The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: On Saturday night, the University of Wisconsin-Madison percussion group Clocks in Motion will celebrate its inaugural recording with a concert of highlights from the current season.

April 3, 2014
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By Jacob Stockinger

On this coming Saturday night, the acclaimed and recently formed local percussion group, Clocks In Motion, will celebrate a landmark that area fans and all classical musicians can be proud of.

Here is the press release:

“Clocks in Motion, a cutting-edge new music ensemble from Madison, Wisconsin, will present an expansive program featuring highlights from the 2013-14 concert season, as well as selections from their upcoming debut CD album, “Escape Velocity.”

“Clocks in Motion (below in performance in 2013) consists of percussionists Dave Alcorn, Sean Kleve, Michael Koszewki, James McKenzie and Joseph Murfin plus Jennifer Hedstrom, pianist and percussionist, and conductor Matthew Schlomer.

clocks in motion in concert

“The concert is this coming Saturday, April 5, 2014 at 7:30 p.m. at Bright Red Studios (below), located at 9 Ingersoll Street in Madison. Admission is $10 for the general public; free with a valid student ID.

Bright Red Studios

“The program will feature captivating performances of works by innovative composers: John Luther Adams, John Cage, John Jeffrey Gibbens, Paul Lansky, and Marc Mellits.

Drums of Winter” is a movement from the breathtaking multimedia composition, “Earth and the Great Weather” by John Luther Adams (below). This genre-defying piece depicts the Arctic landscapes of Northern Alaska, and Clocks in Motion will perform a shattering and powerful drum selection.

John Luther Adams

“Paul Lansky has said that the aim of his percussion quartet, “Threads,” is to “highlight the wide range of qualities that percussion instruments are capable of, from lyrical and tender to forceful and aggressive, and weave them into one continuous ‘thread.’”

paul lansky

Third Construction” by John Cage (below) features a wildly diverse instrumentation. Clocks in Motion will use tin cans, maracas, claves, cowbells, Indo-Chinese rattles, quijadas, cricket callers, a conch shell, ratchets, and various drums in this singular and innovative 1941 work.

John Cage and cat

“John Jeffrey Gibbens (below) is a living composer in Madison whose marimba solo, “Travelling Music,” was only just premiered on March 13.  The vast complexities of this 12-tone work result in some entertaining choreography for the performer and a rich experience for the listener.

Clocks in Motion John Jefffey Gibbens cr MiltLeidman

“The new mallet quintet, “Gravity,” by Marc Mellits (below) was commissioned in part by Clocks in Motion in 2013.  This piece features Mellits’ pop-minimalistic style with driving rhythms and lush harmonies.  The sectional work builds in intensity, resulting in a climactic and satisfying ending.  

marc mellits 1

“Hailed as “nothing short of remarkable” (ClevelandClassical.com), Clocks in Motion is a group that performs new music, builds its own instruments, and breaks down the boundaries of the traditional concert program.

With a fearless and uncompromising ear to programming challenging and adventurous contemporary percussion ensemble repertoire, Clocks in Motion (below in a photo by Megan Alley) consistently performs groundbreaking concerts involving performance art, theater and computer technology.

Clocks in Motion Group Photo 2 cr Megan Alley

“Featuring world premieres alongside rarely performed classic works, the ensemble strives to create a new canon of percussion repertoire.

“Clocks in Motion works passionately to educate the young audiences of the future through master classes, residencies, presentations, and school assemblies. The individual members of Clocks in Motion’s unique skill sets and specialties contain an impressive mix of musical styles including, rock, jazz, contemporary classical music, orchestral percussion, marching percussion, and world music styles. (Listen for yourself to the YouTube posting at the bottom.)

“Clocks in Motion has served as resident performers and educators at the Interlochen Arts Academy, Casper College, the University of Michigan, Baldwin-Wallace University, VIBES Fine and Performing Arts, Traverse City West High School, Traverse City East Middle School, Rhapsody Arts Center, and the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art.

