Clint Needham

Notes from the Composer

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Clint Needham Clint Needham (Photo by Chris Eller)

The Body Electric

Performed by the Wellesley College Composers Conference Ensemble, conducted by James Baker.

The Body Electric was written for the 2009 Wellesley College Composers Conference and was premiered on the final concert of the conference with Jim Baker conducting.

Writing a work that attempted to capture the mood of this epic poem seemed impossible. Because of the inherent abstract nature of text-less music, writing a work that was a musical blow-by-blow of the poem seemed equally impossible. For me, the solution was to take three fragments of the poem and focus on conveying their particular moods. In the score, I have included the following lines at the beginning of each section: “the Body electric”, “A divine nimbus exhales”, and “the Body at auction.”

Chamber Symphony

Performed by American Composers Orchestra; conducted by Jeffrey Milarsky.

Chamber Symphony is constructed in three movements, played without pause; “Hammering Out,” “Open-ended Echoes,” & “Radiant Nation.”  The movement titles suggest a general atmosphere each attempts to express rather than articulating a clear program that each follows.  The outer movements act as the antithesis of each other in terms of texture and mood (each represents a political party – you decided which is which). “Hammering Out” employs an aggressive, relentless, pounding beat that frequently shifts, and utilizes a great deal of loud metallic sounds.  Politically, this movement represents an extremely powerful political machine that eventually pounds itself out of control.  “Radiant Nation,” a much lighter and optimistic movement, uses an up-beat grove throughout. This movement embodies the persistence of the cool, driven candidate that seemed to rise above the fray.  The middle movement, “Open-ended Echoes,” is less political and represents the connective serenity at the heart of humanity.  Following the overtly pulsated and destructive nature of the first movement, “Open-ended Echoes” is somewhat meditative and almost void of any perceivable pulse.  The movement attempts to transform the volatile nature of the first movement into the radiant spirit of the last.

Chamber Symphony was commissioned by the American Composers Orchestra ( for its Orchestra Underground Series with the generous support of Paul Underwood.  Additional support for the ACO’s Emerging Composers Program comes from the National Endowment for the Arts.  The premiere took place on November 14, 2008 at Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall with Jeffrey Milarsky conducting.


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Comments [13]

Alan from NY

Just heard his "Driving Music" the other day and really enjoyed the performance. The music here is great as well! Really cool sounding - not boring!!!

Oct. 06 2010 12:59 PM
Jan Price from Nash, TX

I predict that Clint Needham will become a name that everyone will know.

Sep. 29 2010 10:10 AM

Beautiful lines and great energy!

Sep. 27 2010 08:34 PM
Valleria from Texarkana, AR

Clint's compositions are exciting, different and unique. He is an amazing composer who is able to blend the modern with that which is timeless. His works are always moving and inspiring. I am hopeful that Clint will be chosen to have a work performed by Orpheus at Carnegie Hall.

Sep. 24 2010 05:43 PM
Hillery from Delaware, OH

These recordings of Clint's pieces are really great, but the live performances of these pieces were an amazing thing to see and hear. The energy, excitement and enthusiasm from the musicians on stage is hard to come by with new music. The reaction from the audience is a thing to see as well. Clint's music appeals to not only musicians, but to the audience which is hard to come by.

Sep. 17 2010 10:31 PM
Anon from Columbus, OH

Dr. Needham's music is way cool! Hope he wins ;)

Sep. 10 2010 03:37 PM
Emily W. from Chicago

The Body Electric is so eclectic! The slower music is really beautiful and moving. This music is very exciting!

Aug. 07 2010 12:33 PM
Carl S. from Bloomington, IL

The colors and formal shifts are constantly engaging and beautiful -- wonderful music --

Jul. 14 2010 05:26 PM

Really cool pieces! The Body Electric kicks a$$ and the Symphony is really pretty and groovy - really like to hi-hat!!!!!

Jul. 02 2010 05:22 PM

I suspect we will be hearing a lot more from the young Dr. Needham, as well as generations to come. Certain to produce classics.

Jul. 01 2010 12:17 PM
Keane from Boulder, CO

I have listened to a bit of Clint's music, and I am always struck by his compositional virtuosity, his control of whatever instruments he is using, and the emotional appeal of his music. I really look forward to hearing new works of his for years to come and would love to hear a new work for Orpheus.

Jun. 26 2010 05:07 PM

Clint keeps orchestra music from becoming boring. I second the comment about his percussion writing!

Jun. 25 2010 01:32 PM
Scott from Philadelphia, PA

Such passion and energy in both pieces! I very much enjoyed the percussion in the 1st piece - it sounds very current. I hope to hear more from Needham!

Jun. 23 2010 10:55 PM

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