Praised by the New York Times as “especially empowering” and “darkly exhilarating”, composer/drummer BRENDAN FAEGRE (b. 1985) crafts music that unites the traditions within which he was formed.
From his upbringing as a rock drummer comes a fascination with the beauty of distortion, imperfection, and improvisation. His months as a tabla apprentice in India led to a music that melds intellectual rigor with physical expressiveness. And his studies of spectromorphology yielded an obsession with the human experience of sound.
Faegre’s music is performed at major festivals around the world: Huddersfield, Gaudeamus, and November Music in Europe; Dark Music Days in Iceland; Beijing Modern and Thailand International in Asia; and Aspen, Cabrillo, and Bang on a Can in the USA.
Recent concert commissions include Collective for the New York Youth Symphony at Carnegie Hall; Transcendance for the David Kweksilber Big Band at the Bimhuis; and Three Affects for historical performance ensemble Nordic Affect at Harpa. Less traditional projects include Music for Bars, an evening-length work of composed, improvised, and curated music for percussion, dancers, and backing track that underwent a 10-bar tour (Slagwerk Den Haag + Club Guy & Roni); and Magical Quest for the Enchanted Armor, a fantasy-themed game piece where teams of musicians navigate repeated melodies and grooves (Cello Biënnale Amsterdam).
In 2013 he debuted the Edge Ensemble, a group challenging the boundaries between notated and improvised music. Faegre leads the ensemble in premieres of his own works, newly commissioned pieces from other composers, and fresh approaches to improvisation. In 2016 he co-founded Bow Hammer Connection, a trio of violin, drums, and electronics. Hailed as “a trio that command a giant sound reminiscent of experimental and noise-rock bands such as Battles and Shellac” (Classical:NEXT), they perform repertoire ranging from Faegre’s Dance Suite in G and the latest David Lang, to an arrangement of Sonic Youth’s Bull in the Heather. In 2018 Faegre premiered his first work as a solo composer-performer: Broken Mirrors, a 20-minute piece for drum kit, analog monosynth, and backing tracks, commissioned by Cross-linx, a “festival to watch” (Pitchfork).
His work has been recognized with awards including the New York Youth Symphony First Music Commission, Beijing Modern Music Festival Young Composer Award, TROMP Composition Competition Prize, Northridge Composition Prize, European Composers’ Professional Development Programme, and a BMI Student Composer Award. He has received educational fellowships from the Aspen Music Festival, Cabrillo Composers/Conductors Workshop, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra Cone Composition Institute, Cortona Sessions, and the Bowdoin International Music Festival. He has also been granted research fellowships from the American-Scandinavian Foundation and the Performing Arts Fund NL. From 2012-2015 Faegre served as New Music Advisor and composer-in-residence for the Lake George Music Festival.
Faegre received Master of Music degrees from the Royal Conservatory in The Hague and Indiana University, and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Puget Sound. He has studied composition with Martijn Padding, Peter Adriaansz, Lasse Thoresen, Don Freund, Claude Baker, and Michael Gandolfi. He also studied at the Norwegian Academy of Music, at Aspen with Christopher Rouse, Steven Stucky, and Syd Hodkinson, at the Cone Institute with Steven Mackey, and studied as tabla apprentice with Pandit Ramdas Palsule in Pune, India.
He now lives in the Netherlands with his wife, baroque violinist Lucia Giraudo, and their daughter Sol.