“Formed in 2011, Clocks in Motion began as an extension of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Graduate Percussion Group, and now serves as the ensemble in residence with the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music percussion studio.

“For more information, including boomings, recordings, videos, concert/residency schedule, and repertoire, please visit www.clocksinmotionpercussion.com.”

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Classical music: University of Wisconsin percussion group Clocks in Motion will give a FREE concert of unusual new music, including the world premiere of the winner of its first composing contest, this Sunday afternoon. Plus, on Saturday a harpsichord recital of Baroque masters will be given at the First Unitarian Society.

February 13, 2014
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ALERT: This Saturday night at 7 p.m. in the Landmark Auditorium at the historic Meeting House at the First Unitarian Society of Madison, 900 University Bay Drive, Stephen Alltop of Northwestern University will give a harpsichord recital. The program features the music of Johann Sebastian Bach (Toccata in E minor, Preludes and Fugues in D major and D minor from The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I), Domenico Scarlatti (two sonatas), Jean-Philippe Rameau (Suite in A Minor), Franz Joseph Haydn (Sonata No. 6 in G Major) and George Frideric Handel (Suite in G Minor). A free will offering will be taken. 

Stephen Alltop harpsichord

By Jacob Stockinger

Clocks in Motion, Madison’s cutting-edge new music ensemble, will present Unfamiliar Voices 1.0, an expansive program featuring music from both the heart of the established percussion ensemble literature and the forefront of modern percussion composition. 

The FREE performance is this coming Sunday, Feb. 16, at 3 p.m. in Mils Hall. It will celebrate composer and UW-Madison student Ben Davis, the 2014 Clocks in Motion Call for Scores winner, with the world premiere of his exciting new work, “Night.”

The ensemble will also perform the meditative percussion quartet, “Threads,” by Paul Lansky and the grand percussion sextet, “Kryptogramma,” by Georges Aperghis.

clocks in motion in concert

Ben Davis (below), a composer, trumpeter and teacher from Richmond, Virginia, writes for unique instruments built by Clocks in Motion. His new work employs sixxen — large aluminum keyboard instruments that are tuned microtonally (vastly different from the standard repeating 12-tone scale in most western music).

ben davis

The three sets of sixxen (below, in the foreground with other percussion instruments) in the piece are purposefully out of tune with each other, creating an entrancing sound cloud of beading frequencies for the listener.  In contrast, the other three players in the piece each play a bombastic multi-percussion setup of tom toms, snare drums, kick drums, and china cymbals.  Davis’ innovative work is sure to impress.

sixxen ensemble foreground-1

Paul Lansky (below) shares some insightful thoughts on his 2005 work: “Threads… is a half-hour long ‘cantata’ for percussion quartet in ten short movements. (You can hear it at the bottom in a YouTube video performance from the Peabody Conservatory of Music at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.)

Adds Lansky: “There are three “threads” that are interwoven in the piece: Arias and Preludes that focus on the metallic pitched sounds of vibraphones, glockenspiel and pipes; Choruses in which drumming predominates; and Recitatives made largely from John Cage-like noise instruments, bottles, flower pots, crotales, etc. The aim of the different threads is to highlight the wide range of qualities that percussion instruments are capable of, from lyrical and tender to forceful and aggressive, and weave them into one continuous ‘thread.’ The movements are performed without interruption.”

paul lansky

Georges Aperghis’ 1970 composition “Kryptogramma” is a massive undertaking. Puzzling instrumental combinations and bizarre rhythmic structures make this one of the most fascinating and complex percussion ensemble works ever written.

