The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: This will be a busy and historic week at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music.

October 24, 2016
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By Jacob Stockinger

This week will be a busy one at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music, which is now funded in large part by the Mead Witter Foundation.

The big event is the long-awaited groundbreaking for the new performance center. That, in turn, will be celebrated with three important and appealing concerts.

Here is the lineup:

FRIDAY

From 4 to 5:30 p.m., an official and public groundbreaking ceremony for the new Hamel Music Center will take place at the corner of Lake Street and University Avenue. (Below is an architect’s rendering of the completed building.)

uw hamel performance center exterior

At 8 p.m. in Mills Hall, pianist Christopher Taylor (below) will perform the “Goldberg” Variations by Johann Sebastian Bach on the two-keyboard “Hyperpiano” that he has invented and refined. (You can hear the opening aria theme of the “Goldberg” Variations played by Glenn Gould in the YouTube video at the bottom.)

For more information about the concert and the innovative piano, visit:

http://www.music.wisc.edu/2016/09/13/pianist-christopher-taylor-to-debut-new-piano/

Tickets are $18 and are available at the Wisconsin Union Theater box office. Last The Ear heard, the concert was close to a sell-out.

Christopher Taylor with double keyboard Steinway

SATURDAY

At 7 p.m. in Mills Hall, UW-Madison faculty bassoonist Marc Vallon (below, in a photo by James Gill), who studied and worked with the recently deceased French composer and conductor Pierre Boulez, will lead a FREE “Breaking Ground” concert of pioneering music from the 17th, 19th, 20th and 21st centuries.

Composers represented include Ludwig van Beethoven, Michelangelo Rossi, Alexander Scriabin, Iannis Xenakis, John Cage, Helmut Lachenmann and Morton Feldman.

For more information and the complete program, go to:

http://www.music.wisc.edu/event/breaking-ground-with-marc-vallon-and-sound-out-loud/

Marc Vallon 2011 James Gill (baroque & modern)[2]

SUNDAY

At 3 p.m. in Mills Hall, the Wisconsin Brass Quintet will give a FREE concert.

For more information about the group and the program, go to:

http://www.music.wisc.edu/event/the-wisconsin-brass-quintet/

Wisconsin Brass Quintet

Wisconsin Brass Quintet


Classical music: The percussion ensemble Clocks in Motion performs music by Steve Reich and John Cage in Spring Green on Monday night

July 22, 2016
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By Jacob Stockinger

Performing on a variety of percussion instruments, the experimental quartet Clocks in Motion (below, in 2015) is the featured performer at the next Rural Musicians Forum concert.

Clocks in Motion Group Collage Spring 2015

The concert will be held on this coming Monday night, July 25, at 7:30 p.m. in the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Hillside Theater (below) on the Taliesin estate, south of Spring Green at 6604 Highway 23.

taliesin_hillside2

The concert is not ticketed and is open to the public. A free-will offering will be taken to support the concert series. For additional information and driving directions, see www.ruralmusiciansforum.org

Clocks in Motion is known for engaging performances of the classic repertoire for percussion quartets presented alongside new compositions and rarely heard works.

Featured in this performance are the great masterworks “Mallet Quartet” and “Drumming, Part I” by Steve Reich (below). In addition to these classic compositions, Clocks in Motion will perform their commissioned work by Marc Mellits, “Gravity.” (You can hear “Mallet Quartet” in the YouTube video at the bottom.)

Steve Reich

The quartet will also perform Moldavian folk music for hammered dulcimer, experimental music by John Cage (below), and a not-to-be-missed theatrical work for wooden spoons on lunch trays.

John Cage and cat

Hailed as “nothing short of remarkable” (ClevelandClassical.com) and “the most exciting addition to Madison’s classical music scene” (Isthmus), Clocks in Motion is a percussion quartet that performs new music, builds many of its own instruments and breaks down the boundaries of the traditional concert program.

The current mebers of Clocks in Motion (below from left, in a photo by Strom Strandell) are Sean Kleve, Kyle Flens, Matt Coley and Garrett Mandelow.

