Kyle Rowan (b. 1985) is a composer of (mostly) acoustic chamber music. Inspired by interactive fiction, he is currently interested in adapting principles of video game design into music composition, especially in terms of approaches to narrative and player-driven experiences. This research will manifest most explicitly in his upcoming hypertext opera, Not Quite a Sunset.
His music has been performed throughout the United States, as well as internationally at festivals in Italy, Greece, and South Korea, and by such ensembles as the SDSU Wind Symphony, Momenta Quartet, Palimpsest Ensemble, Kallisti Ensemble, Dissonart Ensemble, and Los Angeles Clarinet Choir. He holds degrees from the University of Florida (BM, 2007), University of Illinois (MM, 2009), and he received his doctorate in composition from the University of California – San Diego (PhD, 2016), where he studied with Katharina Rosenberger.
As a clarinetist, he is a founding member of the San Diego-based new music ensemble Figmentum. He has also performed with the La Jolla Symphony, the Albany (Ga) Symphony, and the Gainesville (Fl) Symphony, as well as a number of solo appearances. He studied with Mitchell Estrin, Ferdinand Steiner, and Michael Forte, and received a Performer’s Certificate from the University of Florida.
Kyle is an avid fan of baseball, dogs, video games, and science fiction, especially that with a peculiar or fantastical sense of time. He currently resides just outside San Diego with his wife Brooke, daughter Amelia, and terrier Lily.
Not Quite a Sunset, a hypertext opera
Not Quite a Sunset is an online interactive opera inspired by contemporary hypertext fiction, especially the work developed using the programming environment Twine. The narrative follows Dr. Sara Reyes, a scientist leading a planetary survey mission on a space station in orbit around an extrasolar planet. Over time, she begins to experience dreams and visions that hint at a strange but undeniably strong connection between herself and a mysterious Door on the planet’s surface.
The work is presented primarily as prose that the listener navigates through hyperlinks within the text. Throughout the story, the listener is presented with key decision points where she must choose between several possible paths for Sara, the protagonist. The ramifications of these decisions are played out as the story and music unfold, often with consequences that are not immediately clear. The music is composed primarily as textures and fragments in order to construct and represent a wide variety of immersive musical spaces as the listener explores and experiences the story; these shift between representations of physical spaces on the station to more personal reflections of Sara’s emotional state. All of the audio tracks were created by mixing and layering the composed textures and fragments of the ensemble into different contexts. While the instrumental sextet is heard throughout, the voice is reserved solely for the dream sequences as a representation of Sara’s subconscious.
While the full version is not yet released, you can find a preview of the first two chapters here (not compatible with mobile).
Figmentum is new performing ensemble and collaboration between Daria Binkowski, Kyle Rowan, and Ania Sundstrom based in San Diego, CA. We are a flutist, clarinetist, and pianist, but more than that, we are composers, writers, builders. A Figmentum event may be at a coffee house in North Park, a museum Downtown, or even a bookstore by the beach in Del Mar. Toy pianos – pink, red, and black – may find their way onto our stage. Newly-constructed instruments might make their debut. Our performances seek to engage with the community, to be an integral part of San Diego’s culture.
Currently in our inaugural season, our projects include: commissioning and performing new works for toy piano, in ensemble and in combination with our core instruments; commissioning and performing new works by women, both as part of our standard repertoire and on a dedicated concert program in Spring 2018; and commissioning and performing new works for our newly constructed replica of Harry Partch’s Harmonic Canon II.