Music

Ora Uzel is a pianist and composer specializing in improvisational meditations on acoustic piano. Her soundscapes foster immersive transcendent experiences. While some music can guide you to a depth of meditation bordering on sleep-like qualities of relaxation and serenity, other works innovate music theoretical horizons into fiery expressions of sonic ecstasy. Whatever the character of the music, Ora's improvisational works create unique intimate experiences between her and the audience, which may never be replicated.

Ora is also a highly proficient percussionist specializing in mallet and auxiliary percussion. Her styles mix Slavic/Russian and Eastern influences with Impressionist, late-Romantic, post-Romantic, Texturalist, Minimalist, Ambient and other music stylings creating sonic landscapes that saturate the consciousness.

Ora creates compositions through initial "sketches" or with notes taken at random, and then improvises from there. Sometimes no sketch at all is intended until Ora begins to play. Even she can't be certain what will arise during a performance. Even mistakes are allowed, which can morph into new discoveries of sound. No one will ever hear another performance like this again.

Education

B.A. Music - Central College, Pella, Iowa - magna cum laude with honors, studied abroad (London, England, Sep-Dec 2001)
M.M. Composition - DePaul University School of Music, Chicago, Illinois - with distinction and symphonic thesis

Instruments

Piano, mallet percussion, auxiliary percussion, hand drumming, voice (learning), electronic (learning)

Composition Style

Current foci on: improvisational meditations on solo acoustic piano, a piano concerto in the works, electronic ambient minimalism, and downtempo dance music.  Style influences include: Minimalism, improvisation, meditation music, visual art's Abstract Expressionism, Peridadaism, late-Romanticism, post-Romanticism, Impressionism, Symbolism, micropolyphony, sound masses, Texturalism, and Visionary Art.

Influences/Preferences

Arvo Pärt, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Anoushka Shankar, Steve Reich, Danny Elfman, Phillip Glass, Enya, Björk, O.T.T., Blue Stone, Bluetech, Antonin Dvořak, Alexander Scriabin, Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel, John Cage, Albéric Magnard, Wardruna, Dixon's Violin, Gift Culture, Dead Can Dance, Värttinä, Akara, György Ligeti, Olivier Messiaen, Gustav Holst, Dmitri Shoshtakovich, Igor Stravinsky, Ludwig Van Beethoven, Gabriel Fauré, Sergei Prokofiev, George Gershwin, Bela Bartok, Modest Mussorgsky, Jerry Goldsmith, and Nobuo Uematsu.

Performances

    June 21, 2017 - Collaborative improvisation (acoustic piano) with Thollem & Bob Bucko Jr. at Monks in Dubuque, IA
    February 24, 2017 - Improvisational meditation (solo acoustic piano) at a Fabulous Friday Concert
        at St. Luke's United Methodist Church in Dubuque, Iowa

    September 12, 2016 - Improvisational Concert (solo acoustic piano) at Central College, Pella, Iowa
    May 2015 - Improvisational meditation (solo acoustic piano) at open mic nights at the Acorn Theater, Three Oaks, Michigan
    May 2003 - "Rhapsody in Blue" by George Gershwin, Canada tour
        with the Central College Symphonic Wind Ensemble at Seattle and Vancouver area schools
    May 2003 - "Piano Trio" (piano) and "Mode Thirteen" (vibraphone) by Ora Uzel at her Senior Recital at Central College, Pella, Iowa
    March 2003 - "Rhapsody in Blue" by George Gershwin, Concerto-Aria competition winners
        with the Symphonic Wind Ensemble at Central College, Pella, Iowa
    October 2002 - "London Mosaic" (vibraphone) by Ora Uzel at a Symphonic Wind Ensemble concert at Central College, Pella, Iowa

Piano Improvisation Recordings

    For Ora's most recent piano improvisations, check out her Soundcloud page.

