Artist bio

New York City based composer and pianist Brian Mark has been hailed as an "attractive and intelligible" artist (Boston Musical Intelligencer), whose work is "compelling" (London Jazz News), and "preserves the vibrancy and relevance of contemporary art music" (New York Examiner). The American Composers Forum esteemed Brian as an "intelligent, modern composer who employs many media elements and does so with marked idiosyncrasy and depth”, and his concert programming has recently been described as “a fluid approach to presenting new music in fresh contexts and juxtapositions” (The New Yorker). Brian’s music have been performed by many notable ensembles, such as the BBC Singers, Psappha Ensemble, Chelsea Symphony, Ensemble Signal, Atlas Ensemble, MikroEnsemble, Brave New Works, Choral Chameleon, both the Ligeti and Esterhazy String Quartets, Juventas Ensemble, Dither Quartet, members of the London Symphony Orchestra, among many others. His works have been presented around the world in festivals such as Bang on a Can, Oregon Bach Festival, London Contemporary Music Festival, Atlas Festival, Spitalfields Music Festival, i=u, June in Buffalo, Tutti Festival, the Bowdoin International Music Festival, and the highSCORE Festival. Brian has been awarded the 2016 Jerome Composers Commissioning Program/Jerome Fund, and a recent commission from the Astoria Music Project. He has also received multiple awards and grants from New Music USA, the Grammy Foundation, ASCAP and SCI, New London Singers, Ross McKee Foundation, Florence Gould Michael Iovenko Memorial Fellowship, the BMI Henry Warren Film Scoring Award, and was very highly commended for the 2016 Alan Bush Prize. He has been featured as a composer-in-residence with the Chelsea Symphony, the Bizarre Noir Theatre Company, and was awarded multiple artist residencies at the I-Park Artists’ Enclave, Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, and the Ucross Foundation. He has received Honorable Mentions from both the 2015 American Prize in Orchestral Composition and the 2019 Zodiac International Music Competition, and was recently awarded a summer fellowship to study Korean Music at the National Gugak Centre in Seoul, South Korea. In addition, he was recently awarded one of the top ten prizes from Mozaik Philanthropy's "Future Art Awards" competition, as a result of his work created in response to the Coronavirus Pandemic. As a composer for film, his music for the Independent Short Film Misunderstood, directed by Pablo Herrán de Viu, was exhibited at the 2009 Screen Loud Film Festival in New York City, and the 2010 Festival Internacional de Cine Pobre de Humberto Solás in Habana City, Cuba. His collaborative work Sublime Oasis, commissioned by the East London Dance Company, was showcased at the 2012 Spitalfields Hidden Gems Dance Festival. From 2009-2011 Brian was the Co-Artistic Director and Founder for DETOUR, a composer collective and New Music Ensemble, which was featured as “one the top five new music events of 2011" from New York’s Classical WQXR. He has also collaborated with UK’s record label Nonclassical as a concert curator, featuring emerging composers and artists throughout London and abroad. In addition, he was appointed as an Associate Member for the London Symphony Orchestra’s Composer Soundhub Scheme from 2015-2017, which culminated of his first video installation performance comprising of members from the LSO. His curated concert series Ensemble in Process made its debut at the Iklectik Creative Space in Southeast London on 15 May, 2017. Brian had completed his PhD at the Royal Academy of Music, studying with Gary Carpenter. He is also a graduate of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Berklee College of Music, and Boston University. He has received a graduate certificate in film scoring from the University of Southern California, and has also studied with Philip Cashian, Samuel Adler, David Conte, David Garner, James Russell Smith, and Howard Frazin. Cole Bartels is a trombonist currently based in Madison, WI, where he is pursuing Doctor of Musical Arts Degree in trombone performance at the University of Wisconsin. He studies with Prof. Mark Hetzler, and also serves as the Graduate Teaching Assistant for the trombone studio. He holds a Master of Music degree in trombone performance, and Graduate Certificate in Music Theory Pedagogy from the University of Tennessee, where he served as a graduate teaching assistant. Additionally, Bartels holds a Bachelor of Music degree in performance from Concordia College in Moorhead, MN. His previous teachers include Dr. Alex van Duuren, Dr. Nat Dickey, Dr. Ed Huttlin, and Douglas Wright. Cole has participated in master classes with Ian Bousfield, Derek Hawkes, Casey Jones, Scott Hartman, Gabriel Langfur, Randy Hawes, Dr. Sarah Paradis, Marshall Gilkes, and more. ​Bartels currently serves as principal trombone in the University of Wisconsin Symphony Orchestra, and as 2nd trombone in the Latin Pride Orquesta, as well as being an in-demand freelancer in the Madison area. He has recently served as principal trombone in the UT Symphony Orchestra, lead trombone in the UT Big Band, and was a regular top call substitute for many ensembles throughout the Knoxville, TN area. He is a substitute trombonist and bass trumpet with the Fargo Moorhead Symphony Orchestra. Bartels is also an active chamber musician, recently as trombonist in the Volunteer Brass Quintet. Bartels regularly freelances as a classical, jazz, and contemporary trombonist throughout the country and has recently performed with performed with exciting artists such as Bill Frisell, Peter Erskine, and Michael Dease. ​Believing in the importance of the music of our time, Bartels has committed himself to the intense study and performance of contemporary music. In June, 2018 he attended the nief-norf festival as a performance fellow. Previously, he attended the Bang on a Can summer festival in July, 2016. He, along with composer/guitarist Colin Holter, was commissioned to create an original improvised score for Theatre B's devised work "The Oil Project" in summer 2015. ​As a solo artist he has commissioned many pieces from composers including Colin Holter, Tyler Taylor, Steven Makela, Brianna Drevlow, and Jorge Variego to name a few. As a chamber musician, Bartels was a founding member of Triangulum, a trombone trio dedicated to new music and educational outreach. Triangulum commissioned works from a wide array of composers including Natalie Fideler, Kyle Tieman-Strauss, Brianna Drevlow, Jordan Degerness, Daniel Breedon and more.


