LiveWire and Meeting of Minds

Anthony Brandt composer

Musiqa
Evie Chen, Nanki Chugh, Astrid Nakamura, Jacob Schafer violin
Sebastian Stefanovic, Molly Wise viola
Bree Ahern, Christopher Ellis cello

Release Date: September 6, 2024
Catalog #: NV6660
Format: Digital

Anthony Brandt’s LIVEWIRE and MEETING OF MINDS features two innovative dance scores created for collaborations with NobleMotion Dance and the University of Houston IUCRC BRAIN Center that were part performance and part scientific experiment. In order to better understand how brains interact, several dancers wore mobile brain-body imaging devices, with live visualizations of the neural synchrony between their brains displayed in real time. Brandt’s music offers “sonic brain scans” that explore our mental lives and how we engage with others, from our most automated behavior to our most flexible and dynamic. These string quartets celebrate the human mind and the way it shapes our reality.

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Track Listing & Credits

# Title Composer Performer
01 LiveWire: I. Automated behavior Anthony Brandt Musiqa | Jacob Schafer, Evie Chen - violin; Sebastian Stefanovic, viola; Bree Ahern, cello 6:09
02 LiveWire: II. Repetition suppression Anthony Brandt Musiqa | Jacob Schafer, Evie Chen - violin; Sebastian Stefanovic, viola; Bree Ahern, cello 3:06
03 LiveWire: III. The internal model of reality Anthony Brandt Musiqa | Jacob Schafer, Evie Chen - violin; Sebastian Stefanovic, viola; Bree Ahern, cello 2:17
04 LiveWire: IV. The serial order effect Anthony Brandt Musiqa | Jacob Schafer, Evie Chen - violin; Sebastian Stefanovic, viola; Bree Ahern, cello 7:59
05 LiveWire: V. The dynamism of thought Anthony Brandt Musiqa | Jacob Schafer, Evie Chen - violin; Sebastian Stefanovic, viola; Bree Ahern, cello 8:22
06 Meeting of Minds: I Anthony Brandt Musiqa | Astrid Nakamura, Nanki Chugh - violin; Molly Wise, viola; Christopher Ellis, cello 1:51
07 Meeting of Minds: II Anthony Brandt Musiqa | Astrid Nakamura, Nanki Chugh - violin; Molly Wise, viola; Christopher Ellis, cello 2:48
08 Meeting of Minds: III Anthony Brandt Musiqa | Astrid Nakamura, Nanki Chugh - violin; Molly Wise, viola; Christopher Ellis, cello 3:27
09 Meeting of Minds: IV Anthony Brandt Musiqa | Astrid Nakamura, Nanki Chugh - violin; Molly Wise, viola; Christopher Ellis, cello 3:24
10 Meeting of Minds: V Anthony Brandt Musiqa | Astrid Nakamura, Nanki Chugh - violin; Molly Wise, viola; Christopher Ellis, cello 6:09
11 Meeting of Minds: VI Anthony Brandt Musiqa | Astrid Nakamura, Nanki Chugh - violin; Molly Wise, viola; Christopher Ellis, cello 2:55
12 Meeting of Minds: VII Anthony Brandt Musiqa | Astrid Nakamura, Nanki Chugh - violin; Molly Wise, viola; Christopher Ellis, cello 4:14
13 Meeting of Minds: VIII Anthony Brandt Musiqa | Astrid Nakamura, Nanki Chugh - violin; Molly Wise, viola; Christopher Ellis, cello 3:40
14 Meeting of Minds: IX Anthony Brandt Musiqa | Astrid Nakamura, Nanki Chugh - violin; Molly Wise, viola; Christopher Ellis, cello 2:51
15 Meeting of Minds: X Anthony Brandt Musiqa | Astrid Nakamura, Nanki Chugh - violin; Molly Wise, viola; Christopher Ellis, cello 3:38

LiveWire
Recorded October 22, 2021 at Duncan Hall, The Shepherd School of Music, Rice University in Houston TX
Session Engineer Francis X. Schmidt
Editing & Mixing Francis X. Schmidt

Meeting of Minds
Recorded October 15 & 29, 2023 at Stude Hall, The Shepherd School of Music, Rice University in Houston TX
Session Engineer Andrew Bradley
Editing & Mixing Andrew Bradley

