Patrick Burke’s Flourish, inspired by Pittsburgh’s hills and rivers, is a hopeful tribute to its future. The music started with a pensive horn solo and jumpy strings but filled in fully with a rocking pulse and gorgeous melodies from the strings. Mr. Burke’s work brought out gorgeous sonorities from all sections.
~Elizabeth Bloom, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The title track of this impressive album by the New York-based NOW Ensemble was written by Patrick Burke, a Duquesne University composer. Composed for flute, piano, clarinet, bass, and electric guitar, “Awake” gently opens its eyes quietly and stretches with Mahler-influenced woodwind licks. Gradually it grows louder and expansive with layer upon layer of sweeping sound built on simple harmonic progressions.
It’s symbolic of how most days are filled with repetition yet also contain unpredictable and complex thoughts and events. “Awake” is indie-classical at it’s finest–thoughtful yet energetic music that bridges worlds (hints of Javanese gamelan) and genres (pop and classical).
~Andrew Druckenbrod, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The rhythmic bite and pep of Patrick Burke’s All Together Now (2004) dispensed with extra-curriculars and the meditative mood. This most obviously virtuosic piece of the program is all sharp, quick turns and abrupt starts and stops for guitar, piano, flute, clarinet and bass. The players — Segnitz, Jurs, Sander, Helmers and Raciti — played Burke’s jolting syncopations and lighting runs with great assurance. They revealed the glittering fun in this music. Burke cast it in something like a rondo form, or perhaps a ritornello form. A bit resembling an extended jazzy cadence formula, in various guises, alternates with ingenious arrangements of zippy, hocketing melodies that sometimes evolve into counterpoint. I like this piece a lot, as it is at once very sophisticated and instantly accessible.
~Tom Strini, Third Coast Digest
Patrick Burke’s “Hypno-germ” is a driving and dramatic little gem that contrasts Alex Sopp’s impressive virtuosity on the flute with TV Action Jazz type rhythms, and his “All Together Now” has nothing to do with The Beatles, but artfully emphasizes the sense of balance and discipline shared among theplayers in the Now Ensemble.
~Dave Lewis, All Music
Machine-like minimalist rhythms rub up against pop-song melodies and a lot of fluttering flute. The playing has a charming lightness, and Burke’s balletic “All Together Now” and Greenstein’s pensive, lovely “Sing-Along” are memorable compositions.
~Bradley Bambarger, Star-Ledger
Patrick Burke is one of the most exciting young composers I have heard recently. His music is bold and invigorating, intellectually stimulating, and always fresh and original.
~Kevin Puts, composer
The formal elegance of chamber music with a pop-honed concision and rhythmic vitality.
~Steve Smith, Time Out New York, [review of NOW Ensemble’s debut CD]
Similar groups might play a work once or twice and move on, but NOW can play a piece many times, like a rock band, internalizing its physicality. Burke’s “All Together Now” is a prime example of why that succeeds. “It starts off in minimalist tradition but turns into an explicit ‘rock’ song — sometimes everyone is playing the same line, and sometimes it’s staggered or slowly transforming into everyone having their own part and function.”
~Manny Theiner, Pittsburgh City Paper
Patrick Burke’s Hypno-germ (2006) seduces with a sinuous flute solo abruptly interrupted by clipped, engagingly repetitive ensemble; it is Debussy’s faun awaking to an absurdist animated television cartoon.
~Seen and Heard International Concert Review
[Steve] Reich changed music, and he also changed how music relates to society. In the face of early incomprehension he took a do-it-yourself approach to getting his work before the public….With his namesake ensemble, Reich performed in galleries, clubs, and wherever else he felt welcome. The effects of this paradigm shift can be seen on any day of the week in New York, as composer-led ensembles proliferate. Bang on a Can is the longtime leader, and the NOW Ensemble is a deft young group gaining attention….Post-Reich, composers are evolving into a more mobile, adaptable species.
~Alex Ross, The New Yorker, “Celebrating Steve Reich”