It’s been a productive year for CSU Monterey Bay music lecturer Lanier Sammons. During the last 12 months, he’s won awards from two national organizations and been chosen an artist-in-residence by a Santa Cruz museum.
His composition, D.C. Home, won a top honor in the Young Composers Competition sponsored by the National Association of Composers/U.S.A.
The idea for the percussion quartet originated on a train trip from New York to Charlottesville, Va. With nothing else to do, he stared out the window, “and was rewarded with a striking scene,” he said.
“In the sky, a warm, ochre sun sat nearly motionless even as the train sped on. Along the horizon below the sun, a farmhouse slowly plodded past. The fields stretching toward me in front of the house accelerated to a gallop. Finally, just in front of my eyes, a thin layer of pines zipped by in a deep green blur. What I saw was undeniably a landscape, but it was undeniably not tranquil; each layer resolutely moved by at its own speed, refusing to coalesce into a unified, pastoral image.”
D.C. Home marks his attempt at realizing this experience in musical terms. Like the scene out his train window, “the music moves in layers, each of which possesses its own temporal identity,” he said.
And, he has been selected for the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History’s new participatory performing artist-in-residence program. His eight-week residency will culminate with the premiere of a new composition at the museum’s Santa Cruz Music Festival on Aug. 16.
Dr. Sammons, a composer and guitarist, teaches analogue mixing and digital editing as well as the Music and Performing Arts capstone class and master classes.
His music explores ideas such as audience interactivity, improvisation, the intersection of popular and classical music, and the pairing of electronic and acoustic sound. As a performer, he explores multiple genres on electric guitar, classical guitar and other instruments.
He earned a bachelor’s degree from Columbia University and a master’s and Ph.D. from the University of Virginia.
His research interests include composition and audience-interactive music, the relationship between play and composition, new music for the guitar, and the intersection and overlap between "popular" music and "art" music.
Last year, he was the recipient of an ASCAP Plus Award in the concert music division. The award is given by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, and is based on the unique value of each composer’s catalog of original compositions as well as recent performances.
According to the organization, the grants support the growth and development of the nation’s musical future.
Read more about Dr. Sammons.