Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Slee Glee

As is customary for June in Buffalo, UB's own Slee Sinfonietta plays a key role in the concert schedule this year, serving up two programs of music by JiB master composers. On June 2, James Baker leads the ensemble in David Felder's Tweener, Olivier Pasquet's Kasper, 6 Piano Etudes by Augusta Read Thomas, and Roger Reynolds's Aspiration.  

On June 4, Brad Lubman conducts the Slee Sinfonietta in works by Harvey Sollberger (New Millennium Memo), Felder (Partial [Dist]res[s]toration and Canzone XXXI), Thomas (Carillon Sky), and Bernard Rands (Now again - fragments from Sappho). Julia Bentley is the mezzo-soprano soloist in the Rands, and violinist Yuki Numata takes the solo role in Thomas's piece.  You can hear excerpts from Carillon Sky here and here.  

In case you're unfamiliar with the group, the Slee Sinfonietta is the professional chamber orchestra in residence at the University at Buffalo and the flagship ensemble of the Center for 21st Century Music. Founded in 1997 by David Felder, it is comprised of UB faculty artists, visiting artists, regional professionals and advanced performance students. Others activities include tours, professionally produced recordings, and unique concert experiences for regional and international audiences alike.  

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A not-so-secret Laboratorium

Another European ensemble appearing at June in Buffalo 2010 is Ensemble Laboratorium. Like Ensemble SurPlus, the group is playing two concerts -- one featuring 20th-century classics (June 3):
Transparente - Oscar Bianchi
Glint - Jacob Druckman
Influence Liquide from Laboratorium - Vinko Globokar
Assonance VI - Michael Jarrell
déja - Bernard Rands
from behind the unreasoning mask - Roger Reynolds

...and the other comprising pieces by JiB participants (June 4):
A Fragmented Landscape - John Bacon
For Bass - Matthew Goodheart
January Miniatures - Joshua Groffman
A Matter of Truth - Hannah Lash
Cross-sightedness - Diana Soh
Chiaroscuro - Gabriele Vanoni
Night Spiral - Christopher Walczak
Cleave Orestes - Stephen Wilcox

Ensemble Laboratorium is based in Switzerland, but the group's members hail from fourteen countries on five continents. A primary goal of the ensemble is the development of an interactive exchange between the cultures represented by its members. This work takes the form of specific projects that explore the complete range of contemporary music -- from well and lesser known repertoire of the 20th and 21st centuries to newly commissioned works, including multimedia collaborations with artists from other fields. In addition to its JiB performances, the group's upcoming swing through New York state will include stops at two experimental music outposts in NYC: The Tank (May 31, June 11) and Issue Project Room (June 10). 

Monday, May 17, 2010

SurPlus value

Among the noteworthy ensembles participating in June in Buffalo 2010, one name in particular may be unfamiliar to American new music fans: Ensemble SurPlus. But this highly accomplished German group plays an important role in this year's JiB, performing works by Augusta Read Thomas, Lukas Foss, Harvey Sollberger, Alvin Lucier, Charles Wuorinen, and Brian Ferneyhough on June 1, and playing participant composers' pieces on June 2. (A full concert schedule is available here.)

Based in Freiburg, Ensemble SurPlus was founded in 1992 by the eminent pianist and conductor James Avery (1937-2009). The Ensemble performs chamber music ranging from duos to large instrumental combinations, and aims to give new or unknown works optimal performances, regardless of compositional style or technical and intellectual demands. Its credits include performances at numerous European festivals including Darmstadt, Musica Viva, Donaueschingen, and others. Ensemble SurPlus has also collaborated closely with the Experimental Studio of the German Radio (SWR). Numerous CD productions and recordings (Ferneyhough, Clark, Spahlinger, Mahnkopf, Wolpe with Heinz Holliger) document the great versatility of the ensemble. For further information and sound samples, visit the Ensemble SurPlus website.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Unburied treasures

The Center for 21st Century Music's official website contains a trove of fascinating archival material pertaining to June in Buffalo. You can view scans of JiB program books stretching back almost 20 years at this page, which also has links to photo galleries from the 2006-09 festivals.

At left, Gunther Schuller explains it all during a 2006 June in Buffalo seminar.

At right, Morton Subotnick makes a point at JiB 2008. Both photos are by the Center's gifted and indefatigable house photographer, Irene Haupt.