MICHAEL EINZIGER’s path to the orchestral world started very early. He began playing piano at age three, and started on the guitar at age 12. As a child, Michael’s mother worked for an LA Phil-sponsored program called The Music Mobile, which teaches local youth about the orchestra. When he was four years old, he traveled around to different schools with his mother, helping to set up orchestral instruments and teach other young children how to play them.
During this time, Einziger saw dozens of LA Phil performances at the Music Center, became inspired by the Disney movie Fantasia, and was introduced to Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring.
At age 15, he started the well-known rock band Incubus, in the living room of his mother’s house in the western San Fernando Valley. He spent his later teen years working as an engineer at a local recording studio called 4th Street Recording in Santa Monica.
In the summer of 2006, Einziger produced and recorded the album Nighttiming by Coconut Records in his home studio with long-time friend, Jason Schwartzman.
Einziger performed his first concert piece, entitled End.>vacuum, at UCLA’s Royce Hall in August of 2008. The piece consisted of nine musical movements and was performed by a chamber orchestra led by renowned Los Angeles conductor and Einziger’s longtime collaborator, Suzie Katayama. The evening included an opening lecture on the importance of experimental particle physics by British physicist Dr. Brian Cox.
Einziger has a profound interest in the physical sciences and currently attends Harvard University, where he is studying physics, human evolutionary biology, and musical composition.
Forced Curvature of Reflective Surfaces was inspired by a combination of the physical appearance of the Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall and Einziger’s studies in the philosophy of quantum mechanics. The music was written for 12 electric guitars (played with a slide), 12 strings (violin, viola, cello), and is based on the glissando. The instruments have been orchestrated in terms of corresponding high and low registers that reflect each other as though being viewed through a mirror. The exterior shape of the Hall informed the shape of the sounds created and by necessity, the score was first drawn visually in the form of architectural-like renderings, before being committed to paper in the form of a hand-written score.
“This building is obviously a solid, immobile structure,” Einziger says of Walt Disney Concert Hall. “But it looks like a series of reflective waves that have been frozen in a specific state at a specific place in time, and I wanted to try and imagine what it might sound like if that idea were to be expressed as waves of sound. Adding a fourth dimension of time to the picture would force the structure into a Minkowskian space-time manifold, and it would therefore become directional. It would be as though time itself were forcing the curvature of the reflective material in a forward-motion, because time appears to be directional.”
The piece has no apparent formal structure and has been through-composed. All of the instruments will be fused together, forming two distinct “mirror images.” The strings and guitars combined will not sound like separate groups of instruments, but rather as dense units of a single instrument uncharacteristic of entirely one or the other.
Einziger conceived of the piece at Harvard University, where he is currently a student and has studied the history and philosophy of physics with physicist/historian Dr. Peter Galison.