Shows


27
Jan 17

First Impressions

As part of our 2016-2017 season we’re giving each of our core singers a turn at the helm of the blog. The below post below comes from our mezzo-soprano, Elisa Sutherland.


An admission: I am an incorrigible critic. I always judge books by their covers. First impressions, for me, last well beyond the point of being proven wrong.  

So goes it with music: I often glance at a score and immediately form an opinion from anything but the music itself. If a work features lots of fast notes or copious accidentals, if my part consists mainly of rests, if the composer makes a note of which foreign country she was in whilst writing the piece or if he includes his middle initial, if the font of the title is of the “Real Book” variety… I usually base my opinion on these admittedly superficial characteristics, incapable as I am of that Mozartian feat of looking at a score and actually hearing what it sounds like.

To my credit, I am always pleased whenever I turn out to be wrong, which is most of the time.

For our concert in Syracuse and again here in New York, we are performing a set of three “scenes” by Erin Gee, taken from her larger work, SLEEP. I was familiar with Gee’s style, having sung an intricate chamber work of hers for soprano and clarinet, percussion and viola. I enjoyed it immensely: the singer and, indeed, the rest of the players are forced to mutter/stutter their way through a variety of soft fricatives, pitches appearing pointillistically throughout. The work is virtuosic in that the voice never rests, and also rarely rises above the dynamic of piano – a Herculean task to give to a subset of musician known for our dramatic tendencies. I loved the interplay between the need for constant expression and the limitation of softness – very satisfying.

When I looked through my score for SLEEP, I was disappointed. In the first movement, the second soprano part stays mainly within the range of a fourth, often in unison or perhaps triads with another singer. Occasional extended techniques, few rhythmic values more complex than a triplet. Worst of all, she calls for whistling, the singer’s most dreaded instruction. My part by itself was unremarkable. I quickly and satisfactorily slipped into my comfortable assumptions about the piece, and flipped to another score.

Of course, once we read through the music at our first rehearsal, I realized the extent of my hubris. A piece of chamber music is not contained in one part. In placing each of our lines on top of one another, Gee has created another experiment in the breadth and depth of quietness – this time, punctuated by silence and whispers. Unisons branch into thirds and triads; whistles appear, echo-like, floating in octaves above sustained notes. Hushed spoken syllables pass back and forth between voices. Any one part of this music taken by itself is meaningless – together, our six voices form an exquisite construction. Plus, Tim Keeler gets to beat-box.

I hope you have a chance to come to our concert, either in Syracuse or in New York at the DiMenna Center. Sure, we’re singing Taylor Brooks’ Motorman Sextet, a microtonal magnum opus of dizzying virtuosity; we’re blasting Andrew Waggoner’s stacked and jacked That Human Dream; we’re crooning our own Jeff Gavett’s eerie, interlocking Peccavi fateor; this music will astound and amaze. But Erin Gee’s music will make you consider the beauty of softness, the meaning in an unvoiced bilabial plosive, the very nature of sound. Perhaps, like me, your own assumptions will be challenged. And in the world we live in at this moment at this time, all I can hope for is that my first impressions will be proven wrong.


21
Jan 17

Music Mondays: Last Words

Ekmeles reprises David Lang’s 2008 Pulitzer Prize-winning the little match girl passion, this time as part of a passion-themed concert also featuring works by Wolfgang Rihm and Schütz, with the Attacca Quartet performing Haydn.

  • David Lang – the little match girl passion (2008)
  • Wolfgang Rihm – Sieben Passions-Texte (2001-2006)
  • Heinrich Schütz – The Seven Last Words of Christ and St. Matthew Passion, excerpts (1645, 1666)
  • Joseph Haydn – The Seven Last Words of Christ, string quartet version (1783/1787)

Ekmeles personnel for concert


10
Jan 17

American Works

Taylor Brook – Motorman Sextet score excerpt

Ekmeles performs 21st century American works, including a premiere by Andrew Waggoner, a work by director Jeffrey Gavett, Taylor Brook’s epic microtonal work, and portions of an opera by Erin Gee.

