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Posts tagged 'violin solo'

Jennifer Koh's "Shared Madness"

The New York Philharmonic's second Biennial is underway, bringing new music programming to venues across the city. In addition to Lincoln Center, the NY Phil is programming concerts at venues in Brooklyn like National Sawdust, a venue that is quickly becoming a vital center for contemporary music. Following its first installment on May 24, violinist Jennifer Koh returns to National Sawdust on May 31 for the second part of her commissioning project entitled "Shared Madness". The program is indeed a bit of a mad idea: 30 virtuosic show-pieces, commissioned and premiered by Koh, all performed over two evenings. As Koh puts it, her program seeks to explore "the meaning of virtuosity in the 21st century." 

Among the composers Koh chose to commission are Timo Andres, Christopher Cerrone, Anthony Cheung, Vijay Iyer, Phil Kline, and Andrew Norman. Koh's recent "Bridge to Beethoven" project saw close collaboration between her and Iyer, Norman, and Cheung, in addition to Jörg Widmann. Be sure to stop by National Sawdust to experience the "shared madness"!

Marilyn Nonken Debuts Richard Carrick's "la touche sonore sous l'eau"

Debussy's solo piano works and Korean pansori singing might not be the most related styles of music. But in the hands of Richard Carrick, the melodic nuances of these two styles come into a stark symmetry, with the addition of Carrick's own signature compositional voice.

Carrick's newly commissioned work for pianist Marilyn Nonkenla touche sonore sous l'eau, is the first movement of a projected suite, and was premiered at the University of Pennsylvania on January 27th. Nonken will tour the work around the country, with performances at le poisson rouge, Tufts University, the University of Pennsylvania, and more. Carrick conceptualizes "la touche sonore" [sonorous touch] on the piano, leading to new possibilities in the dynamic of melody and harmony. The work is based on "a harmonic/melodic reduction and re-understanding of Claude Debussy's compositional lightness," specifically Debussy's Jeux

On May 19th (at Tufts University) and 23rd (at Brooklyn's Roulette), Nonken will debut a new solo work by Carrick, in memoriam of Gerard Grisey. The performances will take place alongside Gerard Grisey's Vortex Temporum, performed by Sound Icon.

Carrick's recent work for solo violin, Seongeum, translates another aspect of physicality into music. This work is inspired by pansori singing, a Korean folk style that is intertwined with storytelling and drumming. Carrick writes,

I hear the violin as a similarly expressive instrument, where the sonic nuances of bow articulations and finger techniques (glissandi, trill, etc) are the primary sources of its expressivity, with notes a distant second. Therefore, I was interested in translating Pansori vocalizations to the violin.

Carrick's work joins Ken Ueno'si screamed at the sea... as the second work on PNSY inspired by pansori. Violinist Lauren Cauley debuts Seongeum on February 18 at GK Arts Center in Brookyln, NY as part of a collaboration with choreographer Miro Magliore. 

 

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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