Thursday, December 13, 2012

Much more to come in the Spring 2013 season at the Center!

We’re almost midway through the 2012-2013 season at the Robert and Carol Morris Center for 21st Century Music. We’ve already had two exciting Slee Sinfonietta concerts featuring Robert Treviño, Yuki Numata, Daniel Pesca, and Daniel Bassin, a visit by composer James Romig from Western Illinois University, a tribute to documentary filmmaker Bruce Jackson featuring original music by David Felder, a recent residency by new music ensemble Norbotten NEO, and a slew of other concerts, performances, and projects.

We’re really looking forward to the next half of the season, which will feature one of our largest Slee Sinfonietta concerts ever, including guest performances by some of contemporary music’s leading musicians, including Ensemble SIGNAL, conductor Brad Lubman, soprano Laura Aiken, bass-baritone Ethan Herschenfeld, and percussionist Tom Kolor. The Spring Slee Sinfonietta concert will feature the premiere of David Felder’s Les Quatres Temps Cardinaux, a large work for about thirty musicians and ten channels of electronics, and which is Felder’s second commission from the Koussevitsky Music Foundation. We asked Felder about the commission, and he was kind enough to let us in on some of the details, “An interesting aspect of the piece is that I have audio recordings of the poets reading their poems, and can use their voices as source material. Most of the readings will be substantially electronically transformed... Often the phonemes from the spoken poems will be translated into instrumental analogues, or processed into bell sounds or other timbres. The texts will also be carried, to a large degree, by the singers. It’s been a really big project – projecting to be about 40-45 minutes.”

Ensemble SIGNAL

Many other events will be happening in the spring: we’ll have a visit from French composer Phillipe Hurel, a brief cameo by composer Josh Levine, hailing from Oberlin, Ohio, a visit from University of North Carolina composer and UB alumn Alejandro Rutty, and a guest appearance from percussionist Patti Cudd from the University of Wisconsin. We’re also looking forward to a residency from the terrific French new music ensemble Court-circuit, who will offer a fresh concert of new music pieces as well as perform UB graduate composer works.

Most important, of course, will be June in Buffalo 2013, which will be the inaugural year of the June in Buffalo Performance Institute, and which will feature an exciting performance faculty comprised of cellist Jonathan Golove, pianist Eric Huebner, the virtuosic and tremendously popular JACK Quartet, percussionist Tom Kolor, and the incredible Talujon Percussion Ensemble. This will be the first year for young performers of new music to study, workshop, and collaborate with some of the leading interpreters of contemporary music at June in Buffalo.

A lot more will be happening in the upcoming months, and we'll be sure to keep you posted. Details on the University at Buffalo Spring Season, June in Buffalo 2013, and other information about the Center's events posted below:

Link to this post here.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Wooden Cities performs University at Buffalo composers!

We’re looking forward to the upcoming concert by Buffalo-based new music collective Wooden Cities, on Friday, December 14th, at 8:00 p.m., at Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, where they will offer a program filled exclusively with University at Buffalo composers. According to their mission statement, Wooden Cities “is both an ensemble and a collective of performers and composers seeking to help increase the performance and awareness of contemporary music in the Western New York area through unique, educational presentations.”

Wooden Cities
photo by Megan Metté
Wooden Cities was founded in July of 2011 by artistic director and UB alumn Brendan Fitzgerald, and originally “served as a vehicle for director Brendan Fitzgerald to present John Zorn's game piece Cobra. Since that time the group has grown to include over a dozen performers and is constantly seeking new works by new composers while continuing to present works by some of the essential, yet underrepresented composers of the 20th Century.”

Friday night’s concert will feature 10 musicians, almost all of them veterans of the UB composition or performance programs:

Brendan Fitzgerald, conductor/artistic director/drumset
Lana Stafford, flutes
Christopher Culp, clarinets
Nathan Heidelberger, horn/piano
Evan Courtin, violin
TJ Borden, violoncello
Katie Weissman, electric 'cello
Zane Merritt, guitars
Ethan Hayden, vocals

Four pieces by UB graduate composers will lead the program: Jacob Gotlib’s Year without Summer (Daumenkino) (2011), Ethan Hayden’s Monte (2012), Nathan Heidelberger’s Halve Time (quartet after Zeno) (2012) and Zane Merritt’s 7 Broken Points (2012). An excerpt from the program notes offers some useful insight into the compositional framework behind Heidelberger’s Halve Time (quartet after Zeno), “Zeno, an ancient Greek philosopher, posed the paradox that one can never fully travel some fixed distance, since one must first travel half of that distance, and then half of the remaining distance, and so on, ad infinitum, with smaller and smaller remaining distances always getting segmented into smaller and smaller halves. Halve Time applies Zeno's logic to the durations of its five movements. The first movement is approximately a minute and a half long, and it lays out all the musical ideas contained within the work. The subsequent movements explore what happens to those ideas when they are forced into smaller and smaller containers.”

The concert will also feature works by UB undergraduate composers studying composition with composer and teacher Jacob Gotlib: Ashley Barnes, Chien-Han Hsao, Robert Naranjo, Vincent Parlato, West Richter, and Kevin Westerman.

