“Very imagianative and provactive, presenting classical music this way is truly unique, there are no words to describe it . . . really makes you rock in your chair.”Christopher Rouse, American composer
“The pianist (Charles Boguinia) that all composers must seek out to bring their compositions to life.”John Corigliano American composer
Classical, Contemporary, Electronica, EDM – Engaging with popular culture, younger audiences, and redefining the concert experience
Charles White, known professionally as Charles Boguinia, is a pianist and Composer/DJ, who imaginatively transforms the way classical music is experienced by audiences in today’s digital age. Charles has worked with the Kronos Quartet, JACK Quartet, Moscow String Quartet, Sō Percussion, and the ÆON Music Ensemble. His music has been performed at Carnegie Hall, Steinway Hall, Symphony Space, Le Poisson Rouge, the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and other venues. Charles has collaborated with the NASA Goddard Institute on works addressing climate change. His work has been featured across the United States as well as in The Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Spain, United Kingdom, Russia, Ukraine, and Poland. He is a founding director of the ÆON Music Ensemble, a new music ensemble based in NYC.
As a composer-performer, my work embraces a diverse range of musical and extra-musical influences. Musicians today are faced with the difficult task of negotiating and balancing influences of different genres, styles, and extra-musical ideas in their own work. I am very interested in addressing how polystylistic techniques and interdisciplinary collaborations inform the creative process, allowing for an extension of the polystylistic compositional technique.
My works incorporate electronics and multimedia elements and explore non-traditional instruments such as glass, water, grass blades, and sounds from everyday objects. One of my research interests is to explore how compositional techniques in electroacoustic music can inform acoustic composition. An example of this compositional approach is seen in my works ‘Balance’ and ‘Strain Point.’ The work ‘Strain Point’ began as an intuitive composition written for glass, and water, and played with six fingers. The work aims to create a stark sonic world that is governed by subtle changes in timbre. It explores the changes in sound quality that result from friction and pressure of the fingertips on the glass. Individual fingertips are treated like voices, even though specific pitches are outside of the performer’s control the incidental pitches create harmonies. Even though exact pitch cannot be controlled by the performer the varying surface area of the fingertip on the glass gives the performer control of the register. More surface area increases the reaction rate. The more surface area of the fingertip produces a faster vibration, less surface area of the fingertip produces a slower vibration, hence the higher and lower pitch of the sound. The title ‘Strain Point’ is defined as a temperature at which a certain glass viscosity is reached. The musical equivalent of this composition is the addition of voices over time which results in a thick sonic texture.
Through spectrum analysis of ‘Strain Point’, I measured the frequency resolution of the glass, finding the frequency components which lead to an acoustic composition titled ‘Balance’ for saxophone quartet, cello, and bass. I wanted to transform the austere sonic material of that composition ‘Strain Point’ into more euphonic music while preserving some of the abrasive and raw qualities of the original. The work is characterized by events of highly contrasting moods. A solemn undercurrent runs through the entire work, it was my intent for the quietest music to have just as much tension and gravity as the louder more violent material. ‘Balance’ explores the idea of equilibrium. Musical fragments are passed through the instruments and tension is built as they collide and glide past one another. Structurally the work explores both balance and imbalance, at times juxtaposing the extreme registers of the instruments and at others lingering on one pitch or a narrow range.
My works are also inspired by environmental and political challenges. In 2015, after following the developments in climate change, I felt an urge to react to the severity of this pressing issue through my work. I was asked to compose a work for the Columbia Earth Institute and the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network. This led to a collaboration with the NASA Goddard Institute on a musical composition titled ‘Rise’.
The musical material for ‘Rise’ was derived from atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and annual mean land-ocean temperature data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Earth System Research Laboratory (NOAA) and the Annual Mean Land-Ocean Temperature Analysis from NASA. The composition spans over 115 years, beginning in 1900 and ending in 2015. Every second of music represents a month of time, and every twelve seconds depicts a year. The music takes the annual and monthly mean concentrations of atmospheric CO2 and transforms the data into harmonies and melodies. The performance also featured a live simulation illustrating differences in carbon dioxide levels as the piece progressed, the multimedia video element was created for the performance in collaboration with NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City.
‘Rise’ was premiered by the Kronos Quartet at a concert during the United Nations 2015 General Assembly. The concert was titled ‘Music for a Sustainable Planet Concert’ which I co-organized with Jeffrey D. Sachs, professor of economics, a leader in sustainable development, and senior UN advisor.
I am passionate about music and am excited to contribute to contemporary music through my skills as a pianist, composer, and DJ. Collaboration with other artists and disciplines is important to me, in ‘The Unanswered Question” lecture series given by Leonard Bernstein in 1973, Leonard Bernstein reflected on this idea“it was an initiation into the love of learning, of learning how to learn . . . as a matter of interdisciplinary cognition – that is, learning to know something by its relation to something else.” It is my goal to continue discovering and exploring my field through interdisciplinary collaboration.
Musicians today are becoming more than just performers, conductors, or composers; the performing and creative artist must also be an entrepreneur, impresario, educator, and humanitarian. The 21st-century artist must have the skills to delineate goals, exchange ideas, plan ventures, manage assets, and market their art.
In 2012 I founded a non-profit organization, The ÆON Music Ensemble which is an IRS 501(c)(3) charitable organization that supports the New York City education, music, and arts community. ÆON is a means to give young composers the opportunity to have their works performed by professional musicians in New York City. In my mind success has always been connected to the community, you cannot do it alone, and honestly, it would not be worth doing it alone, I think the most successful composers are those who really like working with performers, starting ensembles, and looking for new ways to engage listeners. The ensemble has blossomed into a large community and network of young musicians from the leading conservatories and universities in the United States, such as the Juilliard School, the Curtis Institute, the Manhattan School of Music, Yale University, Princeton University, and New York University.
As a pianist, I am an avid performer of new music and regularly commission new works. I am passionate about contemporary music and am excited to explore new tendencies in the arts while preserving the rich tradition of the instrument. An experience that has influenced my pianistic and pedagogical aspirations was working with pianist and conductor Robert Levin. Robert’s musicological approach to historical authenticity in performance has enriched my modus operandi and led me to further research on historically accurate performance practice. Since working with Robert I have expanded on the concept of authentic performance and embarked on a project to record the Complete Keyboard Sonatas by W.A. Mozart. I released Volume 1 of The Complete Mozart Piano Sonatas, with Volume 2 and 3 scheduled for release. I am deeply rooted in the classical piano tradition and regularly perform at music festivals including TIHMS – The International Holland Music Sessions, the Royal Danish Academy of Music and the Gijon International Piano Festival, the Bowdoin International Music Festival, the Sarasota Music Festival, Music Academy of the West, Tanglewood Music Festival and others.