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Posts tagged 'International Contemporary Ensemble'

Josh Modney Performs at Spectrum NYC

Josh Modney is one of the leading interpreters of contemporary music for the violin, and there is certainly not a lack of music for him to play. As the executive director of the Wet Ink Ensemble, a member of the Mivos Quartet, and a frequent performer with the International Contemporary Ensemble, Modney's calendar is packed with premieres and performances. So it's a rare treat to see him perform a solo recital, with some help from fellow Wet Ink instrumentalists, at Spectrum NYC, on New York's Lower East Side. 

On Saturday, January 16th, Modney will perform six works featuring the violin, including pieces by PSNY Composers Mario Diaz de Leon, Kate Soper, and Scott Wollschleger. Diaz de Leon's piece, ii.23, is scored for viola and electronics, and the score calls for extra subwoofers to make the bass felt in the space. Check out a clip: 

Modney will also be performing Kate Soper's Cipher, a work Soper commissioned for him, along with the composer herself. One of Soper's signature works, Cipher explores the limits of language, sound, and performance in the intimate connection between instrument and voice. Check out a video of the pair performing Cipher below. 

Again picking up the viola, Modney will also perform Scott Wollschleger's Soft Aberration No. 2, for viola and piano, alongside pianist and fellow composer and Wet Ink member Eric Wubbels. Wollschleger's work evokes what he calls a "broken echo" between instruments—a fine pairing with Soper's work—exploring the shared sensibilities of sight and sound experience between two performers. Check out an excerpt below: 

Mario Diaz de Leon: New Album, Residency at The Stone

Mario Diaz de Leon is a composer who explores the dark: dark emotion, dark affect, dark sounds. Equally at home in the world of instrumental composition as he is with metal, noise, and ambient drone music, Diaz de Leon truly embodies the spirit of the collaborative musician of today. In addition to composition, Diaz de Leon also performs under the alias Oneirogen, and has collaborated and performed with Nate Young of the legendary noise outfit Wolf Eyes. These collaborative and genre-crossing projects bring Diaz de Leon into a special category of "composer-performer" that knows no boundaries—neither aesthetic nor social. 

It's no surprise that Diaz de Leon would be connected to John Zorn, New York's Avant-Garde ringleader; his first album Enter Houses Of was released on Zorn's record label, Tzadik, and features performances from members of the International Contemporary Ensemble. Diaz de Leon has continued his close relationship with ICE to produce his latest album, The Soul is the Arena, recently released on Denovali Records. Check out the first track, Luciform, below. 

Writing in Pitchfork, Seth Colter Walls calls the album "the best introduction to his refined feel for instrumental extremity"; in Luciform, Claire Chase's relentless virtuosity rubs up against bass-heavy electronic textures. (Make sure to listen with headphones!). Along with Luciform, the title composition of this album, The Soul is the Arena, will be available for immediate download from PSNY. 

ICEstorm: Joshua Rubin - Mario Diaz de Leon: The Soul is the Arena from ICE on Vimeo.

If you're lucky enough to live in the New York area, Diaz de Leon will be performing the album in its entirety at The Stone on August 11th, along with ICE members Claire Chase, Joshua Rubin and Kivie Cahn-Lipman. This concert kicks of Diaz de Leon's residency at The Stone: a week of concerts that will include collaborations and performances with cellist/noise musician MV Carbon, the violin duo String Noise, Bloodmist, and more. Get there early—the first 50 audience members will receive a free copy of the CD.

Later in the week, on August 15th, the Mivos Quartet will perform Moonblood and Psalterion, two string quartets, and pianist Stephen Gosling will perform Cosmogony, a new work for piano and electronics. More information about the entire week of concerts can be found here.

Keep an eye out for The Soul is the Arena, as well as all five compositions from Enter Houses Of on PSNY soon! 

Welcome, Marcos Balter, To PSNY!

Marcos Balter seems to be everywhere these days: based in Chicago, in the past year he's composed new works for ICE, Dal Niente, the ACO, yMusic, Nadia Sirota, Ryan Muncy, Claire Chase, and has appeared in venues from New York to Curitiba, Brazil. One could say, without exaggeration, that he's one of the hardest working people in new music, a true collaborator who works with ensembles and perfomers to compose chamber works with his unmistakable voice, which is at once intricately emotional and intrinsically complex. 

In a compositional lineage ranging from Chopin to Sciarrino, Balter's compositions work on numerous levels, engaging listeners with immediate, visceral emotion, but also on a deeper level, with an embedded structure that rewards contemplation and deep listening. One such work is Ignis Fatuus, for solo violin, composed in 2008 for the Holland/America Music Society International Violin Competition. A meditation on timbre, the sonic qualities of the violin, and the paradox of polyphony on a monophonic instrument, this work draws the listener into its sound-world while expanding the boundaries of its own sonic possibilities. 

And yet Ignis Fatuus also uses Paganini's Caprice No. 6 as source material, linking the instrument with the diatonic trace of its inherent history. At once immediately acessable, the deep structure and historicity contained within Balter's work makes it a transcendent experience for both listener and performer. 

Another such work is delete/control/option, for alto flute and cello. Balter's collaborative mode of composition comes to the fore: the piece is as much composed by the performers as the composer, as they physically embody the taxing demands of the written score, which acts not as the "ur-text" of the composition, but rather as tablature for performance. Using the language of computer commands, this work is as much about syntax as it is the transcendance of syntax: the real, affective language that is translated, modified, and encoded by re-presentation.  

Balter's textural language shines in this piece, blending the timbres of alto flute and cello to create an emergent, organic body, re-imagining his compositional voice through the projected voice of the chamber ensemble. This effect is even more present in his work for saxophone quartet, Intercepting a Shivery Light, premiered by the Anubis Saxophone Quartet in 2012. In this work, the quartet is rendered as a single voice, with the appearance of Ligeti-like micropolyphony and timbral transformations. Again, the score acts as tablature for live, embodied performance: these visceral effects emerge from embodiment, again projecting a spectral, single voice into the polyphony of the quartet. And, like in Ignis Fatuus, the piece works on two (or more) levels: the immediate affective response is transformed when the listener learns that the title of the piece is an anagram of Radiohead's "Everything in its Right Place."   

From the colors in Balter's head to the tone-colors of the composition, this piece works on a wordless, affective level, creating a texture in the saxophone quartet approaching that of a modular synthesizer, granular in its machinations of sound. There's no wonder why Balter is such an in-demand composer: his works are an ecstatic embodiment of the possibilities of instruments and their players, written with performance in mind. We're thrilled to make these works available to the public through PSNY, and look forward to more in the future!  

 

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