Wooden Cities will be active this all winter long, and will give another concert on the following Friday, December 21, at the St. Joseph University Parish, when they will perform Olivier Messiaen’s Quatuor pour la fin du temps (1941), in playful recognition of the last day of the Mayan calendar.

You can peruse performances and recordings of Wooden Cities on their soundcloud, where you can hear them perform Book, the doctoral dissertation by UB alumn composer Will Redman.

Hope to see you there!

December 14, 2012
Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center
341 Delaware Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14202
Wooden Cities Fall Concert I

$10 General
$7 Members/Students/Seniors
$12 For a Whole Family
$15 For Both This Concert AND 12/21/12 Concert at St. Joseph's University Parish, University Heights

Link to this post here.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

June in Buffalo Performance Institute applications already rolling in

The Robert and Carol Morris Center for 21st Century Music is pleased to report that the applications are already rolling in for the first ever June in Buffalo Performance Institute, at June in Buffalo 2013.  We have an absolutely all-star performance faculty line-up, including the JACK Quartet, Talujon Percussion, Eric Huebner, Jonathan Golove, and Tom Kolor. This will be a great opportunity for contemporary music percussionists, string quartets, ensembles, and other musicians to work with some of the most engaging, talented, and virtuosic musicians of our time. The Performance Institute enriches the entire June in Buffalo experience, and provides a network for composers and performers, young and old, emerging and veteran alike, to be able to meet, brainstorm, workshop, and collaborate together in a supportive and dynamic environment specifically designed to explore new musical frontiers.

For more information visit our website at or contact the June in Buffalo Performance Institute director Eric Huebner. The application deadline (postmarked) is February 15, 2013.

Link to this post here.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

UB composer Robert Phillips helps celebrate the 20th anniversary of Ensemble SurPlus

We’re excited to report that UB graduate composer Robert Phillips will be traveling to Freiburg, Germany, next month to have a piece premiered on the 20th anniversary concert of Ensemble SurPlus. Ensemble SurPlus have been friends of the Center for 21st Century Music and the UB Department of Music since they first performed at June in Buffalo in 2005, and we’ve been fortunate to have them back frequently throughout the years. The University at Buffalo was blessed to have the founder of Ensemble SurPlus, James Avery, on faculty teaching piano and conducting the UB Contemporary Ensemble here in 2007 and 2008, when he brought a wizard-like sense of musical energy to all of the projects he guided and participated in. Since James Avery’s passing in 2009, Ensemble SurPlus has continued to be one of the most dedicated contemporary music ensembles around today, generously devoting time to working with composers, both old and young, and adding pieces to their repertoire after learning them at June in Buffalo or other conferences and festivals, and bringing new music and virtuosic performances to places all around the globe, including, recently, Ecuador, Korea, U.S.A., and Indonesia.

A little more on Ensemble SurPlus from their website:

Ensemble SurPlus at Niagara Falls 
“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. Its primary objective is to give new or unknown works an optimal performance, regardless of compositional style or technical and intellectual demands. After its formation in 1992 the ensemble was invited in the same year to perform at the International Summer Courses for New Music in Darmstadt. In 1993 it was engaged to give the first performance of a contemporary chamber opera at the Archipel Festival in Geneva, which received enthusiastic critical acclaim. Since that time it has gained increasing recognition on the international scene for contemporary music and has been a frequent guest at festivals throughout Europe (Musica Viva, mehr!klang, Donaueschingen) Asia and North America (June in Buffalo, Stanford University, University of Victoria). In addition to performing in traditional concert settings, SurPlus also welcomes experimental projects, improvisation and Music Theater. A close cooperation with Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart has existed since 1994. Most recently the Ensemble has collaborated in the project “New Music Network” funded by the German Ministry of Culture, working with young people in the German school system in order to educate a young public about new music. The ensemble 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. The ensemble is based in Freiburg, Germany.”

Robert Phillips
photo by Megan Metté
We asked Robert Phillips to talk a little about his upcoming piece on the Ensemble SurPlus 20th anniversary concert, “I am greatly looking forward to the 20th anniversary concert of Ensemble SurPlus on Saturday, December 8th, at the E-Werk Freiburg. They asked me to compose what they referred to as a ‘conceptual’ piece for them, which would involve all 13 players on stage and could be performed without a conductor. Having worked with SurPlus extensively in the past, I knew this project would be a great opportunity to work closely with a large cast of some of the world’s best musicians to workshop and experiment with new musical ideas, extremely flexible frameworks for interpretation, diverse interpretation strategies, and to forego the ordinary start-to-finish through-composing that is my usual method of operation. The piece is titled O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden, and is a collection of performance guidelines to work through five J.S. Bach chorales, with each player being given separate indications to interpret, alter, augment, distort, and otherwise navigate through their specific SATB voice-leading designation of the J.S. Bach chorales.

“The concert will be one exclusively of world premieres, with all of the pieces having been written for and commissioned by Ensemble SurPlus. Also on the program will be Yonsei (2010), by Dieter Mack, and Hommage à Daniel Libeskind Vol.II (2010/11), by Claus-Steffen Mahnkopf – two German composers I have been following closely for a while now. I’m really looking forward to being around so many excellent musicians, composers, and musical thinkers.”

