piano and electronics


9 minutes

Commissioned by/Premiere

Red Light New Music / Yegor Shevtsov
November 2, 2010 at Rockwood Music Hall, New York, NY


Purchase from Project Schott New York



Download electronics. The composer provides a patch created in Max/MSP that handles all amplification and electronics.


Hoyt–Schermerhorn is a tribute to the New York nightscape. Named after a subway station in Brooklyn where I have spent many a night waiting for the train, the piece explores the myriad and contradictory feelings that often come to me late at night in my city of choice—nostalgia, anxiety, joy, panic.

Originally, Hoyt–Schermerhorn was conceived as a graphic score. In the first version, sonorities were chosen at the beginning of the piece at the pianist’s discretion. By doing this, I was trying to capture a kind of automatic or intuitive texture. However, eventually I decided that it was my own intuition that I wanted; to create improvisatory and almost aimless texture, I actually had to work quite intensely and diligently to create what I desired to sound like effortless improvisation. This section slowly transforms into the second half of the piece, a (mostly) soft and gentle lullaby, coated with a shatter of fragmented electronics breaking the quiet haze.


“Hoyt-Schermerhorn,” for solo piano and electronics,  suavely subverted its initially sedate cast of mood as a stirring opening for Vicky Chow’s album “AORTA” in 2016.

Seth Colter Walls, NY Times

Of special beauty was Christopher Cerrone’s “Hoyt–Schermerhorn,” a brilliantly solemn intoning of pianistic bells by the composer of the opera “Invisible Cities,” evoking a preternaturally transformed Brooklyn subway stop.

Mark Swed, LA Times

Christopher Cerrone’s “Hoyt–Schermerhorn” has an icy profile, at first, as softly played progressions creep slowly into the piano’s highest reaches. But when a rising figure in a low octave is introduced, Chow’s playing communicates the effusive release embedded in those notes (even as the overall harmony remains melancholic). Unusually dense layers of sustain are the product of an electronic patch created by the composer. But even when Cerrone’s digital design asserts itself more clearly—via glitchy, refracted notes—the center of the piece holds.

Seth Colter Walls, Pitchfork

“Ma il meglio arriva con Chris Cerrone e il suo Hoyt–Schermerhorn per pianoforte ed elettronica. Musica «lunare» evocativa, un approccio con armonie dissonanti molto lievi, atmosfera assorta, bel suono lucido (basta pantofole!). E quando arriva l’elettronica è come un girare di cristalli nell’aria.” [“But the highlight here is Chris Cerrone and his Hoyt–Schermerhorn, for piano and electronics. ‘Lunar,’ evocative music, featuring dissonant, quite delicate harmonies, an absorbing atmosphere, a warm clarity (enough with the bedroom slippers!). Then the electronics kick in, and it’s like crystals swirling in the air.”]

Mario Gamba, Il Manifesto [translation by Todd Portnowitz]