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Chronicle of the NonPop Revolution
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Steven Holochwost (b. 1978) began studying music at the age of 5, first taking up the guitar, and then switching to saxophone at age eight. He continued playing saxophone through college, studying with Drs. Robert Steen and David Tafoni. In his early teens he had begun composing, and by the time he matriculated at Yale University in the fall of 1997, he had chosen to focus on composition.
At Yale Holochwost studied with Kathryn Alexander, John Halle, and Matthew Suttor, all of whom tried unsuccessfully to convince Holochwost that common practice tonality was not terribly avant-garde. Determined to make life difficult for himself through unprecedented stubbornness, Holochwost ignored the worried looks of instructors, and took it upon himself to gradually write himself out of first a tonal, and then an increasingly modal idiom, "discovering" for himself all the things more observant people had already discovered much earlier: the possibilities of third relations and lowered leading tones, the saturation point of chromaticism within the context of a diatonic system, and so forth. By the time he similarly "discovered" that post-tonal music was indeed perhaps the wave of the future, he was well along the graduate application process. Deciding it would be best to study serialism with one of its leading practitioners, Holochwost matriculated as a Presidential Fellow at Rutgers University, to study with Charles Wuorinen.
Holochwost's style is therefore still one in flux; lessons with Prof. Wuorinen have coincided with a devouring of every post-tonal text available, and have resulted in an increasing trend towards serial constructs and concepts appearing in his music, particularly where form, proportion, and structure are concerned. However, a conservative bent combined with an interest in the modalisms of folk and non-Western musics often results in the appearance of clear centers, conjunct melodic lines, and more regular rhythms than would be the norm in a truly serial work.
Recent performances featuring his music have involved the Helix! New Music Ensemble, for whom Holochwost has written two piano works, performed at Nicholas Music Center at Rutgers and Concert Hall at the University of Maryland in Baltimore. He is active in composing music for theatre and film as well; his score for "Dr. Cooks Garden" was recently heard at The Bickford Theatre in Morristown, New Jersey, while his score for "Camera Eyes," an independently produced film, was heard on the IFCT Film Festival Tour in New York, Los Angelos, London, Paris, and Toronto. Upcoming projects include a piece for the Rutgers University Brass Ensemble, a pair of new works for Helix!, and a score for Shadow Puppets Entertainments feature film, "The Mushing Mill."
Holochwost is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and the recipient of grants and fellowships from the Manzella, Richter, Mellon, and Eagleton foundations. In 1997 he was awarded the New Jersey Governors Award in Art.
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