Tuesday, December 29, 2009

David Felder: new CD and DVD

David Felder, director of the Center and Birge-Cary Professor of Composition at UB, is widely known as a leader in his generation of American composers. His music has been heard at major international new music festivals worldwide, including those in Holland, Huddersfield, Darmstadt, Brussels, Geneva, Ravinia, Aspen, Tanglewood, Bourges, and Vienna, to name a few. Commissions include works for the New York New Music Ensemble, Arditti Quartet, American Composers Orchestra, Buffalo Philharmonic, American Brass Quintet, and many others. His work has been broadly characterized by its highly energetic profile, through its frequent employment of technological extension and elaboration of musical materials (including his “Crossfire” video series), and its lyrical qualities.

Two brand-new recordings offer a superb introduction to his compelling work. Shamayim, released October 1 (Albany 1137), is a DVD documenting a film collaboration between Felder and filmmaker Elliot Caplan. December 1 brought BoxMan (Albany 1153), a composer portrait CD compiling works written for the Arditti Quartet, New York Virtuoso Singers, New York New Music Ensemble, and trombonist Miles Anderson. Together, the two releases reveal a composer at the height of his powers.

Shamayim began with Felder’s work with Nicholas Isherwood on a piece for voice and electronic sounds and Caplan’s interest in a series of images having to do with nature. Shamayim uses Hebrew letters as the base structure for the music, while Caplan uses the numeric values of these letters as inspiration for the images. In some cases, Caplan attempted to be as close to the sound as possible in creating the images and in others Felder would compose based on the images. The results are strikingly beautiful: meditative yet rich in incident. Isherwood's resonant, sometimes eerily deep voice is set against an everchanging electronic backdrop that evokes the mysterious workings of the natural world. 

The Italian website MusicalNews.com called Shamayim "A DVD not to be missed: a masterpiece of our times. The music of Felder looks to the future with deep roots in the past in a spiral of sounds that envelop the viewer."

At first glance, the four compositions on the BoxMan disc might seem very disparate: Stuck-Stücke, an aphoristic string quartet; Memento mori, an elegiac piece for unaccompanied choir; partial [dis]res[s]toration, a sextet with electronic ambience; and finally the title track, a theatrical trombone solo in which the electronic interventions come right into the foreground. On listening, however, the differences begin to dissolve, leaving behind them the outlines of a distinct creative personality. One feature they share is fearlessness; another is their rhythmic dynamism and another is the containment of rhythmic and harmonic tensions in small motifs.

Reviewing BoxMan in the Buffalo News, Mary Kunz Goldman wrote, "UB composer in residence David Felder has a sense of humor that runs like a live nerve through this record, adding a needed extra dimension to sounds that would otherwise be alien to the ear. The sparks and spiky texture of one of the Stuck-Stuecke—good title there—appeals when you see it is marked “Effervescent.” “Mechanically!— incessant,” “Chorale-still,” “Bubbly”—the evocative words sum up the sounds brilliantly. [Felder] seems to be trying to put something into music that cannot be put into music. A string quartet has to make a sound like murmuring, or dancing, or breathing, or bouncing off the walls. In “Memento Mori,” a chorus takes up the challenge and it sounds otherworldly, like the sounds picked up by ghosthunters at the Iron Island Museum. I kept visualizing the changing harmonies like rays of light passing through a prism."

Thursday, December 3, 2009

From Copland's house to ours, part II

As noted below, Music from Copland House came to the Center in November for a well-received concert, preceded by a session in which the distinguished ensemble played through a trio of works by UB students. Michael Boriskin, the ensemble's pianist and Executive Director of Copland House, had this to say about the experience:

"All of us in the Music from Copland House ensemble had a really rewarding and enjoyable visit to UB for our all-too-short mini-residency in mid-November.  Besides our public concert celebrating the legendary Nadia Boulanger and her American students (including, most prominently, Copland himself) and several performance master classes for UB piano, wind, and string students, our activities on campus included our public reading of three strong new works by UB students:  (Dis)tenzione for clarinet and piano by Paolo Cavallone, the String Quartet No. 2 by Moshe Shulman, and Spate (Resonantia Machina) by Ethan Hayden. 

