Saturday, November 26, 2011

Flutist Barry Crawford's many activities at UB and around the world...

University at Buffalo Flute Professor Barry Crawford currently tours as a flutist in countries all around the world (20 countries to date), performs a wide range of repertoire ranging from 19th century salon music to contemporary music’s thorniest and most demanding works, regularly releases recordings as a member of several top ensembles, and teaches a full flute studio here at UB. Early next year, Barry will perform in festivals in Europe and New York City before returning to participate with the Slee Sinfonietta in June in Buffalo 2012.
Barry Crawford

In January, Barry will be performing with the renowned Talea Ensemble at the Chamber Music America Conference in New York City. The group will be premiering a new work by John Zorn, bateau ivre, in a program filled with pieces by New York City’s major composers. Shortly after the conference, Barry will travel to Iceland to perform in Iceland’s Dark Music Days Festival with Poetica Musica, an ensemble of musicians that are currently Artists-in-Residence at Old Westbury Gardens in Long Island. The Dark Music Days Festival is named after the four-hour days that occur in Iceland during the winter, and will feature some of Scandinavia’s top musicians and composers (more info here). Barry will perform in many concerts throughout his time there, and will star as the soloist in David Felder’s November Sky, for flute and electronics.

One of Barry’s most active groups is the Manhattan-based Jupiter Symphony Chamber Players, who perform a 20-week season and 40 gigs a year, and usually play in front a sold-out audience. The group enjoys resurrecting the sometimes forgotten repertoire from the 18th and 19th century – often picking pieces which have no available recording to reference and delving into the challenging work of interpreting the music and making it their own. One of the forgotten gems from the Romantic era, Aldabert Gyrowetz’s Flute Quartet, has been featured on their program and is one of Barry's personal favorites. Much of the music from that time was too instrumentally virtuosic to be regularly included in concerts, and provides a perfect opportunity for a chamber group of today to hone their skills for bringing pieces to life that lack the incredibly refined performance practice of Haydn or Schubert. The group is partly named after the late Jens Nygaard and his Jupiter Symphony, and as the New York Times puts it, mimics his “[inspiring] determination to explore rarely heard early works by Mozart and present virtually unplayed music by 19th-century composers like Louis Spohr, Ethelbert Nevin and Carl Czerny.” The Jupiter Symphony Chamber Players worked with Jens Nygaard often and continues to perform regularly to carry on his vision as a conductor and curator.

Barry has high praise for the Department of Music at UB, calling it, “an absolute pleasure to play here, with so many top new music performers to play with and a lot of really terrific opportunities to perform with the Slee Sinfonietta.” He is very active in the department, and leads the music department’s flute ensemble Plosion, who have recently commissioned and premiered works from UB graduate composers Juan Colón-Hernandez, Ethan Hayden, and Chun Ting Pang. Plosion plays not only at venues in the music department, but at the Student Union and other venues around campus, bringing new music to students and faculty all around the campus community. Barry’s flute studio, which now has several students wait-listed to get in, has been quite successful, with undergrads and graduates performing regularly in competitions and festivals in Italy, the Czech Republic, and elsewhere around the world.

You can listen to Barry perform on a recent recording of Three Romances, by Milos Raickovich, now available on iTunes, as well as on a CD of Gabriela Frank’s music with Ensemble Meme, soon to be released on Albany Records (available here). 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Oberlin Conservatory's Bonne Action performs new works at the University at Buffalo

Bonne Action 

On Tuesday, November 15th, Oberlin College Conservatory’s premiere new music ensemble, Bonne Action, will visit the University at Buffalo to give a concert of works by today’s leading composers. The group, founded in 2009, features some of Oberlin’s finest musicians, including flutist Laura Cocks, clarinetist Theophilus Chandler, violinist Holly Jenkins, violist Carrie Frey, cellist Dylan Messina, pianist Daniel Walden, and percussionist Christian Smith. Bonne Action will be joined by the head of Oberlin’s composition department, Lewis Nielson, who will have two pieces on the concert. Also on the program will be pieces by young American composer Jason Eckardt, and German composers Rolf Riehm and Reiko Füting. 

