Musica Nova Makes Connections on April 28
On Wednesday, April 28, Eastman Musica Nova will present a concert of music by four varied contemporary composers. As an introduction, Musica Nova director Brad Lubman offered some thoughts on his programming choices and concert planning during a year of unprecedented challenges. (Photographs of Brad and Musica Nova in rehearsal by Michelle Martorell)
For our current season, because of COVID protocols, I looked for repertoire for smaller ensembles. Although Musica Nova sometimes performs works written for six to eight musicians, it is more typical that I program works for ensembles of 10 to 25 players. So, I found myself looking at works for only five to eight players (of which there is a wonderful plentitude!).
Starting with the 2017-18 season, I began to expand my programming in the way of diversity, equity, and inclusion. I spend a great deal of time searching for new music, composers with whom I’m unfamiliar, or composers whose names I’ve heard but whose music I haven’t.
More importantly, I wanted to include more composers from groups who have been historically underrepresented, and composers from a younger generation (in this case “younger” meaning under the age of 45) in a more consistent way than ever before.
In my mind, I take the position of a curator of a contemporary music festival. Therefore, a lot of research is involved in learning about and discovering all sorts of composers of our time and their work.
Beat Furrer (b. 1954): spur (2009)
Daniel Kidane (b. 1986): Inner Voices (2015)
Sarah Nemtsov (b. 1981): …beredtes Schweigen… (2005)
Hilda Paredes (b. 1957): Homenaje a Remedios Varo (1996)
(Click the name to read more about each composer.)
Beat Furrer is from Switzerland but moved to Vienna in 1975 to study composition. In 1985 he founded the ensemble, Klangforum Wien, an ensemble which he still guest conducts. The title of his work on this program, “spur”, can be translated as “track” or “trace”, and indeed the piece follows various simultaneous tracks, all deriving from the rapid material one hears in the piano. It also refers the idea of a trace of something, and the string writing is often made up of little bits or traces of material from the piano part. It is a virtuosic piece for all involved. The pianist for Musica Nova’s performance will be I-Hsiang Chao.
Hilda Paredes was born in Mexico but emigrated to London. Her work is an homage to the painter Remedios Varo, who was born in Spain but eventually emigrated to Mexico.
This work was inspired by five paintings of Remedios Varo:
1) Alquimia or Ciencia inútil (Alchemy or Useless Science)
2) Hilos del destino (Threads of Destiny)
3) Premonición (Premonition)
4) Arquitectura vegetal (Plant Architecture)
5) Naturaleza muerta resucitando (Still Life Resurfacing)
Paredes was to be a guest composer at Eastman in April 2020, but her visit was cancelled during the pandemic.
Sarah Nemtsov is the daughter of a painter. Her work on this program, whose title loosely translates as Deafening Silence, was influenced by the writings of Edmond Jabès (born in Cairo, forced into exile during the Suez crisis, moved to Paris). Nemtsov talks about a quote from Jabès: “You cannot write without silencing the words that move us,” which makes me think of the concept of “inner voices” …
… which is the title of the work by Daniel Kidane on tonight’s program. Kidane was born in London; his mother is Russian, his father is Eritrean (East Africa). Kidane has written a work that focuses on the bass clarinet as a solo instrument, but very often throughout the work the rest of the ensemble is interwoven into the texture of the bass clarinet with infectious, rhythmic interplay.
As I put the pieces together, I came to realize there are connections on many levels running through this program: connections between painting and music, literary thought and music, the wonderful multiplicity of cultures and people on our planet, and the cross-fertilization of cultures and ideas that can occur from people emigrating or moving from place to place whether by choice or by chance. It was only some months afterwards that I noticed (or learned about) these various connections. I love when that happens!
The Eastman Musica Nova concert will be livestreamed April 28 at 7:30 p.m. from Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre. Brad Lubman will conduct the works by Nemtsov and Paredes, assistant conductor Georgia Mills will lead the Furrer and Kidane works.