Tone: Color

For Electric String Quartert

2021 | c. 40’-55’ | Advance
    2vln / vla / vc + optional fi xed media + optional dynamic lighting display

Tone: Color Art Journal

Program Note: 

     Tone:Color is, in its full, an evening-length, theatrically styled string quartet featuring, fixed media, dynamic lighting display, and dance. This concert explores the fundamental concepts of our human perceptions inspired by my own experiences with synesthesia, a phenomenon where the mind crosses feedback between differentsenses. In my case, stimuli from sound turns to colors shapes, textures, and space. A piano flourish is a set of thin, turquoise cracks spreading across a luminescent obsidian plane, chords and melody take on rigid, yet flexible shapes, bass tones oscillate with a warmth and fuzz of a plush fleece blanket, and lower sounds hide in the bottom right corner of the space where I day dream.

     For this project, I recorded interviews about the nature of color, such as, “What is color?”, and “What is your favorite color?”. Then, with these recordings, I stitched together a short narrative from the interviews that illuminates the physical and emotional connections that people have with the colors of our visual world.

     These recordings act as a sort of voiced over program note for each movement of music, titled:

          I. “Frequency Spectra”

          II. “In Saturation” and,

          III. “Nacre Loops”.

     Each movement dives deeper into the conversations people have about the way they experience their world, bending, pulling, stretching, and poking at our associations with hues and values. Along with the music, I’ve put together a light show to share a little bit about how I see my world, and how these sounds and concepts dance together in my head.

Interviews provided by:

  • Abrielle Scott
  • Adam Lutz
  • Alexa Marcon
  • Dan Langa
  • Eric Whitmer   
  • Faryal Jahangir 
  • Jamie Trinajstich     
  • Jeff Gumpertz
  • Krizel de Leon 
  • Kyle DeCamp 
  • Nick Batina 
  • Nicole Russell
  • Ryan Nicholson
  • Sam Barrett
  • Simon Li
  • Tiaalea Tupuola  
  • Vicki Nguyen

 With featured text and voice over by Hunter Goetz

The original performance was premiered with the Bergamot String Quartet (, and featured original choreography and dance performance by Annie Nikunen.


World Premiere - April 22, 7PM with the Bergamot String Quartet and Annie Nikunen, dance @ Greenpoint Hall, Brooklyn, NY

About The Performers

     Bergamot Quartet is fueled by a passion for exploring and advocating for the music of living composers, continually expanding the limits of the string quartet’s rich tradition in western classical music. With a priority given to music by women, they aim to place this new, genre-bending music in meaningful dialogue with the histories that precede it with creative programming, community-oriented audience building, and frequent commissioning.
     Bergamot values partnership and collaboration as a vital element of their creative work. Highlights of their 2022 season are releasing their debut album, In The Brink, on New Focus Recordings featuring a work by member Ledah Finck with percussionist Terry Sweeney as guest artist; a co-commission of Darian Thomas with Sō Percussion as part of Sō’s Flexible Commissions project, to be released as a collaborative album in 2022; and a collaboration with Princeton University’s doctoral composers and Arx Duo, whose work Bergamot will premiere in March. In addition, Bergamot is particularly excited about helping young people discover their potential as music creators. Recent engagements include being the 2020-2021 virtual ensemble-in-residence for the Junior Bach program at the Peabody Institute and for MATA Jr. 2021, and workshopping/performing undergraduates’ pieces at Towson University and University of Maryland Baltimore County. Their upcoming performances include a residency with Peabody Conservatory, and various appearances at New York City venues including The Greene Space, Bar LunÀtico, Mise_en Place, and Carnegie Hall with the Mannes Sounds Festival.

Bergamot Quartet is Ledah Finck and Sarah Thomas, violins; Amy Tan, viola; and Irène Han, cello. Founded at the Peabody Institute in Baltimore in 2016, Bergamot Quartet is based in New York City and is currently the Graduate String Quartet in Residence at the Mannes School of Music.

Find out more at

     Annie Nikunen is a NYC-based multidisciplinary sound-movement artist, drawing from all four areas in her process, and amalgamating them in her practice. As a composer, flutist, dancer, choreographer and radio broadcaster, she de-/re-constructs performer-composer boundaries, keen to expand interconnections between movement and sound, and how they represent brokenness and healing within the silent role of real time. With her work spanning a wide variety of form, genre and medium, Nikunen creates based on collective human experiences that are paradoxically individualized, striving to make her work broadly relatable yet deeply personal, sonically and somatically communicating emotion as empirically and intimately as possible so listeners and observers may find personal resonance. With improvisation and a narrative-driven methodology at the core of her sonic and physical exploration, Nikunen extracts sound from choreographic gesture and the open secrets of human emotion, inviting performers to embody the story within their own body, mind and heart. She works from uniquely-stitched lineages of people, experiences and memories that can never be replicated, filled with the past we built, present we live, and future yet to be seen. After initially pursuing ballet, she began exploring modern dance as well as contact improvisation, all of which influence her mappings of movement and sound. Her research interests examine sound-body connections, composer-choreographer relationships, embodied cognition, and sound’s relationships with gesture, language/text, emotion and memory.
     Nikunen’s works have been featured nationally and internationally, performed by ensembles and renowned soloists including International Contemporary Ensemble, Eleanor Sandresky, ZOFO, BlackBox Ensemble, Earth Ears Ensemble, Mieko Kanno, Iida-Vilhelmiina Sinivalo, Fonema Consort, Jamie Clark, Hint of Lime Brass, and more. An avid collaborator, she has worked with composers, performers, theorists, visual artists, sound artists, music technologists, cinematographers, dancers and choreographers. She has performed and had her work presented at a wide range of venues and institutions in the US and Europe, including concert halls, galleries, parks and churches.
     Referred to as the “…best flute player in the state of NY” by The Observer, Nikunen has performed in contemporary, classical, jazz, indie rock, theater, dance and Taizé settings. She is a founding member of NYC-based new music group Blackbox Ensemble, for which she is the flutist and Marketing Director. She is also a composer/choreographer/flutist/dancer in Periapsis Music & Dance. Nikunen is currently pursuing an MM in Composition at NYU, and holds a BA in Music from Barnard College, Columbia University, where she also studied contemporary flute performance at Manhattan School of Music.​

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Hunter Goetz is a New York born and based Actor/Singer/Writer. Educated in England, Hunter returned to New York for university, graduating with a BFA in Acting from NYU. After that, Hunter settled in the city to pursue a career in the performing arts and continue his master education under Wynn Handman and singing training under Jamon Maple. Recently, he has turned his talents and attention to Commercial Voice-over work and the development of new musicals, including Rocking Chair and Brothers Wright with Scantic River Productions - the latter of which can be heard on Spotify.

Hunter is delighted to be collaborating with Kristian on this composition.