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Posts tagged 'Mario Diaz de Leon'

TAK Ensemble Releases "Oor," Featuring Erin Gee & Ann Cleare

Over the past six years, New York's TAK Ensemble has emerged as a unique ensemble in contemporary music: the quintet has already released two albums, collaborating with composers Taylor Brook and Mario Diaz de Leon, which show the ensemble's dedication to working directly with composers and artists to create new work. Now TAK has launched their own record label, TAK Editions, and will release their third album—Oor—featuring works by PSNY composers Erin Gee and Ann Cleare, in addition to works by Tyshawn Sorey, Ashkan Behdazi, David Bird, and Natacha Diels. 

Erin Gee's Mouthpiece 28, included on the album, was premiered by TAK in 2016, and here sees a pristine studio recording that captures every minute sound of vocalist Charlotte Mundy's voice, turned into a non-semantic instrument complimeted by bass flute, bass clarinet, violin, and percussion. Oor also features a recording of Ann Cleare's unable to create an offscreen world (c), which explores "ideas of wrongness, incompatibility, and inability with ferocious streams of energy, confidence and hope."

TAK writes: 

The album is called Oor (roughly translating to naked) because these works, to us, share a sense of raw openness, unvarnished emotion, and urgency. This visceral collection of pieces, primarily written for the ensemble, highlights fierce virtuosity, uncanny blends, and otherworldly timbral landscapes.

Preview the album at I Care If You Listen or TAK's Bandcamp page, and if you're in New York, be sure to check out their album release event on May 18th.

PSNY Recent Recordings: Part III

We're back with another post featuring recent recordings of works by PSNY composers. This round begins with Mario Diaz de Leon's  Sanctuary, a 2017 album performed by the TAK Ensemble, which contains a unified, album-length piece created in collaboration with the performers. Sanctuary continues Diaz de Leon's exploration of intensities—of timbre, including the extensive use of electronics alongside acoustic instruments and the human voice; of rhythm, contrasting the bubbling arpeggios of electronic instruments to the cycles of breath and bow; and of the expressive possibilities of melody, carefully interwoven between instruments and voices. As Seth Colter Walls wrote in the New York Times, "The edgy electronic timbres can serve a range of compositional functions: contrasting dramatically with the purity of a soprano’s sound, in one moment, before finding, in the bass clarinet, a partner in grain." Check out "Sanctuary" below. 

In 2017, Alex Mincek also released a major album that collects recordings of several recent works, entitled Torrent. Released by Sound AmericanTorrent includes recordings of several works performed by members of the Wet Ink Large Ensemble, Yarn/Wire, and the Mivos Quartet. These works were all composed in the past seven years, and include Pendulum VII, which is available from PSNY. Check out an excerpt below: 

Katharina Rosenberger also released a major album in 2017, Shift, performed by memebrs of Los Angeles's wasteLAnd and Rage Trombones (Matt Barbier & Weston Olencki). Released on famed expeirmental label HatHut records, Shift explores spatialization, long-form improvisation, and modularity, and was immaculately recorded by Tom Erbe at the University of California, San Diego. Check out an excerpt below.  

Scott Wollschleger's Soft Aberration, a major release on New Focus Records, collects beautiful performances of many of the composer's works, perfomed by soprano Corrine Byrne, trumpeter Andy Kozar, violist Anne Lanzilotti, cellist John Popham, pianist Karl Larson, Mivos Quartet, and Longleash trio. Check out an in-depth review at I Care If You Listen, which praises Wollschleger's works such as Soft Aberration, Brontal Symmetry, Bring Something Incomprehensible Into This World!, America, and String Quarter No. 2 "White Wall."

And finally on this roundup of dedicated composer portrait albums, we're pleased to feature The Music of Fred Lerdahl, Volume 5, released on Bridge Records. The four performances on this album present works from Lerdahl's long career, including Episodes & Refrains (1982), Quiet Music (1994 arr. 2001), Times 3 (2012), and Time and Again (2014). Check out an excerpt of Quiet Music below.

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

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