  • Taylor Brook – Motorman Sextet (2013)
  • Jeffrey Gavett – Peccavi fateor (2015)
  • Erin Gee – Three scenes from SLEEP (2008)
  • Andrew Waggoner – That Human Dream… (2014/2016) World Premiere revision

Ekmeles personnel for concert


18
Dec 16

little match girl passion at the MET Breuer

The little match girlEkmeles reprises David Lang’s 2008 Pulitzer Prize-winning the little match girl passion, this time memorized, and staged by Rachel Chavkin, for a performance at the MET Breuer.
  • David Lang – the little match girl passion (2008)

Ekmeles personnel for concert


5
Dec 16

Music of the North on Music Mondays with JACK Quartet

Ekmeles performs a trio and duo by Karin Rehnqvist and Kaija Saariaho, as well as solo performances of songs with piano accompaniment by Anna Thorvaldsdottir and Jean Sibelius, all interspersed with performances by JACK Quartet of music by John Luther Adams and Marc Sabat, under the theme Music of the North.

Ekmeles repertoire for concert

  • Karin Rehnqvist – Davids Nimm (1983)
  • Kaija Saariaho – From the Grammar of Dreams (1988)
  • Jean Sibelius – Selected songs
  • Anna Thorvaldsdottir – Hvolf (2009)

Ekmeles personnel for concert


1
Oct 16

Composer Portrait: Zosha Di Castri

The Animal After Whom Other Animals Are NamedEkmeles performs both solo, and with piano percussion quartet Yarn/Wire as part of Zosha Di Castri’s Composer Portrait at Miller Theatre.

  • Zosha Di Castri – The Animal After Whom Other Animals Are Named (2013)
  • Zosha Di Castri – Near Mute Force (2016)

Ekmeles personnel for concert


1
Sep 16

Ekmeles at Gettysburg College

3 Angels

Ekmeles travels to Gettysburg College for a residency, culminating in a concert performance featuring contemporary favorites for one to four voices.

  • John Cage – Four Solos for Voice (1988)
  • Kaija Saariaho – From the Grammar of Dreams (1988)
  • Milton Babbitt – Three Cultivated Choruses (1987)
  • Giacinto Scelsi – Le Grand Sanctuaire (1970)
  • Ben Johnston – Rose (1971)
  • Liza Lim – 3 Angels (2011)
  • James Tenney – Hey When I Sing These 4 Songs Hey Look What Happens (1971)
  • Vykintas Baltakas – Instruktionen zur Durchführung… (2007) U.S. Premiere

Ekmeles personnel for concert


10
Aug 16

Ekmeles sings David Lang and J.S. Bach

The little match girlEkmeles travels to the Skaneateles Festival, to perform David Lang’s 2008 Pulitzer Prize-winning the little match girl passion, and is joined by orchestral collective The Knights to perform J.S. Bach’s Cantata 40, Darzu ist erschienen der Sohn Gottes. Several instrumental selections by Lang and Bach will be performed, including Brandenburg Concert No. 3, and Lang’s Light Moving.

 

  • David Lang – the little match girl passion (2008)
  • J.S. Bach – Darzu ist erschienen der Sohn Gottes BWV 40 (1723)

Ekmeles personnel for concert


27
Mar 16

Ekmeles and Instruments perform U.S. premieres

Ekmeles is joined by the Mivos Quartet, augmented by two extra players to form a sextet, as well as bass clarinetist Carlos Cordeiro, to perform the U.S. premieres of works by Stefano Gervasoni and Bernhard Lang.

 

  • Stefano Gervasoni – Dir – In Dir (2003-2004, 2011) U.S. Premiere
  • Bernhard Lang – Hermetica V – Fremde Sprachen (2011-2012) U.S. Premiere

Ekmeles personnel for concert

Ekmeles performs U.S. premieres with instruments is made possible in part with public funds from Creative Engagement, supported by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and administered by Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.DCA_color_logo_300dpi


27
Mar 16

Ekmeles and Yarn/Wire perform Columbia Composers

Ekmeles joins powerhouse piano percussion quartet Yarn/Wire to perform new works by Columbia Composers at DiMenna Center.

  • Martin Hiendl – Testomania (2016)
  • Shih-Wei Lo – On the Fringe (2016)
  • Ashkan Behzadi – Till Still Again (2016)
  • William Dougherty – Eidos (2016)
  • Matthew Ricketts – Fälscherlieder (2016)

Ekmeles personnel for concert