Mastering Melanie Montgomery

Photography by Lynn Lane

Executive Producer Bob Lord

VP of A&R Brandon MacNeil
A&R Danielle Sullivan

VP of Production Jan Košulič
Audio Director Lucas Paquette

VP, Design & Marketing Brett Picknell
Art Director Ryan Harrison
Design Morgan Hauber
Publicity Chelsea Kornago
Digital Marketing Manager Brett Iannucci

Artist Information

Anthony Brandt

Composer

Composer Anthony Brandt (b. 1961) earned his degrees from California Institute of the Arts (M.A. 1987) and Harvard University (B.A. 1983, Ph.D. 1993). His honors include a Koussevitzky Commission from the Library of Congress and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Meet-the-Composer, the Houston Arts Alliance, the New England Foundation for the Arts, and the Margaret Fairbank Jory Copying Assistance Program. He is a three-time MacDowell fellow, and has also been a fellow at Copland House, the Tanglewood Institute, Wellesley Composers Conference, and the Djerassi Resident Artists Colony, a Visiting Composer at the Bowdoin International Festival, the FICA Festival at the University of Veracruz, the Bremen Musikfest, Baltimore’s New Chamber Arts Festival, Southwestern University, SUNY- Buffalo and Cleveland State University, and Composer-in-Residence of Houston’s OrchestraX and the International Festival of Music in Morelia, Mexico.

Musiqa

ensemble

Musiqa celebrates the creative arts through performances highlighting contemporary concert music from living composers paired with literature, film, theater, art, dance, and other contemporary art forms. Since its founding in 2002, Musiqa has performed the works of more than 300 living composers, including over 80 world premieres. Musiqa commissions multiple new works every year and has collaborated with hundreds of dancers, actors, poets, filmmakers, and other artists from Houston and beyond. Musiqa has provided educational programs for tens of thousands of young people, and been recognized nationally for its cutting-edge programs, twice receiving the CMA/ASCAP Adventurous Programming Award.

musiqa.org

Evie Chen

violin

Evie Chen began her violin studies under the guidance of Jenny Rudin in Palo Alto CA. She made her solo debut with the Fremont Symphony Orchestra at age 8 after winning the Nafisa Taghioff Award in the FSO’s 2000 Young Artists Competition. Since then, she has garnered accolades at numerous competitions, performing concertos and solo works with the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra, Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra, California Youth Symphony, Eastman Philharmonia, the Shepherd School Symphony Orchestra, and the Houston Symphony Orchestra.

A versatile violinist, Chen is deeply committed to education and chamber music. She is a familiar face at the Bay View Summer Institute and Kalmia Garden Music and Arts where she shares her expertise as an educator and a chamber musician. Her passion for musical collaboration is evident in her tours with her piano trio and frequent chamber music performances with friends and colleagues. Chen holds a D.M.A. and M.M. from Rice University, studying with Paul Kantor. She attained a B.M. in Violin Performance and a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Rochester and Eastman School of Music, where she was awarded the Performer’s Certificate under the tutelage of Mikhail Kopelman.

music.utk.edu/people/evie-chen

Nanki Chugh

violin

Nanki Chugh, an Indian-American violinist from Southern California, is currently pursuing her master’s degree in violin performance with Paul Kantor at Rice University. She received a B.S. degree in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry from Yale University in 2022, and was the concertmistress during Yale Symphony Orchestra’s Fall 2021 and Spring 2022 seasons. Passionate about the intersection of music, art, and science, and its impact on education, therapy, and society, Chugh studies the effects of collaborative music-making on the brain at Rice University and the University of Houston, and performed Dr. Anthony Brandt’s Meeting of Minds at the 2024 “AI for Good” Conference in Geneva, Switzerland. This season, Chugh looks forward to continuing her fellowship as a DACAMERA Young Artist, premiering new works with Musiqa to share music with the Houston community, and staging a musical adaptation of her own children’s book Symba and the Lobster with Harris County Public Libraries.

Astrid Nakamura

violin

Originally from Toronto, Astrid Nakamura maintains an expansive performing career as a chamber, solo, and orchestral violinist. She has been part of a diverse array of ensembles across North America, such as the Houston Symphony, Montreal Symphony, Musiqa Kinetic Ensemble, the Da Camera Young Artists Program, and Ensemble Urbain. Nakamura has been privileged to perform alongside members of the Doric and Jupiter quartets, and has had summer fellowships at festivals such as Yellow Barn and Music Academy of the West.

