Composer/guitarist Christopher Cresswell, following the March 2018 release of 315 Ensemble’s “bold, original, and attention-grabbing” eponymous debut record, has had a busy spring with premieres of two major new works, in the space that separates and a stillness, disturbed in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. 

A collaboration with Composers and Schools in Concert as well as Central Dauphin and Central Dauphin East High Schools, in the space that separates is a seven-minute work for wind ensemble and electronics. It continues to explore the sonic world first defined by 315 Ensemble and brings it to the concert band world, “I’m really interested in the aesthetics of white noise and radio static,” Cresswell said, but the work uses these abstract sounds to elicit a more emotional meaning. “I have traveled and lived throughout the US, UK, and elsewhere and there are people I love all around the world. It’s been a beautiful thing, but an unintended consequence is I often find myself traveling in between these people and places I love, listening to ‘staticky’ radio stations that fade in and out.” In in the space that separates, the ensemble fades in and out of the sampled radio static, both a part of and separate from the electronic sound world. The work had its world premiere at the Central Dauphin and Central Dauphin East high schools this past April and May. 

Leaving electronics behind, if only in spirit, Cresswell’s most recent work, a stillness, disturbed, had its premiere by the North Jersey Youth Saxophone Ensemble in June. Written for saxophone orchestra, (2 sopranos, 4 altos, 2 tenors, 2 baritones, and bass saxophone) the piece was inspired by Cresswell’s work with electronics, “I imagined the saxophone ensemble as one giant synthesizer and created a work that is a long, ever-changing, ever-constant drone.” 

Cresswell is working on a new piece for soprano, trumpet, and electronics for the New York City-based group, Byrne:Kozar:Duofeaturing soprano Corrine Byrne and trumpeter Andrew Kozar. The work is inspired by the paintings of J.M.W. Turner, “I’ve been making field recordings that I’m bringing back to my studio. I’m trying to find a sonic equivalent to the way Turner approaches and abstracts light in his paintings.” The new work will premiere next spring in New York. Currently, Cresswell is completing his choral piece, There is a Light, with texts he wrote himself for the Birmingham-based Via Nova choir, for their upcoming UK tour in August.

Riding on the waves of recent compositional successes, Cresswell has also been busy expanding his portfolio as a performer. He has recently started commissioning new works for electric guitar and electronics. He is currently in the studio recording the first of these works, Detunes, Drones, written by UK composer, Patrick Ellis. Stay tuned as this new series of commissions begin to unfold!