CONNECT with Omar Carmenates
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Navona Records offers listeners a fresh taste of today's leading innovators in orchestral, chamber, instrumental, and experimental music as well as prime pieces of classic repertoire. Our music is meticulously performed by the finest musicians and handpicked to ensure the most rewarding listening experience.
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John Psathas, ONZM (composer)
The works of Greek New Zealand composer John Psathas emerge from a truly dazzling 21st century backdrop, where dynamic collaboration with creative masters from all corners of the physical and artistic globe result in outcomes that are visionary, moving, and inspired.
From projects with jazz legends Michael Brecker and Joshua Redman, to an ebook scoring collaboration with Salman Rushdie, from a recording session with the Grand Mufti in Paris's Grand Mosque, to a Billboard classical-chart-topping album with System of a Down frontman Serj Tankian, Psathas' musical journey weaves through a myriad of genres. He has moved concert audiences in more than 50 countries on all 7 continents (yes, even Antarctica).
Early career collaborations included working with such luminaries as Sir Mark Elder, Kristjan Jarvi, the Takacs Quartet, Lara St. John, the Netherlands Blazers Ensemble, Dame Evelyn Glennie, Edo de Wart, Joanna MacGregor, Pedro Carneiro, the Halle Orchestra, The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, the Strasbourg Philharmonic Orchestra, Symphony Orchestra of Emilia Romagna "Arturo Toscanini," the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, and many more. Then followed a period of intense creative exploration in the worlds of electronica and jazz, and a series of mega-projects (such as scoring much of the opening ceremony of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games). All of this has led to an explosion of first-hand collaborations with artists from dozens of musical traditions spanning Asia, Europe, North and South America, Africa, and Australasia.
Psathas is now developing projects that integrate the many strands of this creative journey. Much of his recent work has social and historical commentary at its core. The film White Lies (original film score) depicts a head-on clash of beliefs and the nature of identity in early NZ European settler society. Between Zero and One is inspired by ancient and modern rhythms, and brings musicians from around the world into the concert space via interactive projection, transforming and challenging the traditional experience of fixed-location, temporally contained performance. 100 Years (in collaboration with the world's most famous living Armenian, Serj Tankian) is an unflinching exploration and remembrance of the Armenian Genocide which began in 1915. Most recently, the epic and experimental No Man’s Land project overtly challenges the accepted handling of WWI commemoration. No Man's Land involved filming and integrating 150 musicians from more than 25 different countries, including Oum El Ghaït (Morocco), Meeta Pandit (India), Bijan Chemirani (Iran/France), Márta Sebestyén (Hungary), Vagelis Karipis (Greece), Refugees of Rap (Syria), and Derya Türkan and Sadrettin Özçimi (Turkey).
Psathas’ music has achieved a level of international success unprecedented in New Zealand history, and he is now considered one of the three most important living composers of the Greek Diaspora. johnpsathas.com
Responses to the premiere season of No Man's Land
“The third part is called Shellshock – this is the bit that grabbed me and I don’t think I’ll ever forget…. these drums building this rhythm, and then at the very end, a couple of Palestinian-Syrian rappers…. it all culminated in this huge rhythmic burst and then there was a silence and the video stopped, and I didn’t just gasp…. I just cried, it was so monumental.”
—Rachel Hyde, Upbeat, Radio New Zealand 3 March 2016
“We were all on our feet at the end, wiping back tears and smiling from ear to ear.”
—Groove FM, Wellington, New Zealand 3 March 2016
“I found it stunning, in every sense of the word. The complexity of the music, so varied yet seamlessly woven together, synching with the visuals; the structure of the piece and the journey that it took us on: as a whole it was so uplifting, thought-provoking and so emotionally charged. It took me away to some place deep, and made me consider aspects of WWI and its relationship with my own family that I had not fully allowed myself to approach before. This has been the highlight of the Festival for me, and in fact for far more than the Festival: I can’t remember the last time I attended something so powerful and affecting. Thank you.”
Omar Carmenates is currently the Associate Professor of Percussion at Furman University in Greenville SC. He holds a Doctor of Music degree from Florida State University, a Master of Music Degree in Percussion Performance from the University of North Texas, and a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from the University of Central Florida.
