Interview with composer Rob Manthey

Exceptional Music for an Unusual Combination

Il Sussurro (Amanda Markwick, traverso, and Gerard van Vuuren, clavichord) recently performed a new work by composer Rob Manthey. Written in the fall of 2010 specifically for this ensemble, “music go peach for at rush to” mixes the sounds of the traverso and clavichord with those of the computer.

Here are a few questions we asked the composer:

  • Why did you write for this combination of instruments?

I wrote for this combination of instruments for 2 reasons. You and Gerard are my friends so that started it really. But then also hearing the instruments themselves in various settings, museum concerts, house concerts, got me very interested because these older instruments have tone and color qualities that the modern instruments do not. That’s a very fascinating idea for a composer.

  • What inspired you for the piece, especially the computer part?

Concerning the computer part, perhaps a description of what exactly the computer part does is first necessary. It is basically a musical instrument written in software. The sounds it makes fall into the category of sound known as noise. There are a series of shapes, and then each shape is further filtered or raise or lowered to create a larger series of possible sounds.

The following question to be addressed would be “how does this instrument fit in with the other two, which are older and much different?” My answer has to do with my impression of Baroque ornamentation, but also Baroque architectural details. I view the sounds that the software instrument makes as a sort of decoration that for my ears refers back to earlier ideas of detail and decoration.

  • Could you tell us about the title – “music go peach for at rush to”?

The title I have made in the same way I made the music: by taking familiar materials and searching for a new way to use them for interesting results.

“music go peach for at rush to” was premiered at the Museum Geelvinck on February 6, 2011. Musicians, composer, and audience members were all enthusiastic about the result, and Il Sussurro now plans to incorporate more modern pieces in their programming.

For more information about Rob Manthey, and for a sound sample of “music go peach for at rush to”, please visit his website.