Thursday, March 29, 2012

Maestro Dan Bassin debuts with the Slee Sinfonietta!

The Robert and Carol Morris Center for 21st Century Music is delighted to present "UB Graduate Composers: PAST and PRESENT," a concert performed by the virtuosic Slee Sinfonietta next week on Tuesday, April 3rd, at 7:30 p.m. in Lippes Concert Hall. The program will showcase the finest recent works from UB composers, and feature an epic violoncello quartet from contemporary Russian composer Sofia Gubaidulina.
Daniel Bassin

Wielding the baton for the evening will be well-known friend of the Center and conductor of the UBSO, Maestro Daniel Bassin, who will be conducting the Slee Sinfonietta for the first time next week. Daniel Bassin has come to UB after having been awarded a prestigious fellowship with the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra and later working for five seasons with the American Symphony Orchestra in New York City. As a passionate advocate of new music, Daniel has led premieres and first performances of over 80 works, and has performed as a conductor and trumpeter in 37 countries. In 2008 he acted as assistant conductor for the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra’s 16-city tour of the American West Coast and Midwest. Maestro Bassin’s work with the UBSO was recently featured in an article in Buffalo’s Artvoice by Jan Jezioro, "A Musical Director With a Mission".

Dan has nothing but glowing words for the Slee Sinfonietta, “I would like to thank David Felder for the opportunity to work with this group. Since my coming to UB two years ago, I’ve been deeply impressed and excited by the concerts, events, visiting artists, and all facets of how the Center contributes to the cultural and musical life of Buffalo. The Slee Sinfonietta is a dynamic group of musicians who are incredibly dedicated to ensuring that each performance features new and rarely heard works, realized at the highest level and in a deeply musical fashion. What this group does is much more than just play the notes of these compositions. Each performance the Slee Sinfonietta gives brings the unique character and musical world of each composer’s work to life.” 

The concert will feature many premieres, including Nathan Heidelberger’s My Hands are Empty, for chamber ensemble, Jacob Gotlib’s Portrait Sequence (Blanching Out) for percussion duet, JT Rinker’s Frigate, for solo percussion and electronics, and David Hanner’s Monologue, for soprano and large ensemble. Each piece is uniquely engaging and demonstrates the tremendous diversity and talent in the UB composition program. Nathan Heidelberger’s piece, has, in the words of Maestro Bassin, “the ecstasy of virtual stillness and transformation.” David Hanner’s Monologue will feature UB vocalist Tony Arnold, who will join the Slee Sinfonietta to create a dense but colorful and floating tapestry of sound, brilliantly orchestrated and full of textural subtlety and nuance. Jacob Gotlib’s Portrait Sequence (Blanching Out) is strikingly masterful, original, and well-crafted, and asks the percussionists to scrape, scratch, and otherwise sculpt a variety of intricate gestures on a kaleidoscopic array of strange and intriguing materials including glass, ceramic, metal, and other unconventional percussion instruments. JT Rinker, an expert in music technology, directs a fresh and dynamic conversation between the crotales and electronics in his Frigate. Daniel Bassin describes Frigate, “[JT Rinker] utilizes very high frequencies with his electronics to create complex difference tones, which partially transmute and color the acoustic resonances of the crotales and interact with the live acoustic space that the crotales would otherwise inhabit. A brilliant piece!”

Sofia Gubaidulina’s Quaternion, an epic 25-minute long work for cello quartet, will be the grand finale of the program, and will be played by Jonathan Golove, Colin Tucker, TJ Borden, and Adriana Pera. Quaternion features a variety of innovative and pioneering performance techniques for the cello, including playing with thimbles on the fingertips, which creates a fresh and evocative timbre. TJ Borden describes his experience rehearsing Quaternion, “two of the cellos are tuned a quarter-tone apart from the other two cellos, which symbolizes the divide between the divine and man. While rehearsing the piece, I was deeply struck by moments where the pairs of cellos seemed to approach complete union but never achieve it. Knowing Sofia Gubaidulina is a devout Catholic, one of the images the piece elicited for me was of Michelangelo’s painting on the Sistine Chapel Ceiling, of God and Man almost touching.”

As a teaser for the upcoming concert, below is a video of Brad Lubman conducting the Slee Sinfonietta for a performance of David Felder’s Inner Sky, featuring guest flutist Mario Caroli.

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