The group’s dedication to sharing new music is evident in their very thoughtful mission statement: “Bonne Action is a group of performers from Oberlin Conservatory who devote the majority of their time and energy to the performance of contemporary music. Each player has, in the context of the music they play or the music they play and write, placed an emphasis on the musical present in their lives and attitudes toward the world. Bonne Action finds it’s name and association in performing the good (and therefore essential) task of presenting music that changes the musical and social environment; that assumes the audience is not merely admirers of works or those who perform them but, rather, active participants in the experience of music; equal in all respects to composer and performer, and just as necessary. We believe that this exchange relation represents an excellent model not only for the experience of art but for socio-political organization as well. Bonne Action is about music and community.” 

One of the concert highlights will be Lewis Nielson’s Iskra, which features a singer with several options to navigate: he/she may sing a fully-composed melody to one of the two given texts, use incipits provided to improvise with, or improvise the entire melody while the other members of the trio continue with their music – it is a piece full of spontaneity and risk. A video of Bonne Action performing Iskra can be found here.

Join us at 7:30 p.m. in Lippes Concert Hall on November 15th for Bonne Action’s concert of new works. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Eric Huebner performs with the New York Philharmonic

The University at Buffalo’s own Eric Huebner, who is Assistant Professor of Piano in the Department of Music, will perform with the New York Philharmonic on December 16 and 17 as part of their CONTACT! New Music Series at The Met Museum, with conductor Alan Gilbert. In addition to an active performance schedule, Eric also keeps busy expanding the discography of his new music group, Antares, and working to incorporate master classes for young performers into the June in Buffalo festival.

Eric Huebner
Eric’s frequent stints as the guest pianist of the New York Philharmonic will continue into next year and carry across the Atlantic Ocean, where he will tour with the Philharmonic throughout Europe next February to perform Stravinsky’s Symphony in Three Movements and Thomas Adés’ Polaris. Upon returning to the U.S., Eric will be premiering an exciting new work by esteemed American composer and centenarian Elliot Carter, Conversations, for piano, percussion, and chamber orchestra, with the New York Philharmonic under the baton of David Robertson in New York City, in June of 2012 (more details can be found at the Philharmonic’s website).   

In between bouts of touring and performing with the Philharmonic, Eric will bring his group Antares to the University at Buffalo next March to host a master class and give a concert of Stravinsky, Ravel, Reynolds, and Hindemith. Antares is a quartet that specializes in performing and recording new music, and includes clarinetist Garrick Zoeter, violinist Jesse Mills, and cellist Rebecca Patterson. While they are in residency at the University at Buffalo, they will also be spending an afternoon performing the works of UB graduate composers at a composer reading and workshop. Eric, who has recently released a full-length disc of Roger Reynolds’ piano works on Mode Records, enjoys working closely with composers and fostering an intimate collaborative relationship. He remarks, “by collaborating with composers, I’ve been given opportunities to learn not only about their work, but also about my own playing. Composers have given me great insight into my own performance tendencies and approaches to the piano, and each new composer I collaborate with provides me with a learning experience that broadens my abilities to successfully interpret new music.”

Originally founded in 1996, Antares has been releasing critically acclaimed recordings of world premieres for several years. The group was recently treated to a glowing review by Ken Smith of The Gramophone, who wrote, “Antares have the gift of making whatever they’re playing seem the most important piece in the world. And as long as they keep playing, I’m tempted to believe them.” The group has recently released a world premiere recording of Shadowed Narrative by Roger Reynolds on Innova recordings, and has several other new releases available on a variety of record labels (find a complete list here).

The Robert and Carol Morris Center for 21st Century Music is happy to report that Eric is helping to develop a performance institute for the annual June in Buffalo Festival. Though the final details of the project are still being coordinated, the institute is planned for June in Buffalo 2013 and will include opportunities for solo instrumentalists, string quartets, and pre-formed contemporary music ensembles to workshop and study with June in Buffalo performance faculty. The institute will be modeled, in a smaller scale, after the Lucerne Festival, and provide a framework for meetings and collaborations between composers and performers. The JACK Quartet are currently slated to be on the list of performance faculty members, as well as other members of UB’s music performance faculty including Jean Kopperud, Jonathan Golove, and Tom Kolor. Stay tuned for a formal announcement on the June in Buffalo performance institute in Spring of 2012.

Below is a video of an excellent concert of Eric Huebner with David Robertson and the Juilliard Orchestra, performing Olivier Messaien’s Oiseaux Exotiques.