"Two things struck us about all three compositions, despite the fact that they were very different works, reflecting highly diverse idioms, objectives, character, and creative approaches.  They all had very distinctive musical profiles and artistic personalities, and were solidly, expertly crafted.  Paolo’s delicate work had a very definite European sensibility, inhabiting an ethereal, mysterious sound world.  Moshe’s wide-ranging quartet explored all kinds of musical gestures and was full of flamboyant and dramatic flourishes, sometimes complemented by the percussive sounds of tapping instruments and stamping the floor!  Ethan’s short but dramatic composition was a driving, rhythmically spiky study of massed or opposing instrumental lines and sonorities, interrupted by a brief spare, serene interlude.  Our individual and collective suggestions about these works generally involved instrumental possibilities and minor technical or expressive refinements, as well as issues regarding how composers interact (through their works) with their performers and their audiences. 

"We really wished we could have spent more time with all these works and their composers, just as we were sorry we weren’t able to stay longer at UB.  We’re very grateful to our hosts, David Felder, Carol and Bob Morris, the UB Music Department, and the Center for the Study of 21st Century Music, for making our visit possible.  UB’s illustrious history supporting the music of our time is well known.  As performers who, both individually and representing Copland House, enthusiastically champion contemporary composers and America’s rich musical heritage, we were thrilled to see how UB’s vibrant legacy continues to thrive so impressively!"

BTW, this coming Sunday (Dec. 6), Music from Copland House is presenting a talk called "Off the Record" by Alex Ross, taking place at Copland House at Merestead, Mt. Kisco, NY.  Further information available here.

Monday, November 30, 2009

June in Buffalo 2010

Aspiring composers take note! The deadline for applying to participate in June in Buffalo 2010 is February 16, 2010.  JiB promises to be more exciting than ever in its 35th anniversary season, which also marks the festival's 25th anniversary under the direction of the Center's director, David Felder.  It will take place from May 31 - June 6 at the University at Buffalo, with the usual panoply of seminars, lectures, master classes, workshops, professional presentations, participant forums and open rehearsals as well as afternoon and evening concerts open to the general public and critics. Each of the invited composers will have one of his/her pieces performed during the festival. Evening performances feature faculty composers, resident ensembles and soloists renowned internationally as interpreters of contemporary music.

In addition to Felder, the senior faculty will also include Steve Reich, Roger Reynolds, Augusta Read Thomas, and Olivier Pasquet. Equally impressive are the resident ensembles: the Arditti Quartet, Signal, Ensemble Laboratorium, Ensemble SurPlus, and as always, the Slee Sinfonietta and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. Application information can be found here.

Monday, November 9, 2009

From Copland's house to ours

Praised by the New York Times for performances that are "all exuberance and bright sunshine," Music from Copland House -- the resident ensemble at Aaron Copland's National Historic Landmark home in New York's lower Hudson Valley, comes to Lippes Hall on Friday, November 13 with a program titled "Afternoons in Paris: Boulanger, Copland, and the Americans." In addition to pieces by the eponymous composers, music by Stravinsky, Astor Piazzolla, Paul Chihara, and Irving Fine will be heard. Clarinetist Derek Bermel -- an estimable composer in his own right -- and noted pianist Michael Boriskin will be joined by violinists Tim Fain and Harumi Rhodes, violist Danielle Farina, and James Wilson on cello.

In addition, the gifted musicians of Music from Copland House will bring its expertise and insight to bear on works by graduate students Paolo Cavallone, Ethan Hayden, and Moshe Shulman in a free reading session on Thursday, Nov. 12 at 4 pm, also at Lippes Concert Hall.

Copland House is the only composer's home in the United States devoted to nurturing American composers and their work through a broad range of musical, educational, scholarly, and public programs and activities. Copland House is particularly noted for the Aaron Copland Awards, which provide residencies for six to eight mid-career composers each year at the house, situated on three secluded acres in the Hudson Valley. Idyllic? You be the judge. More information at www.coplandhouse.org

For tickets, visit the Lippes Concert Hall website.

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Short Film for the End of Time

On Tuesday, October 27 (7:30 pm), the Slee Sinfonietta serves up a quartet of chamber works at Lippes Concert Hall, dating from Messaien's spellbinding Quartet for the End of Time (1941) to conductor Harvey Sollberger's 1987 original substance/manifests/traces, with new UB faculty member Barry Crawford on flute. Franco Donatoni's fleet and inventive Arpège (1986) and Toru Takemitsu's enchanting Rain Spell (1983) round out the program. Regarding the latter work, Stylus magazine noted that its "relatively rich, shimmering textures place it again in Debussy territory as sort of an atonal take on Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun." Ticket information is available here.

