition Contest. It can be heard on his first album Illuminations and on his Soundcloud page.
Q&A with Oliver…
What inspires you as a composer?
In my music, the geographies of people, places and ideas intertwine to become tales of transformation. From nature to world affairs, my compositions have included works inspired by Jane Goodall, Frederick Law Olmsted, and the Chinese Folk Novel Journey to the West. My goal as a composer is to create an emotional journey for audience members and connect them to music’s incredible ability to touch something deeply human inside of us, a place that words do not always reach.
Tell us a bit about your compositional process
The two instruments in my composing studio are a piano and a piccolo. One of my composing secrets, is that when I am working on breathing and articulation for winds and brass, I play all the parts on my piccolo. So if I’m working on orchestration for a 75-piece symphony, you might find me testing the Tuba part three octaves up! When I was young, I learned to play the flute in 5th grade, and performed on piccolo with the Stuyvesant High School Symphonic Band and the Dartmouth College Marching Band. The flute remains near and dear to my heart; whenever I’m composing for flute, I feel like I’m writing for my kin.
Do you have any upcoming events that you would like our friends and followers to know about?
Recently, a nationwide consortium of 12 ensembles commissioned me to compose a companion piece for the instrumentation of Stravinsky’s beloved Octet (flute, clarinet, 2 bassoons, 2 trumpets, 2 trombones). Leave it to Stravinsky to think up such a quirky and bottom-heavy instrumentation! My composition Krummholz Variations is a set of variations inspired by the alpine world. I had fun finding my own voice with these sonorities, and have really enjoyed being part of a larger conversation with this work.
I’m currently working on my next album You Are Not Alone, with performances by Juventas New Music Ensemble (Lidiya Yankovskaya, Artistic Director). You Are Not Alone will raise awareness about breast cancer, marriage equality and the environment through four deeply personal chamber works: Love Letters (flute, clarinet, string quartet), You Are Not Alone (piano trio), To the Sea (string quartet), and Connect All (soprano, horn, piano).
You can listen to samples of my music on my website, www.olivercaplan.com. Also, NewMusicShelf is carrying sheet music from my catalog (there are a few works up right now, with more coming soon). If you like what you hear, don’t hesitate to drop a line. I’m always looking for new collaborators!
More About Oliver….
With memorable melodies and colorful interplay, composer Oliver Caplan’s music expresses a deeply felt romanticism. Mr. Caplan’s music has been presented in over 120 public performances, including the Nebraska Chamber Players, North/South Consonance, Trio Veritas and Schola Cantorum of Boston. He has been commissioned by the Atlanta Chamber Players, Bronx Arts Ensemble, Bella Piano Trio, Columbia University Wind
Ensemble, Brookline Symphony Orchestra, Juventas and El Sistema Somerville, among others. Accolades include a Special Citation for the American Prize in Orchestral Composition, Veridian Symphony Competition Wins, the Fifth House Ensemble Young Composer Competition Grand Prize, seven ASCAP Awards, and fellowships at VCCA and the Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts. Recordings of Mr. Caplan’s music include his 2012 debut album Illuminations, 2015 EP Moon Over Appalachia, and a track on the Sinfonietta of Riverdale’s 2016 album New World Serenade (Albany Records). Mr. Caplan (b. 1982) resides in Medford, Massachusetts. He was raised in the Bronx, New York, studied Music and Geography at Dartmouth College (B.A. 2004) and Composition at the Boston Conservatory (M.M. 2006). An avid hiker, Mr. Caplan finds inspiration through time outdoors.
If you liked My Elephant Cloud…
A Midsummer Night’s Dream flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano 11’ 2010
Chasing Dreams for Later Light nonet 30’ 2014
Every Iridescent Chip of Ice SSAA w/flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano 8’ 2009
Four flute, bassoon, guitar, vibraphone 4’ 2004
Is There a Word That Means Return? narrator, bass/baritone, pierrot 10’ 2010
Journey to the West orchestra w/ solo flute and solo Erhu (or solo violin) 16’ 2011
Krummholz Variations octet 13’00 2016
Laugh • Stay • Dance flute, clarinet, violin, cello 7’ 2006
Love Letters flute, clarinet, string quartet 15’ 2015
My Elephant Cloud flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano 8’ 2011
Quintet flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano 3’ 2004
Revelry vocal quartet, flute, violin 4’ 2003
Song on May Morning SATB w/ flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano 5’ 2011