All-Maffe Symphonic Winds Concert Sets Precedent at Biola
After a full year of preparation, the Biola Symphonic Winds (Bob Feller, conductor) performed a 90-minute concert consisting solely of Maffe's original music. The event was the first of its kind at the 110-year-old school, as there had never been a large ensemble concert with the entirety of its music by a student composer to that point.
Among some of Maffe's crowd favorites ("Into the West," "Fanfare for the Patriot," "Alaska: Crest of the Hinterland," etc.), the concert also featured the world premiere of Maffe's musical epic, The Artisan, commissioned by the Biola Conservatory of Music. The piece was described by Maffe as a musical self-portrait which captured the machine-like work of being a composer for hire and the intimate beauty of furthering oneself and the art through composition. The Artisan consists of two movements—the first, bold and full of the grandeur of its featured instrument, the pipe organ (Ryanne McLaren); and the second, soft and passionate featuring the solo violin (Mikaela Borg).
At the end of the concert, Maffe conducted, "Mort's March," the main theme from the 2017 short film, Mort. (directed by Kianna Bliven).
All-Maffe Symphonic Winds Concert to Be Performed in November
On November 10, 2018 the Biola Symphonic Winds band will put on a concert featuring nearly an hour of Maffe's original music for large ensemble.
The program is expected to be a compilation of pieces for wind ensemble and transcriptions of Maffe's orchestral music. The Biola University Conservatory of music has also commissioned the composer to write a symphony for the band which will be premiered at the concert.
"Less is More"
The old saying proved true on Tuesday when "Patchwork Grey," Maffe's composition for solo harp, won the fourth annual A Piacere Solo Instrument Composition Competition at Biola. The purpose of the competition is to allow student composers to become more adept at writing for specific solo instruments and to improve composition skills in a much more exposed setting, rather than being able to hide behind the facade of thicker instrumentation. "Patchwork Grey" is characterized by its colorful chromaticism despite the practical limitations of the instrument's tuning pedals (listen here). Gretchen Sheetz will perform the music at Biola's upcoming fall composer's concert.
Maffe also won the 'A Piacere' competition in 2015 for "Aficionado" (adjudicated and performed by Ilan Morgenstern, bass trombone) and in 2017 for "A Raven on the Moor" (adjudicated and performed by Maksim Velichkin, cello).
"Cinder Tin" Premieres in Vienna, Austria
The first international performance of Sterling Maffe's music took place in Vienna on June 24, 2018 as part of the Vienna Summer Music Festival. World-renown contemporary classical ensemble PHACE played, "Cinder Tin," a vibrant and provocative piece for the unconventional quartet of flute, clarinet, viola, and cello.
Maffe says of the experience, "Vienna has been known for its rich history in the classical music tradition for hundreds of years. It's a privilege to be able to experience that history and contribute my pebble to the mountain of musical artistry that has come before me."
Maffe's Score for Mort. (2017) Wins Biola's Best Original Score
Maffe's dark, whimsical, and heart-warming score for Mort. (2017) has been honored with the 2018 Biola Film Festival Best Original Score award.
The film (directed by Kianna Bliven) is about a man who has the Midas touch of death and has to perform his duties as the angel of death every day falls in love with a woman who is riddled with demons of her own. Though the plot seems dark on paper, it is executed in such a way that brings the audience both laughter and tears through enduring characters and a captivating story which is complimented by Maffe's dynamic melodies and bright orchestration.
Other nominees this year were Maffe (Hexit), Foster (Beat), Santos (The Bacchae), and Qualkinbush (Verto).
Maffe Runs the Board with Biola Annual Awards
Sterling Maffe continues to gather accolades as he rounds the corner into his final year at the Biola University Conservatory of Music, adding three new awards to his resume.
In the 2018 annual composition contest, Maffe won both first and second place. Karyenda, recently praised by world-famous composer Samuel Barber as an "excellent achievement in orchestral writing," won first place (listen to Karyenda here). Second place was awarded to, "A Raven on the Moor," a solo cello piece (listen to "A Raven on the Moor" here). This anonymous competition was judged this year by Grammy award winning composer Michael Daugherty, one of the most commissioned, performed, and recorded composers on the American concert music scene today.
Maffe was also honored with the 2018 Outstanding Musician Award in the Composition Department. This award is given to the student of highest merit for his or her endeavors as a composer of the 2017-2018 school year both in academia and extracurricularly.
The Frozen King Released
Maffe's second cinematic album (following Legend) has been released worldwide. The Frozen King features an hour of music in a variety of film music styles and instrumentations. The first track, bearing the same name as the album, sets the tone for the compilation of works: epic. A full symphony orchestra and choir, along with the hints of a few electronics.
The rest of the album features soaring strings, an extended piano sketch, and even a performance of the didjeridoo by Maffe himself.
The Frozen King is the most ambitious album Maffe has released to date and commands a fresh and exciting artistic voice unique to the composer.