Electronic Works

    Ora's Favorites
  • Auroral Whispers:  Ambient with a mysterious atmosphere
  • There Is Always Hope:  Relaxation, easy listening, and healing
  • UBuFWa:  Downtempo dance music, alien and exotic 
  • Amongst the Tula:  Ambient, mystic, relaxation; an extra-terrestrial crystalline forest
  • Autumnal Emanations:  Chill music, aeolian creatures floating through an autumn breeze
  • Ripples:  Ambient/chill music, positive harmonic tone set for immersive tranquil meditation
  • Mysticle:  Ambient with hiphop rhythm
    See Ora Borealis's Soundcloud page for her most recent creations.

Classical & Academic Works 
  • "Winter Sunrise" for improvisatory solo piano; 3-10 minutes; 2011; cell notation, quintal and quartal harmonies
  • "Polyheterodyne Machinamenta" for full orchestra; 5 minutes; 2006; Master's Thesis on micropolyphony, texturalism, and deconstructing dodecaphony
  • "Peace" for improvisatory solo piano; 5-10 minutes; 2005; instructions only score, quintal harmony
  • "Mandala of the Elements" electroacoustic; 10 minutes; 2004; Symbolism
  • "Pop Parody" for solo piano; 4 minutes; 2004; experimental Dadaism: just the chords of a fictional pop song
  • "Words" for soprano and piano; 4 minutes; 2003; piano pointallism, Expressionism, and extended techniques for voice
  • "Synaptic Wastes" for solo piano; 6 minutes; 2003; abstract Expressionism focusing on the sonic decay of the acoustic piano, non-rhythmic with a distant ephemeral texture
  • "Mode Thirteen" for vibraphone and flute; 8 minutes; 2000, 2003 (revised); Messiaen-like locrian mode, 11/8 time signature, and arch form
  • "Impromptu in C" for improvisatory solo piano; 4 minutes; 2003; non-Western blues stylings
  • "Piano Trio" for piano, violin and cello; 18 minutes; 2003; Senior Honors Project with Shoshtakovich, Impressionist, and Expressionist flavors
  • "Scherzo" for symphonic wind ensemble; 30 seconds; 2002; Danny Elfman inspired joke, ridiculously brief and bombastic
  • "Circus Macabre" for woodwind quintet (flute, clarinet, oboe, bass clarinet, french horn); 6 minutes; 2002; inspired by Ray Bradbury's "Something Wicked This Way Comes" and the music of Danny Elfman
  • "London Mosaic" for symphonic wind ensemble; 3 minutes; 2002; Jazz-styled romp through rush hour in London, influenced by Gershwin
Teaching
Music Philosophy, Composition, Theory, History, Appreciation, and Piano Performance

Special Areas of Interest/Curiosity
Visionary music, sacred electronic dance music, non-Western sacred music in American counterculture and fringe subcultures, "shamanic" music, Minimalism and ambient music, post-Romantic tonal early 20th Century music, Scriabin, Rachmaninoff, Dvorak in America, American Musicology, film music, pop music, indigenous music, psychoacoustics, physioacoustics

Piano Performance
Classical solo and concerto works including:
  • Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue," performed as winner of the Central College Concerto-Aria Competition 2003 and performed on tour in Canada with the Central College Symphonic Wind Ensemble
  • Rachmaninoff's "Piano Concerto No. 2," not completed, but memorized first movement in 2001
  • Bartok's "Allegro Barbaro," Gershwin's "Prelude I" and "Prelude II," Rachmaninoff's "Polichinelle," and others...
Percussion
Vibraphone, mallet instruments, auxiliary concert percussion, timpani, shamanic drumming, djembe, steel drums, conga, world percussion, body percussion, and found objects.

Additional Musical Experience:
  • Colts Drum & Bugle Corps, Front Ensemble: 1999, 2000, & 2001 (DCI World Championship Finalists 1999, 2001)
  • Central College Symphonic Wind Ensemble: 1999-2003
  • Piano lessons: 1991-2003
  • Percussion lessons and band involvement: 1990-2003
  • Iowa Ambassadors of Music Europe Tour: 1998
  • Central College Flying Pans Steel Drum Ensemble: 2001-2002
  • Choir Piano Accompaniment: 2002
  • Choir: 1989-1991