Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Guitarists Magnus Andersson and Arturo Tallini at the Center this week...

This will be a very active and guitar-filled week at the Robert and Carol Center for 21st Century Music. Magnus Andersson, virtuoso guitarist and long time friend of the Center, will be at UB premiering student works written especially for him at an informal workshop and recording session on September 28. The following day he will be joined by Arturo Tallini for a concert of today’s most demanding and complex pieces for guitar duet in Baird Recital Hall.

Wednesday’s program of solo readings will feature six of UB’s graduate composers: Daniel Bassin, Juan-Colón Hernandez, Colin Tucker, Zane Merritt, Nathan Heidelberger, and Chung Ting Pang. The informal session will take place at 3:00 p.m. in Baird Recital Hall on Wednesday, Sep. 28, and will be a great opportunity to hear new music from UB’s incredibly creative and diverse body of young composers. Daniel Bassin’s piece, Gerard, features a timbrally evocative tuning with a unique microtonal scordatura and borrows from Olivier Messiaen’s musical alphabet, which Messiaen created to transcribe theological writings into his musical works. Language plays a large role in some of the other pieces we will hear Wednesday as well – Nathan Heidelberger’s a refrain One keeps playing year after year, concerning the nature of things as they are, includes text adapted from Wallace Steven’s 1937 book of poetry, “The Man with the Blue Guitar,” and will showcase Magnus Andersson’s vocal talents as he speaks and sings the text, simultaneously mimicking the diverse sounds of the guitar he is performing on. The graduate student composers at the University at Buffalo bring their originality from tremendously different geographic and aesthetic backgrounds, and tomorrow will be a terrific opportunity to hear all the diversity and talent staged back-to-back and performed by a world-class musician.
Arturo Tallini

On Thursday, September 29, at 7:30 p.m. in Baird Recital Hall, Arturo Tallini will team up with Magnus to present a concert of modern composers who have written for guitar duet, including Bruno Maderna, Sylvano Busotti, Brian Ferneyhough, and Helmut Lachenmann. Lachenmann’s piece, Salut für Caudwell, artfully runs through a dizzying combination of guitar techniques and performance styles, and includes sounds from the entire body of the guitar, as well as incorporates fingertips, knuckles, the guitar slide, picks, and a wide variety of other plectrums. Both performers speak text from British author Christopher Caudwell and Friedrich Nietzsche while they play, often hocketing with the music and creating a delightful interplay of words and sounds. Thursday’s concert will be a great chance to hear some of the most creative and demanding pieces for guitar duet written in the past few decades.

Below is an excellent video feature of Magnus Andersson and Arturo Tallini performing Ferneyhough’s No time (at all), at the Conservatorio di Musica S. Cecilia in Rome, Italy, from March of 2010. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Tierney Sutton Band at UB and Kleinhans Music Hall

The Robert and Carol Morris Center for 21st Century Music is very excited to have the Tierney Sutton Band in town this week for a jazz ensemble master class at the University at Buffalo Music Department and an exclusive benefit event at Kleinhans Music Hall. The Tierney Sutton Band is a three-time Grammy Nominee for “Best Jazz Vocal Album,” and has headlined at The Hollywood Bowl, Jazz at Lincoln Center, and Carnegie Hall. The group has garnered remarkably positive press, and The Buffalo News has recently released a glowing review of their latest album, American Road, and described it as “Gorgeous. Witty. And absolutely fresh. Every bit of it.”

The Tierney Sutton Band

On Thursday, pianist Christian Jacobs, bassist Kevin Axt, drummer Ray Brinker, and singer Tierney Sutton hosted a master class in Baird Hall at the University at Buffalo and coached student jazz musicians on the ins and outs of improvisation, instrumental technique, and the nuances of musical life as a jazz ensemble. The workshop began with stunning performances by The Anthony Rideout Quintet, a student jazz group at UB featuring bassist Anthony Rideout and lead singer Esin Gunduz under the tutelage of Buffalo-based jazz saxophonist Dave Schiavone. Esin, originally from Turkey, had an instant rapport with Tierney Sutton, and members of the band raved about their experiences touring and performing in Esin’s hometown, Istanbul. After offering praise, pointers, tips, and well-received feedback to the quintet, the Tierney Sutton Band took to the stage and gave the packed hall a few of their own unique and dynamic interpretations of jazz standards. They ended their set with a very creative and musical rendition of the traditional folk song, “Shenandoah,” which was met with tremendous enthusiasm and applause.

