Friday, July 2, 2010

Music10 Composers 3 and Final Vote

Last night was our third and final concert of new works by Music10 participant composers. I found it to be a tremendously varied, adventurous evening of music. For logistical reasons, many of the most difficult works of the festival ended up on this program, making it a tour-de-force for many of the performers.

Louis Chiapetta's ...and again... created an ethereally drifting musical environment, with soft bell-like sounds occasionally interrupted by more intense outbursts. The piece, scored for the same instrumentation as Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time, managed to incorporate the influence of Messiaen without being overshadowed by it.

(photo by Lisa Moore)

L'ange pale by Amy Kirsten was an explosively radiant work. Set to her own French poem, Amy's piece crystallized the words through singing, humming, and chanting among all of the musicians. Lindsay Kesselman's wildly ecstatic vocal lines were complemented by Tim Munro's flute playing, and contrasted by a wide array of percussion sounds from Jeremy Malvin and Christian Smith.

Clarinetist Rebecca Danard lead our ears into a totally different sonic territory during the delicate opening of Jay Lin's IN THE SILENCE OF TIME. As her sound grew from nothing, the other instruments reiterated the same pitch in different colors. The delicate opening texture lead to expansively tremulous passages and sweeping angular lines.

The performance of Nissim Schaul's Trio was achieved with particularly close collaboration with the performers - violinist Matt Albert, cellist Agnieszka Kolodziej, and percussionist Yu-Chun Kuo. Incorporating a significant amount of improvisation, this intensely mellow work created a slowly ruminating texture, with changes occurring very gradually.

Tim Munro and Yu-Chun Kuo teamed up to perform the only work on the concert which was written by a non-Music10 composer. The work, Female Nude, was by Australian composer Andrew Ford. Originally programmed on the flute concert, it was moved to last night for practical reasons. Sensual, ritualistic, and pointillistic, the music exploited many of the coloristic capabilities of the alto flute - including a significant amount of singing, sighing, and gasping. The percussion part explored the earthy sounds of temple blocks, log drums, and marimba.

Introducing his work, Urulumunu, composer Ted Goldman quipped, "I say it 'uRUlumunu'; my roommate says 'urulumuNUuuu'; but my performers say it best!" Ted's made-up title was simply a label for what proved to be an energetically tuneful piece. After a leisurely opening, the music became more fast and rhythmic. The triumphant ending was punctuated by the piano and marimba whimsically bouncing to a stop.

Ben Irwin's Nascence was full of pleasing contrasts. The iridescent first movement lead to an insistent, dance-like second movement. The final movement was initially aggressive, but dissolved into an eerily hushed closing. In a recent masterclass with Joel Hoffman, there was much discussion about whether Ben's music is narrative or non-narrative. I felt that Nascence was an effective combination of both concepts, with its well-delineated form leaning it slightly toward the narrative side.

The performance closed with Chris Stark's Stars in Dead Reflection. This spacious, charming work took advantage of the colorful possibilities of its jazz-like instrumentation - clarinet, double bass, percussion, and piano - without sounding overtly jazzy in any way. Chris himself described the piece remarkably well, saying "it's like Copland played on a player piano and sped up, until it rips apart."

After the concert, we took part in a new venture for the MusicX festival: every participant voted for their five favorite pieces. After the results were tallied, two winning composers were chosen to have their pieces performed again on the final concert of the festival, which will be held tonight. Having tallied the votes, Martin Bresnick and Joel Hoffman mentioned that they were delighted to find that every piece received at least one vote, exemplifying the diverse taste and supportive attitude of our festival participants. However, there was certainly a strong consensus leading to the choice of our two winners. Congratulations to Paul Kerekes and Amy Kirsten!!!! We are eagerly looking forward to hearing your new works again tonight!

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