Phillips provided an excerpt from the program note:

“In O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden, written for and dedicated to Ensemble SurPlus on their 20th anniversary, the players are given performance directions and interpretation strategies to work through five J.S. Bach chorales. Each player navigates through one of the four individual Soprano, Alto, Tenor, or Bass contrapuntal lines of the chorales, and each of their lines have been augmented, distorted, expanded, and given indications to extend expressivity through a wide variety of performance techniques – all while the players read from the same four-voice SATB Bach chorale.

“To further intensify and complicate matters, there is no conductor, and each player is given a flexible, uncoordinated tempo to work through, only occasionally taking cues from the pianist or violinist. In this way, the antiquated Baroque rhythmic grid of the Bach chorales has been rendered fluid and unpredictable, with each contrapuntal voice rising and falling as waves of interpretive virility and spontaneity flow through each of them; transforming them into liquid, as if cast over water.”

We wish a firm proverbial breaking of the legs to Ensemble SurPlus, Robert Phillips, and all involved in the 20th anniversary concert on December 8th at the E-Werk Freiburg!

Link to this post here.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Norbotten NEO visits the Center!

We’re looking forward to a winter visit from virtuosic new music ensemble and long-time friend of the Center, Norbotten NEO, who will be in residence at the University at Buffalo Department of Music, from December 5 – 6. On Wednesday, December 5, they will perform a concert of contemporary music in Lippes Concert Hall at 7:30 p.m., and the next day, Thursday, December 6, at 12:00 p.m., they will perform works by University at Buffalo graduate composers Clint Haycraft, Colin Tucker, David Rappenecker, Nathan Heidelberger, Kenichi Saeki, Daniel Bassin, and Megan Buegger.

Norrbotten NEO is Sweden’s newest voice on the contemporary music scene. Formed in January 2007, the ensemble is funded by the national, regional and municipal governments, and has a mission to perform throughout the country, as well as internationally. NEO has a core ensemble of seven musicians: flute, clarinet, percussion, piano, violin, viola and cello.

Norbotten NEO

NEO regularly incorporates new commissions into its repertoire and stages at least one chamber opera production annually under the name Piteå Chamber Opera. NEO has its home in Piteå, at the newly built Acusticum complex located in Sweden’s northern most province. Acusticum offers a unique working environment complete with a concert hall boasting world-class acoustics, a ”black box” theatre, as well as state of the art broadcasting and recording studios.

Norbotten NEO has recently released a new CD full of music by contemporary composers, Bent Sørensen, Tristan Murail, David Felder, Rolf Wallin, and Steve Reich. The CD is titled The Age of Wire and String, and has been receiving rave reviews, including from the major Swedish newspaper, Svenska Dagbladet, "This is new music that sounds like new music should. Brilliance that bursts, switching timbre, a hair of repetition aesthetics. What stands out is the American composer David Felder and his work Partial [Dist]res[s]toration."

We asked some of the UB graduate composers about the pieces they wrote for Norbotten NEO. Megan Buegger writes about her piece, Wabi-Sabi, for snare drum, piccolo, and cello, “Wabi-Sabi is a Japanese aesthetic centered on the acceptance of the momentary and imperfection. The range of conventional performance techniques and dynamics are limited to only that which can be completely controlled, and thus perfected. My piece uses techniques that sit right outside normative controlled ranges. Instead of notating the beginning of the sounds, the piece often notates the beginning of the intention to create sound. Due to the innate indeterminacy of these techniques, the sound we hear will occur later than the onset of the intention to create sound. Additionally, in most music performers are commonly instructed to minimize the time between the onset of intention to create sound, and the sound itself. My piece embraces the effort required to create sound and often sits in the space between sound and silence by asking performers to stretch the amount of time between the intention to create sound and the actual sound further than they normally would.”

We also asked Kenichi Saeki to talk a bit about his piece for NEO, “Deconstruction is the first of my three-movement work, Transformations, the second and the third movements of which I am still working on. The main concept of Transformations is to inject memorable elements into a complex polyphonic texture so that they work as a guide to help follow and remember the complexity. Two things have been done to support this concept –one is to create a clear and audible structure, which is a ‘deconstruction’ in the first movement. The opening texture is gradually deconstructed into something different while it always maintains a link with the later fragmented and transformed textures. The other is to create several repeated patterns of motives (harmonies, sonorities, contours, or gestures) which can be remembered. These patterns are also deconstructed and varied, and heard in different contexts throughout the first movement. As a result, Deconstruction explores textual and motivic links in a process of deconstruction, which I consider to be one of continuous transformation. The duration of the first movement is 4’30”.”

We look forward to seeing you there!

Norrbotten Neo
New Music Ensemble, Sweden
December 5th: Concert
Lippes Concert Hall, 7:30pm
December 6th: Composer Workshop
Lippes Concert Hall, 12:00pm

Link to this post here.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

UB composers at Guadeamus Muziekweek!

We’re excited to report that UB composer Jacob Gotlib has been nominated to be a participant composer at Gaudeamus Muziekweek 2013, and has had his percussion duet Portrait Sequence (Blanching Out) chosen to compete for the prestigious Gaudeamus Prize. The University at Buffalo has a long history of composers being selected to compete for the Gaudemus Prize – first was Aaron Cassidy in 2002 with The Misprision of Transparency, for viola d'amore, and then Cassidy again in 2004, with his ten monophonic miniatures for solo pianist, then Robert Phillips in 2009, with his Mapauna mai kekahi (scent of another), for three players performing on various Hawaiian and percussion instruments, and more recently was Diana Soh in 2011, with her string quaret [Ro]ob[ta]ject[tions].   

