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10 Questions for Andrew McIntosh

WORK | Andrew McIntosh

about Andrew:

Composer, violinist, violist, and baroque violinist Andrew McIntosh
has a unique and diverse approach to music-making, prioritizing his
work as a composer and focusing his performances primarily around the
repertoire of compelling and experimental music from the last 800
years. He is known for being a specialist in alternate tuning systems
and also for being a member of the Formalist Quartet, which is
dedicated to adventurous and relevant repertoire and regularly
performs around the US. He holds degrees in violin, composition, and
early music performance from the University of Nevada, Reno, the
California Institute of the Arts, and the University of Southern

As a composer, McIntosh strives to write vibrant and engaging pieces
while bringing a spirit of experimentalism to the music, often finding
models for his work in the natural world. His music is regularly
performed around the US and Europe and has been featured at major
venues in The Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Los Angeles,
and New York. In 2011 he was awarded the First Honorable Mention (2nd
Prize) in the Gaudeamus International Composers Competition. He will
be a featured composer on an upcoming LA Philharmonic concert on their
Green Umbrella series.

As a solo artist he has appeared at venues such as Stanford
University, REDCAT (in Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles), the
Wulf (Los Angeles), Unruly Music (Milwaukee), Hamburger Klangwerktage
(Hamburg), Bludenzer Tage Zeitgemasse Muzik (Austria), Moments
Musicaux Aarau (Switzerland), the Pianola Museum (Amsterdam), the
Hammer Museum (Los Angeles), and KPFK Pacifica Radio. He also was the
viola soloist in the US premiere of Gèrard Grisey’s Les Espaces
Acoustiques, for which performance the LA Times said he “played with
commanding beauty”.

As a chamber musician he has played in festivals, concerts, art
spaces, and recordings around the US and Europe with the Formalist
Quartet, Tholl/McIntosh duo, Quatuor Bozzini (Montreal), Wet Ink
Ensemble (New York), Rohan de Saram, Marc Sabat, Jürg Frey, Dante
Boon, wild Up, inauthentica, and many others.

A native of rural Northern Nevada, McIntosh is currently based in the
Los Angeles area where he enjoys a large and frequently unexpected
variety of writing, performing, traveling, teaching, and recording

“What are you interested in?”

I like lists, so here goes:

sound that is felt, in addition to being seen and heard
human error
the wonderful organic quality of acoustic sound
manipulating one’s perception of time
finding models for my compositions in nature
the innate emotional qualities evoked by sound
the innate emotional qualities evoked by musical form
using no more of something than necessary (often in regards to instruments)
using no more of something than necessary (sometimes also in regards to notes)
stretching out musical form
logic and process
manipulating one’s perception of space
manipulating one’s perception of volume
microtones (the rational ones)
microtones (the ones that color the twelve equal notes)
microtones (the ones that color the other microtones)
also, historical microtones (the twelve, and sometimes more, unequal notes)
old music
the visual quality of a score:
namely, how the way it looks is related to the way it sounds

“Who are you influenced by?”

The first answer to this is the people around me. The second answer is
composers whose music I perform. The third answer is innovative and
inspired musicians outside of the classical tradition. The fourth
answer is artists from other disciplines, in particular the visual
arts and literature. The fifth answer is my wife.

A few thoughts about each of those answers:

1. Community is the single-most basic and important element of music.
I believe this with my whole heart (and I also feel that it is the
single-most neglected aspect of music in the traditional Western performance
and education infrastructure). I would not be where I am, writing what
I am writing, and making a whole life out of this without the
incredible and inspiring friends and mentors whom I’ve had the good
fortune to work with, many of whom are featured on the upcoming concert.

2. Performing as a violinist and violist has always been a huge part
of my life, particularly over the past 7 years as a member of the
Formalist Quartet. Through that experience I have been exposed to more
ways of making, thinking about, notating, expressing, and presenting
music than I ever could have been if I had only focused on
composition. A few composers who are currently very strong influences
are Jürg Frey, Christian Wolff, Morton Feldman, Wadada Leo Smith, Tom
Johnson, W. A. Mozart, Franz Schubert, and handful of French Baroque
composers (François Couperin
and Jean-Féry Rebel in particular).

3. If I had to pick one single favorite musician of all time it would
be Nina Simone. There are also many other important inspirational
figures for me in the jazz idiom, and from other traditions of music
around the world.

4. The paintings of Mark Rothko in particular have really shaped how I think
about sound and the way it can relate to color. This thinking has
probably been aided by my long-time fascination with Morton Feldman.
I’ve written a number of pieces based on the writings of Italo Calvino
and Julio Cortázar. Also, scientists: the writings of Richard Feynman
and Stephen Hawking have proved very influential to how I write music.

5. She’s great.

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