“Kryptogramma” means “concealed text/writing”.  In the  words of composer Aperghis (below): “Every cyptogram [in the piece] conceals a text or number sequence, behind which information is hidden…simple rhythms…are developed in a tapestry of soaring movements, and…subjected to a mass of variation.”

georges aperghis

Clocks in Motion members are Dave Alcorn, Jennifer Hedstrom, Sean Kleve, Michael Koszewski James McKenzie, and Joseph Murfin.  For the concert on Feb. 16, Clocks in Motion will welcome percussionists Vincent Mingils and Somali Wilson as guest performers.

All performers are either current or former students of the UW-Madison percussion studio.

Hailed as “nothing short of remarkable” (ClevelandClassical.com), Clocks in Motion is a group that performs new music, builds rare instruments, and breaks down the boundaries of the traditional concert program.

Formed in 2011, the ensemble is currently in residence at the University of Wisconsin School of Music.  The individual members of Clocks in Motion’s unique skill sets and specialties contain an impressive mix of musical styles including, rock, jazz, contemporary classical music, orchestral percussion, marching percussion, and world music styles.

Among its many recent engagements, the group served as resident performers and educators at the Interlochen Arts Academy, Rhapsody Arts Center, University of Michigan, Baldwin-Wallace University, and the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art.

Admission is free. For more information, including repertoire, upcoming events, biographies, and media, visit http://clocksinmotionpercussion.com.

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Classical music: The Madison-based new music ensemble Clocks in Motion will perform John Luther Adams’ look at Arctic life in Alaska in “Earth and the Great Weather” on Saturday night for FREE at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Plus, “Sunday Afternoon Live From the Chazen” features an all-Brahms concert.

January 31, 2014
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ALERT: Is there no end to the great music awaiting you this weekend? This week’s “Sunday Live From the Chazen” features clarinetist John Marco, pianist Eugene Alcalay and cellist Parry Karp of the UW-Madison‘s Pro Arte Quartet. They will perform an all-Brahms program. It will be broadcast LIVE from 12:30 to 2 p.m. on Wisconsin Public Radio (WERN 88.7 FM in the Madison area). The FREE concert is in Brittingham Gallery 3 of the Chazen Museum of Art on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus. The Ear wishes he could tell you the specific works on the program, but WPR lists nothing about the concert and the Chazen only lists dates and performers plus reservation information (visit  http://www.chazen.wisc.edu/search/9254ec53aee7833b552dad8b6f5cda84/ and read from bottom to top. Please, webmasters, update your websites for the new semester in a reader-informative and reader-friendly way! Otherwise, what good is all the high technology?

SAL logo and cellist

By Jacob Stockinger 

We are not quite yet mid-winter in this season of sub-zero Polar Vortex slippages, and yet we have another chance to Hear the Cold this weekend.

You cay recall that this weekend the Oakwood Chamber Players will give two performances on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon of a “Nordic” program that features works by Finnish composer Jean Sibelius, Danish composer Carl Nielsen and Sveinbjorn Sveinbjornsson of Iceland.  (For details, here is a link:

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2014/01/29/classical-music-hear-the-cold-oakwood-chamber-players-will-perform-a-nordic-program-of-icelandic-finnish-and-danish-chamber-music-this-saturday-and-sunday/

But on SATURDAY night — NOT Sunday night as mistakenly listed in some press releases — there is also a chance to hear an unusual work by a contemporary American composer, John Luther Adams (below), who is not to be confused with the Minimalist John Adams, the composer of the operas “Nixon in China” and “Doctor Atomic” among many other works.

John Luther Adams

Here are more details about he work, drawn largely from a press release by the performing ensemble.

Clocks in Motion (below), Madison’s cutting-edge new music ensemble, will present the Madison premiere of John Luther Adams’ “Earth and the Great Weather,” a collaborative multi-media performance depicting the Arctic physical, cultural and spiritual landscapes of Northern Alaska. (An excerpt, “Drums of Winter,” can be heard at the bottom in a YouTube video.)

clocks in motion in concert

Percussion, strings, chorus, digital delay patterns, spoken texts and pre-recorded nature sounds will join forces in this ambitious and innovative work on Saturday, Feb. 1, in Mills Hall at 7:30 p.m.