Clocks in Motion 2016 BW CR Strom Strandell

Formed in 2011 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Clocks in Motion is quickly becoming a major artistic force in today’s contemporary music scene.

Among its many recent and upcoming engagements, the group served as performers at the Interlochen Arts Academy (Michigan), The Overture Center for the Arts (Wisconsin), Casper College (Wyoming), University of Michigan (Michigan), Baldwin Wallace University (Ohio), The University of North Carolina-Pembroke (North Carolina) and The Ewell Concert Series (Virginia).

The concert is made possible in part through a grant from the Spring Green Art Fair and an anonymous gift to Clocks in Motion.


Classical music: Clocks in Motion will perform percussion works in Stoughton this Saturday night

February 10, 2016
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By Jacob Stockinger

The Ear has received the following invitation from the Madison-based percussion ensemble Clocks in Motion (below), which has released a CD, is building quite the reputation and  is receiving a lot of critical acclaim:

Clocks in Motion Group Collage Spring 2015

Hi everyone!

I would like to cordially invite you to Clocks in Motion’s upcoming concert at the historic Stoughton Opera House (below) at 7:30 p.m. on this coming Saturday, February 13.

Stoughton Opera House ext

StoughtonOperaHouse,JPG

We have a great program including music by Steve Reich, Marc Mellits, John Cage and James Tenney (below).

James Tenney

In addition, we will be joined by composer/guest artist Marc Mellits (below), in performing his mallet quintet “Gravity.” (You can hear Clocks in Motion performing the Minimalist and hypnotic “Gravity” in a YouTube video at the bottom.)

marc mellits 1

You might also want to check out our all new concert TEASER video here: https://youtu.be/WYxMELVVQEg

Tickets are $15 and are available at the door or for advanced sales online HERE

Even if you can’t make the concert, could you please help spread the word or just let your friends, family, students, and colleagues know about the event?

Sincerely,

Sean Kleve, Clocks in Motion Percussion


Classical music: Two percussion concerts — by Clocks in Motion and Madison native Nathaniel Bartlett — take place on Sunday afternoon. This week’s FREE Friday Noon Musicale features vocal music by many composers.

October 23, 2014
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ALERT: This Friday’s FREE Noon Musicale, from 12:15 to 1 p.m. at the First Unitarian Society of Madison, 900 University Bay Drive, features Rachel Eve Holmes (below), soprano; Christopher Apfelbach, baritone and Michael Keller, piano, in the music of Carlisle Floyd, Reynaldo Hahn, Amy Beach, Richard Strauss, Benjamin Britten, Gabriel Faure, Paul Bowles and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Rachel Eve Holmes big

By Jacob Stockinger

As I wrote and posted on Monday and Tuesday, Friday night is a major “train wreck” of competing concerts.

But Sunday is busy also and brings potential conflicts, particularly for percussion fans, though there is time to get from one concert to the other.

CLOCKS IN MOTION

On Sunday at NOON — NOT 1 p.m. as previously stated — in Mills Hall on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, the percussion group Clocks in Motion (below), will give a FREE concert. The program features world premieres as well as music by Frank Zappa, Edgard Varèse and John Cage. (Free parking is available on Sundays in nearby Grainger Hall in the basement of the UW-Madison Business School.)

Clocks collage 2014

Here is a press release from the group, which includes Dave Alcorn, Jennifer Hedstrom, Sean Kleve, Michael Koszewski and James McKenzie:

“Contemporary chamber ensemble Clocks in Motion blends the classical concert hall with the rock n’ roll venue in a bold performance on Sunday afternoon, Oct. 26, at 1 p.m. in Mills Hall.

The program will pair one of the first pieces written for percussion ensemble with music by iconoclast Frank Zappa.

Zappa listed Edgard Varèse’s groundbreaking work, Ionisation, as one of his fundamental inspirations in becoming a composer.

Clocks will juxtapose this influential piece with Zappa’s Black Page, a drum solo that was later expanded to a full-band tune.  Black Page’s uniquely virtuosic sound blends rock, contemporary, and experimental avant-garde music.