Jacob Gotlib
More about Gadeamus Muziekweek 2013 from their blog:

“Thirteen compositions have been shortlisted for the Gaudeamus Prize 2013. Over 200 composers under the age of 30, hailing from 29 different countries, entered a composition in hopes of winning this much sought-after award. Now the jury, consisting of Peter Adriaansz (NL), Annelies van Parys (BE), and Dmitri Kourliandski (RU) has made its selection. At the end of the Gaudeamus Muziekweek 2013 it will determine the winner of the Gaudeamus Prize. All nominated works will be performed during Gaudeamus Muziekweek which runs from 1 through 8 September 2013 in Utrecht, the Netherlands.

“Gaudeamus Muziekweek is an internationally renowned festival for young composers and new music. It takes place annually in various locations in the central Dutch city of Utrecht. Apart from the short-listed works, Gaudeamus Muziekweek features numerous other pieces by young composers, including the new composition commissioned by the festival from the winner of the Gaudeamus Prize 2012, Konstantin Heuer (born 1989). In addition, there will be discussions, meetings, and talks with composers as well as sound installations in unusual locations. Next year's program will be announced in June. Gaudeamus Muziekweek runs from 1 through 8 September 2013.

“The winner of the Gaudeamus Prize 2013 will receive €4,550 to write a composition for Gaudeamus Muziekweek 2014. Many composers dream of winning the prestigious prize that can help launch their international careers.”

We asked Jacob to talk a little about his piece:

Portrait Sequence (Blanching Out) is built around the question, what would happen if we did not strike percussion instruments, but instead allowed them to vocalize? Although it turns out that they can’t sing very well, with an affectionate touch, they can growl, snarl, wheeze, gasp, moan, and croak. Instruments that seemed literally far removed from innate, bodily music-making -- that were only as useful as far as they could be hit with a foot-long stick -- become prostheses for primal expression: visceral, ghastly, and heaving, but also fluent, articulate, and sensitive. The performers produce all the sounds in this piece by dragging, scraping, and scratching along the surface of the instruments with their fingers. You can see and hear some of these techniques in the promotional video I’ve made for the Gaudeamus festival.

“This piece was commissioned by and dedicated to the Crossfire Percussion Duo, Jason Bauers and Bob Fullex. It would have been impossible for me to write this piece alone. It’s rare that a composer gets to enjoy such a close collaboration, and I am deeply grateful to them for the countless hours of meetings, recordings, sight-readings through terrible sketches, and harried last-minute rehearsals over the course of many months that brought this music to fruition. The Crossfire Duo has performed the work several times now -- most recently this summer, inside the Marine A grain silos outside of downtown Buffalo as part of Torn Space Theater’s production American Grain.

“It’s an incredible honor to be nominated for the 2013 Gaudeamus Prize. I’m thrilled to be representing UB at this internationally prominent festival, just as Diana Soh (2011), Robert Phillips (2009), and Aaron Cassidy (2002 and 2004) have done in recent years. The fact that UB’s composers are regularly chosen to present their works in high-profile venues around the world says tremendous things about our program!”

Check out this terrific promotional video Jacob put together for Gaudeamus:

Also below is a video of an incredible performance of Portrait Sequence (Blanching Out) by the renowned Crossfire Percussion Duo:

Link to this post here.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Congratulations to UB Alumn Adrienne Elisha on her MacDowell Colony Residency!

Congratulations to UB alumn Adrienne Elisha on winning a prestigious residency at the MacDowell Colony, which is located in an idyllic rustic environment in Peterborough, New Hampshire, where she is currently expanding a solo bass piece for James VanDemark into a collaborative work for solo bass and modern dance, as well as working on a handful of other exciting projects as a composer.

Elisha, who was Visiting Assistant Professor of Composition at Vassar College in 2008, is no stranger to artist colonies – she was recently nominated by Peter Eötvös for five months as a resident composer at Herrenhaus in Edenkoben, Germany, where she wrote a large work for sextet, and a work for solo viola. Other recent projects of hers include a multi-media collaboration with artist/sculptor Harry Roseman, head of the art department at Vasser College, which celebrated the anniversary of the Vassar Art Museum, and featured his murals on the walls of the museum.

Elisha is an active violist, and regularly joins us in Buffalo to perform with the Slee Sinfonietta, and also regularly performs with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project

Below is a little more background on Elisha, taken from her bio:

“Adrienne Elisha and music have an extraordinary relationship. As a creator and a re-creator, she understands music from the inside out and from the outside in.

”She is a champion of new music--equally talented as both a skilled violist and as a composer whose voice is distinctly contemporary but whose inspiration is drawn directly from the heart. And for audiences experiencing her compositions, the result is a mesmerizing and emotional ride into an imaginary sound world unlike any other: Mario Davidovsky has described her sextet Anthelion as “a new kind of polyphony”. Her music, as Leonard Bernstein put it, is “excitingly unpredictable, yet inevitable in retrospect.
Marian MacDowell in front of Edward's log cabin,
the Colony's prototype studio.

