Composer Spotlight-Owen Eddy
Get to Know...Owen Eddy
It is so fun to see recurring themes in what we learn from composers as well as to discover each composer’s unique musical perspective. Owen Eddy, like many of our composers was inspired to write for the flute by the open approach flutists have to new music. We’re always so pleased that flutists have such a positive reputation among composers! Owen is a saxophonist, another community of instrumentalists who openly embrace new music! Much like Carter Pann, Owen lives by the motto of writing music he would want to listen to! Owen has really diverse musical interests including folk music and jazz. We found it interesting to listen to some of his compositions with this in mind, there’s a definite diversity in his works that reflects the variety of his musical interests. We think you’ll enjoy listening to his finalist work “Mitchell Park, Charleston” which functions as the first movement in a larger work, titled Just Drop a Pin. Members will remember Owen’s work as After I Leave: The Park for flute, piano, and two percussionists (one playing vibraphone and glockenspiel and the other djembe and wind chimes). If you like "Mitchell Park, Charleston" it has not yet been premiered!
Owen is the first military musician we’ve had the pleasure of working with. Owen is stationed at Fort Bragg where he is a staff saxophonist and shop arranger.
Q&A with Owen…
What about new music for the flute appeals to you?
In the beginning it wasn’t so much the flute that appealed to me but the attitude of a flautist I was working with, Kari Boyer (grad student at the Manhattan School of Music). Her willingness not only to play new music but to sit down and discuss the mechanics of the flute piqued my interest in the instrument. Up to that point I was accustomed to people asking me not to ‘prepare’ the inside of their piano or bass clarinetists sweating at the thought of purposeful key clicks. After being introduced into a community of flautists, I found a real willingness to play new music and experiment with modern sounds. The technical and tonal versatility of the flute is something I have always admired, especially as it applies to extended techniques; but in recent months I have been inspired by the alto flutes’ almost primal tone quality. For me, the sound of the alto flute can take the most esoteric composition and lend it a perennial quality.
Who are your favorite “new music” composers and why?
Nico Muhly, John Luther Adams, Marcos Balter and Bryce Dessner are a few of my favorite composers. Nico Muhly has an uncanny ability to write convincingly in drastically different genres when co-writing with other musicians. I also admire the diverse musical community his compositions have espoused. John Luther Adams’ reverence for sound in the natural world deeply effects me. His work “Strange Birds Passing” has a regenerative purifying effect on me. Some of the most incredible flute compositions I have ever heard have come from the composer Marcos Balter. His work with Claire Chase has inspired me to seek a deeper relationship between my music and the performer.
Describe your musical background and current activities.
I grew up near Charlotte, NC playing saxophone, guitar, and piano for jazz and indie rock bands. During that time, I listened to a lot of Bob Dylan and Nick Drake who were (and still are) a source of inspiration for my own writing. During my undergraduate degree, I studied the saxophone, and that’s when I fell in love with new music. After graduation, my wife and I took a leap of faith and moved to Nashville TN where I recently finished my Masters in Composition. Toward the end of my degree I started working for the Army as a saxophonist and occasionally as an arranger. I am just beginning to find my own compositional voice outside of academia. When I am not playing a ceremony around Fort Bragg I do a lot of freelance arranging, and I also enjoy making bread and reading science fiction.
Do you have a guiding principle or consistent sources of inspiration for your music?
Yes, I have one guiding principle for my music, Write the music you want to listen to. This personal axiom often reminds me that I am not married to a genre, style, instrumentation, or even an idea of myself as a composer. Even my own likes and dislikes evolve over time, therefore so does my music. As for sources of inspiration, there are a few that are always with me. The first comes in the form of a quote by A.W. Tozer, “The most important thing about a person is what he thinks about who God is.” This statement often helps me locate within myself the germ of a feeling or idea. Sometimes I am able to bring them to musical fruition. The other is science fiction, namely authors Isaac Asimov and Cixin Liu. These particular inspirations have been impactful because I crave the sense of smallness that God, time, science, and music can give me.
Do you have any upcoming events that you would like our friends and followers to know about?
I just received an artist grant for 2018 which I am using to release “Just Drop a Pin,” a collection of chamber pieces depicting very precise locations. One of which “Mitchell Park, Charleston” was a finalist for your chamber music competition. I am still in the process of finding an ensemble and a recording studio to work with for this release. However, I will continue to post updates at my website oweneddy.com. Also for the last two years my wife Heather and I have been working on a new music inspired folk album titled “The Young American” which we plan to release in 2018. Updates on that project as well as past compositions and arrangements are also on my website.
More About Owen…
A native of South Carolina, Owen Eddy holds a BA in Saxophone Performance from Winthrop University and a MM in Music Composition from Belmont University. He currently works as a Saxophonist and Arranger for the United States Army Band stationed at Fort Bragg.
Owen grew up playing and writing for jazz and indie rock bands around Charlotte NC. The singer-songwriter folk music genre is still an important source of inspiration for his music. His far-ranging tastes have born a versatility in his technique, leading to success in both arranging and composition. His minimalist jazz-inspired works explore themes of science and existence. With the help of several artist grants Owen has enjoyed working with instrumentalists in the studio as well as on the stage.
When Owen isn't bent over the keyboard or jogging around Fort Bragg he enjoys baking bread and reading science fiction.
If you liked Mitchell Park, Charleston (After I Leave: The Park)…
Date of Composition: 2015
Instrumentation: flute and piano
Nevertheless, She Persisted
Date of Composition: 2016
Instrumentation: flute quartet
Date of Composition: 2015
Instrumentation: flute, clarinet, French horn, vibraphone, piano, and bass
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The Flute New Music Consortium is an organization dedicated to the creation and support of new music for the flute.