Admission is free.

Each movement of the genre-defying piece focuses on a different element of Arctic life. 

According to the composer, “The landscape from which “Earth and the Great Weather” is drawn is the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (below) …one of the last great wilderness regions of North America.  It also embraces the homelands of both the Gwich’in Indians and the Inupiat Eskimos.”

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

Arctic Wildlife Refuge map

The 10 colorful and drastically different movements are meant to envelope the listener in a transcendental sound environment. In this YouTube video below, the composer explains his personal view of music.

Clocks in Motion has assembled a team of professional musicians to present this unique concert experience to the community.

Chelsie Propst (below top), Sarah Richardson, Cheryl Rowe, and Paul Rowe will comprise the vocal chorus, while Carol Carlson, Max Wollam-Fisher, Spencer Hobbs, and Mikko Utevsky (below bottom) will serve as the string quartet.

Chelsie Propst USE

MAYCO Mikko Utevsky by Steve Rankin

Steve Gotcher, audio engineer for Audio for the Arts, will control the complex electronic component of the performance.  Matthew Schlomer (below, in a photo by Laura Zastrow) will conduct.

MatthewSchlomer cr Laura Zastrow

Hailed as “nothing short of remarkable” (ClevelandClassical.com), Clocks in Motion is a group that performs new music, builds rare instruments, and breaks down the boundaries of the traditional concert program.

Formed in 2011, the ensemble is currently in residence at the University of Wisconsin School of Music.  The individual members of Clocks in Motion’s unique skill sets and specialties contain an impressive mix of musical styles including, rock, jazz, contemporary classical music, orchestral percussion, marching percussion and world music styles.

Among its many recent engagements, the group served as resident performers and educators at the Interlochen Arts Academy, the Rhapsody Arts Center, the University of Michigan, Baldwin-Wallace University, and the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art.  

This project is supported by Dane Arts.

For more information, including repertoire, upcoming events, biographies, and media, visit:

http://clocksinmotionpercussion.com.

Here is a story about the concert (plus other news) on the UW School of Music’s outstanding blog “Fanfare”:

http://uwmadisonschoolofmusic.wordpress.com

And here is a link to a profile of Clocks in Motion that appeared in The Wisconsin State Journal:

http://host.madison.com/entertainment/music/music-the-fast-moving-hands-of-clocks-in-motion/article_d033d14e-b8cf-5257-bd09-f14f9e794526.html#ixzz2rp9u1KMw

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Classical music: The UW-Madison percussion group Clocks in Motion once again shows its impressive virtuosity in new music and world premieres that take listeners out of their comfort zone.

December 16, 2013
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By Jacob Stockinger

Loyal readers of this blog know very well the name of Mikko Utevsky. The young violist and conductor is a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin School of Music, where he studies with Pro Arte Quartet violist Sally Chisholm and plays in the UW Chamber Orchestra.

Utevsky, who has won awards and impressive reviews for his work in music education since his days at Madison’s East High School, is the founder and conductor of the Madison Area Youth Chamber Orchestra, which will perform its fourth season next summer. He was recently named the new Music Director of a local community orchestra, The Studio Orchestra. The ensemble has an out-of-date website here (www.disso.org).

You can check out his many honors and projects by typing his name into the search engine on this blog site.

Utevsky offered The Ear a guest review of a concert this past weekend by the group Clocks in Motion. I immediately took him up on the offer. After all, he is a fine and perceptive writer who, you may recall, blogged for this post when he was on tour two summers ago with the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras (WYSO) tour to Vienna, Prague and Budapest.

Here is the review by Mikko Utevsky (below):

new Mikko Utevsky baton profile USE

By Mikko Utevsky

Friday night’s “New Discoveries” concert at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery (below bottom) was everything Madison concertgoers have come to expect from the virtuoso ensemble Clocks in Motion (below), which is to say nothing short of remarkable. 

