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Hub New Music Premieres New Works by Hannah Lash & Christopher Cerrone

How does one premiere a new work during a global pandemic? As composers, performers, presenters, and commissioning organizations adjust to the new landscape during COVID-19, there are many different ways to answer this question. Boston's Hub New Music, founded by flutist Michael Avitabile, has found their own path through the physical limitations of the 2020/2021 season by arranging for the videorecording and live premieres of several new works, producing recorded live performances for their season that are available to audiences online. 

One of Hub New Music's premieres this season was Hannah Lash's The Nature of Breaking, commissioned with support from Chamber Music America. According to Hub founder and flutist Michael Avitabile, this commissioning project began in 2017, and was scheduled to be premiered and performed several times in 2020; when live performance became unsafe during the COVID-19 pandemic, Avitabile turned to recording and broadcast technology to produce a sense of "liveness" in Hub's performances, which were filmed live in several venues in Boston.

Composed for Hub's instrumentation—flute, clarinet, violin, cello—and harp, The Nature of Breaking augments the unique timbral possibilities of winds and strings with the unique clarity of the harp, developing four musical ideas, including a fragment from a Bach chorale, throughout its four movements. Hub worked with presenters, including Ashmont Hill Chamber Music and the University of Texas & Texas Performing Arts, to present livestreamed performances of this work, together with Lash on harp. Recorded in Boston's Hibernian Hall, Hub New Music brings a "live" performance experience to virtual space, allowing them to continue commissioning and premiering engaging new works. 

Watch an excerpt of their performance of The Nature of Breaking below. 

Hub also worked with Christopher Cerrone on a new composition entitled New Addresses. This collaboration began in the summer of 2019, and was slated to premiere in October, 2020; instead of a live premiere, Hub produced a videorecording that was premiered during a special livestreamed event in January, 2021, for Arizona Friends of Chamber Music. To develop this piece in a time when working with the composer was physically impossible, Hub traded recordings, scores, MIDI-realizations, and other media with Cerrone in an intense, months-long process, during which Cerrone learned the intricacies and limits of Hub's unique instrumentation. This meant that New Addresses, to Avitabile, is incredibly well-crafted: it bears the mark of countless hours of both prescriptive and descriptive musical notation and thought.

New Addresses is inspired by a collection of poetry by Kenneth Koch of the same name; Cerrone and Hub worked intimately together to create this work, which reflects Koch's rapturous odes ("addresses") to abstract objects in Cerrone's writing for the unique instrumentation of Hub's ensemble. Watch the premiere of this work below. 

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