Here's a remarkable short film that visual artist Zach Smithey and director Tristan Cook made for a performance of Quartet for the End of Time at Lincoln Center. (Note: this will not be shown at UB.) 

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Slee Sinfonietta rocks Ligeti, Bach, and Bloch, part 2

Just added to the Audio page on the Center's website: excerpts from the Slee Sinfonietta's September 15 concert at Lippes Concert Hall, including works by Bach, Bloch, and Ligeti. Click the "+" sign on the music player, then choose "Slee Sinfonietta 2009" to listen.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Ancora, Roberto!

As noted below, Roberto Fabbriciani -- described by a fan on YouTube as "il pìu grande flautista al mondo" -- is visiting UB during the first week of October. He'll give a free master class for composers in extended flute technique on Wednesday, Oct. 7 (3:30 pm) at Lippes Concert Hall, followed by a concert of contemporary Italian repertoire at Baird Recital Hall on Friday, Oct. 9 (7:30 pm).

Here's a glimpse of Fabbriciani in a recent premiere for flute and live electronics by Alessandro Grego, heard at the Zagreb Music Biennale last April.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Slee Sinfonietta rocks Ligeti, Bach, and Bloch

The Center's 2009-10 season opens in style with a Slee Sinfonietta concert tomorrow evening (Sept. 15) at Lippes Hall.  The program spotlights new faculty member Eric Huebner in Ligeti's treacherous but sparkling Piano Concerto, and renowned soloist Elmar Oliveira in J.S. Bach's Violin Concerto in A minor BWV 1041.

Writer Philip Huscher has described the piano part to Ligeti's concerto as "fiendishly difficult, though not always in the conventional sense; since the piano often plays quite independently from the orchestra, and sometimes in different rhythmic patterns, coordination becomes critical." Huebner (left) comes well prepared, however: having performed the piece at Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall in 2006.  He has drawn worldwide acclaim for his performances of new and traditional music since making his debut with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at age 17.  His playing has been described as “full of grace and light” by critic Paul Griffiths and he was recently referred to as “the new superstar” of the 2008 Ojai Festival by critic Alan Rich.  Here he is in an excerpt from Messaien's Oiseaux Exotiques, with the Julliard Orchestra under David Robertson.

Elmar Oliveira (right) needs no introduction to violin aficionados, having been the only American to date to win the Gold Medal at Moscow's prestigious Tchaikovsky International Competition. His fairly staggering discography includes recordings on the Artek, Angel, Sony Masterworks, Vox, Delos, IMP, Naxos, Ondine and Melodiya labels. No stranger to contemporary repertoire, his best-selling 1997 recording of the Rautavaara Violin Concerto with the Helsinki Philharmonic (Ondine) won a Cannes Classical Award and has appeared on Gramophone’s “Editor’s Choice” and other best recordings lists around the world.

With a nod to the upcoming High Holidays, tomorrow evening's program also includes Ernst Bloch's 1923 score Baal Shem.  Subtitled "Three Pictures of Hassidic Life," the piece comprises three movements: Vidui (Contrition), Nigun (Improvisation), and Torah (Rejoicing). Ticket information is available here.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Gallery show

More than 150 images from the 2009 June in Buffalo festival are now on view at the Center's searchable photo gallery. They were taken by Irene Haupt, who has been chronicling the Center's activities since its inception, and capture JiB seminars, rehearsals, concerts, and assorted candid moments. Here, David Felder looks over a score in a master class with JiB Participants Andrew Ly, Christian Gentry, Matthew Schreibeis, Todd Tarantino and Eleanor Aversa.

They join the Center's ever-expanding library of images, which currently stretch back four seasons, with more to come.

Monday, August 24, 2009

20th-century Italian flute: a primer

The Center's 2009-10 season includes a number of concerts co-sponsored with UB's Slee Visiting Artist Series, offering topnotch performers and ensembles in a mix of 20th-century classics and current scores. Leading Italian flutist Roberto Fabbriciani comes to Baird Recital Hall on Friday, October 9 (7:30 pm), the ensemble Music from Copland House pays a visit on Friday, November 13 (7:30 pm at Lippes Concert Hall), and the NY-based Talujon Percussion Ensemble is coming in on Friday, March 19 (7:30 pm, Lippes Concert Hall).