Your huddles masses yearning to breathe free

Artist Statement

"Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free" is a solo work for trombone and digital delay processing pedal that was written for Madison, WI based trombonist Cole Bartels and was created as a direct result of COVID-19. The title is a verse taken from Emma Lazarus’s iconic 1883 poem “The New Colossus,” which was a tribute to the symbolism of Lady Liberty and was written to raise funds for the statue’s pedestal. I started this work right after New York declared a state emergency due to the virus. I can view the Statue of Liberty from my Brooklyn apartment, and it was during this time that the whole situation regarding the pandemic came full circle as I was gazing out the window. I was immediately struck by the 11th verse of this poem, since there is a cruel twist of irony that is currently taking place in America. We are a nation of immigrants, yet it’s shocking that the current administration has placed very strict laws on immigration since 2017, including the recent temporary suspension from April of 2020.

The landscape of New York citizens wearing masks in public, let alone those across the United States, is now also a stark contrast from Lazarus’s plea to “breathe free.” Although the masks are required to prevent the infection of this respiratory disease, I feel that we could be entering a new dystopian age where the freedom to breathe and prosper will be suppressed by major forces beyond our control. The mood on the streets in New York City feels very grim and ominous, yet at times hopeful, as these new “social distancing” laws have put its citizens through fear and uncertainty.

"Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free" depicts the current atmosphere felt by many concerned Americans, as it feels that our society is in fact “yearning to breathe free” from a socio-economic, physical and psychological perspective. This piece was constructed as a ternary musical form with a duration of ten minutes, due to the inclusion of the delay pedal loops. I experimented with various techniques and textural ranges of this instrument, as the material contracting and expanding throughout the work symbolizes the poet’s metaphor from this particular verse. This piece also employs the use of music quotation, as the opening melodic material from America’s national anthem is echoed throughout as a warning to the masses. "Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free" also metaphorically alludes to a possible apocalyptic type scenario of our current environment, as this particular brass instrument subtly implies the trumpets from the Book of Revelation (though both the trombone and trumpet are part of the brass family).

"Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free" was recorded and mixed on May 7, 2020. This particular abstract video installation accompanies the surreal mood of the music composition. It is comprised of actual news and media footages from various American cities during this current pandemic, and was specifically created for the Mozaik Philanthropy’s “Future Art Awards” Competition, which subsequently was awarded one of the top ten prizes.

How it fits into contest

The reason why I had applied to this competition, was specifically due to verse 12 of Ephesians 6: "We are not fighting against humans. We are fighting against forces and authorities and against rulers of darkness and powers in the spiritual world". My work submitted for this competition, "Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free" is a a recent multi-media disciplinary work that was created in response to COVID-19.The title is a verse taken from Emma Lazarus’s iconic 1883 poem “The New Colossus,” which was a tribute to the symbolism of Lady Liberty.

I truly believe the onset of the Coronavirus was primarily a spiritual battle on mankind, as there are forces in this world that have contributed to this pandemic to create chaos, fear and death, which as of today has taken the lives of over 400,000 people worldwide (100,000 in the US). We are new experiencing a new way of living, or a new "normal", where our interactions and movements are being calculated and watched from every corner.

This particular verse is a fight against evil with an emphasis of a protection from wicked forces, and although the Coronavirus has been described as an "invisible enemy", for the most part, there has been hope and solidarity across the United States during this trying times (and across the world), for everyone is coming together and rising above the hatred, uncertainty, confusion and fear in order to get through this horrible situation that has claimed the lives of so many people.


Brian Mark: Composer, Producer, Video Editor/Visual Artist

Cole Bartels: Performer (Trombonist)

Transcript / Lyrics

No Lyrics.

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