"I assure you that it is
a name you will be hearing much of
in the not too distant future.”
--Jacobson, S & H International
Brian Ciach (pronounced “SIGH-ack“, born 1977) is a composer, new music pianist, and instructor in the San Francisco Bay Area, whose music has been described as "remarkably inventive" (Herald Times) and "beautifully scored" (New Music Box). Dr. Ciach's music is evocative and attractive in its imagery, often using intrepid instrumentation and imaginative formal concepts woven from a free and accessible tonal language. He has written a Vegetable Requiem (2012) for hand-made vegetable ocarinas (commissioned by the percussion quartet, Round Peg Square Hole), a Second Piano Sonata (2007) that runs out of notes, and Road Trip (2010) for soprano and chamber orchestra, presenting original poetry set in two ways, as if written by two different composers. Collective Uncommon: Seven Orchestral Studies on Medical Oddities (2012), his Indiana University dissertation inspired by curiosities found in the Mütter museum, received this review after a performance by the Minnesota Orchestra: "Brian Ciach was the composer most intent upon letting his imagination run wild all over the music (hence the cabbages and dolls), but he also had the strongest sense of how to create layers of sounds" (Pioneer Press). He is an On-Call Instructor of Music Theory at Santa Clara University, is the Assistant Director and Instructor of Music (Piano, Piano Improvisation, Music Theory, and Composition) at the Hunter School of Music (San Jose, California), and a Music Engraver for the Subito Music Corporation. His compositions are published by Potenza Music.
Brian Ciach's music has been performed across Europe and the United States. Recent international premieres of commissioned works include Rorate Caeli for SATB a cappella chorus, performed in Vienna by Chorus Delicti Wein (Vivian Ip, director) and Kentucky Folk Pieces for flute and piano performed in St. Martin-in-the-Fields Church in London and the National Concert Hall in Dublin by Linda Chatterton, flute, and Matthew McCright, piano. Chaconne for amplified cello and electronic music was performed by Roger Lebow at the 2014 Ussachevsky Memorial Festival of Electroacoustic Music at Pomona College in Claremont, California. In 2012, Brian Ciach was a participant in the Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute, which led to that orchestra's performance of Collective Uncommon: Seven Orchestral Studies on Medical Oddities. Aaron Jay Kernis, Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute Founder and former Artistic Director, has said: “Brian Ciach’s Collective Uncommon was one of the hits of this year’s Future Classics concert with the Minnesota Orchestra. I hear it as a 21st-century take on Sweeney Todd’s Pictures at an Exhibition. Brian’s music is quirky, wry and possessed with both good humor and a gleeful objectivity about the absurd. His work is beautifully scored, always clear and full of arresting sounds and images, held together by intuitive dramatic plans that draw the listener in.” Brian Ciach was a participant in the 2012 Mizzou New Music Summer Festival, where Alarm Will Sound premiered The Einstein Slide (2012, an addendum to Collective Uncommon), a piece inspired by a medical slide of Albert Einstein's brain recently acquired by the Mütter Museum. Brian Ciach's Second Piano Sonata has received both national and international recognition, winning the 2008 National Federation of Music Clubs Emil and Ruth Beyer Composition Award and the 2011 American Liszt Society’s Bicentennial Composition Competition, leading to a performance of this sonata by Murray State colleague, Matthew Gianforte, at the American Liszt Society's Bicentennial Conference. Also a composer of electronic music, his work Waterclocks was selected for a performance at the 2009 SEAMUS (Society for Electroacoustic Music in the United States) National Conference. Brian was the 2012 Subito Music Corporation Inaugural Composer Fellow, which involved practical and valuable composer training with a music publishing company. In 2015, Brian engraved Act II, Scene II of George Gershwin's Porgy and Bess for a new critical edition published by Subito Music.
Dedicated to new music, Brian Ciach has performed as pianist in various concert halls in the US, including Carnegie Hall. He has performed and recorded all of his works for piano, premiered Bells for piano and iPod at Temple University by Paul Geissinger, premiered a piano trio by Maurice Wright in Carnegie Hall, and recorded a CD of new chamber works by Emiliano Pardo-Tristán. Recently, Ciach released his Fourth Piano Sonata EP and Third Piano Sonata Album on iTunes (the live recording of his Third Sonata recital at Murray State University can be found here; the Fourth Sonata video can be found here). Dr. Ciach's Master's Piano Recital at Temple University included a from-memory performance of J.S. Bach's Fifth Partita in G Major, Schoenberg's Suite for Piano, Op. 25, and Richard Wernick's Piano Sonata No. 1, which received the following review: "The composer, who was present and who received a warm ovation at the end of the performance, was astonished to see Ciach come on stage to play his piece without any sign of a score in evidence–"Surely he’s not going to play it from memory!", he exclaimed. That, however, is exactly what Ciach did–triumphantly, for though I have heard the sonata played superbly both by Lambert Orkis (another Temple faculty member), for whom it and Wernick’s recent Second Sonata were written, and by the Australian-born Geoffrey Douglas Madge, I found Ciach’s realization fully worthy to stand on equal terms with those two eminent pianists’ readings" (S&H International).
In 2011, Brian earned a doctorate in music composition from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, where he also studied music theory and electronic music. He was the recipient of two Dean's Prizes in music composition at IU in 2009 and 2010 for Mölna Elegy and his orchestral dissertation, Collective Uncommon: Seven Orchestral Studies on Medical Oddities. He also received the Presser Music Award at IU in 2008, which funded travel to the premieres of two of his compositions in Berlin, Germany and Pavia, Italy. He studied composition with P.Q. Phan, Claude Baker, Don Freund, John Gibson (electro-acoustic), Jeffrey Hass (electro-acoustic), and Sven-David Sandström at Indiana University. Additional studies were with Samuel Adler in the Music Composition Course at the Freie Universität Berlin in the summers of 2008 and 2009. Brian studied privately with Pulitzer Prize-winning composer, Richard Wernick from 2004 to 2006. Ciach has two concurrent Master's degrees in piano performance and composition and a Bachelor's degree in piano performance from Temple University, where he studied piano with Charles Abramovic, Lambert Orkis, Harvey Wedeen, and Ignat Solzhenitsyn, and composition with Maurice Wright, Matthew Greenbaum, and Richard Brodhead.
Since 2002, Dr. Ciach has enjoyed teaching a variety of courses in music theory, composition, aural skills, piano, piano improvisation, and electronic music at Murray State University, Ball State University, Indiana University, West Chester University, and Temple University, among others. For more information, visit his Teaching Philosophy Page.
Dr. Ciach is an active piano improviser, and in 2012 released the SoundCloud album, Doppelgänger, which features electronically processed "twins" of improvised material. Ciach also loves to cook, and can usually be found in the kitchen creating new dishes for friends (see his Chez Ciach cooking blog for more information).