The first visitor, Fabbriciani, has an impeccable artistic pedigree: he studied with the pioneering master Severino Gazzelloni, for whom Luciano Berio wrote his very first Sequenza in 1958. (Gazzelloni's flute students included another pioneer: jazz visionary Eric Dolphy.)

Fabbriciani himself has collaborated with a fairly staggering list of composers, including Berio, Bussotti, Cage, Carter, Donatoni, Ferneyhough, Krenek, Kurtág, Morricone, Nono, Pousseur, Rihm, Sciarrino, Stockhausen, Takemitsu, and Yun. His concert on Oct. 9 promises to offer a guided tour through the contemporary literature:

Bruno Maderna - Cadenza
Luciano Berio - Sequenza
Aldo Clementi - Fantasia su roBErto FABbriCiAni
Ennio Morricone - Cadenza
Franco Donatoni - Midi
Salvatore Sciarrino - Come venegono prodotti gli incantesimi
Luigi Nono - Das atmende klarsein, fragment

(Left: "Who's that with Roberto Fabbriciani?")

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

JACK plays a little Sharp

The JACK Quartet's open reading of student works on October 14 is part of a short residency that includes a concert the previous evening, Oct. 13, at Baird Recital Hall. JACK is particularly noted for its command of technically demanding avant-garde repertoire, and this program is an apt showcase for the group's skills. Their program opens with Iannis Xenakis's Tetora, also heard on JACK's new disc surveying all four of Xenakis's works for string quartet (Mode Records 209).

Next is Aaron Cassidy's String Quartet; on his website, the composer avers his "uncompromising dedication to instability and fragmentation." The world premiere of experimental composer Robert Morris's Arc follows.

After intermission, Italian master Salvatore Sciarrino's String Quartet No. 7 is heard; his music is noted for its use of extended playing techniques and sonorities that seem to skirt the edge of perception. The program closes with The Boreal by Elliott Sharp (right), an alumnus of UB's graduate composition program who has gone on to international renown in a variety of genres.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Welcome JACK

As noted below, the Center's 2009-10 season features visits by a tempting array of topnotch ensembles. On October 14, the NYC-based JACK Quartet will perform as part of the Center's Wednesday Composer Series, reading a selection of works by students in UB's composition program.

Lucky students! JACK - the name is an acronym derived from the first initials of its members, John Pickford Richards (viola), Ari Streisfeld (violin), Christopher Otto (violin), and Kevin McFarland (cello) - is rapidly gaining notice for high-energy performances of today's most demanding works for string quartet. The New York Times called the quartet's performance of Iannis Xenakis' complete string quartets one of the "most memorable classical music presentations of 2008," and in 2009, the group received an ASCAP/Chamber Music America Award for Adventurous Programming of Contemporary Music.

Commissioning and performing new works for string quartet is central to the group's mission, leading them to work closely with composers Helmut Lachenmann (who'll be visiting the Center in April), György Kurtág, Matthias Pintscher, Wolfgang Rihm, Elliott Sharp, Samuel Adler, and Aaron Cassidy. Upcoming premieres include works by Caleb Burhans, Peter Ablinger, and Alan Hilario.

Here's a clip of JACK playing the opening movement of New York composer Christian Amigo's String Quartet No. 1.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The New Season!

The Center has announced its programming for the 2009-10 season, and it's an exciting one indeed, with concerts by the Slee Sinfonietta (with Elmar Oliveira and Eric Huebner as soloists), Signal, JACK Quartet, Music from Copland House, and others. There will be visits by composers Ben Thigpen (Paris), Roberto Fabricciani (Italy), Olivier Pasquet (Paris), Robert Beaser, David Dzubay, Joshua Feinberg, and Chinary Ung (USA).

June in Buffalo (May 31 - June 6, 2010) is marking the 35th anniversary of its founding and the 25th anniversary of David Felder's stewardship. To celebrate, there will be performances by the Arditti Quartet, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Slee Sinfonietta, Signal, and an array of distinguished soloists. Festival faculty will include David Felder, Olivier Pasquet, Steve Reich, Roger Reynolds, Augusta Read Thomas, and others to be announced.

All in all, as the late author Donald Barthelme once wrote in a different context, "there's more than enough aesthetic excitement here to satisfy anyone but a damn fool." See for yourself at the Center's website.