Guitarist Anthony Lanman joins the program as a guest performer on the world premiere of his 8-string electric guitar concerto, Automaton.

A lush quartet for mallet percussion, piano, and cello by Joseph Diedrich will also receive its world premiere.

Rounding out the program is John Cage’s Second Construction, a grooving classic in the percussion literature.

Here are more specifics about the program:

Ionisation: Although it is only 5 minutes long, Edgard Varèse’s seminal percussion piece laid the groundwork for 90-plus years of composition for the genre (and beyond, as displayed by Frank Zappa). Varèse (below) explores the coloristic possibilities of percussion with unique instruments including drums, woodblocks, sirens, cymbals, chimes, maracas, slapsticks, and more.

edgard varese

Black Page: Originally constructed as a drum solo in a style unique to Frank Zappa (below), Black Page is known for its impressive rhythmic complexity and polyrhythms. This meticulous, thrilling piece is in two parts: No. 1, a full-ensemble percussion unison featuring a “statistical density”; and No. 2, the “Easy Teenage New York Version,” which grooves through the same material with a full band.

Frank Zappa

Automaton: Says Anthony Lanman (below): “When Clocks in Motion asked me to write a piece for them, immediately their name set off a series of images in my head. I saw a lonely watchmaker — an unappreciated genius — who had a vision in his mind of a great automaton. I saw him slaving away in his workshop, creating the massive creature, and then, finally, releasing it (with the best of intentions) upon the world. Unfortunately, the automaton didn’t function as planned…

“This all broke down into a concerto for electric guitar and percussion, and was organized into three movements: I. Watchmaker’s Daydream – II. Workshop/Steam – III. …In Motion.”

anthony lanman headshot 1

Saturation: Writes Joseph Diedrich: Composed in 2013, Saturation combines the distinct timbral subtleties of mallet percussion, strings, and piano. Using UW-Madison composer Stephen Dembski’s constellation protocol, the piece embarks on an evolutionary journey, culminating in the discovery of tonality. Starting with distant, sparse reverberations, Saturation quickly becomes a wild musical adventure.

Joseph Diedrich

Second Construction: The 1940 work by John Cage (below) is scored for four players, and features piano prepared with cardboard, screws, and a metal cylinder carefully placed inside the instrument. The instrumentation is fascinating — water gong, temple bowls, almglocken, maracas and tam-tam are heard.

John Cage and cat

New music, new instruments and new sounds define Clocks in Motion’s fresh and innovative approach to contemporary classical performance. 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. Clocks in Motion consistently performs groundbreaking concerts involving performance art, theater, and computer technology.

Featuring world premieres alongside rarely performed classic works, this ensemble strives to create a new canon of percussion repertoire. You can hear how they make music on found objects in a YouTube video at the bottom.

Clocks in Motion works passionately to educate young audiences through master classes, residencies, presentations and school assemblies.

The ensemble’s unique skill sets and specialties contain an impressive mix of rock, jazz, contemporary classical, orchestral, marching and world styles.

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 affiliate ensemble of the UW-Madison percussion studio.

NATHANIEL BARTLETT

At 6:30 p.m. in Promenade Hall of Overture Hall, the Madison-born percussionist and marimba-player Nathaniel Bartlett (below), who uses complex computer technology in his music, will perform an unusual concert.

Nathaniel Bartlett 2

Tickets are $16.

Here is a link to the full description of the artist and the concert:

http://www.overturecenter.org/events/nathaniel-bartlett

 

 

 

 

 


“Grace Presents” opens its new season this Saturday at noon with a FREE one-hour concert by the local percussion group Clocks in Motion, which has just released its first recording.

September 16, 2014
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By Jacob Stockinger

“Grace Presents,” which just got a new program director Andrea Mauch (below), continues to develop as one of the most innovating and welcome FREE music events in Madison.