The group, founded in 2011 as an extension of the UW-Madison‘s graduate percussion group, has already developed a reputation for innovative and challenging programming, impressive technical ability, and concerts that push the audience out of their comfort zone.

clocks in motion in concert

WID_extr11_1570

On all three of those counts, “New Discoveries” was an undeniable success. It also brought in the largest audience yet for the ensemble’s concerts, a crowd numbering around 150 people.

The program included two world premiere performances, the first being Thomas Lang‘s Percussion Duo. Written for music director Sean Kleve and pianist Jennifer Hedstrom, it is a rhythmically exacting work that feels as though it was composed for a single instrument that happens to consist of two players (though the percussionist is in fact responsible for both a marimba and vibraphone).

The precise unison playing of Kleve and Hedstrom was all but flawless, more than meeting the considerable demands of Lang’s writing. Kleve’s handling of the crossed writing for both mallet instruments was particularly commendable — often a phrase would begin on one instrument and end on the other, creating a kaleidoscopic shift in color that Lang exploited to its fullest capacity. The slow movement was hauntingly beautiful. (I particularly enjoyed the use of marimba rolls to sustain chords articulated by the piano or vibes.)

Kleve and Hedstrom were joined by three more players for the next work, also a premiere: “Allhallows” by Madison composer John Jeffrey Gibbens (below), the first movement of which (“Prelude”) was given its first performance by the group back in late September. (You can hear Gibbens discuss his work in a YouTube video at the bottom.)

Clocks in Motion John Jefffey Gibbens cr MiltLeidman

Kleve (below) played Quarimba (a pair of stacked marimbas tuned a quarter tone apart), Dave Alcorn the vibraphone, and Joseph Murfin and James McKenzie each presided over sets of quarter-tone galvanized steel pipes (a new instrument developed by Clocks for this piece, and nicknamed the Galvitone) and large arrays of tuned gongs.

Sean Kleve

The instrumentation can give the readers some inkling of the innovative use of extended pitch collections explored in this extended work, which seems conceived on an even larger scale than its present form for piano and percussion quartet.

The first movement’s lilting, almost dance-like rhythms made a stark contrast with Lang’s more angular work. It seems the most substantial of the three, and is written for a smaller group than the whole work – percussion trio, with a fourth player muting the gongs. (This part of the piece was almost theatrical — McKenzie stood facing Murfin with the array of gongs (and the music) between them, mirroring the latter’s motions to muffle the resonance after he struck each pitch.) It is densely contrapuntal, carried forward by an inexorable rhythmic drive.

The latter movements, “Witness” and “Nocturne” (both including piano), contrast sharply. In the latter, the ensemble is used (like in Lang’s Duo) as a single instrument; in the former, complex and virtuosic interplay between players highlights the music’s dramatic contrasts. This second movement also features stunningly difficult writing for the two Galvitone players, whose back-and-forth and rhythmic unisons were executed cleanly at a blisteringly fast tempo.

Gibbens works in shades more subtle than the average ear is fully accustomed to hearing, particularly with his use of quarter tones, and I suspect the piece would reward repeated listening — an opportunity afforded by its inclusion on the ensemble’s first studio recording, which is currently in production. 

Clocks in Motion Group Photo 2 cr Megan Alley

I often find with Clocks in Motion that my favorite works are the ones using mostly unpitched percussion. After two harmonically complex works, each rewarding in its own way, I found the same to be true in this concert: the only “standard” work on the program, the massive 1969 sextet “Persephassa” by Iannis Xenakis was undeniably its highlight.

For this monumental work, the venue played an important role. The H.F. Deluca Forum (below top) of the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery is a totally round room, and the audience was seated in the center, surrounded on all sides by percussionists (as demanded by the composer).

