Classical

The Joys of Unruly Music

UWM offers two concerts of all-new works, including one featuring the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra.

By - Oct 22nd, 2014 12:40 pm
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Yarn/Wire  Left to right: Ning Yu, Russell Greenberg, Ian Antonio and Laura Barger

Yarn/Wire Left to right: Ning Yu, Russell Greenberg, Ian Antonio and Laura Barger

Twice a year, the Music Composition and Technology program at the UW-Milwaukee Peck School of the Arts offers a contemporary music series – “Unruly Music – over three evenings. The primary purpose is to expose young composition students to artists who perform cutting-edge works with sensitivity and accuracy. Christopher Burns, director of the Unruly Music program, explains: “When so much of our experience of music is mediated through recordings, being in the room with extraordinary chamber ensembles in performance can be a transformative experience.”

Thursday evening’s concert features Yarn/Wire, a New York-based quartet of two percussionists and two pianists. They perform works that explore the sonic environment that is percussive in the broad sense: not just about drums or rhythms but often engaging high-pitched, tuned instruments or electronic sounds, creating entrancing aural environments that may drift in time as often as moving to a steady beat. Burns singles out “their rhythmic precision, their near-telepathic ensemble communication, and an extraordinary attention to the details of sound.”

They will perform four works: “if where is of to why” (2008) by Aaron Helgeson, “Walkman Antiquarian” (2013-14) by Thomas Meadowcroft, “Constellations I-III” (2011) by Chiyoko Szlavnics and “Untitled School / Mud Jam / Campfire Tunes” (2014) by Øyvind Torvund.

Quince   Left to right - Kayleigh Butcher, Amanda DeBoer Bartlett, Liz Pearse and Carrie Henneman Sha

Quince Left to right – Kayleigh Butcher, Amanda DeBoer Bartlett, Liz Pearse and Carrie Henneman Sha

Friday evening, three-fourths of the contemporary female cappella quartet, Quince Contemporary Vocal Ensemble, will perform a single “classic” contemporary work by Morton Feldman, “Three Voices” (1982).

Consider a section of the poem by Frank O’Hara that inspired Feldman:

Who’d have thought

that snow falls

it always circled whirling

like a thought

In the glass ball

around me and my bear

Feldman has written a work that evolves slowly, exploring the juxtapositions of four voices that emerge from gradual development. Voices collide in consonant and dissonant chords, often producing overtones of great beauty. Precise voices are required to control this a cappella performance.

Saturday evening, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra will perform at UWM in its second annual Composers Institute. North American composers between the ages of 18 and 35 competed for the opportunity to hear their work premiered by a top-flight orchestra. It’s likely that you have not yet heard works by winning composers Emily Cooley, Nina C. Young, Chris Rogerson and Paul Fraught. But each have begun promising careers. All four full orchestra compositions on Saturday evening will be world premieres.  

Guest conductor Jeffrey Milarsky will lead the orchestra. He and several orchestra members will participate in two days of composition workshops. Both the four winning composers and local university students will have the opportunity to attend.

“Last year, Burns notes, the composers “raved about the opportunity to work with the orchestra, and especially their extraordinary wind sections — which are a key element of contemporary orchestral color, and in my view a particular strength of the MSO.”

Quince will return in the spring to perform vocal works written by UW-Milwaukee Peck School students.

All concerts are free, with general seating. The Thursday and Friday concerts begin at 7:30 PM at the UWM Recital Hall within the Music complex at 2400 East Kenwood Boulevard. Saturday’s concert will be held at 8:00 PM in the Helene Zelazo Center, 2419 East Kenwood Boulevard. Tickets may be reserved for the MSO concert online or picked up at the Zelazo Center before the concert.

0 thoughts on “Classical: The Joys of Unruly Music”

  1. Anonymous says:

    A lovely Frank O’Hara poem as an inspiration. Looks like a fine concert!

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