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June 21: Composer Scott Wollschleger Releases New Album, Between Breath, on New Focus Recordings

May 7, 2024 | By Katy Salomon
Primo Artists | VP, Public Relations

Katy Salomon | Primo Artists | VP, Public Relations 
katy@primoartists.com | 212.837.8466 

Composer Scott Wollschleger
Releases New Album,
Between Breath

Reflecting an Inventive Composition Process
and Close Artist Collaborations, New Portrait
Album Features Four Commissioned Works
Performed by Their Commissioners:

Violinist Miranda Cuckson, Duo andPlay,
Mezzo-Soprano Lucy Dhegrae,
Pianists Anne Rainwater and Nathaniel LaNasa,
and Trombonist William Lang

Out June 21, 2024 on New Focus Recordings
Pre-Order Between Breath

Physical Copies Available Upon Request

Brooklyn’s Roulette Intermedium Presents Between Breath – June 27, 2024

“a formidable, individual presence” – Alex Ross, The Rest Is Noise


New York, NY (May 7, 2024) – Celebrated for music of “poignant clarity” and “striking intimacy” (The Wire), composer Scott Wollschleger will release his fourth portrait album, Between BreathFriday, June 21, 2024 on New Focus Recordings. 

Radiating both inventive playfulness and intense emotion, the album features four works commissioned from Wollschleger by four separate artists or duos, each of whom performs their own commissioned work on the recording. Artists featured on the album include violinist Miranda Cuckson; the duo andPlay, comprising violinist Maya Bennardo and violist Hannah Levinson; pianist Anne Rainwater with trombonist William Lang; and mezzo-soprano Lucy Dhegrae with pianist Nathaniel LaNasa. The new album is Wollschleger’s first new release since his 2021 album Dark Days with pianist Karl Larson, acclaimed as “mesmerizing… enthralling” (Musical America) and “a collaboration of enormous talent (Take Effect Reviews).

Brooklyn’s Roulette Intermedium will present a Record Release Show for Between Breath on June 27, 2024 at 8:00pm. Featuring performances by Cuckson, Lang and Rainwater, as well as Karl Larson on piano and Kevin Sims on percussion, this concert brings the New York premieres of Wollschleger’s works Between Breath, Lost Anthems, and Fish of the Sea. It also marks the New York Premiere of the hyper-virtuosic Secret Machine No. 7, a major new solo violin work by Wollschleger. The concert will also be livestreamed on the Roulette website and on YouTube.

In the album notes for Between Breath, Wollschleger calls the album the “culmination” of an intense collaborative process with the commissioning artists. Although written over a period of seven years, the featured works are “here woven together as a complete work,” he writes. Sharing a sense of “haunted beauty,” the music of Between Breath captures a sense of what it is to be alive within our human bodies, with all the dynamism and sensory delight that comes with that – as well as the fragility.

Between Breath is a super playful and intense sonic adventure,” Wollschleger writes. “It is also a deeply personal album with each work channeling wild, ecstatic, joyful, melancholic, and unnamable forces bubbling up inside of me as I composed each piece… Each piece requires a huge amount of physical stamina and concentration; many passages push the musicians to their physical limit. They are the true heroes
and navigators of this journey.”

In the first piece featured on this album, Violain, commissioning duo andPlay perform “a piece that celebrates the happy accidents, the creative process, and the weirdness that we so often seek to eradicate from our daily lives,” writes Wollschleger. With its title originating from a typo – a garbled version of “Viola and Violin” – the piece celebrates the “typo aesthetic” in traditional composing, where music was composed by hand and first editions often contained errors. Performed over two tracks by Bennardo and Levinson, the piece is characterized by its fast gestures and unconventional bowing techniques, crafted together collage-style with many of the initial “mistakes” baked in, “because they sounded more interesting that what I had intended,” Wollschleger writes.

The album’s title track, Between Breath, composed in early 2021 and workshopped with Rainwater and Lang that summer, Wollschleger expresses the pandemic-era anxiety and frustration of that moment in an opening “scream” by the trombone, leading into atmospherics created through hovering trombone tones laid over a rumbling bed of low piano harmonics. Structurally, the piece makes use of distinctive effects including a unique overpressure on the trombone, invented by Lang, and several specialized piano preparations, including a configuration in which Rainwater plays inside the piano for much of the piece.