On Friday, September 23rd, the Tierney Sutton Band will perform at an exclusive event, sponsored by Robert and Carol Morris, to benefit the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra in the Blue Room at Kleinhans Music Hall. The event promises to be very special, as the Blue Room will have the atmosphere and ambience of an intimate jazz club for the evening. Seats for Gold and Silver Circle Patrons have already sold out, but some tickets may still available. More information about tickets, availability, and the event itself can be found at the BPO’s website here

Below is a video of the Tierney Sutton Band performing their unique adaptation of the jazz hit, “I Get a Kick Out of You.”

Monday, September 12, 2011

2011-2012 Season Overview

The Robert and Carol Morris Center for 21st Music is pleased to announce a very active 2011-2012 season, which has already kicked off to an exciting start with last Thursday’s concert, “Secret Messages,” where members of The Genkin Philharmonic performed works by UB’s own Moshe Shulman and Jeff Stadelman, as well as works by Morton Feldman, Milton Babbitt, and Iannis Xenakis. Jon Nelson and The Genkin, as always, provided us with a beautiful and well-crafted program, with members of the ensemble improvising between pieces to create a seamless and absorbing flow of music.

The upcoming week will be a vigorous one for the Slee Sinfionetta, as they tour a program of music by some of today’s best composers to Buffalo, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh. The excitement begins at UB’s Slee Hall on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. with works by Erb, Rindfleisch, Rosenblum, D’Alessio, and Felder. The tour will then continue to Cleveland State University on Wednesday and to the University at Pittsburgh on Friday. The Slee Sinfionetta will be under the baton of James Baker and guest conductor Andrew Rindfleisch, who is currently a Professor of Music and the Head of Music Composition Studies at Cleveland State University (click here for more information about Andrew Rindfleisch). The Slee Sinfionetta will also be joined by internationally renowned guitarist Magnus Andersson, who will perform on David Felder’s Requiescat.

The activity continues throughout September as UB music faculty participate in President Satish K. Triparthi’s Investiture Week, with clarinetist Jean Kopperud performing Sep. 19th at 3:00 p.m. for the Annual Celebration of Academic Excellence at the Center for the Arts. The week will conclude with a university-wide ceremony on Friday, Sep. 23rd at 3:00 p.m., also at the Center for the Arts, where Carl T. Hayden, Chairman of the State University of New York Board of Trustees, and SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher will formally invest President Tripathi with his new office. During the ceremony we will be treated to a performance of David Felder’s “Funfares,” a new work written especially for the investiture of UB’s new president.

Investiture Week at the University at Buffalo
The month will conclude with Magnus Andersson returning to UB on September 28th, to lead a composer master class and workshop pieces by Dan Bassin, Nathan Heidelberger, and some of UB’s incoming graduate composers. On the following evening, Sep. 29th, Magnus will pair with fellow guitarist Arturo Tallini for a concert in Baird Recital Hall at 7:30 p.m.

The rest of the fall semester will be packed with visits from the contemporary music scene’s leading ensembles, singers, conductors, and composers. On October 18th acclaimed brass quintet The Meridian Arts Ensemble will lead a composer workshop with UB’s graduate composers, and on November 1st the Slee Sinfionetta, conducted by Gil Rose and featuring mezzo-soprano Julia Bentley, will give a concert featuring works by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Bernard Rands. Bernard Rands will be staying in Buffalo and presenting a guest lecture to the music department the following day (learn about his recent projects here). The semester will begin wrapping up on November 15, when the Bonne Action Contemporary Music Ensemble will put on a concert of contemporary music in Lippes Concert Hall.
Bernard Rands

Next Spring at The Center for 21st Century Music will be just as active as the Fall, as we will be welcoming the return of Mathias Pintscher to conduct the Slee Sinfionetta on April 3rd. Many other distinguished performers and composers will be visiting the Center as well, including distinguished Mozart scholar and pianist Robert Levin and Italian virtuoso flutist Mario Caroli. There will also be several composer workshops featuring works by UB graduate composers, including the Antares New Music Quartet and the Talujon Percussion Ensemble. 

The season will conclude explosively with June in Buffalo 2012, which promises to be one of the largest and most exciting contemporary music events of the year. This year's festival showcases an incredible cadre of faculty composers: Louis Andriessen, Robert Beaser, Steven Stucky, Fred Lerdahl, and David Felder. June in Buffalo 2012 will also feature an all-star lineup of ensembles and soloists, including CIKADA, Ensemble Interface, New York New Music Ensemble, SIGNAL, UB Percussion Ensemble, Slee Sinionetta, and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. Special guests James Baker, Roberto Fabricciani, and Brad Lubman will also participate in the festival this year.  

