Unruly Music highlights contemporary sounds for three nights

UW-Milwaukee's Unruly Music series offers two virtuoso interpreters of contemporary music and two instrument builders who improvise on their creations.

By - Oct 1st, 2013 11:40 pm
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Marilyn Nonken

Marilyn Nonken, piano

UW-Milwaukee’s fall installment of Unruly Music begins this week, once again exploring “contemporary trends in chamber music, improvisation, electronic sound, and multimedia, spanning a wide variety of genres and styles.” Series director Christopher Burns rejects the notion that these sessions should be viewed as experimental. The music, though recent, represents the best of composition and performance among avant-garde music.

This week’s concert series features two virtuoso interpreters of contemporary music and two composer/improvisers who start the process by making their own instruments.

On Thursday, October 3Marilyn Nonken presents a program of solo piano music by composers associated with the French school of spectral music, including works by Tristan Murail, Hugues Dufourt, and Joshua Fineberg.

Nonken is Director of Piano Studies at New York University’s Steinhardt School and is a champion of contemporary music – often offering the world premiere of recent works.

Wikipedia describes spectral music (or spectralism) as “a musical practice where compositional decisions are often informed by sonographic representations and mathematical analysis of sound spectra. The spectral approach focuses on manipulating the features identified through this analysis, interconnecting them, and transforming them. In this formulation, computer-based sound analysis and representations of audio signals are treated as being analogous to a timbral representation of sound.”

But the result of this approach is music which is highly consistent and pleasant to listen to. The Wire, reviewing a CD of Murail’s music by Nonken recognized her interpretation as “luminous, showing delicacy, drama, and passion and seeming to capture every nuance of this beautiful music.” Nonken’s performance will feature Tristan Murail’s Territoires de l’oubli.


Lisa Cella, Flute

On Friday, October 4, Lisa Cella returns to Unruly Music with a solo flute recital featuring new commissions from local faculty composers Christopher Adler and Christopher Burns as well as music by Matthew Burtner.

Cella is an assistant professor in the Department of Music at the University of Maryland, Baltimore campus. She is also Artistic Director of San Diego New Music and a founding member of its resident ensemble NOISE. With NOISE she has performed the works of young composers all around the world including at the Acousmania Festival in Bucharest, Romania in May of 2004, the Pacific Rim Festival at the University of California, Santa Cruz in May of 2005 and as ensemble-in-residence at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, in 2007.

Christopher Adler’s work – 010 machine states (2013) – develops by applying mathematical algorithms to the musical content. Christopher Burns’ work – Knot Theory (2013) explores “thin” lines of music that rapidly increase in density and complexity (the “knot”). Burns is especially appreciative of Cella’s capacity to represent this difficult material on the flute.

On Saturday, October 5, instrument builders Lou Bunk and Hal Rammel present an evening of solo and duo improvisations using their custom electroacoustic creations – the Scratch-O-Lin and the amplified palettes.

Lou Bunk

Lou Bunk

Lou Bunk is a composer and improviser of sonically rich and intricate music that investigates sound and silence through extended instrumental techniques, microtones, amplified found objects, and generative approaches to texture and form. His Scratch-O-Lin – extracts amplified sounds from bowed cardboard and styrofoam constructions.

Bunk co-produces the concert series Opensound, and has chaired the Somerville Arts Council. He is also co-director of Collide-O-Scope music, a NYC based new music ensemble. He received his PhD in Music Composition and Theory from Brandeis University and is Assistant Professor of Music at Franklin Pierce University in New Hampshire where he teaches electronic music and composition.

Hal Rammel has created many variations on a mostly metallic instrument he calls the “amplified palette.” The shape of the palette and of elements attached to it allow a wide variety of sounds to be accessed. The amplified elements may be compared to a “singing saw”, producing tones, overtones and sustained sound by being bowed or struck.

Hal Rammel

Hal Rammel

Rammel now works in Milwaukee as an artist, writer and performer. He hosts an avant-garde music program on WMSE FM and a series at Woodland Pattern Book Center. Rammel is organizer of the Great Lakes Orchestra, a mix of traditional instruments, electronic sources and computer processed sound that improvises most of its repertory.

Although the musicality and sound of their respective instruments vary substantially, both Bunk and Rammel have developed musical compositions and improvisations to draw the best from their products. Saturday’s concert will feature solo work by each as well as a few paired improvisations.

The Unruly Music series relocates this series from downtown to the UWM Music Recital Hall on the UWM Kenwood campus (map). Tickets are $10, $5 for students, and free for UWM music majors. They may be purchased online, at (414) 229-4308 or at the satellite box office in the theater the night of a performance. All events start at 7:30 p.m.

Categories: Classical, Music

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