Adrienne is a 2007 winner of the Thayer Award in Music Composition, she received her Ph.D in Composition from the University of Buffalo, working with David Felder as a Presidential Doctoral Fellow. Also a graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Music and the Indiana University School of Music in Bloomington, Indiana, Ms. Elisha's grants and commissions include those from Meet the Composer, the National Music Teachers' Association (naming her the 1997 "Ohio Composer of the Year"), Fortnightly Music of Cleveland, Cleveland Chamber Music Society, newEar Ensemble (Kansas City) and the American Music Center.

”Her works have been featured nationally and internationally, including at June in Buffalo, The Colorado Springs New Music Symposium, the Chintimini Chamber Music Festival, and at the International Bartok Festival in Szombathely, Hungary, where she performed her own solo and chamber works and premiered those of other composers.

 “Cry of the Dove—her cello concerto—was commissioned and premiered by The Cleveland Chamber Symphony for solo cellist Steven Elisha. Subsequent performances have included the Grand Rapids Symphony (David Lockington, conductor).”

We asked Adrienne about her time at UB and she remarked, "The composition program at UB allows each composer to express their unique voice, and David Felder sets the tone for this supportive environment."

Adrienne Elisha currently lives in Rhinebeck, New York. 

Link to this post here.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Musical Feast 2012-2013 season opens with Julia Bentley, Kuang-Hao Huang, and the LehrerDance Company!

We at the Robert and Carol Morris Center for 21st Century Music are happy to be co-sponsoring Child’s Play for Adults, the opening concert of the 2012-2013 A Musical Feast season in the Peter & Elizabeth C. Tower Auditorium of the Burchfield Penny Art Center, on Friday, November 9, at 8:00 p.m. The evening will showcase members of Western New York’s very own LehrerDance Company, who have been called "Stunning" by the Buffalo News, and "Breathtaking" by Dance Magazine, and are getting ready to embark on their Russian tour next month. Mezzo-soprano and longtime friend of the Center Julia Bentley will also be featured extensively throughout the concert, alongside pianist Kuang-Hao Huang. The concert has an exciting program of music and dance works by John Cage, André Caplet, Edward Lear, Oskar Morawetz, and Buffalo-based composer John Bacon.

Artistic Director: Charles Haupt, Prof. Ann Colley
 Jon Lehrer and LehrerDance Company

The Buffalo Artvoice’s Jan Jezioro provides some background on Bacon’s piece, The (Electronic) Playground, which will appear in the concert’s program notes, “While The (Electronic) Playground was composed in 2007 for a sound improviser/performer, who may also be a percussionist, it may also be performed by more than one artist, as in the case of this performance by the Fredonia Faculty Percussion Quartet. The score is a colored time grid, with the colors corresponding to the construction of the instrument, or means of sound production. The musical ideas that are played on the instruments are the performers' choice. The piece is titled The ‘Electronic’ Playground, if electronic sounds or electronic manipulation of the sounds are used in a particular performance.”

Check out the complete press release for Child’s Play for Adults below, we look forward to seeing you there!

LehrerDance Company in action

Child’s Play for Adults

Enjoy a slice of ‘Amblongus Pie’: Music, Dance, Verse and Song

The independent, cutting-edge musical group known as ‘A Musical Feast’ launches its 2012-2013 season on Friday, November 9 at 8pm, co-sponsored by the University at Buffalo’s "Robert and Carol Morris Center for 21st Century Music" in its home in the acoustically superior Peter & Elizabeth C. Tower Auditorium of the Burchfield Penny Art Center. With this program, which features a decidedly high whimsical content, ‘A Musical Feast’ may well surpass its well-earned reputation for presenting uniquely eclectic combinations of music from a very wide range of eras, along with poetry and dance. Special guests for the concert include the Chicago-based mezzo-soprano Julia Bentley and her collaborative pianist Kuang-Hao Huang, along with the members of the LehrerDance Company, the finest interpreters of modern dance in Western New York, just prior to their Russian tour this December.

This event is focused on celebrating the undying spirit of childhood, both in children and adults, and also honors the bicentennial of the birth of the English author, illustrator and poet Edward Lear (1812-1888), best remembered for well-loved examples of nonsense poetry and prose. SUNY Distinguished Professor Ann C. Colley is the literary advisor for this event which will include Julia Bentley offering her own interpretation of examples from Lear’s ‘Nonsense Cookery’ including recipes from his 1870 ‘Nonsense Gazette’, such as “Take 4 pounds (say 4 1/2 pounds) of fresh Amblongusses, and put them in a small pipkin.”