Andrea Mauch - long scarf color

The once-a-month series, which is sponsored by and hosted at Grace Episcopal Church (below), 116 West Washington Ave., in downtown Madison on the Capitol Square, offers classical music but also folk, bluegrass, roots and jazz. The quaint historic church has great acoustics and decorating inside.

grace episcopal church ext

MBM Grace cantatas ensemble

For the opening concert the performers at the unusual percussion group “Clocks in Motion,” which grew out of the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music, where the group is now an “affiliate ensemble in residence” for the percussion program. (You can hear them perform in a YouTube video at the bottom.)

Clocks collage 2014

Clocks in Motion has also just released its first recording,  “Escape Velocity,” which is an impressive CD that includes a work by Madison composer John Jeffrey Gibbons (below, in a photo by Milt Leidman).

clocks in motion percussion CD

Clocks in Motion John Jefffey Gibbens cr MiltLeidman

The hour-long concert on Saturday -– to run from noon to about 1 p.m. –- will feature rarely heard instruments and unusual compositions that will use contemporary music to highlight the power and diversity of percussion music.

Clocks in Motion’s fresh and innovative approach to contemporary classical performance will provide an exciting concert experience for the Madison community.

The program this Saturday includes:

The new mallet quintet, “Gravity, by Marc Mellits, 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

In “Music for Pieces of Wood” minimalist pioneer Steve Reich liberates the listener from the downbeat with interlocking rhythm and shifting musical gestures. Five performers using warm-toned paduk instruments become one mesmerizing voice.

“Drumming Part 1”, also by Reich, is a driving minimalist piece in which four musicians play four pairs of tuned bongos. The work was highly influenced by the rhythms found in western Africa, but Reich (below) also employs original compositional techniques, such as rhythmic phasing and pattern construction.

Steve Reich

“Four Miniatures” is an original composition by Clocks in Motion member Dave Alcorn (below). It explores the sonic possibilities of handheld percussion. Comprised of four mini-quartets for triangles, tambourines, Uchiwa Daiko and woodblocks/reco-reco, this attractive piece proves that even the smallest instruments can make one move in their seat.

Dave Alcorn

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

Here is more form a press release:

“Hailed as “nothing short of remarkable” by 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 consistently performs groundbreaking concerts involving performance art, theater, and computer technology.

“Featuring world premieres alongside rarely performed classic works, this 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.

Clocks in Motion overture

“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 UW-Madison percussion studio.

Members of Clocks in Motion are Dave Alcorn, Jennifer Hedstrom, Sean Kleve, Michael Koszewski and James McKenzie.


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: Third Coast Percussion offers a FREE concert of new music tonight and a FREE master class on Thursday at the University of Wisconsin. Also, settings by American composers of poems by American poet Emily Dickinson songs will be featured at the FREE Friday Noon Musicale at the First Unitarian Society.

October 9, 2013
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ALERT: On this Friday from 12:15 to 1 p.m., the FREE Friday Noon Musicale in the Landmark Auditorium of the historic Frank Lloyd Wright-designed First Unitarian Society, 900 University Bay Drive, soprano Julia Foster and pianist Susan Gaeddert will perform songs by Francesco Santoliquido and Francis Poulenc, plus settings of poems by the great American poet Emily Dickinson (below, in a photograph) by various American composers (Ernst Bacon, Daniel Crozier, John Duke, Henry Mollicone and Andre Previn).

emily dickinson photo

By Jacob Stockinger

Tonight at 7:30 p.m. in Mills Hall, on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, the acclaimed group Third Coast Percussion (below, in a photo of Saveria Truglia) will perform a program of modern and contemporary percussion music.

Third Coast Percussion by Saverio Truglia

The program includes: “Fractalia” by Owen Clayton Condon (at bottom in a YouTube video); “Mallet Quartet by Steve Reich; “Third Construction” by John Cage; and “Resounding Earth” (commissioned work) by Augusta Read Thomas (below), former composer-in-residence of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

augusta read thomas

Then on Thursday, from 12:15 to 2:15 p.m. in Room 1321 of the George Mosse Humanities Building, the percussion ensemble will give a public master class.

Hailed by The New Yorker magazine as “vibrant” and “superb,” Third Coast Percussion explores and expands the extraordinary sonic possibilities of the percussion repertoire, delivering exciting performances for audiences of all kinds.