Friday, September 2, 2011

Some of the many opportunities provided by the composition program at UB...

Following up on our series of posts by recent and soon-to-be graduates of UB’s composition program, we invited Robert Phillips to share some of his thoughts on his time at UB. Robert is currently finishing up his PhD in composition and working on multimedia and chamber music works with musicians in London, Montreal, Stockholm, Paris, San Diego, and the Buffalo area. He attributes much of his artistic and professional growth as a composer to opportunities he received while studying at UB.

Robert Phillips
photo by Megan Metté

Robert says, “I grew tremendously as an artist through the generous opportunities presented by the composition program at UB. I received incredible professional support there and have a long list of projects for which I relied on help from UB and The Center for 21st Century Music, which I’m terribly grateful for. Some of the most exciting sponsorship I ever received was the help traveling to Madison, Wisconsin, to rehearse and record Mapuana mai kekahi (scent of another), before The Nonsense Company toured it throughout the U.S. Shortly after, the Center helped me fly to Amsterdam to oversee Mapuana’s performance in the International Gaudeamus Musikweek Composer’s Competition by the Ear Massage Percussion Quartet. David Felder and the Center’s support were instrumental in bringing forth a complex work involving lap steel guitars, Hawaiian records, ukuleles, Tibetan singing bowls, and all sorts of bizarre, but carefully chosen miscellany, to many locations in the U.S. and to festivals and concert halls in Europe.

“Also, studying at UB helped me to grow as an electronic music composer, primarily through working in the Lejaren Hiller Music Studios with Cort Lippe. He has a very sophisticated mind for manipulating and working with samples and sound synthesis, and part of the culmination of working with him was a recent piece of mine involving cut-up a cappella samples of vocalist Gucci Mane, entitled gucci might be, which was recently selected for opening night performance at the Toronto Electroacoustic Symposium. It was a great pleasure to diffuse the piece live over 16 speakers placed strategically over the Wychwood Theatre and participate in such a dynamic and exciting sound environment, and have some of the U.K.’s and Canada’s top electroacoustic composers in the audience.

“Some of my greatest pleasures during my time at UB have been while working with the incredible performance faculty. Clarinetist Jean Kopperud was able to do things that very few clarinetists are able to do, and she did them with a grace and artistry that exceeded my compositional fantasy. Trumpeter Jon Nelson was also a lot of fun to work with and was able to immediately apply powerful interpretive rigor to some very iconoclastic brass music I wrote. Perhaps most recently, I got to work in the Slee Recording Studios with one of my favorite singers, Tony Arnold, who was able to affect incredibly delicate vibrato shadings and was a tremendous compositional inspiration (you can listen to In der Luft, da bleibt deine Wurzel, a selection from heterogeneous blends, with Tony Arnold, here until Robert's website is up and running).

“One of the greatest things about the University at Buffalo is all of the incredible musicians that are constantly visiting. I’ve had many happy surprises walking the stairs of Baird Hall and bumping into one of the world’s top performers who happened to be stopping by, and I attribute much of my growth as a composer to having worked with so many renown ensembles that have come through and given workshops and master classes. Earlier this year, I was fortunate enough to work on a studio project with the JACK Quartet through resources provided by the Mark Diamond Research Fund. The four of them were some of the most engaging and sensitive performers I’ve ever had the opportunity to work with, and they were surprisingly adept at negotiating a complex work that borrows an aesthetic strangely adapted from turntable practice and requiring delicate glissando motion. The piece, Ohr, will be finished this fall and feature material for live electronics and digital turntables.

“Best yet, some of the ensembles that have come through have resulted in exciting possibilities for collaboration – last year Pascal Gallois, Rohan de Saram, and Magnus Andersson spent some time here offering a workshop with student composers and giving a concert which lead to a handful of commissions for me. One of the projects will be the largest I’ve ever been able to work on, and I’m really looking forward to learning from these performers and exploiting their sophisticated musical personalities after they did such an incredible job with my recent trio, Larghetto Rubato (available here).  

“Working and studying with David Felder has been hugely influential in helping me develop my personal style. He approaches composition lessons with profoundly open ears, and has a strong desire to hear the student’s unique voice emerge over time. This skill requires deep patience and sensitivity and is very rare in a composition teacher – its effect has served to purge my music of some of the clichés common to composers today and strengthen the unique characteristics of my own sonic imagination. In this respect, I feel UB is incredibly unique as an academic institution in that I didn’t so much learn a craft, like ‘composition,’ but rather, made seminal discoveries about myself as a musician and as an artist.”