Cornelius Dufallo

Composer-violinist Cornelius Dufallo is one of many great artists that have adopted the world of electro-acoustic for their vocal palate. Having composed primarily for himself (and for his group ETHEL), he also has written a piece for DC’s Great Noise Ensemble, with whom he is also performing the NY premiere (Official world premiere) of on April 16 at Symphony Space. Cornelius speaks with us about that piece and the concert, along with other career-related things.

CM: Please give us a brief summarized version of when you wanted to start making music/playing violin, and when was it when you discovered the sound (or the idea) of electro-acoustic violin music?

CD: I started playing violin when I was really little–I think I was four years old! I grew up in a family of musicians. I became interested in composing music when I was about 12 or 13 years old. Throughout high school composing was something I did for fun–I used to write little pieces for solo violin. When I started my conservatory training at Juilliard I (sadly) stopped composing for almost eight years, because of the intense pressure of the competition among violinists. I felt like I just had to practice all the time. Amplified violin was something I came to gradually, through playing in various new music ensembles in NYC. I remember the first time I ever used a delay pedal–I thought it was unbelievable! So I started experimenting on my own, writing pieces for myself, and eventually for others also. Digital looping has become a large part of my aesthetic and my process.

Violin Loop 1b (Cal State Fullerton CSFU New Music Festival, 3/4/11)

CM: Can you tell us about your “Journaling” series?

CD: I began the concert series “Journaling” in 2009 to document my work with extraordinary living composers while also creating a repertoire of twenty-first century violin music. I collaborated with each of the represented composers between 1996 and the present, through my work in the Flux Quartet, Ne(x)tworks, and Ethel. With the exception of two collaborative pieces (by Corey Dargel and Patrick Derivaz) all of the pieces have been composed for either solo violin or violin + laptop computer. The next concert, “Journaling (Part Four)” is coming up May 31 at Bargemusic. The composers for that show are Jacob TV, Kinan Azmeh, Svjetlana Bukvich-Nichols, Tim Hodgkinson, Paul Brantley, and Patrick Derivaz.

CM: Can you talk about this piece you are premiering with Great Noise Ensemble (Paranoid Symmetry)?

CD: I composed Paranoid Symmetry in 2011 for myself and Great Noise Ensemble. We have had a reading of the piece in Washington DC, but this Monday will be the official world premiere at Symphony Space. Paranoid Symmetry is about paranoid delusions, psychosis, and love. During the summer of 2011 a close family member of mine experienced a psychotic break. While in the hospital she was having delusions that the nurses were trying to imprison her. Although the episode turned out to be temporary (caused by withdrawal from drugs), its emotional impact on me was profound, and inspired me to examine my own relationship to sanity. Paranoid Symmetry is a musical working-through of this experience, and also a meditation on the strange and sad logic inherent in the psychological organization of paranoia and psychosis. The music is a combination of composed, indeterminate, and improvised material, and I’m very happy with the way Great Noise has jumped in to the collaborative process with so much enthusiasm.

Paranoid Symmetry (With Great Noise Ensemble, Preview reading, DC; 1/20/12)

CM: Depending on the pieces, and also for the purposes of either performance or sessions, do you prefer playing violin with pickup or playing electric?

CD: I really prefer playing violin with pickup. I can use all the digital effects, but it still feels like the instrument I grew up playing. Solid body electric is a totally different instrument. It can be really cool too, but the electro-acoustic violin fits my compositional aesthetic much better.

CM: Who are some of your favorite collaborators/guest appearances both in new music and in outside genres?

CD: I’m really excited about my current collaborations with Paola Prestini (The Labyrinth), Patrick Derivaz (Bass Violin) and Corey Dargel (Every Day Is The Same Day). As far as “outside genres” goes… I am currently having a fascinating time working with the video artist Carmen Kordas on a multimedia version of Dream Streets, and in the past I have had a lot of fun working with Thomas Dolby and Juana Molina.

House of Solitude (With Paola Prestini)

CM: Is there going to be a follow up to your debut solo CD Dream Streets?

CD: Yes! It is actually finished and will be released this summer on Innova Recordings. The CD is titled Journaling, and it includes six of the most compelling pieces from the “Journaling” concert series as well as two of my own works for violin and digital loops. The official release date is June 26, but advance copies will be available at the May 31st concert at Bargemusic.

Not Sure Yet 2 (With Patrick Derivaz; From Bass Violin)

UPCOMING GIGS FOR CORNELIUS (Click on the links for info on location and tickets/admission):

4/16: w/Great Noise Ensemble
Symphony Space, NY

5/31: Journaling: Part Four
Bargemusic, NY

Cornelius’ official website


One thought on “Cornelius Dufallo

  1. Pingback: Cornelius Duffalo: Preview of Journaling, Part Four at Bargemusic « The Glass

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