Since its formation in 2005, Third Coast Percussion has gained national attention with concerts and recordings that meld the energy of rock music with the precision and nuance of classical chamber works. Third Coast Percussion is the Ensemble-in-Residence at the University of Notre Dame.

For more information about Third Coast Percussion, visit the group’s website:

http://www.thirdcoastpercussion.com

You can also read the preview blog post by Kathy Esposito on the UW School of Music’s terrific new blog “Fanfare:

http://uwmadisonschoolofmusic.wordpress.com/2013/09/19/third_coast/


Classical music: Ringing cell phones and coughing made Saturday’s concert by the UW-Madison’s Clocks in Motion enthralling and unforgettable.

September 23, 2013
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By Jacob Stockinger

Loyal readers of this blog know 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 Symphony 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 has also been named the new Music Director of a local community orchestra, The Studio Orchestra, effective two weeks ago. 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 an unusual percussion concert this past weekend by 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 tour to Vienna, Prague and Budapest.

Here is the review by Mikko Utevsky (below):

MAYCO Mikko Utevsky by Steve Rankin

By Mikko Utevsky

When we go to a concert, we go to listen and to watch. Perhaps with the very best performers we hope to be touched by the music, for the musicians on stage to speak to us through their playing.

But the role of the audience in classical music is generally passive: we expect to sit quietly, clap when a piece ends, cough politely between movements. We certainly do not walk in the doors expecting to be part of the performance.

At Saturday afternoon’s free performance in Mills Hall of “Percussion is Revolution” by UW-Madison resident ensemble Clocks in Motion (below, in concert), however, all this was turned on its head, and the result was an experience unlike anything I have ever witnessed. (For more information, visit: http://clocksinmotionpercussion.com)

clocks in motion in concert

The ideas of John Cage (below) and his colleagues have not penetrated the conscious of the concert-going public, by and large, and we are comfortable with our music on its pedestal, secure in the rituals surrounding a symphony concert or string quartet recital. The opportunity to see it toppled, however briefly, is notwithstanding an event not to be missed.

John Cage and cat

I, like many audience members, was slightly skeptical about the idea of a participatory concert. I went unsure of what to expect, but I had thoroughly enjoyed the ensemble’s other concerts I had attended, and thought it best to approach with an open mind.

After an exciting opener of “Pulse” by Henry Cowell (below), th group’s music director Sean Kleve explained the structure of the remainder of the program to the audience.

henry cowell

The next four works, all by John Cage , would be played without break and without applause. However, they would be separated by interludes of audience sound. We were asked to make sure our cell phones were turned ON – unthinkable in any other context – and permitted to make one call to another audience member during the course of the performance of Cage’s notorious 4’33” that would follow the next piece.

cell phone ringing

At another juncture, we were asked to read from the program notes in a whisper. Elsewhere we were invited to make noise using whatever we had in our pockets, and later to cough and clear our throats, as inevitably occurs between movements during a conventional classical music concert.

coughing

A video would be projected on the back wall during the performance – a potpourri of more or less random short clips (rain dripping from a rooftop, a turtle, a can rolling off a table, quotes on the nature of music, screensaver-like digital images) – which Kleve (below  top) informed us had not been timed to match the music, nor had it been viewed by any members of the ensemble other than Dave Alcorn (below bottom), who assembled it.

Sean Kleeve

Dave Alcorn Clocks in Motion

Our role as audience, then, was to experience. We had music to listen to, video to watch, spaces to participate (as well as permission to accept accidents – a phone ringing, dropping a program – as part of the concert), and an ensemble of visually engaging performers to observe.

The effect was totally immersive, hypnotic, and utterly enthralling. I have never experienced such a powerful performance, or been so completely engaged by the performers on stage.

Clocks in Motion (below, playing outside the UW-Madison’s George Mosse Humanities Building, and at bottom in  YouTube video where the group discusses its mission and goals) ) is a virtuosic ensemble, made up of incredibly talented and dedicated musicians (including multiple Collins Fellows). Their performances are unfailingly engaging, energetic, and executed with a precision befitting their excellent training and intense rehearsals.

