Toby Twining

WICBM

Raised in Texas, with family roots in country-swing and gospel, Toby Twining has traveled musically from playing for rock and jazz bands to experimental composition at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he earned his Bachelor of Music Composition degree in 1985. In the mid-eighties he became intrigued by the vast potential of the human voice and delved into a broad spectrum of singing styles and techniques, including Renaissance madrigals, scat, African yodeling, and Tuvan throat singing. The discovery of his own vocal range and performance talents pulled these influences together for him and guided him toward an emphasis on composition for a cappella ensembles.

Mr. Twining moved to New York in 1987, initially writing for modern dance choreographers who wanted the sounds of new choral music. In 1990, with a group of five New York-based singers, he presented the first international live concert of his music at the Munye Theater in Seoul, South Korea. A year later he formed Toby Twining Music, an a cappella quartet, which performed throughout the United States and in Amsterdam, Copenhagen, and Barcelona and produced several recordings, most recently, Eurydice on Cantaloupe Music in 2011.

In addition to his vocal compositions, Mr. Twining has written many pieces for keyboard and other instruments. Two of his best-known piano compositions, Satie Blues and Nightmare Rag, were recorded by avant-garde pianist Margaret Leng Tan on her 1997 album Art of the Toy Piano (Uni/Point) and have received considerable radio and concert exposure. His An American in Buenos Aires is on Ms. Tanʼs most recent release —She Herself Alone (Mode, 2011).. 9:11 Blues, a solo work for cello. recorded by Matt Haimovitz for his album Anthem (Oxingale 2002), was the American Music Centerʼs pick for the 2006 IAMIC conference in Sweden.

Mr. Twining is a Pew Fellow, co-founder of Arts on the Edge Wolfeboro, and a 2011 Guggenheim recipient.

About “WICBM”

World Premiere, April 19, 2013 at the Kaufmann Concert Hall, 92nd Street Y, New York City

“The text of WICBM refers to a historical event with radio’s Emergency Broadcast System (EBS), the U.S. government’s means of warning the country of imminent nuclear attack during the Cold War era. The North American Air Defense Headquarters in Colorado, an operation of the Air Force, conducted tests with the EBS regularly on Saturday mornings at 9:33 a.m., Eastern Standard Time. On February 20th, 1971 however, the Air Force had “run the incorrect tape,” causing mass panic and confusion for nearly half an hour. WICBM consists of symmetrical chords that emanate from a whole step above middle C. These chords fuse with a high degree of harmonicity (or smoothness) when tuned purely, that is, in just intonation (JI). Thus, WICBM uses the common performance practice of barbershop harmony, an intuitive process by which performers adjust pitches microtonally up or down in order to strike a super concordant effect.
Toby Twining

TEXT:

We interrupt this program…
emergency alert…
received from Cheyenne Mountain…
we await the president’s word…
Please do not call this station…
our eyes are on the wire…
for further information…
please don’t touch that dial.
Emergency
Attention ladies and gentlemen…
another wire’s just in
The Air Force at Cheyenne Mountain…
has jumped the gun again.
We now resume our broadcast…
at WICBM