Callithumpian Consort: Riordan, Cage, Scelsi, Tann, & Lou

NEC faculty Stephen Drury created the Callithumpian Consort in the belief that new music should be an exciting adventure shared by performers and listeners alike, and that the brand new masterpieces of our day are beautiful, sensuous, challenging, delightful, provocative, and a unique joy.

Callithumpian’s repertoire is the new and unusual, encompassing a huge stylistic spectrum from the classics of the last 100 years to works of the avant-garde and experimental jazz and rock. It is grounded in the musical discoveries of John Cage, Karlheinz Stockhausen, John Zorn, Giacinto Scelsi, Morton Feldman, and Iannis Xenakis.

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Boston Cultural Council and administered by the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture.

Watch Live Stream from Williams Hall:

  1. Brian Riordan | Book Burner (2019)

    Fueled by disappointment

    • Stephen Marotto, cello and live electronics
  2. John Cage | Child of Tree (1975)

    This work was originally used as music for the choreographed piece by Merce Cunningham entitled Solo (aka Animal Solo/Dance), with stage design by Sonja Sekula. While on tour in Arizona with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company in 1975, one of the dancers, Charles Moulton, brought a dried cactus to Cage, placed it near his ear, and plucked its spines. This inspired Cage to use cacti as musical instruments in pieces like Child of Tree and Branches. The score consists solely of performance instructions as to how to select 10 instruments via I Ching chance operations. All instruments should be made of plant matter, or be themselves plant materials (e.g. leaves from trees, branches etc.). One of the instruments should be a pod (rattle) from a Poinciana tree, which grow in Mexico. Cage instructs: "Using a stopwatch, the soloist improvises clarifying the time structure by means of the instruments. This improvisation is the performance.”

    • Jeffrey Means, amplified cactus
  3. Giacinto Scelsi | Elegia per Ty (1958-66)


    Elegia per Ty for viola and violoncello is Scelsi’s tender remembrance of his former wife Dorothy (nicknamed “Ty”). It is among his most important chamber works.

    • Sam Kelder, viola
    • Stephen Marotto, cello
  4. Hilary Tann | Like Lightnings (2004)

    The title is taken from the poem "Spring" by Gerard Manley Hopkins. Subtitled 'Pastoral', the piece moves from birdsong, to song, and back to birdsong.

    • Elizabeth England, oboe
  5. Michelle Lou | Telegrams

    • Gleb Kanasevich, clarinet and electronics