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Posts tagged 'Ensemble ACJW'

Timo Andres' "Trade Winds" at the Aspen Festival

In a chamber music program at the Aspen Music Festival that ranges from Schumann to Schoenberg to Boulez, Timo Andres might seem the odd one out: American, under 40, and worlds away from the anxieties of influence that plagued (and drove) so many European Modernists to create stunningly powerful statements about what music could be. And yet, Andres' music does just that; just with a little less anxiety.

His Trade Winds, commissioned by Ensemble ACJW for an ensemble of string quartet, piano, percussion, and clarinet, has at its heart a chaconne—a 17th-century instrumental genre that imagined the New World (from the confines of Europe) in the form of a consistent, repeating, descending harmonic pattern. Andres' piece begins with a chaotic entry into this repetetive, hypnotic harmonic world, and ends with what the composer describes as a "short, hesitant coda." 

Head over to Andres' website to check out an audio sample.  

Ted Hearne Premieres "Baby (an argument)" with Ensemble ACJW

Ted Hearne has long considered vocal music his "home turf," authoring powerful, politically-charged works such as Katrina Ballads, Consent, and But I Voted for Shirley Chisholm—each centered around voice, text, and the interplay with instruments. His newly-commissioned work, Baby (an argument) works with voice, but in this piece, voices come not from bodies that are present, but rather from recordings—samples of r&b recordings from years past. Mixed together with the instrumental sounds on those recordings, these samples are warped, transformed, and spatially positioned on stage between pianist and percussionist, perched at opposite ends of the stage. 

The result interpolates the sound world of r&b—Hammond organs, Rickenbacker bass, synthesized vocal pads—through live instruments, including winds, brass, piano, and percussion. The single word, "baby", is slowed, skewed, broken into syllables; framed as "an argument", the piece forces the listener to ask who is addressing whom—and how. Baby questions the intersection between argument and affection, slowly meditating on the sounds we make when we engage in both. 

Commissioned by Ensemble ACJW, Baby will premiere on February 12th at Skidmore College, where the ensemble is in residence, and will later move to Carnegie Hall on February 15th. PSNY composer and pianist Timo Andres will be a featured guest artist with ACJW for this performance. 

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