Classical Music

Modern Music At The MATCH

An interview with Musiqa Artistic Director Anthony Brandt about their season-opening concert featuring the SOLI Chamber Ensemble at the new Midtown Arts and Theatre Center Houston.

This weekend, Musiqa opens its season at the new Midtown Arts and Theatre Center Houston, featuring the award-winning, San Antonio-based performing group, SOLI Chamber Ensemble. The concert will feature works by the four Musiqa composers: Karim Al-Zand, Anthony Brandt, Pierre Jalbert, and Marcus Maroney, as well as a work by Carl Schimmel, and another by renowned British composer Anna Clyne. Actor Seán Patrick Judge will be a guest narrator for Al-Zand’s Swimmy and Clyne’s Rest These Hands.

In the words of Artistic Director Anthony Brandt, Musiqa is, “about celebrating things that are brand new, where you get to be the first ears to ever hear it.” The organization specializes in, “modern classical music,” which he describes as a broad genre of music from the past 100 years that is, “meant to be listened to with your complete focus. You’re not eating, you’re not talking, you’re not partying or walking around, but you are letting the music speak to you as if you are having a conversation with another person.” Modern classical music does use the same kinds of instruments older classical music does. SOLI, for instance, consists of a clarinetist, a violinist, a cellist, and a pianist. The biggest difference is simply the style in which it is written, as the classical music tradition up to this point has consisted of centuries of different techniques that have evolved over that period of time and advanced the art form. For comparison, check out this article featuring older pieces of music that have be reinterpreted by modern composers.

Dr. Brandt, whose piece Four Score will be on this concert, describes two fundamental types of composers: Game of Thrones composers and Sherlock composers, referring to the critically-acclaimed HBO and BBC TV series, respectively. By that, he means that the Game of Thrones type tends to write music with a lot going on, a lot of “characters” in the music that come and go with new ones being introduced constantly. Those familiar with the show likely understand this comparison, especially given the frequent demise of characters throughout, requiring the introduction of more with each season. Conversely, the Sherlock type (which Brandt considers himself to be) focuses on one or two elements and works that into the fabric of the music throughout, much like Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson are the focal characters of the show that might interact with the supporting cast on occasion.

Brandt and Musiqa are also enthusiastic about being in the new performing space, the MATCH. Brandt even describes it as, “like being on the maiden voyage of a cruise ship.” Musiqa was involved in the initial development of the center, and one of the primary goals in designing the various theaters was to create effective acoustics, which Brandt describes as critical. Thus far, Dr. Brandt gives a strong endorsement of the space and its sound, and is excited for the opportunities it provides to many of the performing organizations in the city.

Theater in the new MATCH performance venue
Matchbox 4 at the new MATCH. Courtesy of the MATCH’s Facebook page.

New Music From Near & Far I is this Saturday, October 10th at 8:00 PM at the Midtown Arts and Theatre Center Houston. Ticket information can be found here, and information about Musiqa can be found at their website.