New York-based composer and producer Kelly Moran defies classical norms with a contemporary, experimental approach to the piano. Presented by AdHoc.

April 3, 2024
7:30 pm
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New York-based composer and producer Kelly Moran defies classical norms with a contemporary, experimental approach to the piano. Known for acclaimed albums like "Bloodroot" and "Ultraviolet", Moran's avant-garde compositions, blending prepared piano techniques and improvisation, have garnered critical acclaim. Moran has also collaborated with artists the likes of Oneohtrix Point Never as part of his touring ensemble for 2018 album “Age Of”, as well as singer and composer FKA Twigs' live ensemble. Moran has also composed for classical musician Margaret Leng Tan and worked with other visionary contemporaries like Kelsey Lu and Yves Tumor.

Her forthcoming album ‘‘Moves in the Field” is out March 29th, 2024 on Warp Records.  The album is a series of duets for Moran and her Yamaha Disklavier piano, a programmable keyboard akin to a player piano. The record pushes the boundaries of human and machine interaction, and solidifies Moran’s status as a trailblazing figure in modern music.

Over the past decade, New York-based composer and producer Kelly Moran has  challenged the piano's traditional, classically-imposed school of thought with a more  contemporary, experimental approach. An accomplished and highly sought-after composer,  Moran has collaborated with artists the likes of Oneohtrix Point Never as part of his touring  ensemble for 2018 album Age Of, as well as singer and composer FKA Twigs' live  ensemble. Moran has also composed for classical musician Margaret Leng Tan and worked  with other visionary contemporaries like Kelsey Lu and Yves Tumor. As a solo artist,  Moran's critically acclaimed albums, Bloodroot and Ultraviolet, have explored a variety of  extended piano techniques like John Cage-inspired prepared piano and exercises in  improvisation. Her unique strand of experimental piano compositions, which conjure  hypnotizing textures and dramatic compositional arcs, have been included on year-end lists  across classical, avant-garde, and metal genres.  

Moves in the Field moves away from the prepared piano techniques which defined earlier  works like 2017’s Bloodroot and her 2018 Warp debut Ultraviolet. Instead, Moves in the  Field shows Moran returning to her roots using the natural sound of an acoustic piano.  Referring to a series of skating rudiments, the title Moves in the Field reflects the intense  practice Moran put into becoming an even more masterful pianist when paired with an  impossibly perfect technical partner: the Disklavier. 

Moves in the Field is a series of duets for Moran and her Yamaha Disklavier–a  technologically advanced version of a player piano. Able to perfectly replicate humanlike  playing through intense fine-tuning and programmable dynamics, the Disklaviers used on  Moves in the Field act as a foil to Moran's own striving for a balance of technical perfection  and emotional expression in her performances and compositions. Moran augments her  pianistic abilities by utilizing the Disklavier to write intricate piano parts that go beyond  human capabilities. Alongside Moran’s real time playing on each track, listeners are treated  to accompaniments by the Disklavier that feature inhumanly fast arpeggios, chords requiring  more than ten fingers to play, and other motifs surpassing physical limits on the piano. Used  in an experimental capacity, the Disklavier here explores the realm of the inhuman and  impossible. A signed Yamaha artist, Moran's utilization of the stalwart brand's pianos is not  new, having used a trans-acoustic piano on previous releases, but, armed with multiple  Disklavier pianos, Moran is able to expand her piano experimentation to an even further  degree. 

Moran began working with the Disklavier in early 2020 when she was commissioned to  compose a piano duet for herself and acclaimed composer Missy Mazzoli. Yamaha Music  loaned Moran a Disklavier piano as a means to help aid in the compositional process so she  could hear in real time what her duet would sound like without another pianist there to  perform with her. Shortly after when the pandemic hit, Moran composed in isolation. During  a time when she was unable to play music with other collaborators, the Disklavier became  her beloved duet partner, removing the limits of physicality thanks to the instrument’s  motorized existence. When paired with Moran's own, graceful performance, Moves in the 

Field's duality of the human and the inhuman presents the idea of perfection as something  which is attainable through exertion and compositional obsession, but also within the  Disklavier's automation and fine-tuning. Dancing around Moran's own performance, the  Disklavier's extended range and beyond-human capabilities result in multi-layered and  heavily orchestrated compositions. The depth of emotion and a human touch can be found  within Moran’s performance which, even through specific and obsessive composition, is not  captured by the Disklavier.  

Moves in the Field is a product of execution, idealism, and careful production. Influenced by  contemporary classical artists like Philip Glass, John Luther Adams, Olga Bell, Julia Wolfe,  and David Lang, as well as alternative and electronic artists like Aleksi Perala, Telefon Tel  Aviv, and Tori Amos, Moran and Moves in the Field exist at a precipice above two unlikely  worlds. Utilizing classical minimalism's repetition and texture, but also the idea of  modernized and synthesized "texture" found within electronic music, Moves in the Field's duality exists beyond the idea of humanity versus superhumanity and superimposes  Classical Modernity upon an even more contemporary school of thought. 

Mixed and recorded by Dan Bora, otherwise known as composer Philip Glass' sound  engineer, Moves in the Field was given the same treatment as modern music's most notable  names. Much like the perfection Moran strove to achieve on this record in both thematic and  execution aspects, Bora's mix and recording prowess gives the world as close to a carbon  copy of Moran's performance as humanly possible. Mastered by Telefon Tel Aviv's Joshua  Eustis, one of Moran's favorite artists (who was discovered to be a fan of her music, as well),  Moves in the Field proves itself to be Moran's boldest work, featuring an all-star staff and an  equally impressive recording. 

A departure from Moran's previous works, Moves in the Field portrays Kelly Moran in a  compositional school all her own. Composed in an era of isolation and meditation on human  and technical limitations, Moves in the Field presents itself as a personal, exuberant work of  humanity versus the machine and technicality versus musicality, gliding between two worlds with elegance and a balanced mastery. Her second album for Warp Records, Moves in the  Field will undoubtedly cement Kelly Moran as one of young modern music's greats.


Peretsky is the vocal and multi-instrumental performance project of composer, educator, and writer Max Alper. Peretsky, which is the original Alper family surname in it's native Russian Yiddish, began as a means of "returning to consonance" after a decade of harsh noise and free improvisatory studies, culminating in being the first recipient of an MFA in Sonic Arts from the Conservatory of Music at Brooklyn College in 2018. Combining influences of minimalist drone, noise, and outsider Americana through a contemporary and intimate production lens, the Peretsky project bridges the gaps of warmth and abrasion, singularity through sound mass, and spontaneity within structure. When not in the studio or classroom, you can find Max complaining about the state of the music industry through humor and satire under the online moniker @la_meme_young.

Apr 3

AdHoc presents Kelly Moran with opener Peretsky