Thursday, June 30, 2011

Music11 Composers II

Wednesday night we had our next installment of new pieces composed for Music11, along with three works by David Lang.

Flutist Emily McPherson opened the concert with David Lang's Thorn. She gave an energetic account of Lang's spiky piece, bringing out the contrast between sharp accents and fluttering activity.

Gabriele Vanoni's Prologo (Asparizione I) was an elegant understatement. The piece was so lovely and alluring I found myself wishing to hear it again instantly. This result was beautifully achieved by Laura Lentz (alto flute), Lindsay Kesselman (soprano), Keith Hendricks (percussion), and Lisa Kaplan (piano).

Island in a Sea of Light by David McDonnell took the listener through a labyrinth. Just when I felt completely lost, a tiny fragment of something familiar would come back - but the mystery was never completely dispelled. Thankfully, Emily McPherson (flute), Michael Maccaferri (clarinet), and Yen Lin Goh (piano) carried the mystery without actually getting lost themselves.

Dan Van Hassel's Chasm brought together contrasting smooth and angular sounds to create a thinly veiled, luminous environment. The piece was brought to life by the sensitive playing of Deidre Huckabay (flute), Kerrith Livengood (flute), Derek Tywoniuk (percussion), Katy LaFavre (percussion), and Lisa Kaplan (piano).

After a short break to reset the stage, we heard two of David Lang's pieces for piano four hands. Daniel Walden and Bryan Kelly played Gravity; Bryan Kelly and Yen Lin Goh played After Gravity. These pieces went absolutely nowhere, and did so beautifully. As Lang remarked, it was difficult to compose a sequel to a piece that went nowhere. Ultimately he solved the problem by going to a different nowhere the second time around.

Lindsey Jacob's Frica-what? was a much more serious piece than the title lead us to believe. This haunting piece explored the connections between vocal sounds and percussion sounds, with the flute as an intermediary. Although the work did involve some conventional singing, much of the music focused on unvoiced vocal timbres, allowing the singers - Lindsay Kesselman and Jessica Aszodi - to blend with the percussion and flute (Matthew Duvall, Derek Tywoniuk, and Emily McPherson).

Hidden Light by Ashley Fu-Tsun Wang gave the impression of radiance and iridescence. The performers Kerrith Livengood (flute), Matt Albert (violin), Andrea Hemmenway (viola), and Katrina Leshan (guitar) maintained an exquisite balance between their colorful lines.

We took a break for drinks and snacks, after which the final piece on the concert was performed. Dylan Sheridan chose to have his From the Garden of Sad Dreams performed later in order to use darkness as a part of the theatrical atmosphere of the work. Soprano Jessica Aszodi sang texts from Robert Louis Stevenson's Child's Garden of Verses. Dylan put excerpts of the text through Google Translator repeatedly in order to scramble the phrases and submerge the meaning. He also built a special lamp which produced sound and light. This lamp, suspended in the middle of the stage, became a subject of fascination and confrontation for the character. Tim Munro (flute), Joey Van Hassel (percussion), and Clara Warnaar (percussion) performed the instrumental parts with delicate precision, perfectly maintaining the enigmatic quality of the piece.

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