Over the next few weeks we'll be previewing some of these events in a bit more detail. But to whet your appetite, here's a clip of Signal - recently described by The New York Times as “one of the most vital groups of its kind,” - performing Reich's Music for 18 Musicians, caught last September at Le Poisson Rouge in NYC.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Remembering Lukas

"Why do we pigeonhole and label an artist? It is a sure way of missing the important, the contradictory, the things that make him or her unique" -- Lukas Foss.

As the Center prepares to announce its 2009-10 season, we'd like to take a moment to remember Lukas Foss, who passed away on February 1 at the age of 86. Foss was undoubtedly important, sometimes contradictory, and certainly unique. The New York Times ran an extensive obituary by Allan Kozinn, who commented, "Mr. Foss preferred to explore the byways of the avant-garde, focusing at different times on techniques from serialism and electronic music to Minimalism and improvisation. But as he moved from style to style, his voice remained distinctive, partly because he distrusted rules and never fully adhered to those of the approaches he adopted, and partly because a current of mercurial wit ran through his work.”

The spirit of Lukas Foss still animates the Center for 21st Century Music. His integrity, intellectual curiosity, and his openness to a wide variety of musical languages resonate to this day. (Photo: Irene Haupt)

Monday, June 29, 2009

in a Lydian mode

The critically-acclaimed Lydian String Quartet came to UB to perform in the Slee/Beethoven String Quartet Cycle on April 24 at Lippes Concert Hall. They also participated in a Composer Workshop the following day in Baird Recital Hall. Aubrey Byerly (left), a graduate student in composition, had the privilege of hearing her string quartet-in-progress played by the ensemble -- an outstanding perk for an emerging composer, and part of a process that began last fall with a previous visit from the group.

"My work with the Lydian Quartet has been a long, interesting, and rewarding learning experience," says Byerly. "The entire process began last fall, when I wrote two short passages of music for a reading with the intention of expanding it into complete piece. The Lydians came from Brandeis to play in the Slee Beethoven Cycle Series and graciously agreed to read the fragments of my piece. The reading was very informative, as a young composer I need experiences like this to build up a reservoir of experience to draw upon to finish this piece and for future pieces. It can be easy to slip into a compositional vacuum, so getting to hear things I have written grounds me in sonic reality. I was able to have them play several variations of passages to get a better sense of the acoustic realities of the ensemble, what voicings sound robust, gnarly, velvety, acerbic, and so on. I also learned quite a bit about how an ensemble like Lydian practices and learns pieces, which has informed the way I illuminate the ideas I am trying to convey in my score and the music. Being young and inexperienced, I feel quite timid around such accomplished musicians and need practice in trying to ask for what I want; so I also value the interpersonal aspect of working with an ensemble in this kind of setting. They have been very accommodating, have made countless helpful suggestions, and have taken great care to realize my ideas.

"Since their visit to University at Buffalo last fall, I have spent several months filling out the piece from its original fragments and revising... There have been many emails between the performers and myself, emphasizing their dedication to music and a desire to realize my ideas. I am already looking forward to the next revision, in order to integrate the knowledge and many insights they will bring with them. Through University at Buffalo's unique Center for 21st Century Music, the Lydian Quartet has provided me with a unique opportunity, which I could not have anywhere else, for which I am grateful."

Friday, June 26, 2009

more from June in Buffalo

We interrupt our look back at the 2008-09 season for a few words from Sequenza21 regular (and SUNY Fredonia composition prof) Rob Deemer. After Deemer posted his first JiB review, he agreed to submit a report for our own blog, focusing on the Friday, June 5 evening performance that featured the Slee Sinfonietta along with soloists flutist Mario Caroli and mezzo-soprano Julia Bentley as well as a solo performance by flutist Lindsey Goodman. Deemer writes, "While the audiences' necessary proximity to the stage caused occasional challenges to holistically experience the combination of acoustic and electro-acoustic, the overall concert was a huge success and quite thought-provoking.

"Commencing with the largest ensemble first, Brad Lubman calmly and expertly directed the Slee Sinfonietta strings, piano & percussion through David Felder's Inner Sky, a tour-de-force for master flutist Caroli that pitted the soloist (on piccolo, flute, alto flute and bass flute) against both the chamber orchestra and electronics, creating a richly dense texture. Beginning what would become a graduate thinning of textures throughout the concert, Bernard Rand's Now again - fragments from Sappho allowed the audience to experience each line within the chamber ensemble supporting Bentley, who wrung every drop of emotion from the ancient text, while creating a wonderfully unique sound of two female singers acting as a small chorus within the ensemble.

