Beast Calls: Susi Spinus wins a prize

Beast Calls is a collection of pieces that I started back in 2009, when I started to translate sounds of animals I had recorded into scores. These translations take various forms, sometimes analyses using digital tools yield pitches or rhythms, sometimes I transform the sounds using other digital tools and use them in the electroacoustic part, if there is one.

Beast Calls: Susi Spinus is the most recent of these works, written for Susanne Fröhlich, uses the sounds of Siskin birds that live in a room in her house. It also features a new model of recorder — the Helder Tenor — which Susanne has been helping to develop and whose extended possibilities in terms of dynamics and timbre she has been exploring. This is one of several new works for her on this instrument found on a double CD available from Orlando Records.

From a review in Fanfare magazine: “Another Canadian composer and recorder player, Terri Hron, composedBeast Calls—Susi Spinusfor Fröhlich, who premiered it in late March 2019. Performed on a Helder-Jahn tenor recorder (an instrument developed by Dutch recorder maker Maarten Helder in the 1990s and developed further by Erik Jahn at Mollenhauer recorder manufacturers), the piece juxtaposes the found sound of birds alongside pure electronic music and the live recorder. Spread across the entire sound stage (it sounds awesome on headphones), the piece seems to juxtapose the aerial, high sounds of the birds against industrial-sounding electronica, as if to explore the relationship between the two. Haunting and utterly remarkable, particularly in the way in which sounds seem to “rotate,” this is unforgettable music.”

Beast Calls: Susi Spinus won an honorable mention from the Matera Intermedia Prize 2019.

Beast Calls: Susi Spinus was premiered at the Festival Archipel in Geneva, which featured all-female composers for its 2019 version.

Earlier Beast Calls include a piece for Luciane Cardassi (piano) and Ronelle Schaufele (viola), which we like to call “Froggy”, but whose official title is Beast Calls: Pseudacris Crucifer Crucifer, after the species of frog whose mating calls are transformed into the score for acoustic instruments.

You can listen to the Cardassi-Schaufele performance here: