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Posts tagged 'International Contemporary Ensemble'

PSNY Recent Recordings: Part I

New Music in America has been booming in recent years, with a new generation of young composers, ensembles, presenting organizations, and record labels contributing to a vibrant community with an increasingly large audience. Though streaming services have become ascendant, recordings and recording projects have come to hold an increasingly important role in new music: they serve as enduring documents of the hard work of composers and performers, letting the music travel beyond the score and the concert hall. 

Over the next few weeks, PSNY will feature the many recent recordings of compositions by our many talented composers, honoring the hard work and ingenuity of the many ensembles and record labels that contribute to the growing communtiy of new music, and indeed carry the music to new audiences across the globe. 

Our list begins with eighth blackbird's 2016 release, Hand Eye, which emerged from a stunning concert program of the same name. For Hand Eye, the multiple-Grammy™-award-winning ensemble paired up with the composer collective Sleeping Giant, which comprises of Ted Hearne, Timo Andres, Christopher Cerrone, Jacob Cooper, Robert Honstein, and Andrew Norman. That concert program, and the resulting album, features Andres' Checkered Shade, Norman's Mine, Mime, Meme, Cerrone's South Catalina, and Hearne's By-By Huey, among compositions by Honstein and Cooper. 

Writing in the American Record Guide, George Adams calls Hand Eye "a gorgeous, delicately constructed sonic mural." Check out eighth blackbird performing the program at Chicago's MCA:

Next, we'd like to feature an album by Ryan Muncy, the stellar saxophonist (who also performed Marcos Balter'sWicker Park on another 2016 record with the International Contemporary Ensemble). Muncy's second solo album, ism, was released on TUNDRA, ICE's in-house recording label, distributed by New Focus Recordings. Alongiside works by James Tenney and Lee Hyla, Muncy teams up with percussionist Ross Karre to perform Erin Gee's Mouthpiece XXIV, commissioned and premeired by Muncy and Karre in 2015. 

Next we'd like to feature two recordings released on New Amsterdam, both of which feature the work of Christopher Cerrone. Vicky Chow's A O R T A features Cerrone's Hoyt-Schemerhorn for solo piano and electronics, bringing her own voice to a piece that has enjoyed many performances since its 2009 premiere. The Living Earth Show's Dance Music features Cerrone's Double Happiness, a work for electric guitar and percussion that they commissioned and premeired in 2013. 

Finally, we'd like to feature an album we previously wrote about in 2016: Adrian Knight's  Obsessions, performed and recorded by R. Andrew Lee and released on Irritable Hedgehog. This long-form work for solo piano emerges from Knight's idiosyncratic and deeply personal musical language. As Knight remarked, "it's probably my most personal piece, because, like life, its trajectory wasn't predetermined. All I knew is that it would have to end." Obsessions resists mediation, and is best listened to completely. Head over to the album's Bandcamp page to take a listen. 

Vijay Iyer's "Trouble" at Ojai and Beyond

As the Music Director of the 2017 Ojai Festival, Vijay Iyer believes that festival-goers will "discover a great deal—not just about music, but about themselves." Stacking the festival program with close collaborators such as violinist Jennifer Koh, and legendary ensembles such as the AACM and ICE, Iyer wants to force an "update" of what contemporary music can mean today. 

On June 8th, Iyer will perform the American premiere of Emergence for jazz trio and orchestra, along with bassist Stephan Crump, drummer Tyshawn Shorey and the International Contemporary Ensemble alongside players of the Oberlin Conservatory Contemporary Music Ensemble. Emergence, which premiered in 2016, combines the forms and notational traditions of classical music with the possibilities of improvised traditions, asking performers to listen to each other in real time and make performative decisions. 


(Koh with Oberlin Sinfonietta and Tim Weiss in workshop performance of "Trouble"; photo: Yevhen Gulenko, courtesy of Oberlin Conservatory)

That evening's concert also includes the world premiere of Trouble, featuring violinist Jennifer Koh, accompanied by ICE and the Oberlin Contemporary Ensemble, and led by Steven Schick. Trouble is a violin concerto in three movements, the second of which is dedicated to Vincent Chin, a Chinese-American auto-worker killed in a hate crime in 1982. During rehearsals at Oberlin, Koh's colleague Claire Solomon, Associate Professor of Hispanic Studies and Comparative Literature, was inspired to write a "voluntary response" to the piece (you can read Solomon's full account in our PSNY Greenroom, part of our new "Composer Spotlights" series). As Solomon writes, 

Trouble opens up something scarce and endangered that classical music doesn’t even know it needs. Trouble isn’t programmatically anti-racist; it doesn’t represent Chin’s murder but testifies to the rhythmic relay of lives of which his was only one, and demands that we see the pattern. It grieves the racial tragedy that shapes our future because we do not work through it, and it opens up a space for what Derrida called the work of mourning as he might have pointed out an area for his cleaning lady to take care of – but Trouble doesn’t let us off the hook as rubberneckers; it summons us to a reckoning. As Vijay said in the Museum Q&A, it pins us to the present: a moment in which to tell white audiences not to be racist.

Trouble will also be performed at UC Berkeley and Tanglewood, both of which co-commissioned the work.  

The rest of the Ojai Festival is packed with talks and performances, including two that feature flautist Claire Chase. On June 9th, Chase will perform excerpts from Marcos Balter's Pan, and on June 10th, Chase performs a free pop-up concert of Mario Diaz de Leon's Labrys and Mysterium

Ann Cleare & Alex Mincek in ICE's "Animal Behaviors"


(Ryan Muncy, saxophonist)

The International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) consists of some of the best instrumentalists in contemporary music, who regularly champion ensemble works by some of the most fascinating composers of our time. In a free "pop-up" concert at Columbia's Miller Theatre on June 6th, members of ICE will split off to perform solo and duo works that dig into the sonic profiles of individual instruments and players, in a program titled "ICE: Animal Behaviors". 

ICE saxophonist Ryan Muncy will perform Ann Cleare's luna (the eye that opens the other eye) for alto saxophone, as well as Alex Mincek's Pendulum III, for alto saxophone and piano, alongside pianist Jacob Greenberg. In Cleare's luna, the composer writes that "the saxophone should be thought of as a dragonfly with eyes so big they cover almost its entire head, giving it a helmeted appeaance and a full 360-degree field of vision." Check out a recording below. 

ICE and Cleare will return to the Miller Theatre in 2018 with a Composer Portrait concert, featuring a newly-commissioned work, two world premieres, and performances of the square of yellow light that is your window and dorchadas

Mincek's Pendulum IIIis an early entry in the composer's Pendulum series, in which musical material oscillates between two poles, accellerating, decelerating, reaching tipping points, and repeating. Check out a 2015 recording by Michael Ibrahim and Ron Stabinsky below. 

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