SEW Forum room

“Persephassa” is an aggressive, overpowering piece of music that can at times feel overwhelming, even in the sheer volume of sound produced, and the feeling of being boxed in by that sound is integral to the experience of the performance.

It is not a comfortable piece to hear, nor should it be. Composed at the end of the 1960’s, it is an attempt by Xenakis (below) to depict some of the turbulence and violence of that decade – and violent music it is. The sound comes in waves, crashing in upon the audience in the center relentlessly. It demands total investment from every player involved, and a high technical standard of performance, both of which were met admirably by Clocks in Motion.

Rhythmic complexity is par for the course for a percussion ensemble, but the demands of this work are extraordinary. Apart from the difficulty of coordinating six separate players over large distances with no conductor and an audience in the way, Xenakis (below) writes different tempos for all six performers at various times, bringing them together again only intermittently. To facilitate this, the ensemble used technology Xenakis could only imagine at the time of composition – six separate computer-controlled click tracks, fed to the players through headphones. With this aid, performance is merely colossally difficult. Without it, it would be impossible.

Iannis Xenakis

“Persephassa” is a work best experienced live — no recording can do justice to the overwhelming, chaotic nature of the staging, and of hearing the music move around you. Motives pass from player to player, sometimes in contrary motion, around the circle – luckily the chairs in the DeLuca Forum are not bolted down, and we were able to follow them around the room and watch the players situated behind us.

Xenakis is endlessly inventive with his sound-world, and the piece moves from the initial thunderous pounding of drums to a plethora of diverse and contrasting timbres — woodblocks, metal pipes, cymbals, gongs, maracas and even siren whistles (a hand-cranked siren would have required one player to have a free hand, which they never seem to). The combination of timpani glissandi and sirens was particularly colorful.

Performances such as this reinforce the need for music in our lives, to remind us of the value in allowing ourselves to be totally overwhelmed, to surrender to sensation and simply experience our surroundings, even when we find ourselves in circumstances as terrifying as those evoked by Xenakis’ music. They open our eyes to the level of musical talent, both performing and composition, present in this city – all the players are trained at the UW-Madison by Professor Anthony DiSanza (below), and both of the composers with new works on the concert have local connections.

DiSanza

They also remind us of the value in an ensemble such as Clocks in Motion, which so reliably presents music that challenges and provokes thought. They will be back in February for a spring season including six more world premieres — take a chance on one of their concerts, even if you don’t usually listen to the sort of music they perform (not that it can be generalized): You will not leave unimpressed, and you might just come back. I did.

For the sake of full disclosure: I am a frequent collaborator with John Jeffrey Gibbens in his work as a collaborative pianist, and I will be appearing with Clocks in Motion this February in one of their spring semester concerts.


Classical music: “New Music Saturday” is rich with FREE concerts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

September 19, 2013
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By Jacob Stockinger

Think of this coming Saturday as “New Music Saturday.”

That is because fans of new and contemporary classical music have a busy day of MUST-HEAR concerts ahead of them.

Two FREE concerts will be featured in Mills Hall on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus.

CLOCKS IN MOTION

The first concert is in the afternoon and will be given by the UW-Based percussion group “Clocks in Motion” (seen below in concert).

clocks in motion in concert

The “Clocks” concert is at 3 p.m. in Mills Hall and will present a FREE concert highlighting the music of American composers Henry Cowell (below top) and John Cage (below bottom).

henry cowell

John Cage and cat

Here are some program notes provided by Clocks in Motion:

“The performance will be interactive. Audience participation will be a central focus in the performance, resulting in a seamless sound tapestry that will transform the concert experience into a fully immersive event.

“Clocks in Motion’s ability to use virtually any object as an instrument will be extended to the audience, who will be encouraged to use their cell phones, keys, voices, hands, and other objects to contribute musical sounds throughout the performance.

