Twentieth-century composers like Olivier Messiaen and Krzysztof Penderecki have been writing for electric instruments ever since the invention of the theremin. However, while the acoustic mandolin is well established in classical music from the baroque period to the present day, the electric mandolin still has a long way to go. I was able to find five "new music" composers who have featured the electric mandolin. Personally, I think the gray area between popular and "serious" music is getting a little wider; it seems to have as much to do with how the composer and performers present themselves as it does with the content or style of the music. And that's both a good thing (Mark O'Connor) and a bad thing (Vanessa Mae).
Anyhow, if you can add to this list, please let me know. And if you're familiar with these works, give me some details. Thanks!
"XXIst Century Mandolin"
"Concerto for Electric Mandolin and Tape"
"Skinless Kiss of Angels"
"Tire Fire," "Aneh Tapi Nyata"
Both of these pieces are written for gamelan orchestra with added Western instruments. Lars Jensen writes: "I played mandolin (acoustic, but amplified with an old Barcus-Berry pickup) on 'Tire Fire,' as well as on 'Aneh Tapi Nyata,' as a member of Gamelan Sekar Jaya, in San Francisco. Evan was no longer a member of the group at the time (early '90s), but he returned from Boston as guest composer, to premiere these two pieces with our group, each at separate times. If I remember correctly, he didn't yet have his own gamelan, so it made sense to come back to us for that purpose.
"The recording of 'Tire Fire' available on the CD Gamelan Galak Tika (the name of his gamelan group) is a later recording by his own group, on which the mandolin part was played on a synthesizer. I understood there were no doubt good practical reasons for this, and the rendition is otherwise very good, but I was personally disappointed he did that, because the part sounded so much better to me on a mandolin. Some rather soaring melodies, that got the soul kicked right out of them. There's a good recording he made of our group (and me) playing the piece, but he's never released it.
" However, his earlier work for Gamelan Sekar Jaya ('Aneh Tapi Nyata'), is available on a CD called American Works for Balinese Gamelan Orchestra, and it does include me playing the mandolin. Also a very cool piece, which we performed in Bali.
"I always found Evan's compositions for gamelan and western instruments exciting, satisfying, fun to play. Typically, they are moderately adventurous in both tonality and rhythm. A good mix of spacy stuff, playful stuff and emphatic, even rockin textures. I recommend both CDs mentioned above."