Northwestern's New Music Marathon features another exhaustive survey
Once again, Northwestern will put on its daylong New Music Marathon, at which listeners can play catch-up with what’s been going on in the world of new music. Formerly the province of composer and pianist Amy Williams, who is now teaching (full-time) at the University of Pittsburgh, the festival was put together by students who didn’t want to let it stop.
This year they’ll pay tribute to Alvin Lucier, the visionary American whose 1970 electronic composition I Am Sitting in a Room is part of the music-history books. Lucier’s Music on a Long Thin Wire will be played in the lobby of Pick-Staiger Concert Hall from 1:30 to 10pm. With just a wire, magnet, oscillator and amplifier, the wire’s vibrations set up a series of spellbinding chords.
The marathon begins at 2pm in Louis Hall (1877 Campus Dr) with two electroacoustic programs separated by an improvisation. After a dinner break from 5 to 6pm, the marathon moves to Pick-Staiger Concert Hall for more Lucier from trombonist Jonathon Kirk and pianist Joann Cho at 6pm. They’ll play Lucier’s Panorama, which makes full use of the trombone’s ability to slide between pitches.
Violinist David Yonan follows, playing violin and piano works by Augusta Read Thomas, Arvo Pärt and John Adams. NU’s New Music Ensemble then tackles Adams’s Shaker Loops. Pianist Amy Briggs Dissanayake moves in after it’s cleared out to play Asa Nisi Masa by Drew Baker, an NU student with a trace of Morton Feldman’s beautiful randomness running through him, and Stefano Gervasoni’s rapt Studio di Disabitudine. CSO and International Contemporary Ensemble cellist Katinka Kleijn ends things with Lucier’s Music for Cello with One or More Amplified Vases, but not before ensemble dal niente plays spiky Jason Eckhardt’s Tongues, with soprano Tony Arnold.
What’s not to love? The marathon features some of the area’s best new-music players performing works by the liveliest living composers. Dig in.—Marc Geelhoed
The Marathon’s gun goes off Sun 21.