Christian M. Newman (1981- ) is an American composer, pianist, percussionist, and music educator based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. An autodidactic learner from a young age, he absorbed a myriad of 20th Century popular and traditional musical influences, along with traditional ‘classical’ styles by his early teens. His mature works are in a complex, Neo-expressionist, and experimental style utilizing dense, chromatic progressions, and thick layers of contrapuntal lines. His compositions for piano, especially, utilize thick washes of notes, thorny and rapid passage work between the hands, and dense attacks within parts to emphasize specific resonance possibilities from within the instrument. His arrangements reflect this stylistic tendency towards immense complexity, along with highly chromatic and symmetrical harmonic content with flowing, and evolving rhythmical progressions.
Newman’s early life is a puzzle as there are few records, and somewhat intermittent ones when they do exist. He was home schooled from preschool through eighth or ninth grade, and then disappeared completely for several years, reappearing as a line cook, age 18, then completing a GED and enrolling in college at 24. His circumstances are unclear between these years, with much wild speculation and elaborate stories related by his familiars. Most relate strange tales of apocalyptic, desert noise punk practice sessions, hippy ufo-descendent/shadow people death cults and other Southern, New Mexico bats### lore. Some of this seems unlikely as Newman and some cohorts developed high levels of skill during said period, and began careers in performance, etc. so we’re taking all this with a grain of salt. Still, Nuevo Mexico is a bizarre place full of strangers, so who knows?
Early Adulthood – Career & Education
Following an early career as a rock drummer, his interest in composition led him to rather abruptly begin the process of learning the piano, and then pursue formal training in his early 20s. Soon after, he entered into the undergraduate music program at the University of New Mexico.
During his student career, he completed a Bachelor’s degree in piano performance, and two Master’s degrees in piano performance and theory & composition with Falko Steinbach, Peter Gilbert, Karola Obermüller, Jose Luis Hurtado, and Richard Hermann. He also attended numerous international master courses including the “Musik Aktiv”, “Lebendige Musikerziehung”, and “Fit for Music” courses (Nienbourg in Heek, Germany), and Internationales Klavierfestival Lindlar (Lindlar, Durscheid, Köln, and Kürten, Germany) where he earned certificates in piano performance, physiology of music performance, and advanced piano technique and pedagogy based on works by Peter Feuchtwanger, and Falko Steinbach.
Newman has taught courses on piano technique and fundamentals at the Internationales Klavierfestival Lindlar, and Albuquerque Institute of Music, and has taught theory and composition at UNM Music, and Central New Mexico Community College. He has also been an invited guest speaker and composer for The J.D. Robb Symposium, Wolf Tones Festival, TEDxABQ, and “Girls Rock Denver”(?).
Mature Style and Works
His mature compositions include works for woodwind quintet, wind symphony, electronics, percussion ensemble, chamber pieces for brass duo, mixed ensembles, and piano solo. The majority of his pieces involve dense, thickly woven masses of sound, and ornate counterpoint bound within complex, symmetrical harmonic progressions. His works and live performances evoke a sense of frantic, “hyperkinetic rhythm” (Abq Weekly Alibi, 2004, 2008), and vary from “light and detailed virtuosity” (Bergische Landeszeitung 2013), to a unique “depth and warmth” in slower works (Oberberg-Aktuel 2015). Some performances of his pieces, including numerous commissioned works, have been given by The Low Frequency Trio (Mexico), Emanuelle Arciuli (Italy), New Music New Mexico (US), Fernando Cardoso (Brazil), Anna Mall (US), The Alma Chamber Ensemble (Brazil), and Jonathan Warburton (UK) at numerous festivals including the John Donald Robb Composer Symposium (Albuquerque, NM), Wolf Tones Electronic Music Festival (Abq, NM), Titwrench Stockholm (Stockholm, Sweden), Klavierfestival Lindlar (Köln, Germany), and Sommerkonzerte, St. Marien Kürten (Kürten, Germany).
Photos at the Lindlar Klavierfestival 2015 by Jörg Szymkus
Portland Photos, 2022 by Newman, S.N. Babay, and Others
Albuquerque Photos, 2022 by Newman and S.N. Babay
Live Set on OCD Hour w/Lobsterbreath, August 2022 Selfies
“Artillery-Granate”- World Premeire, Keller Hall, UNM, October 13, 2022
Filth of 2020 by S.N. Babay