This year also marks the centennial of the birth of composer John Cage (1912-1992), a genuine American maverick, who, it is safe to say, never lost the spirit of childhood during his long and very influential career. Cage’s 1942 work, Four Dances was originally composed for wordless tenor voice, prepared piano, handclap and percussion. The piece was subsequently re-titled Four Dances, and this rare performance of the re-titled work by mezzo-soprano Julia Bentley and pianist Kuang-Hao Huang will feature an original choreographic interpretation by the LehrerDance Company.
Bentley and Huang will also perform three other sets of songs, including Cage’s Songs for Contralto and Piano, an early work from 1938 based on the poetry of the iconoclastic American poet ee cummings, as well as French composer André Caplet’s 1919 work Trois Fables de Jean de la Fontaine, a setting of texts by the French Renaissance fabulist Jean de la Fontaine (1621-1695). Rounding out the vocal portion of the program will be an area premiere performance of Czech-born Canadian composer Oskar Morawetz’s 1984 work, Souvenirs of Childhood, based on poetry from Robert Louis Stevenson’s beloved collection A Child's Garden of Verses. Also on the program, appropriately enough, Buffalo-based composer John Bacon will perform his 2007 work  The Electronic Playground” with the Fredonia Faculty Percussion Quartet, Kay Stonefelt, Tiffany Nicely. Matthew Wilson, percussion and electronics.

Tickets: $20; Burchfield Penny members/students: $10. Phone: 878-6011. Information:, or:

Link to this post here.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Performer Profile: Violinist Yuki Numata

We've been enjoying having Yuki Numata in town for rehearsals for the Second Fall Slee Sinfonietta concert on Tuesday, October, 30, at 7:30 p.m. Wildly praised by the New York Times as a violinist with “virtuosic flair and dexterous bravery,” Numata is rapidly gaining attention as a charistmatic virtuoso, having performed frequently as a soloist with our own Slee Sinfonietta, the New World Symphony, the Wordless Music Orchestra, the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra and the Eastman Philharmonia Orchestra. Numata was recently invited to perform Charles Wuorinen’s Rhapsody with the Tanglewood Orchestra, and, at the composer’s request and as a last minute replacement, she performed Wuorinen’s Spin Five with The Slee Sinfonietta. 

Yuki Numata

A few words from Numata’s impressive biography:

“Yuki has an avid interest in new music and as a result, has had the opportunity to work closely with some of today’s foremost composers. These include Charles Wuorinen, Steve Reich and John Zorn. At the Tanglewood Music Center, Ms. Numata was invited to be a New Fromm Player, focusing specifically on the performance of contemporary chamber music repertoire. Yuki holds a great deal of respect for composers of her own generation and has collaborated with many of them including Jeff Myers, Caleb Burhans, Nico Muhly, Andrew Norman and Timothy Andres.

“Additionally, Yuki is an active freelancer and has performed with the American Contemporary Music Ensemble (ACME), the String Orchestra of New York City (SONYC), Alarm Will Sound, Signal, East Coast Chamber Orchestra (ECCO) and counter)induction. In true New York freelancer style, she wears many hats and has played and/or recorded for bands and artists including Passion Pit, The National, Grizzly Bear, Jóhann Jóhannsson and Max Richter. Yuki was a featured soloist on the Duncan Theater’s 2009-2010 season and has appeared at numerous summer festivals including Music in the Vineyards, Tanglewood, Music Academy of the West and The Banff Centre.

Yuki Numata 

“Born in Vancouver, Canada, Yuki received a Bachelor’s degree from the Eastman School of Music and a Master’s degree from the University of Michigan. Her principal teachers include Andrew Jennings, Zvi Zeitlin and Gwen Thompson. Yuki completed a three-year fellowship at the New World Symphony, has served on the faculty of the University at Buffalo and currently resides in New York City.”

Recently, our own University at Buffalo graduate composer Robert Phillips had the opportunity to work with Numata on his piece Shindō no su, for flute, bass clarinet, keyboard + laptop, glockenspiel, violin, viola, and cello. Shindō no su was performed by the Talea Ensemble as part of the Harvard University Summer Composition Institute last August, and conducted by Eduardo Leandro. Robert reports, “Yuki is absolute magic on the violin. She has an incredibly powerful musical imagination and delves into pieces with fierce interpretive rigor, energetically exploring new works with profound curiousity and openness, and shows up at rehearsals with exciting ways of being in the music. She breathed fluidity, dynamism, and fire into Shindō, much of which I had never imagined, and I am very grateful to her for that.”

Come see Yuki Numata perform with visiting hornist Adam Unsworth, UB pianist and New York Philharmonic pianist-in-residence Eric Huebner, and the rest of the Slee Sinfonietta this Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.

Slee Sinfonietta
Tuesday, October 30, 2012, 7:30 pm
Lippes Concert Hall in Slee Hall
Daniel Bassin, conductor
Yuki Numata, violin
Adam Unsworth, horn
Eric Huebner, piano

Ticket information can be found here

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Hornist Adam Unsworth performs with the Slee Sinfonietta!

We’re excited about our Second Fall Slee Sinfonietta concert coming up on Tuesday, October 30, at 7:30 p.m., and are happy to have received a thoughtful write-up in this week’s Buffalo Artvoice by Jan Jezioro, which is largely about the evening’s conductor Daniel Bassin, “Now in his third academic year as the UB Symphony Orchestra’s music director, Daniel Bassin enjoys his hectic schedule of music making. In addition to his duties as the UBSO music director, Bassin has also been conducting some very challenging works on this season’s Slee Sinfonietta series, yet he also somehow manages to find the time to perform often as a trumpeter with jazz ensembles in venues throughout the city. And he does this all while pursuing his PhD in musical composition at the University.” Read the entire article here.