“Hailed as “nothing short of remarkable” (ClevelandClassical.com), Clocks in Motion is a group that performs new music, builds rare instruments, and breaks down the boundaries of the traditional concert program.

“Formed in 2011, Clocks in Motion now serves as the ensemble in residence with the UW-Madison percussion studio.

Clock in Motion Logo white on black square

“The individual members of Clocks in Motion’s unique skill sets and specialties contain an impressive mix of musical styles including, rock, jazz, contemporary classical music, orchestral percussion, marching percussion, and world music styles including Brazilian, Afro-Cuban, Middle Eastern, West African, and Indian.

“Among its many recent engagements, the group served as resident performers and educators at the Interlochen Arts Academy, Rhapsody Arts Center, University of Michigan, Baldwin-Wallace University, and the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art.

”For more information on Clocks in Motion, including repertoire, upcoming events, biographies, and media, visit www.clocksinmotionpercussion.com

IOWA’S CENTER FOR NEW MUSIC

But that isn’t the end of new music on Saturday.

Also on this coming Saturday, Sept. 21, at 8 p.m. in Mills Hall, the acclaimed Center for New Music (below) at the University of Iowa will return to the University of Wisconsin-Madison for a FREE concert.

The Center for New Music at the University of Iowa was established in 1966 with funds from the Rockefeller Foundation. Its purpose is to promote contemporary to audiences rarely exposed to such repertoire. The Center also resulted in a tight collaboration between composer and musician. During the past 47 seasons, the Center has performed over 400 concerts and presented over 2000 compositions. It has commissioned and premiered works by composers such as Berio, Crumb, Messiaen and Carter, and continues to serve as a vehicle for contemporary music in the Midwest.

university of iowa center for new music ensemble

The concert of late 20th-century and early 21st-century repertoire features Viennese violinist Wolfgang David and pianist-composer David Gompper (below).

David Gommper and Wolfgang David

The program includes “Nuance” for solo violin (2012) by David Gompper (below); the Violin Sonata No. 1 in F minor, Op. 80 (1938-46) by Sergei Prokofiev; “Ikona” for violin and piano (2008) by David Gompper; and “Dikhthas” for violin and piano (1979) by Iannis Xenakis  (1922-2001).

Here is a note about “Nuance” — heard at the bottom in a YouTube video — from composer David Gompper (below) and reprinted courtesy of the UW School of Music:

“Nuance (2012) for solo violin is based on a simple descending melody heard in the opening bars. The three-part form explores timbral resources of the instrument through an extended series of character developments. Written in London in January 2012, it has undergone a number of expansions and a “filling out”. Very much in my mind was the application of the ratio 1.414 (the square root of 2), the same portion found in many of Bach’s works.”


Classical music: New contemporary percussion group Clocks in Motion will makes its FREE concert debut this Saturday night. The famed Saint Thomas Choir sings at Overture Friday night.

September 26, 2012
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REMINDER:  The 2012-13 season of the Overture Concert Organ opens Friday night at 7:30 p.m. in Overture Hall with the Saint Thomas Choir (below) from New York City. at 7:30 p.m. in Overture Hall. The Saint Thomas Choir of Men and Boys is considered to be the premiere choral ensemble of the Anglican music tradition in the United States and among the finest in the world. The program will include a variety of styles from the 16th century to the present day by composers including Thomas Tallis, J.S. Bach, William Byrd, James MacMillan, Benjamin Britten, Charles Parry, among others. Two organ solos by J.S. Bach and Dan Locklair complete the program.

Tickets are $19.50 at http://www.madisonsymphony.org and the Overture Center box office at (608) 258-4141. For more information, visit www.madisonsymphony.org/thomas or the the choir’s website, http://www.saintthomaschurch.org/music/choir where you can listen to performance videos.

