Classical Music

Music In The Making: New Ears

This week’s program of new music is ear-resistible.

We’re ringing in the New Year with something for New Ears – contemporary music written by Hartke, Adams, Sheng, and Cage.

John Luther Adams, New Ears
John Luther Adams, New Ears

John Luther Adams: Red Arc/Blue Veil
Krystel Dewberry Grauvogl, piano; Jamey Kollar, vibraphone & crotales
11/14/2011
Moores Opera House

A recent recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Music, composer John Luther Adams has been described as “one of the most original musical thinkers of the new century.” His compositions are often inspired by or related to the natural world, and has been also been recognized for his work in raising environmental awareness. We’ll hear Red Arc/Blue Veil, a work scored for piano, vibraphone, and crotales, also known as antique cymbals.

John Cage, New Ears
John Cage, New Ears

John Cage: Radio Music
AURA
10/1/2012
Moores Opera House

John Cage became known for his avant-garde compositions, in which he frequently began turning to unorthodox instruments and allowing chance to play a role in his music. Both of these elements are seen in his 1956 composition “Radio Music,” which is scored for 8 radios – an atypical instrument, to be sure. Parts include a string of frequencies and specified silences, but do not specify duration or volume levels. Obviously, of course, the type of material being broadcast could not be foreseen. Cage became well known for this aleatoric technique – in this performance, you’ll hear jazz, advertisements, and more.

Bright Sheng, New Ears
Bright Sheng, New Ears

Bright Sheng: Tibetan Dance
Jennifer Dennison, clarinet; Laura Cividino, violin; Yan Shen, piano
11/14/2011
Moores Opera House

The music of Asian American composer Bright Sheng is truly a fusion of Eastern and Western influences. “I embrace ‘cultural license,'” Sheng says, “The right to reflect my appreciation and understanding of both cultures in my work.” That cross-cultural blend is apparent in his aesthetic, and Tibetan Dance is no exception; the last movement is based on a folk motive from Qinghai, the Chinese province where Bright Sheng lived during his adolescent years.

Stephen Hartke, New Ears
Stephen Hartke, New Ears

Stephen Hartke: Oh Them Rats is Mean in My Kitchen
Kirsten Yon, violin; Jisu Shin, violin
2/20/2012
Moores Opera House

Stephen Hartke’s output is diverse, writing in a wide variety of styles, though always in a unique voice. Oh Them Rats Is Mean In My Kitchen, a violin duo composed in 1985, certainly upholds these values; the work is a blues-infused scherzo-fantasy. Hartke effectively merges classical violin technique with the characteristic wailing of blues, taking inspiration from the opening line of Blind Lemon Jefferson’s Maltese Cat Blues.

This episode originally aired Sunday, January 8th, 2017. Catch Music in the Making every Sunday at 7:06 PM on Classical.

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