Jan 21


Ekmeles returns to live-streaming with another free event creatively mixing live and pre-recorded elements, with an opening audio/visual set by Phong Tran. The performance will go live on January 16th at 8PM, and will stay online for a week following.

Excerpts from Phong Tran’s Away Message and Cassandra Miller’s Guide

Watch the concert here!

Phong Tran’s Away Message is an ambient visual mixtape about a breakup via AOL instant messenger.

  • slowdrift
  • ican’t(part1)
  • talkforasecond
  • ireallywanna
  • moodylyricposting
  • try
  • howdidyougethere
  • ifyoudon’t(part2)

Cassandra Miller’s Guide brings together two trios and a duo of mixed live and pre-recorded performers from across the country, Jessie Marino’s SOTU is a wild collage of choreography and word, Martin Iddon’s hamadryads features wine glasses and five live performances synchronized online, and finally Kayleigh Butcher and Bethany Younge’s Her Disappearance features voices filtered through PVC pipes.

  • Cassandra Miller – Guide (2013)
  • Martin Iddon – hamadryads (2010)
  • Kayleigh Butcher and Bethany Younge – Her Disappearance (2015)
  • Jessie Marino – SOTU (2019)

Personnel for concert

Ekmeles’s 2020-2021 season is made possible with funds from the Amphion Foundation, The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, The Alice M. Ditson Fund, The Fritz Reiner Center for Contemporary Music, and the generosity of private donors.

This program is made possible in part with public funds from Creative Engagement, supported by New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and administered by LMCC; and funding from the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone Development Corporation and administered by LMCC.

This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

Mar 14

MATA Festival

Ekmeles sings works by Martin Iddon and Josep Sanz on a program also featuring Talea Ensemble

  • Martin Iddon – hamadryads (2010)
  • Josep Sanz – King Lear (2008)

Personnel for concert

Oct 11

The new continuo?

Ekmeles is currently preparing a performance of several of Gesualdo’s madrigals, applying a tuning that is a combination of historical fact and conjecture – Vicentino’s 31-note division of the octave. There is a surfeit of forgotten theories of the tuning of musical instruments and performances, including many that were likely never used in performance. Nicola Vicentino (1511-1575) went a step further than many theorists, actually building and designing instruments capable of producing the scalar divisions he proposed mathematically. He devised the archiorgano, and the archicembalo, respectively an organ and a harpsichord capable of playing 31 (roughly) equal divisions of the octave, allowing free modulation through the keys in a mean-tone tuning, and application of the ancient Greek enharmonic genus. Scipione Stella, a composer at Gesualdo’s court, made a copy of the archicembalo – thus our historical conjecture.

Vicentino himself was a madrigalist, though it is recorded that his enharmonic vocal works were never performed without the harmonic support of a player at the archicembalo. This idea of needing continuo in the context of difficult intonation reminded me of the place singers of contemporary music often find ourselves – ears attached to computer synthesized tracks of our pitches. As readers of the blog will know, I am an advocate for making use of all technological tools possible in the course of learning difficult music. What I am interested in exploring is performing with these computer crutches. Of course, in some cases (like Martin Iddon‘s commission for Ekmeles, Hamadryads, or Aaron Cassidy‘s I, purples, spat blood, laugh of beautiful lips) the in-ear pitch component of the piece is a considered and integral part of the piece.

But what about when the composer hasn’t asked that a pitch track be used, and precise intonation is just too difficult, whether because of short rehearsal time, vocal considerations, or extremely small divisions of the octave? Is performing with a pitch track in our ears just cheating or is it the new continuo? Is the vitality and authenticity of a performance threatened by adherence to a mechanical version of the work which, by literally blocking the ears, supersedes the natural interaction of the performers? Thanks are due to a 16th-century Italian composer for raising these very modern questions – but more importantly, what do you think?

Jul 11

Madrigals & Metamorphoses

The Italian Academy presents Madrigals & Metamorphoses, a program dedicated to new madrigals and transformations of old works.

  • Johannes Schöllhorn – Madrigali a Dio
  • Don Carlo Gesualdo – Madrigals
  • Peter Ablinger – Studien nach der Natur
  • Martin Iddon – hamadryads
  • Carl Bettendorf – Tre madrigali decomposti di Don Carlo Gesualdo
  • Elliott Carter – Mad Regales

personnel for concert

Apr 11

Martin Iddon

I’d like to direct you to listen to some more music by Martin Iddon, the composer of an incredible piece we commissioned earlier this year, hamadryads. Below is an excerpt of his string quartet Mohl ip, as performed by the Kairos Quartett. You can find the score to both the string quartet and the ekmeles commission at this site.

Mar 11

Hartford New Music Festival

At the inaugural Hartford New Music Festival, curated by Matt Sargent and Bill Solomon, ekmeles will reprise their commission by Martin Iddon, hamadryads. The work is for 5 singers, each playing 3 wine glasses. Not to be missed!

ekmeles personnel for performance

Oct 10


This program explores resonances vocal, metallic, glass, and historical. David Lang’s Pulitzer Prize-winning the little match girl passion, inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s story and the passions of J.S. Bach, evokes a frosty landscape with sparse percussion played by the singers. Alvin Lucier’s Theme literally sets a poem by John Ashbery into resonant vessels, such as vases, into which the poem is spoken by the singers. Miniature microphones are placed inside each vessel, which then acts as a resonant filter, transforming the sounds of the voices and the poem. The concert will begin with a new work by British composer Martin Iddon, hamadryads, for 5 voices and glass harmonica. The extremely slow glissandi of the voice parts are alternately contrasted and blended with the ghostly counterpoint of wine glasses. The work is based on Josquin’s Deploration sur la mort d’Ockeghem, which was itself based on Ockeghem’s Deploration sur la mort de Binchois.

  • Martin Iddon – hamadryads world premiere
  • Alvin Lucier – Theme
  • David Lang – the little match girl passion

personnel for concert