"After two intensely challenging works, one did not expect to see flutist Lindsey Goodman to take the stage by herself...and a toy dog in a basket! Such an introduction, however, was just what was needed for Matthew Rosenblum's tongue-in-cheek work for solo flute and electronics, Under the Rainbow. Incorporating the intricate flute part into the schizophrenic kaleidoscope that emanated from the speakers seemed to be a walk in the park for Goodman, who was into the character enough to slyly gesture to her ruby slippers at the appropriate time without seeming like a performer trying to act. I'm not sure what was more satisfying: the work itself or Goodman's performance, but nevertheless the performance encapsulated the entire concert - so much to enjoy that you'd have to see it again to catch what you missed the first time."

In addition to his activities as a journalist and composer, Deemer directs the Fredonia-based Ethos New Music Society. If you're a reader of this blog living in western NY, you'll definitely want to check out the group's upcoming season.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Continuing our wrap-up of the past season: on April 10, the Center for 21st Century Music joined forces with Buffalo-based ensemble A Musical Feast to present GUSTO at the Gallery, a program of contemporary works at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Pieces by Xenakis, Mozart, J. T. Rinker, and Mexican composer Mario Lavista were played by UB faculty members Tom Kolor (percussion), Alan Feinberg (piano) and Jonathan Golove (cello), among others.

A centerpiece of the program was Iannis Xenakis's Rebonds ("rebounds"), a tour de force for solo percussionist, in this case UB's own Tom Kolor. Here's a video of a different percussionist (Pedro Carneiro) playing the second part of this exciting piece:

Percussionist Rin Ozaki played J.T. Rinker's Frigate, scored for crotales and computer and premiered at June in Buffalo in 2008. Says Rinker, "I've always loved the sound of the crotales, and thought about what a computer might add that other instruments couldn't if paired with the crotales. As one of the highest pitched instruments of all it seemed only fitting to add a higher part (the crotales never gets to be a cantus firmus or play the role of providing a fundamental) for the instrument... with the idea that pitches/frequencies lower than the instrument could be created using difference tones. As each set of crotales is different the exact result is hard to predict, but it is true that in some parts of the piece the computer part only becomes apparent (is otherwise inaudible) when the crotales are played.

"I know that doesn't explain the title very well. Mostly I like the way the word 'frigate' sounds (just like I like the way the crotales sound), but big picture is that frigate is the first of a group of pieces for solo percussion instruments and computer that will all be named after ships of sail. At the moment I haven't started another piece so Frigate sails alone in search of its imaginary fleet/sister ships."

Monday, June 22, 2009

Adventures with the Slee Sinfonietta

The Slee Sinfonietta gave a characteristically absorbing program at Lippes Hall on April 7. Christian Baldini conducted works by UB faculty member Jeffrey Stadelman (Eventyr) plus recent composition grads Derek Charke (The Winds of Winter) and Evan Johnson (down / among the altitudes).

Charke's The Winds of Winter, for amplified solo flute and twelve-piece chamber orchestra, grows out of his researches into contemporary flute technique, integrated virtually every manner of sound production available to the instrument.

Johnson's down / among the altitudes was based from the book-length poem Anathemata by the Welsh poet David Jones. The passage from which the phrase in the title is taken describes, in a wide-ranging fashion typical of the poem, the changing of the Earth's surface on a geologic time-scale as it intersects with Celtic mythology - itself in turn a distorted reference to the Catholic Mass, around which the entire poem is somehow constructed.

Stadelman's Eventyr (Norwegian: "adventure," and also "folk tale) was written for the unusual instrumentation of New Zealand's virtuosic 175 East Ensemble, which Stadelman describes as "a sort of negative 'Pierrot ensemble' with low winds/brass, two low strings, and percussion." Says the composer, "I remember thinking about trying to develop an analogy-in form and time-to the feeling of the way high notes 'sound' when played by low instruments like cello, bass, trombone and bass clarinet." More information at the Center's website.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Season retrospective, part 1

Linkphoto: Philippe Gontier

With June in Buffalo over, it's time to take a look back at the Center's past season. The next few posts will touch on a few worthy highlights.