Omar is also a versatile performer with a strong interest in performing and recording contemporary solo and chamber music. His debut solo recording, entitled The Gaia Theory, was released in 2013 and he can also be heard on the Cantaloupe Records release of John Luther Adams’ concert-length Inuksuit for 9-99 percussionists, a work that he both co-commissioned and directed in its United States premiere.
Omar is a proud endorser/artist for Grover Pro Percussion, Vic Firth, Inc. Remo Drumheads, Sabian Cymbals, and Pearl Corporation/Adams Musical Instruments.
Justin Alexander is an Assistant Professor of Music at Virginia Commonwealth University where he teaches Applied Percussion Lessons, Percussion Methods and Techniques, Introduction to World Musical Styles, Music and Dance Forms, and directs the VCU Percussion Ensemble. Alexander is a founding member of Novus Percutere, with percussionist Dr. Luis Rivera, and The AarK Duo, with flutist Dr. Tabatha Easley. Recent highlights include collaborative performances in Sweden, Australia, the Percussive Arts Society International Convention, and at the 6th International Conference on Music and Minimalism in Knoxville TN. As a soloist, Alexander focuses on the creation of new works for percussion through commissions and compositions specifically focusing on post-minimalist/process/iterative keyboard music, non-western percussion, improvisation, and drum set. Alexander has commissioned, premiered, and recorded works by noted composers John Luther Adams, Christopher Adler, Adam Silverman, Blake Tyson, Halim El-Dabh, Ivan Treviño, and Brian Nozny. Alexander currently holds the position of Principal Percussion with the Wintergreen Summer Performing Arts Festival, and appears regularly with The Richmond Symphony. He has performed with The Florida Orchestra, The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, The Aspen Festival Orchestra, The Eastern Music Festival Faculty Orchestra, and the Tallahassee Symphony.
Alexander currently serves as President of the Virginia / Washington, D.C. chapter of the Percussive Arts Society. He has served on the PAS University Pedagogy Committee, PAS Drum Set Committee, and has published articles in Percussive Notes, the official research journal of PAS.
Alexander earned his Doctorate of Music from The Florida State University in Tallahassee FL. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Central Arkansas. Alexander’s primary teachers include Dr. John Parks, Dr. Blake Tyson, and Mr. Leon Anderson. He is an endorser of Pearl /Adams musical instruments, Zildjian cymbals, Vic Firth sticks and mallets, Grover Pro Percussion, and Remo drumheads.
Born in New York and raised in California, DANIEL KOPPELMAN has gained experience with many different musical traditions—classical and popular, composed and improvised, acoustic and electronic—which has led him to explore their intersections in search of new possibilities for performing, teaching, and creating music. Koppelman's current performance interests include digital signal processing of acoustic piano and improvisation with various real-time controllers in conjunction with Cycling '74's Max/MSP and Ableton Live software. He has recorded for CRI, New World Records, Neuma Records, Capstone, SEAMUS, C74, Everglade, and Innova. His 2005 2-disc CD/DVD set of 21st-century music for piano and electronics, Escapement, was hailed by Keyboard Magazine as "engaging, intelligent, and unpretentious." Koppelman holds degrees from San Francisco State University (B.M.), Indiana University (M.M.), and the University of California at San Diego (Ph.D.), where he was a Regents Fellow; his piano teachers have included Wayne Peterson, James Tocco, Cecil Lytle, and Aleck Karis. Currently Professor and Director of Music Technology at Furman University in Greenville SC, Koppelman has been a resident artist at STEIM in Amsterdam, the Institute of Sonology in The Hague, and the Center for Research in Computing and the Arts in La Jolla CA. In 2008 he was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to teach courses in Odessa, Ukraine in contemporary American music and the creative use of new technological tools. In 2009 his Fulbright was extended to provide for lecturing and concertizing across Ukraine. Koppelman combines with Ruth Neville to form duo runedako; their recent CD Recombinant Nocturnes features music for piano and electronics by Benjamin Broening.