Wally Gunn is from a rural town in Australia’s southeast. He moved to New York in 2008 to begin a masters degree in composition at the Manhattan School of Music, NY, where he studied with Bang On A Can’s Julia Wolfe, and went on to pursue a Ph.D. in composition at Princeton University, NJ. Wally currently lives and works in Queens, NY. He likes working with patterns and processes, looking for moments of emergent beauty in the warp and weft. His music often features canon, echo, hocket, and ostinato—musical interactions like conversations, or memories of conversations—and sometimes features physical gesture, sometimes text, heightening the theatricality of musical performance.
Composer website: www.wallygunn.com
“Moving” from Little Things, for percussion and spoken voice.
[Full length video of Little Things: https://youtu.be/1dU1M4gTjgA]
The piece catches snapshots of a relationship between two siblings from childhood through adulthood — fragmented memories and scenes — scored for a percussion duo in artfully staged multi-percussion setups over 5 short movements. The piece also features impressionistic, abstract spoken word poetry performed by the players, sourced from found and devised text, appended and edited by the composer. Music and text work together to create vignettes that are by turns intriguing, humorous, and moving. The evolving relationship depicted in the piece echoes that of the two commissioning percussionist brothers, Eric Shuster and Tim Shuster of Steady State.
Featured in Moving Waves – June 2016
Vicious Children, for percussion quartet .
The schoolyard and the playground can be places of savagery, where each child must nervously navigate the shifting alliances, the ruthless and cruel scheming, and sometimes the unjustified violence of their fellows. It’s not clear whether these behaviours are learned from grown-ups, or whether they are innate. In any case, they are ubiquitous, and no child escapes them. Vicious Children recalls this struggle with a musical and theatrical narrative of brittle stick clicks and driving drumming, dreamscapes of meditative bells, and grim, sinister nursery rhymes whispered, sung and shouted. The piece was composed for Mobius Percussion. – WG, October 2014.
Featured in Vocal Waves (September 2017).