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Seth Parker Woods performs Gifford's Difficult Grace by James Holt

Photo: James Holt 

“Chanting lines from Dudley Randall’s poem Primitives, Parker Woods opened the programme with Fredrick Gifford’s new piece Difficult Grace (the title uses a phrase from the poem), which is scored for speaking cellist and multichannel electronics to create a multi-textured dialogue between the rhythms and sounds of the Randall text and Parker Woods’s voice and cello as a kind of mega-instrument. ”

–Thomas May, Gramophone, 2020

"Fredrick Gifford’s Mobile 2015: Satirise provides a different perspective on the timbral profile of the harp by pairing it with a similar instrument: the guitar. The pairing is just homogenous enough to create granular shifts in color, emphasized by the detuning of the guitar and the open form encouraging conversational interplay between Melsky and guitarist Jesse Langen. Mobile 2015: Satirise is subtly humorous, and provides a nice palate cleanser for the middle of the album."

–Adam O'Dell, I Care if you Listen, 2019


"One must weave these [novel] techniques into a compelling tapestry. The most successful pieces at this task were Nomi Epstein’s for Collect/Project and Fredrick Gifford’s MOBILE 2016, both world premieres....  Gifford’s piece for flutist alone was divided into clear sections: extended episodes of percussive hissing and buzzing into the flute ... rhythms alternated with spacious segments in which the flutist seemed to summon the sound of the surf."

–John Y. Lawrence, Chicago Classical Review, 2016


"Collect/Project is based in Chicago and Chicago's sister city of Hamburg, Germany, and its music poses all sorts of provocative questions about what today's music is supposed to represent ... I am indebted to Ear Taxi for giving me a rare chance to hear such fare." [concert including the world-premiere of Shadow Play]

–John Von Rhein, Chicago Tribune, 2016


"Composed by Chicagoan Fredrick Gifford: "Hinge With Filament," ... uses prepared piano and slightly more conventional clavichord sounds ... arrayed with manic intensity and a wonderfully harrowing structural sensibility." 

–Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader, 2016


"Ms. Arnold ... also brought immaculate detail to four of Frederick Gifford’s brief, a cappella “100 Not-Songs for John Cage” (2012), spinning the word “curved” in one number with an easy twang."  

–Zachary Woolfe, NY Times, SEPT. 10, 2015

"For One, Everyone, composer Fredrick Gifford used a text by Randy Newman to create a world of characters and colors that exploded from the stage."  

-Sam Zelitch, I care if you listen, 2013


“It was Frederick Gifford's paper, "Imagining an Ever-Changing Entity: Compositional Process in Earle Brown's Cross Sections and Color Fields," that I found most engaging from the perspective of sketch and manuscript studies. In a beautifully organized presentation, drawn from an exhaustive examination of the sketches, Gifford proposed a five-step compositional process that perhaps most importantly put Brown's thoughts about open form as a later step, if not the last.”

–Rebecca Marchand, Beyond Notation:

An Earle Brown Symposium, American Musicological Society, 2013


“Gifford’s piece called for guitarist Jesse Langen to retune his instrument to allow for microtones and exploited the enormous range of the guitar in a virtuosic manner that called for finger stretches of enormous dexterity that Langen tossed off like child’s play. Exploring the timbral properties of the guitar has usually required amplification, feedback and the like, but Gifford chose to exploit the natural properties of the acoustic guitar in some striking new and innovative ways.”

Dennis Polkow, Chicago Classical Review, 2011

"This feel is present in a general manner through a sense of spontaneity interjected by the work’s improvisatory nature, particularly noticeable in the violin/piano exchanges that begin in the sixth minute, and specifically through regular, rock-like drum patterns that are weaved throughout. In concord with the composer’s programmatic intentions, the electroacoustic sound and accompanimental instrumental textures are generally subdued and austere. An unsettling relationship results between these gestures and the seemingly oppositional active drum and soloistic instrumental material, thereby further buttressing the work’s conceptual background; the drum break heard near the end of the piece’s thirteenth minute is particularly notable in this regard. The Amnon Wolman Ensemble, an eight-member group that includes the composer, is featured on this recording. They play with great skill and subtly, fluidly performing this stylistically challenging work."

–Michael Boyd, Computer Music Journal, CD review: The Marilyn Series, 2001


"The instruments they've chosen--mandolin, guitar, and bass clarinet--make an unusual blend, and the instrumentalists are adept at this kind of controlled chaos."

Ted Shen, Esquisite Corpse | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader, 1999

“Fred Gifford’s r/evolve...proved to be a rewarding exercise in the perceived stretching of musical time.”

Garaud MacTaggart, Buffalo News, 1997

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