We thought we'd do a little profile on french hornist Adam Unsworth, who will be joining us for the evening, hailing all the way from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. His ensemble, the Adam Unsworth Ensemble, has recently released two CDs, Next Step, and Excerpt This!, which received rave reviews, including a terrific piece in All About Jazz, by Ken Kase, "Unsworth's debut recording does what the best jazz should do by asking questions, shunning orthodoxy and predictability and having a few laughs along the way. His virtuosity is undeniable... Unsworth and his group have created something rare and distinctive." Read more about Unsworth's work here

Next Step by the Adam Unsworth Ensemble

Some background on Unsworth from his extensive biography:

“Adam Unsworth is Associate Professor of Horn at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Prior to his joining the faculty at Michigan, he spent nine years as a member of the horn section of The Philadelphia Orchestra and three years in the Detroit Symphony. Adam has appeared as a recitalist and clinician at many universities throughout the United States, and has performed repeated solo and chamber concerts at Carnegie's Weill Recital Hall. He is the leader of his own jazz group, the Adam Unsworth Ensemble, which recorded the critically acclaimed CD, Excerpt This! and now has completed a second recording, entitled Next Step. The group embarked on its first U.S. tour in October 2007.

Next Step, the Adam Unsworth Ensemble's 2008 release, is a culmination of work done after his leaving the Philadelphia Orchestra in 2007, a move made in order to devote more time and energy to teaching and creative endeavors. It features new Unsworth compositions for jazz quintet of horn, woodwinds, vibraphone, bass, and drums, and two original works by multi-woodwind virtuoso Les Thimmig.

“In 2006, Unsworth released Excerpt This!, a groundbreaking recording for the French horn that looks to redefine the virtuosic boundaries of the instrument. Highlighted on the CD are five of Unsworth's compositions for jazz sextet. The instrumentation of horn, violin, alto flute, bass clarinet, vibraphone, bass, and drums is unique and creates a texture that truly embodies the term chamber jazz. Joining Unsworth on Excerpt This! are Philadelphia jazz greats Tony Miceli, Diane Monroe, Ranaan Meyer, and Cornell Rochester, as well as Les Thimmig from Madison, WI. In addition to the works for sextet, the CD includes unaccompanied jazz works for horn by Unsworth, Les Thimmig, and Dana Wilson.”

Adam Unsworth, Yuki Numata, and Eric Huebner,
rehearsing György Ligeti's Trio for horn, violin, and piano,
in UB's Slee Hall, 

Rehearsals over the weekend have been going swimingly, as Maestro Bassin recently tweeted, “Great 1st rehearsal of Feldman's "De Kooning" - my first time conducting his music! These musicians are fantastic! #SleeSinfonietta10/30/12”

Slee Sinfonietta
Tuesday, October 30, 2012, 7:30 pm
Lippes Concert Hall in Slee Hall
Daniel Bassin, conductor
Yuki Numata, violin
Adam Unsworth, horn
Eric Huebner, piano

Ticket information can be found here

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Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Slee Sinfonietta performs seminal 20th century works!

Our September Slee Sinfonietta concert was a great success and enjoyed a huge turnout, and received a very thoughtful write-up in the Buffalo News by Daniel J. Kushner. We’re already gearing up for the second Fall Slee Sinfonieta concert, which will take place on Tuesday, October 30, at 7:30 p.m., in Lippes Concert Hall. Maestro Daniel Bassin will be conducting some of the most seminal works of 20th century chamber music, and will be joined by violinist Yuki Numata, hornist Adam Unsworth, and pianist Eric Huebner.

Daniel Bassin conducting David Rappenecker's Emergence

Morton Feldman - De Kooning
György Ligeti - Trio for horn, violin and piano

--- intermission ---

Pierre Boulez – Notations 8, 3, 9
Karlheinz Stockhausen - Kreuzspiel
Tristan Murail - Vues aeriennes
Witold Lutosławski - Dance Preludes

We sat down with Daniel Bassin and asked him about the program, how the pieces fit together, and if he could give us a sneak preview of the music in store for us: 

“They’re all major works, each and every one on the program, but the biggest work is Ligeti’s Trio for horn, violin, and piano, which Ligeti considered to be the first work of his late period, and which represents the culmination of the musical ideas he had been working with during the late 60s and 70s, and a maturation into a lyrical and autumnal style. On the other hand, there is Stockhausen’s Kreuzspiel, which Stockhausen said he considered to be his first true composition – he felt that this was his first work that wasn’t a study or copying someone else’s style, but was a true composition of his own. And we added to the program three of Boulez’s twelve Notations, for piano, written when Boulez was only 20 years old, but which present a nice context for hearing the Stockhausen, in terms of the composers’ treatment of the piano, and the techniques they employed related to total serialism. Bookending the concert are pieces by Feldman and Lutoslawski, both of whom are experiencing something of an anniversary – 2012 being the 25th anniversary of Feldman’s passing, and 2013 will be the 100th anniversary of Lutoslawski’s birth.*

“Morton Feldman’s De Kooning is a piece of chamber music with the unique instrumental combination of muted french horn, violin, cello, percussion (crotales, vibraphone, chimes, tenor drum, and bass drum), and piano/celeste. It was originally written to accompany a film on Feldman’s friend, the 20th century painter Willem de Kooning, created by German-American director Hans Namuth. Feldman once remarked of de Kooning’s work, that at first impression it seemed as if his canvases were painted quickly, but when watching de Kooning paint, he saw that he was painstakingly deliberate and slow, and I think the piece, in a way, mimics de Kooning's process. In Feldman’s composition, the individual instrumental tones succeed one another without regard to metric pulse, but rather with a cryptic instruction from the composer that each sound only begin when the preceding one starts to fade away. 

