Open your ears and your mind at the Summer Institute for Contemporary Performance Practice (SICPP). It's a rare opportunity to immerse yourself in hearing where new music has been going, and to understand where it might be going next.
Legendary artists are in residence for this week of intensive musical study and performance, alongside seminar participants who are here for the sheer thrill of the avant garde. NEC's Stephen Drury is artistic director for this institute, and guest artists this year include composer Rand Steiger and pianist Winston Choi.
Founding artistic director of the California EAR Unit—one of the world's top new music ensembles—Rand Steiger's compositions tend to have programmatic titles that come from the worlds of science and nature. Steiger's Earth Cycles, commissioned by Boston Modern Orchestra Project, will premiere here in 2014, but you don't have to wait till then to get a healthy serving of his music. Yesterday and today, major works by Steiger form the core of SICPP's evening concerts at NEC.
A Good Diffused (2009), taking its title from a poem by George Eliot, sets a soprano voice against a 10-piece instrumental ensemble. The soloist in this performance is Adrienne Arditti.
Woven Serenade, for clarinet and string quartet, was premiered by the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra in 1991. As its title hints, its form is a nod to Mozart serenades. Reviewing a 1993 performance for The New York Times, Alex Ross detected "a central theme of Mozartean clarity, around which the clarinetist […] and strings spin dense patterns; a central section recalls Ives's Unanswered Question."
Notes on additional works on this program were provided by the composers.
Keith Hamel Touch
Corey Hamm, piano
Keith Hamel, electronics
Touch is a composition for piano, interactive computer processing, and gesture tracking of the pianist's hands. The work explores the timbres of bells of many shapes and sizes to create an evocative soundscape of real and imaginary bells. As with many of my recent compositions, Touch is inspired by spectral analysis of bell sounds, and it is these reconstituted bell timbres that form much of the harmonic content of the composition. I wanted to create a colorful and imaginative sound world without an overtly dramatic sensibility. As a result, Touch is delicate and expressive, and explores a wide range of subtle colors and textures.
Elainie Lillios The Rush of the Brook Stills the Mind
for solo percussion and interactive electronics
Scott Deal, percussion
Caroline Park Music for Phrases
Yukiko Takagi, Stephen Drury, piano
Caroline Park, electronics
Jessie LaFargue, choreographer and dancer
Kaija Saariaho Six Japanese Gardens
Stuart Gerber, percussion
Six Japanese Gardens is a collection of impressions of the gardens I saw in Kyoto during my stay in Japan in the summer of 1993, and my reflections on rhythm at that time. As the title indicates, the piece is divided into six parts. All these parts give a specific look at a rhythmic material, starting from the simplistic first pat, in which the main instrumentation is introduced, going to complex polyrhythmic or ostinato figures, or alternation of rhythmic and purely coloristic materials.
The selection of instruments played by the percussionist is voluntarily reduced to give space for the perception of rhythmic evolutions. Also, the reduced colors are extended with the electronic part, in which we hear nature’s sounds, ritual singing, and percussion instruments recorded in the Kunitachi College of Music with Shiniti Ueno. The ready-mixed sections are triggered by the percussionist during the piece using the program Max/Msp installed on a Macintosh computer. All the work for processing and mixing the prerecorded material was done with a Macintosh computer in my home studio. Some transformations are made with resonant filters in the Chant program, and with the SVP Phaser Vocoder. This work was made with Jean-Baptiste Barriere. The final mixing was made with the Protools program with the assistance of Hanspeter Stubbe Teglbjaerg. The piece was commissioned by the Kunitachi College of Music and written for Shiniti Ueno.
Led by Stephen Drury, Callithumpian Consort is a loose aggregation of NEC students, alumni, and new music enthusiasts that performs locally, on the East Coast, and in Europe. Throughout the year, the group returns to its birthplace—the NEC campus—with performances of contemporary avant-garde music.
In addition to SICPP's evening concerts, SICPP participants perform solo repertoire at 11:30am on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday at Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 280 The Fenway. Museum admission fee is waived if you tell them at the door that you are attending the SICPP concert in Calderwood Hall.