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Posts tagged 'Hannah Lash'

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. 

Yale Choral Artists Perform Hannah Lash's "Requiem"

The "Western Canon", since its conception in the 19th century, has often aspired to the transcendence of music, drawing secular and "absolute" inspiration from often religious sources—embodied in the revival of figures like J.S. Bach, whose liturgical music joined these two worlds. Johannes Brahms, a major Bach scholar, decided in 1865 to rite a Requiem—a musical form that philologists had traced back to the 13th century (and earlier). But Brahms' Requiem, true to his secular and musical aspirations, was translated from Latin and sung in German, inheriting the text and form from liturgical tradition but attempting to universalize the form by making it secular. 

Hannah Lash echos this interest translation with her most recent work, a Requiem commissioned by Jeffrey Douma to be premiered by the Yale Choral Artists on September 24th in New Haven and September 25th in New York. Lash comments: "the interesting thing about this project is that I have no particular connection to the traditional Requiem text, so I found myself needing to rewrite it in such a way that it could beel more personal and more approachable to me." Lash's work sets texts of her own translation and interpretation, once again bridging the liturgical inheritance of the Requiem form and purpose into a new century of art music. 

Ted Hearne: Sounds from the Bench

There is a multiple valence to the "political" aspect of the music of Ted Hearne. Yes, it often sets texts pulled from contemporary politics—WikiLeaks, court testimony, headlines; but it also creates, in the moment of its performance, a polis—a community of performers and witnesses, confronted with texts laid bare by their setting and repetition. At the Philly Fringe Festival this past weekend, The Crossing performed a program of Hearne's music entitled "Sounds from the Bench"—four compositions that use texts drawn from our own contemporary media polis

(pages from Consent

The works performed included Sound from the Bench, which used the words of Supreme Court oral arguments on corporate personhood mixed with language from ventriloquism manuals; Ripple, which sets one line of text from the Iraq War Logs; Privilege, which uses text by David Simon, creator of "The Wire"; and Consent, which combines love letters with text messages cited in the Stuebenville High School rape case of 2012. (Consent will also be performed alongside the World Premiere of Hannah Lash's Reqiuem later this month in New Haven and New York, as well as at the Ear Taxi Festival in Chicago on October 6) Listen to a sample of Consent below.

A few weeks earlier, Cellist Jeffrey Zeigler, formerly of the Kronos Quartet, and percussionist Ian Rosenbaum recently performed Hearne's Furtive Movements in Tulsa as a part of a four-day residency, organized through Choregus Productions.

Furtive Movements, a non-texted piece, approaches the political in a different way. Hearne's concern with this piece is to subvert the identities of these two different instruments—one ostensibly melodic, one rhythmic— by moving beyond the concepts of pitch and rhythm, and into the areas of timbre and phrasing. The cello is "prepared" with a wine cork in-between its G and D strings; rhythmic phrases pass between both players, and often they are called to play in unison. 

(pages from Furtive Movements

And why might this music be "furtive"? Hearne writes: "this phrase conveys the assumption of guilt [...] based on appearance or demeanor in a given moment, which is striking to me because it speaks more to the expectations of the observer than to a useful description of the subject." Our expectations of what music is, or can be, are called into question here: Hearne points our assumptions back at ourselves, forcing us to grapple with our own desire of what music should be by showing us what it could be, otherwise. 

Furtive Movements will also be performed later in the month by members of The Knights to accompany new choreography by Pam Tanowitz at The Joyce's NY Quadrille

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