“The concert closes with the third version of Polish composer Witold Lutoslawski’s Dance Preludes.  The piece was originally written for clarinet and piano, and was derived from Polish folk dances and melodies. In an intervening version, Lutoslawski developed the work into a concertante version featuring the clarinet as soloist, however, in this final version composed for the group Czech Nonet, the composer treats the four string players and members of the woodwind quintet equally, while creating chamber orchestral textures which point forward to his more mature symphonic work.While the works in the program by Stockhausen, Boulez, and Ligeti each mark important turning points in those composer’s compositional output, it is with this final arrangement of the Dance Preludes that Lutoslawski made the artistic decision to abandon the folk arrangements and transcriptions that he had previously been compelled to write as a Soviet-era composer.

“The concert will also feature the composition Vues Aeriennes, by a Darmstadt composer from a later generation, Tristan Murail. In this work, the composer seeks to depict an object – in reality a set of musical processes – in four different qualities of light. Murail breaks it down into four movements: 1. morning light (clear light, very obtuse angles, maximum distortion), 2. light in the rain (soft-focus effect, softer angles, slighter distortion), 3. midday light (brilliant light, frontal view, no distortion), and 4. evening light (warm light, long shadows, heavy distortion). The horn player, throughout the four movements, travels an arc across the stage – he begins off stage to the right, in the second movement plays from stage right, in the third movement plays from center stage, and finally concludes the work off stage left.”

We look forward to seeing you all there!

Slee Sinfonietta
Tuesday, October 30, 2012, 7:30 pm
Lippes Concert Hall in Slee Hall
Daniel Bassin, conductor
Yuki Numata, violin
Adam Unsworth, horn
Eric Huebner, piano

Ticket information can be found here

 * Note: Daniel Bassin will be presenting two other concerts associated with the Lutoslawski centennial: on Tuesday, February 2nd, at a Brown Bag concert in Slee Hall featuring chamber music from across Lutoslawski’s compositional career, and on Friday, March 1st, when TJ Borden will give the Buffalo premeire of Lutoslawski’s 1970 cello concerto with the UBSO.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

June in Buffalo 2013 call for scores announced!

June in Buffalo 2013 call for scores announced! June in Buffalo will be very special this year with the addition of the Performance Institute, which will begin on Thursday, May 30th, and then run concurrently with June in Buffalo from Monday, June 3 – Sunday, June 9th. This will be the first year ever where emerging contemporary music performers and ensembles will be studying, practicing, and workshopping alongside participant composers. We expect one of the most dynamic, collaborative, and compelling June in Buffalo Festivals ever this year, as young contemporary music performers and composers blend together and form relationships with not only faculty composers and performers, but each other as well. Full details on applying as an auditor or participant composer below: 

June in Buffalo

Presented by the Department of Music and The Robert and Carol Morris Center for 21st Century Music, June in Buffalo, a festival and conference dedicated to composers, will take place from June 3 -9, 2013 at the University at Buffalo. June in Buffalo offers an intensive schedule of seminars, lectures, 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.

Artistic Director

Senior Faculty

Resident Ensembles
Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra
Ensemble Linea
JACK Quartet
Slee Sinfonietta
Talea Ensemble
Talujon Percussion Ensemble

To apply to June in Buffalo, please send all materials by mail. Applications must include the following materials:

1. A résumé or curriculum vitae detailing your education, experience, and creative activity.

2. A letter of reference from someone acquainted with your current compositional activity.

3. A proposal (including score and brief description) requesting the performance of a recent work for
a) Percussion Quartet (or subset)
b) String Quartet (or subset)
c) flute, clarinet, piano, percussion, violin, cello (or subset)
d) solo for any orchestral instrument
e) works with electronics will be considered
f) other instrumentations will be announced shortly

4. One or two scores that demonstrate your recent work and accompanying recordings, if available.

5. A $25 non-refundable processing fee. Checks or money orders should be made payable to June in Buffalo. Foreign applicants must pay by international money order in US currency. Do not send cash.

6. A SASE for the return of materials (optional) and an e-mail address at which you can be easily contacted.

If the performance of a selected work by a participating composer becomes impossible due to circumstances beyond the control of the June in Buffalo festival, every attempt will be made to arrange a substitution where possible.

To apply as an auditor, please send a résumé and the processing fee. Auditors attend all June in Buffalo events, but will not have a piece performed.

All application materials must be postmarked by
FEBRUARY 15, 2013.

Mail to:
June in Buffalo
220 Baird Hall
Music Department
University at Buffalo
Buffalo, NY 14260-4700

Tuition fee: $700
Auditing fee: $350

On-campus housing, 7 nights, single occupancy: $300. Additional: $30/night. No double occupancy discounts; no meals included.

For general information, contact J.T. Rinker
phone: (716) 645-0624
fax: (716) 645-3824

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