Blackbird with Cascade Quartet

Thrilled to announce that Cascade Quartet will premiere my new string quartet January 31, 2016 in Great Falls, Montana as a part of their Living Female Composers Project.  The quartet will also visit Kansas City in March to premiere to full collaborative iteration of the Blackbird Project as a part of ArtSounds, featuring choreography by Gary Abbott and video by Caitlin Horsmon.  While in Kansas City in March, they will also make several visits to area schools as a part of the Conservatory in the Schools and read student compositions at the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance.  Cascade Quartet


ArtIfacts release: May 22


Gibson’s music has been noted as boasting “attractive, believable, attention-holding verisimilitude” and ideal for listeners seeking “new works that experiment with alternative sounds and find an effective way to give those voices meaning.” Online blog reviews have proclaimed Flone “an absorbing work that exerts narrative logic and reflects both backward and forward” and “a most compelling and fascinating work.” Another writer declares that passages in Moments “melt in a rich, luxurious chocolate of colour and texture.” Chamber Music Today offers reflections about Canopy and the Paine sculpture to which it relates, saying, “Gibson’s sonic stimuli synergize nicely with Paine’s sculpture’s visual and haptic stimuli. Together, the two works manifest a cohesion that is evident to listeners/viewers … a brilliant success as a tandem installation.” Another CMT critique says Canopy “culminates in a radiant, nature-affirming performance,” while the American Viola Society asserts that “Canopy, performed by Michael Hall … is highly attractive music for viola.” Map of Rain Hitting Water, Gibson’s multi-elemental percussion piece and film collaboration, has been described as “a superb composition, an excellent film … sufficient to propel an evening’s meditation and beyond.”

ArtIfacts is Mara’s first full solo CD featuring her recent works with performances by Tom Aber, Michael Hall, Robert Pherigo, Mark Lowry, Luisa Sello, Ya-Ting Liou, Blas Gonzalez and Alvin Wong, artwork and design by Caitlin Horsmon, sound engineering by Bob Beck and notes edited by Sarah Tyrrell.

As Gibson describes, “performers are an integral part of my compositional process, and in fact I view performers as equal collaborators.   Without their openness, creativity and perspective, my music could not be realized. The pieces in this compilation share a common platform: each piece was written with specific performers in mind.”

ArtIfacts will be available through Cd baby, I-tunes, Amazon, Google Play, Spotify and several other platforms.  

Purchase your digital copy here, or contact the composer directly for your physical copy.


Conservatory in the Schools awarded second NEA

Conservatory’s Academy Awarded NEA ArtWorks Grant


The UMKC Conservatory’s Academy is pleased to announce that it has received a National Endowment for the Arts ArtWorks$20,000 grant for its Conservatory in the Schools program.  This is the second NEA grant for this program.   The groundbreaking Conservatory in the Schools programs provide high-quality performing arts instruction encompassing three distinct in-school programs and targets young musicians from underrepresented populations in the Kansas City metro area.

Conservatory Dean Peter Witte said, “Today’s NEA grant is another endorsement of UMKC’s commitment to inclusion and arts education. Through Conservatory in the Schools, Conservatory students learn to connect and serve prior to launching their careers. With this most recent grant, we’ve garnered close to $300,000 since 2008. The result? Our Conservatory students are engaged in neighborhoods, teaching, learning, and building bridges.”

Academy director Mara Gibson notes, “Continued recognition from the NEA affirms that we are serving our mission to provide high quality music instruction here in Kansas City, one student at a time.  In 2015-16, we will reach 61 individual Musical Bridges students, and touch more than15 schools, reaching hundreds through our programs Composers in the Schools and Ensembles in the Schools.”

Enjoy the short video below about Conservatory in the Schools and read a great article about Musical Bridges, one of the outstanding programs of Conservatory in the Schools.


Folium underway

Today I started a new series is called Folium (inspired by Luisa Sello’s poem “Let Clover be Aid”).  I met all of the performers/collaborators for this new project through through my fantastic friends/colleagues, Chen Yi and Narong Prangcharoen.

The first piece of the series is composed for Michael Hall (viola) and audience to be premiered in Italy this February.  This will be the third piece that we have collaborated together on in recent years (check out Canopy + Moments).

Next, the second part to the series will include a strings + flute duo for Alvin Wong and Luisa Sello to premiere in March in Vienna.  I have worked with Alvin and Luisa both on solo pieces.  Luisa commissioned me last year (Flone) and Alvin is recording E: Tip for my upcoming CD of recent chamber works that will be released spring 2015.

Eventually, there will be a third component to this project, for viola and cello and high wind/flute (for Luisa), perhaps also open to a non-western instrument doubling (for Jun Qian whom I had the opportunity to meet last spring through Chen Yi). Ultimately, this will be combined with a fixed media part along with the first two parts.  I continue to be  enamored by the idea of gathering friends/spirits to produce a truly collaborative work that joins a creative sphere with heart.  I am grateful to be connected to so many generous and creative spirits in this realm.

Generally, the idea for all three sections reflects a clover leaf — that is, to include the biological form as well as a geometric equation, representing the “infinite.” Each part will be titled: Folium I (viola and audience), Folium 2  -squared (cello/flute), Folium 3 – cubed (fixed media – open/live instrumentation).

Ideally, all three pieces will be mixed into a larger fixed media + instrument piece.  The working title for the series is Folium and each section will be 3-5 minutes.