OU Faculty Member’s CD Features Emerging Female Composers

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Overheard: New Music for Oboe and English Horn, the second album from Ohio University musician Michele Fiala, predominantly features emerging North American female composers.

Because male composers have received more exposure in the field of music composition, Fiala sought out women for the project who "are just getting off the ground or have just recently turned to composing full-time," she says.

Each composer took between three to six months to write an original piece for Fiala's new album.

She and the composers exchanged feedback about the realization of the compositions, either during the rehearsal and recording process or afterwards.

Fiala says the pieces, which last from six to 17 minutes, evoke specific images. One image is based on the composer's child waking up in the middle of the night asking for peaches; another piece was inspired by the waters in the Bay of Fundy.

She also asked the composers to give oboe and piano equal presence in the pieces, in contrast to what she describes as the "boom, chuck, chuck" piano accompaniment patterns featured in some oboe compositions.

In addition, some pieces incorporate "extended techniques," such as playing multiple notes on an oboe at a time. These techniques have grown in popularity since the 1960s, she explains, and are appearing in more tonal compositions.

"Now composers don't write pieces just to use extended techniques, but rather to show an emotion or to really be a point in the piece that's expressive," she says.

After the pieces were finished, Fiala rehearsed and recorded the CD, primarily in the School of Music's Recital Hall. Next, she and the composers sifted through hundreds of hours of takes.

The pieces were then mastered and sent to MSR Classics, an independent classical record label, for distribution in November.

Fiala plans to perform the various new songs from Overheard around the United States and perhaps in Europe this summer. She also hopes to contribute to other musicians' recordings and pursue additional solo albums.

"I'd like to continue exploring new repertoire and performing it," she says, "and hopefully I can do this again someday soon."

This article appears in the Spring/Summer 2012 issue of Ohio University's Perspectives magazine.