Nakamura is devoted to collaboration and outreach. She currently teaches at public elementary schools in Houston as a Da Camera Young Artist, and has performed concerts in Houston in partnership with the MD Anderson Cancer Center, NobleMotion Dance, and the University of Houston BRAIN Center. Nakamura recently completed her master’s degree with Kathleen Winkler at Rice University on full scholarship from the Dorothy Richard Starling Foundation. Nakamura performs on the c.1830–1850 “Eckhardt-Gramatte, Joachim” Georges Chanot I violin, generously on loan from the Canada Council for the Arts Musical Instrument Bank.

Jacob Schafer

violin

Jacob Schafer is a multifaceted violinist dedicated to compelling and thoughtful performances of works old and new. Based in Houston TX, he is a core member of Loop38 and Kinetic Ensemble and regularly performs with the Houston Symphony, Houston Ballet, and Grand Opera Orchestras, Bach Society, Mercury Chamber Orchestra, and Musiqa. Recent performances include world premieres by Steven Banks, Martha Callison Horst, and Du Yun; and collaborations with Renée Fleming, Anthony McGill, and Seth Parker Woods; and chamber music concerts in Leipzig, Germany, and Rome, Italy. Festival appearances have included Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, Norfolk New Music Workshop, Sarasota Music Festival, and Tanglewood Music Center.

Originally from Nashville TN, Schafer holds a B.A. in Music and in Ethics, Politics, and Economics from Yale University and an M.M. in Violin Performance from Rice University, where he is currently completing his D.M.A. under the tutelage of Paul Kantor.

jacobschaferviolin.com

Sebastian Stefanovic

viola

Born and raised in Baltimore, violist Sebastian Stefanovic has been a member of the Florida Orchestra since 2022 and is based in Tampa Bay. A passionate advocate for new music and the expansion of the viola repertoire, he has commissioned, premiered, and recorded a variety of solo and ensemble works, including the winning composition of the American Viola Society’s Gardner Prize. He also performs with and curates concerts for the conductorless string ensemble Kinetic. As an educator, he helped found and co-leads a summer program for beginning middle school string players in conjunction with the Florida Orchestra’s education department. In addition to teaching orchestral masterclasses and sectionals, he is the music director of the Pinellas Youth Philharmonic. Stefanovic holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, where he was a student of Ivo-Jan van der Werff.

Molly Wise

viola

Recognized by the Darius Milhaud Foundation for possessing “unusual creativity and expression,” Molly Wise is a violist who uses performance to inspire and educate audiences. She performs extensively throughout Houston with classical and contemporary organizations including Musiqa, Kinetic Ensemble, and more, as well as across the United States and Canada. Recent highlights include her professional recital debut with duo partner, pianist James Palmer, at the Steinway Selection Center in downtown Houston; the world-premiere performance of MEKONG: Soul at the Kennedy Center with the Apollo Chamber Players and Vân Ánh Võ; and a fellowship for the second year in a row at Toronto Summer Music. Wise was a featured lecture-recitalist at the 2024 American Viola Society Festival in Los Angeles, and she also enjoyed two years on the Young Artist roster of DACAMERA Houston. Wise is currently a Doctor of Musical Arts student at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University.

mollywiseviola.com

Bree Ahern

cello

Cellist Bree Ahern is a versatile solo and chamber musician committed to building community through performing, teaching, and collaborating across art forms. She currently performs with Kinetic Ensemble, a conductor-less chamber orchestra committed to performing diverse, under-represented and newly composed classical music, and Monarch Chamber Players, an ensemble dedicated to bringing classical music into accessible, unconventional community spaces.

She has a keen interest in cross disciplinary collaborations and has worked with dancers, visual artists, poets, and more in projects with Musiqa, Hoppa Project, and Da Camera of Houston. Her festival appearances include the Louis Moreau Institute, Cabrillo Festival for Contemporary Music, Round Top Festival Institute, Hot Springs Music Festival, and Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival, with select performances featured on WQXR and New Music USA. She is a graduate of Rice University, where she studied as a Brown Foundation Teaching Fellow under Norman Fischer on a full scholarship.

breeahern.com

Christopher Ellis

cello

Born in Ireland, cellist Christopher Ellis has been described as “a rapidly rising cello star” (The Irish Times). Holding degrees from Conservatoire Nationale Supérieure de Musique et Danse Paris and Rice University, he currently resides in Houston TX. Ellis enjoys an active performing schedule, playing with groups such as Loop38, Musiqa, Kinetic Ensemble, and the Houston Symphony Orchestra. As a Da Camera Young Artist, he performs regularly throughout Houston, while engaging with the Houston community in musical visits to public schools.

