In February 2021, 11 months after the onset of COVID-19, a historic winter storm pummeled the southern U.S. with freezing temperatures that caused widespread power outages, lack of clean water, and damage to people’s homes. Some people died of hypothermia in their own homes, wrapped in blankets.
As Winter Storm Uri pushed the level of isolation due to COVID-19 to new heights, I decided to try to capture this experience through music: a group of people facing a collective challenge, yet isolated as individuals.
I started by making a harmonic and percussive backing tack, and sent it a group of talented musicians in the UNT community: old friends and new colleagues alike.
Each person was invited to contribute whatever the felt inspired to play over this backing track, with no rules, no idea who else was participating, and no clue as to what anyone else would contribute.
This is the result.
Anuj Bhutani is quickly emerging as a unique and versatile composer. Since 2020, he has won 1st prize in Cerddorion Vocal Ensemble’s Emerging Composer Competition, Verdigris Ensemble’s ION Composer Competition, Blank House Media’s Recording Competition, was a Finalist for the ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award, won 3rd prize in the American Prize in Choral Composition and The Choral Project’s Composition Competition, was a Finalist in the RED NOTE Composition Competition as well as the Keene State College Call for Scores, and has been selected for the NewAm Composer’s Lab, Norfolk Chamber Music Festival’s New Music Workshop at Yale School of Music, RED NOTE Festival Composition Workshop (2021), SCI National Conference and Student Mixtape, SEAMUS conference, Impulse New Music Festival, Nick Photinos’ “1:2:1” string intensive, New York City Electroacoustic Music Festival, and the Sonic Murals and Electric LaTex festivals. His work has been commissioned or performed by Ashley Bathgate, Verdant Vibes, Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, Switch~ ensemble, Inversion Ensemble (after winning the Happy Composer Commissioning Project) and more.
He completed his bachelor’s degree in composition at University of North Texas. His primary composition teachers have included Joseph Klein, Andrew May, Sungji Hong, Drew Schnurr, and UNT Composer-in-Residence Bruce Broughton.