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inspired by Killer Mike and Stephen Colbert
asking composers to write "on behalf" of a person, thing, or idea

new works for violin and piano

commissioned in 2016

premiered spring 2017

album summer 2017


Hajnal Pivnick, violin



Brianna Matzke, piano


co-commissioner of du Bois' piece

Kathleen Supove, piano

John Lee, project art


In its second phase, The Response Project created seven innovative pieces for piano + violin, written by seven young composers in response to one simple phrase:


Composers were invited to consider
- how this phrase impacts them personally, politically, and/or artistically
- potential manifestations of the phrase within musical composition
- what this phrase means within the context of musical performance

This phrase "ON BEHALF" was drawn from the following exchange between Killer Mike and Stephen Colbert on The Late Show (from about 2:15 to 4:00):

Each of our seven composers have chosen to speak "on behalf" of an idea, person, community, or condition.

William R. Ayers A Sense of Something Commonplace

"The piece is in two movements which attempt to speak "on behalf" of my grandmothers. I have drawn on their experiences and way of communicating.”


Shi An Co On Behalf of the Failure to Create Collaborations That are Truly Equal Due to Inherent Privileges that Cannot Be Erased

“This piece is about celebrating and bemoaning failure, privilege, and collaboration. Personal identity and heritage are considered, as well as the delicate nature and balance of the triangle in the piece between composer (who is male) and the pianist and violinist (both female). Each person has a unique role, based on the acoustic and technical advantages and disadvantages that the instrument offers, as well as the inherent privileges of gender, heritage, race, and background.”

Alexandra du Bois Bells from the Abyss

“As a composer living and writing in this time, I have an obligation to live with myself at all times. Bells from the Abyss represents a continuation of the voice I found in 2003 in works beginning with An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind wherein I found it wholly necessary as an artist to, with the entirety of my heart and mind, to reject, through sound, the events happening around me. From Bells from the Abyss, forward, each and every creation you will encounter and experience from me will be an unabashed protest against the mind-blowing lack of regard for all human life; against eradication of decency; against whole-hearted propagation of extant hate the 2017 administration represents. My sound stands against intolerance, oppression, hatred, recklessness, destruction, murder and war. Every single note will vibrate against hate. All construction is based on the creation of hope, tolerance, empathy and compassion. My art is a sanctuary for all ears. I stand here in solidarity with all Americans, linking arms with all artists and all who hear us, and our friends in every country, to shine the clearest light and hold the brightest mirror towards you until we can all agree to eradicate hatred, intolerance and oppression.“

Molly Joyce Down and Out

“This piece was inspired by the concept of one's mind-body relationship and addressing that relationship with an impairment such as a physical disability. Therefore for me personally, reconciling this relationship involved changing my perception of something that I thought was never going to change, namely my physically-impaired left hand. For most of my life since the car accident that injured it, it had felt like something attached to my body rather than my body itself, however more recently I feel that I have been able become "one" again with my mind-body relationship through adjusting how I personally perceive my left hand and its inclusion in my body. And thus I had to allow those altered perceptions in my mind to travel "down and out" of my full body in order to feel one again. I feel that this phrase, while traditionally of a more negative connotation, can also be of a positive connotation in that it can allow for one to free themselves of past burdens, and this is reflected musically with the piano part gradually descending while the violin part virtually does not change until the very end, so at the completion of the piece both parts have changed.”


Nate May Future Humans

“This piece tracks the intelligence and character of the human genus from its early stages of evolution to the year 802,701 according to the account given by H.G. Wells in his 1895 novel The Time Machine. After mastering nature, the human race splits in two: the Eloi—descendents of today’s bourgeoisie—lose all intelligence and creativity, becoming reduced to “feeble prettiness,” while the Morlocks—descendents of the working class—drifted toward “mechanical industry,” eventually learning that their most easily domesticated livestock are their own former brethren.”


D. J. Sparr Meta444

“Many religious groups use literalism to interpret their “books” in a way that ruins their members’ critical thinking and lets them use those books to keep people down.”


Dorian Wallace when Five Eyes are watching

“when Five Eyes are watching is an immersive chamber work ON BEHALF of whistleblowers Edward Snowden, Thomas Drake, Chelsea Manning and Daniel Ellsberg. This piece is dedicated to all those who have risked their lives, careers and personal safety to expose any kind of information and activity that is deemed unethical, illegal or not correct within an organization that is either private or public. Whistleblowers are heroes.”

Made possible in part thanks to the generous support of ArtsWave. #cincyarts

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