Wollschleger’s composition for Dhegrae and LaNasa, Anyway, where threads go, it all goes well, takes its name from what Wollschleger calls a “fake John Ashberry tweet” originating from a quirky social media account dedicated to the late poet. In this piece, Wollschleger embraces the ambiguous wording of the phrase as a reflection of his creative process, a freeform weaving of musical “threads” that might at first appear directionless, yet find their way to a satisfying destination. For the lyrics in the vocal part, language is “deconstructed” so as to meld with the piano tones, playfully evoking hints of a wholly new language emerging from the sound.

In the album’s final track, Secret Machine no. 7, Wollschleger continues his “Secret Machine” series that explores music creation as a process that’s “machine-like, yet mysteriously organic.” Workshopped over a two-year period with Cuckson, the work evokes a dreamlike train of thought, guided partly by how Cuckson responded physically to the music, moving dance-like to the developing composition while playing in workshop sessions. For this piece, Cuckson’s violin tones have been altered through a scordatura, tuning the violin’s G string down to an E, and a metal mute allowing the violin to emerge and fade into nothing, yielding a wave-like song form and a “cool glow of resonance,” as Wollschleger describes it in his album notes.

This fourth album from Wollschleger follows three critically acclaimed previous releases: Soft Aberration (New Focus Recordings, 2017), American Dream (Cantaloupe Music, 2019) and Dark Days (New Focus Recordings, 2021).

Between Breath Tracklist
Scott Wollschleger – Violain (2017)
     1. Part 1 [6:39]
     2. Part 2 [8:06]
3. Scott Wollschleger – Between Breath (2021) [11:41]
4. Scott Wollschleger – Anyway, where threads go, it all goes well (2017) [9:49]
5. Scott Wollschleger – Secret Machine no. 7 (2023) [17:05]

Total Time: 53:20

Album Credits
All tracks recorded at Oktaven Audio, Yonkers, New York
Recording Engineer: Ryan Streber
Editing, mixing and mastering: Ryan Streber and Scott Wollschleger
Editing assistants: Charles Mueller and Edwin Huet
Piano technician: Dan Jessie
Executive producer: Scott Wollschleger
Cover and booklet design: Traci Larson-Katz
Illustrations based on Everard Digby’s De Arte Natandi
(The Art of Swimming), published in 1587

Program Information
Scott Wollschleger: Between Breath Record Release Show
Thursday, June 27, 2024 at 8:00pm
Roulette Intermedium | Brooklyn, NY
Tickets: $25 advance, $30 at the door, $20 Student/Senior (w/ ID, Senior 65 )
Link: https://roulette.org/event/scott-wollschleger-between-breath-record-release/

Miranda Cuckson, viola and violin
William Lang, trombone
Karl Larson, piano
Anne Rainwater, piano
Kevin Sims, percussion

About Scott Wollschleger
Scott Wollschleger is a composer who grew up in Erie, Pennsylvania and now lives in Brooklyn, New York. His music has been highly praised for its arresting timbres and conceptual originality. Wollschleger “has become a formidable, individual presence” in the contemporary musical landscape (The Rest Is Noise, Alex Ross), and his most recent piano work was praised as a “small masterpiece” (The New York Times, Seth Colter Walls). His distinct musical language explores themes of art in dystopia, the conceptualization of silence, synesthesia, and creative repetition in form; a musical blend that jazz pianist and blogger Ethan Iverson describes as “Morton Feldman meets Thelonious Monk meets H.P. Lovecraft.”

Wollschleger’s concert works can be heard in the United States and abroad. Notable commissions and premieres include those from Adam Tendler, Miranda Cuckson, Isaac Shieh, Karl Larson, The String Orchestra of Brooklyn, Bearthoven, William Lang, Leileihua Lanzilotti, Du.0, and loadbang. His debut album, Soft Aberration, was released on New Focus Recordings and was named a 2017 Notable Recording in The New Yorker. His second album, American Dream, written for the trio Bearthoven, was released on Cantaloupe Music in 2019. His third album, Dark Days, and his work on The String Orchestra of Brooklyn’s most recent album, enfolding, were released on New Focus Recordings in 2021 and 2022. Wollschleger's music is published by Project Schott New York.  

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