Ellis has performed internationally at SuperCello Festival Beijing, Piatigorsky Cello Festival Los Angeles, Cello Biennale Amsterdam and across France, Germany, and the Netherlands. In Ireland, recent highlights include performing and teaching at the National Concert Hall’s International Master Course Festival and making his debut as soloist with the Irish Chamber Orchestra. Recent prizes include the 2023 Doug Davis performance award and the Prix Ravel from Fontainebleau Academie, France. Recent highlights include playing at the United Nations Summit in Geneva, Switzerland in a performance of Meeting of Minds, which fused the worlds of music, dance, and neuroscience. Ellis plays on a C.A. Testore cello made in 1764, generously loaned to him by his former teacher and mentor Aisling Drury Byrne.

Notes

This album features two dance scores written for collaborations with NobleMotion Dance and the University of Houston IUCRC BRAIN Center. In these combinations of artistic performance and scientific experiment, several dancers wore mobile brain-body imaging, with live visualizations of the neural synchrony between their brains.

Neuroscientist David Eagleman has coined the term “livewired” to emphasize that our brains are not hardwired by adulthood, as previously thought, but constantly remodeling themselves throughout our lifetimes.

The score is meant to offer a kind of “sonic brain scan.” The first movement celebrates the unconscious, automated sub-routines that underlie our contact with the world. After a brief introduction, a musical motive represents a short neurological signal that behaves in controlled and predictable ways.

The second movement illustrates repetition suppression, in which our brain pays less and less attention to a stimulus that is repetitive or predictable. Two contrasting ideas — one lyrical, the other more “shocking” — alternate and, as they become familiar, eventually wear down and fade out.

The third movement evokes the internal model of reality that our brain constructs, with regular updates to check for accuracy — as happens when we move around furniture or a new neighbor moves in next door. A recurring phrase represents the stability of the internal model. Suddenly, a cello solo disrupts that consistency. In the refrain that follows, a reminiscence of the cello solo (now played by the viola) is folded into the quartet’s recurring phrase.

The fourth movement uses a theme and variations to illustrate the “serial order” effect, in which derivations of an idea tend to get wilder and stranger as time passes.

The fifth movement conjures the dynamism of thought, as we ruminate and different coalitions of needs, desires, and conjectures compete for our conscious attention. At the close of the quartet, motives from previous movements are intertwined, depicting the turbulence of our minds at work.

Thus, the first three movements illustrate aspects of our subliminal mental lives, whereas the last two involve thinking that we’re more aware of.

Among the scientific findings, the neuro-engineers were able to document the neural consolidation that occurred as the dancers mastered the choreography: just like the repetition suppression depicted in movement two, their brains showed less and less activation as they rehearsed.

LiveWire is dedicated to Paul and Cynthia Hanson.

– Anthony Brandt

Meeting of Minds is about the building of social connection. The first four movements introduce separate themes, representing each dancer: movements one and four accompany the female dancer, while movements two and three feature the male one.

In movement five, the dancer’s themes come in contact for the first time: the result is frictional and combative. Movement six depicts a frozen stand-off. Movement seven is the turning point, as the protagonists gradually begin to warm to each other. In the final three movements, the two themes are more harmoniously intertwined.

To depict the interaction between the two brains, the work is scored for live and pre-recorded string quartet. On this recording, the two quartets are separated stereophonically.

In live performance, a “brain synchrony meter” displays real-time data from the dancers’ electroencephalography (EEG) caps: the brighter it glows, the greater the neural synchrony between their brains. In the final four movements, the choreography focuses on eye contact, touch and synchronized movement — all key indicators of social engagement.

Meeting of Minds is dedicated to my collaborators: choreographers Andy and Dionne Noble, neuro-engineer Jose Luis Contreras-Vidal, and multimedia artist Badie Khaleghian.

– Anthony Brandt

Meeting of Minds was funded in part by a grant from the City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance. The album is supported in part by a grant from Rice University’s Scholarly and Creative Works Subvention Fund. The composer gratefully acknowledges this support.

Videos

Meeting of Minds: Scene 9 performance