 This season the Overture Concert Organ Series also includes The Westminster Choir on Sat., Jan. 12, at 7:30 p.m.; Felix Hell, organist and Madison native and Baltimore Symphony principal trumpet Andrew Balio on Feb. 23 at 7:30 p.m.; and David Briggs on Sat., Mar. 23, at 7:30 p.m.

By Jacob Stockinger

Madison’s new contemporary percussion ensemble, Clocks in Motion (below, rehearing a work by Steve Reich in a photo by James McKenzie, is kicking off its 2012-13 season this Saturday night, Sept. 29, at 8 p.m. in Mills Music Hall on the UW-Madison campus.

Consisting of current music students and recent graduates of UW-Madison, Clocks in Motion is dedicated to the performance of modern repertoire and the commissioning of new works for percussion ensemble. Members (below, from left, in a photo by Megan Aley) are: Joseph Murfin, Brett Walter, Neil Sisauyhoat, Dave Alcorn, Elena Wittneben, Michael Koszewski and Sean Kleve.  James McKenzie is also a member.

Not only a group of exclusively percussionists, Clocks in Motion also includes pianist Jennifer Hedstrom (below top, in a photo by Dean Santarinala and conductor Matt Schlomer (below bottom, in a photo by Laura Zastrow). Scholmer, now at the Interlochen Academy, has previously worked at the UW-Madison and Edgewood College.

This FREE concert entitled “New Beginnings” features some early pieces of Steve Reich, a look towards the future with the world premiere performance of a new composition by Madison composer John Jeffrey Gibbens  entitled “Allhallows” (Prelude), and the unveiling of a new instrument, the quarimba.

Composer Gibbens (below, in a photo by Milt Leidman) wrote the following program notes:

“Allhallows (Prelude) for three Percussion is scored for Marimba supplemented by a second Marimba tuned a quarter-step flat, or Quarimba, Vibraphone, and seven tuned Gongs.  It was composed in July and August 2012 at the request of Clocks in Motion for performance in the fall of 2012.

“The title is an archaic synonym for the feast of All Saints on November 1, and for me evokes associations with the onset of winter in Wisconsin, including the commercial holiday of Halloween, the beginning of the new year in the Celtic calendar, the liturgical function of All Saints, elections, and Armistice, now Veterans’ Day.  These occasions address our sense of the closeness of uncanny events to everyday life.

“Each section of the Prelude is like a number in the program of an imaginary ceremony.  Each player gets an opportunity to address the crowd in a solo, before joining together and filing out.  I invented a nonsymmetrical pitch shape which in combination with the scoring goes beyond the limitations of both the equal tempered scale and its quarter-tone double.”

This program also features a unique composition written by Herbert Brun called “At Loose Ends.”  Written in 1974, this piece uses a large orchestra of percussion instruments including timpani, tuned cowbells, quarimba, xylophone, 12 snare drums, tam-tams, cymbals, piano, celesta, and chimes.  

With a passion for instrument building, the ensemble has constructed micro-tonal aluminium keyboards called sixxen for Xenakis’ “Pleiades” and continues to look for more opportunities to discover new expressive sounds within the percussion world.

Future concerts this season – all FREE –  by Clocks in Motion include (posters are by Dave Alcorn):

Saturday, Oct. 5, at 7 p.m.: Live at the Lobby of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art in the Overture Center.

Sunday, Oct. 21, 2 p.m. in Mills Music Hall: George Crumb‘s “American Songbook VI: Voices from the Morning of the Earth.”  FEATURING vocal soloists Jamie Van Eyck (below top) and Paul Rowe (below bottom, in a photo by Katrin Talbot).

Saturday, Dec. 8, at 7 p.m. in Music Hall: “A Dream of Darkness” featuring the music of Karlheinz Stockhausen, Franco Donatoni, and a world premiere of a new piece by Filippo Santoro.

For a complete list of upcoming concerts, events, media, and detailed performer biographies, please visit clocksinmotionpercussion.com.

Here is a video previewing the upcoming season of Clocks in Motion:

 


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