Any given semester at UB sees a parade of world-class composers and ensembles. The Arditti Quartet came in late February for a three-day residency, highlighted by a concert at Lippes Hall and a graduate composer reading session. They were joined at UB by composers Brian Ferneyhough, Hilda Paredes, and James Clark, who each contributed works to the quartet's concert program, along with pieces by David Felder and Elliott Carter. Ferneyhough and Paredes gave master classes and lecture/demonstrations.

Garaud McTaggart reviewed the Arditti's concert for the Buffalo News: "Based upon its length of service to the cause of adventurous contemporary music and the overall quality of its playing, the Arditti Quartet can take pride in a history that has consistently showcased, in the most honorable manner, a depth of commitment to modern composers that is truly striking."

In a more traditional vein, the Lydian String Quartet came to Lippes on Friday, April 24 to perform three Beethoven quartets -- Op. 18 no. 4, Op. 135, and Op. 59 no. 2 -- as part of the Slee Beethoven Cycle. Like the Arditti, the Lydian also participated in a student composer reading session...more to come on this.

Friday, May 29, 2009

a Paradise found

June in Buffalo alum Christian Carey continues his JiB reminiscences on Sequenza21.com with a cliffhanger tale on how a performance of his music was rescued by cellist Christopher Finckel. Carey now teaches composition and theory at Westminster Choir College. His music has been performed by the New York New Music Ensemble, the Cassatt String Quartet, the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, and Ionization, among others. Thanks, Christian!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

June in Buffalo on the web

The well-read new music website Sequenza21 spotlighted June in Buffalo in a post by JiB alum Christian Carey, who wrote: "Two of the happiest experiences I've had as a composer were back to back summers (’98 and ’99) at JUNE IN BUFFALO. Held at SUNY Buffalo in upstate New York, the weeklong festival is a chance for ‘emerging’ composers to hear their music performed by top notch musicians and to have it critiqued by master composers.

"By the end of the festival, they’re likely to have gotten a good tape of their piece, met performers and new music ‘movers and shakers,’ listened to nigh a hundred hours of contemporary fare, gathered tons of ideas for new works of their own, and made some lifelong chums among the other emergent creators. To this day, I keep in touch with many folks I met at JiB.

"There’s plenty to be excited about this year, but next year’s festival celebrates twin anniversaries: the thirty-fifth anniversary of JiB’s inception and its twenty-fifth since David Felder resurrected it from hiatus. Should be a loaded week!"

Carey also offers some wise advice for first-time attendees. You can read the entire post here.

An opening fanfare

David Felder and Lukas Foss (photo: Irene Haupt)

Welcome to the official blog of University at Buffalo's Center for 21st Century Music, home to the legendary June in Buffalo festival, the Slee Sinfonietta, and a host of other programs devoted to the music of our time.

The Center for 21st Century Music has roots that stretch back to 1963, when Lukas Foss (who passed away in February) founded UB's Center for Creative and Performing Arts. Foss, who also served as music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic from '63 to '70, was determined to establish the city as an international center of musical experimentation. To that end, he brought in composers and performers like George Crumb, David Del Tredici, Mauricio Kagel, Frederick Rzewski, Jan Williams, and Julius Eastman to become Creative Associates and participate in the Center's concerts and educational activities.

Morton Feldman became director of the Center in 1973, and two years later instituted June in Buffalo as an American answer to Darmstadt -- a place where student composers could gather and learn from an awe-inspiring array of elders from across the stylistic spectrum, including John Cage, Elliott Carter, John Harbison, Mauricio Kagel, Alvin Lucier, Steve Reich, Christopher Rouse, Poul Ruders, and Charles Wuorinen, along with many others.

The Center for Creative and Performing Arts was succeeded by the Center for 21st Century Music, founded by David Felder in 2006. Felder, a distinguished member of the UB composition faculty since 1984, revived June in Buffalo in 1986 after a six-year hiatus. C21CM programs include the Slee Sinfonietta, the Center's flagship performing ensemble; the Hiller Music Studio for projects in advanced music technology; and a concert and lecture series that features noted composers, performers, and ensembles from around the globe.

The Center for 21st Century Music has a distinguished past and an exciting future. We hope you'll visit our blog regularly for news, treasures from the Center's rich archive of audio and visual treats, and many other items of interest.