(Clocks in Motion is running an IndieGoGo crowdfunding campaign for a new studio album, featuring two premieres; a link is below:)

http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/clocks-in-motion-s-first-album

Not a piece on the program was dull, though there were highlights: Cage’s “Imaginary Landscape 1″ and “First Construction in Metal” were personal favorites, along with the Cowell opener.

Clocks in Motion outside

During “Imaginary Landscape 1,” I could not tell at one point whether the synthesized pitches were coming from in the room or inside my own head. Elsewhere, this would have been disconcerting; here, it simply allowed me to immerse myself in the landscape the performers were inviting me to imagine with them. I think John Cage would approve, both of the effect and of the superb performances of so much of his music.

I realize it is difficult to write authentically about music such as this without sounding trite or ridiculous, and that I may come across as such here. Discarding the accumulated pomp and circumstance with which we dress our music in the classical world does not come easily, at least when reading about it, and if indeed my assessment seems laughable, so be it. The risk of being laughed at is one worth taking for music like this.

For a young musician such as myself, performances like “Percussion is Revolution” are formative experiences – albeit few and far between.

For the veteran concertgoer, perhaps they are powerful enough to challenge the rituals of concert music, at least for an afternoon. If (when?) the program is offered again, it is not to be missed. Attend with an open mind, and be prepared to take part and to accept your experience as a kind of music not played at a symphony concert.

And if you laugh a little, you’re among friends.


Classical music: What does John Cage’s music mean and how should we listen to it as Madison twice marks the centennial of the American composer? Check out these stories from The New York Times and NPR.

September 7, 2012
1 Comment

By Jacob Stockinger

Can it really be 100 years already?

The Ear finds it curious and unexpectedly welcome that the new concert season will open with two different tributes to the rarely performed avant-garde American composer John Cage, whose birth centennial is being celebrated this year.

This Sunday night at 7 p.m. in the Anderson Auditorium, 1000 Edgewood College Drive, the music faculty of Edgewood College (below) will celebrate the iconoclastic composer with a FREE concert.

Featured on the performance are Kathleen Otterson, Nathan Wysock, Todd Hammes, Blake Walter, Julie Dunbar, and Bernie Brink, with a special guest appearance by Clocks in Motion. Included on the program are Cage’s “Radio Music,” “Child of Tree,” “Third Construction in Metal,” and “The Wonderful Widow of Eighteen Springs,” among other works.

Then on Monday night, at 8 p.m., in Morphy Hall on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, guest performers Iktus Percussion (below) will also mark the Cage centennial with a FREE concert.

It is a brave and creative step for the generally conservative Catholic college, and  even for a mainstream music school, to take.

In fact, it is worthy of Cage himself (below) – the life partner of and longtime collaborator with famed dancer Merce Cunningham — who deserves a lot more than the derision his famous (or infamous) 4’33” piano piece that emphasizes silence and environmental sound deserves.

Like Charles Ives, Cage seems quintessentially American as a pioneer of environmental music, the artistic use of silence and the prepared piano in defining alternative or counter-cultural classical music.  He knew what he was doing and could be quite articulate about his artistic goals and methods (at  bottom).

And speaking of Cage, a good friend of The Ear recently sent along this terrific and insightful appreciation of Cage and his music, and how it relates to anxiety in general and specifically Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, from The New York Times.

Perhaps it will excite you enough to attend the Edgewood and UW concerts. Applause could even be, appropriately enough to honor the Zen-like composer, the sound of one hand clapping.

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/01/music-of-the-unquiet-mind/?emc=eta1

And here is a link to two excellent essay on “Sound and Silence: Five Ways of Understanding John Cage” and “33 Musicians on What John Cage Communicates” that appeared on NPR’s superb classical blog “Deceptive Cadence.” It, too, might inspire attendance as well as understanding:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/deceptivecadence/2012/09/05/160339846/silence-and-sound-five-ways-of-understanding-john-cage

http://www.npr.org/2012/08/30/160327305/33-musicians-on-what-john-cage-communicates


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