Oct 18

Madrigals and Animals

This program celebrates the history and future of unaccompanied part song, and the interaction between human and animal voices. At the center of the program is the U.S. premiere of Salvatore Sciarrino’s epic 12 Madrigali

  • Karola Obermüller – mass:distance:time (2010/16)
  • Claus-Steffen Mahnkopf – void – un delitto italiano (2009)
  • Salvatore Sciarrino – 12 Madrigali (2006) U.S. Premiere
  • Carola Bauckholt – Instinkt (2007/8) U.S. Premiere

Ekmeles personnel for concert

Ekmeles’s 2018-2019 season is made possible with funds from the Amphion Foundation, The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, and the generosity of private donors.

Ekmeles in Manhattan Spring 2019 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.

Feb 16

An Evening of Luigi Nono

Ekmeles performs a program of works relating to Luigi Nono, featuring music by Italian composers as well as Nono’s aesthetic forebears in the Franco-Flemish school. The concert will feature works for up to eight voices, showcasing the virtuosity of the Ekmeles vocalists in a range from the highest soprano to basso profundo.

Nono’s own Sarà Dolce Tacere will be set in relief by a wide  range of styles. Giacinto Scelsi’s Tre Canti Sacri represents Italian music before Nono, while Salvatore Sciarrino’s 3 canti senza pietre is a striking example of the contemporary Italian scene. Medieval works by Josquin and Ockeghem, aesthetic forebears of the kind of compositional rigor characterizing Nono, will round out the program.

Following Ekmeles’s set, violinist Miranda Cuckson and sound artist Christopher Burns will perform Nono’s La lontananza nostalgica utopica futura, or “The nostalgic, utopian, future far-distance. Madrigal for a ‘wanderer” with Gidon Kremer, solo violin, 8 magnetic tapes and 8 to 10 music stands.” While the electronics are molded in real time, the violinist adds her singing voice to the polyphonic texture, as suggested in the composer’s markings. This duo’s recording, of the same title, was declared Best Recording of 2012 by the New York Times.

  • Salvatore Sciarrino – 3 canti senza pietre (1999)
  • Josquin des Prez – Mille Regretz (15th c.)
  • Josquin des Prez – Nymphes des Bois (15th c.)
  • Luigi Nono – Sarà dolce tacere (1960)
  • Johannes Ockeghem – Missa “Fors seulement” – Kyrie and Gloria (15th c.)
  • Giacinto Scelsi – Tre canti sacri (1958)

Ekmeles personnel for concert

Jan 16

Music on the Edge

The program is built around a range of modern interpretations and possibilities for the idea of the madrigal. In his In Dir, Stefano Gervasoni sets the tightly-constructed koan-like texts of medieval German mystic Angelus Silesius. Gervasoni uses the enigmatic texts as inspirations for a distinctive kind of text-painting that informs the structure of each movement. Salvatore Sciarrino’s L’alibi della parola leverages the composer’s unique language of skitters and sighs to create a space of wonder – of special interest is the pulsing of the second movement’s quasar. My Peccavi fateor is based on a few lines of music from an eponymous work by Michael Praetorius, and explores every possible combination of the six voices of our ensemble. Peter Ablinger’s Studien nach der Natur is a collection of ten canons, each of which is a clever imitation of the sounds of everyday life. Finally, Elliott Carter’s Mad Regales brings the composer’s vital rhythmic impetus to bear on a set of witty and strange texts by John Ashbery.

  • Stefano Gervasoni – In Dir (2003-2004)
  • Salvatore Sciarrino – L’alibi della parola
  • Jeffrey Gavett – Peccavi fateor (2015) (US Premiere)
  • Peter Ablinger – Studien nach der Natur (1997, 2002)
  • Elliott Carter – Mad Regales (2007)

Ekmeles personnel for concert

Oct 14

The Men of Ekmeles

Ekmeles performs music for four to six men’s voices, ranging from countertenor down to bass.

  • György Ligeti – Nonsense Madrigals (1988-1993)
  • Iannis Xenakis – À Hélène (1977)
  • Salvatore Sciarrino – Responsorio delle tenebre (2001)
  • Salvatore Sciarrino – L’alibi della parola (1994)
  • Solage – Fumeux fume par fumée (late 14th c.)

Personnel for concert

Supported by New Music USA’s Cary Fund For New Music Performance Fund and the Amphion Foundation.

Jan 14

Miller Theatre Pop-Up Concert

Ekmeles sings works for 1-6 voices on the Miller Theatre stage, including the New York Premiere of a work by Sciarrino. Doors at 5:30, show at 6, enjoy a free beer while sitting onstage with the ensemble!

  • Peter Ablinger – Studien nach der Natur (1995, 2002)
  • Kaija Saariaho – From the Grammar of Dreams (1988)
  • Salvatore Sciarrino – L’alibi della Parola (1994) New York Premiere
  • Evan Johnson – a general interrupter to ongoing activity (2011)
  • Thanasis Deligiannis – Ignored Manuals (2013)

Personnel for concert

Mar 11

Boring or meditative?

In the past few weeks I’ve attended several concerts with pieces of relatively extreme duration, and it got me thinking – is there a line between something being boring and meditative, or is it all perspective? I’m reminded of a story by Cage about playing a record of a Buddhist service for Henry Cowell’s Oriental music class, which had very different reactions to the same material. After 15 minutes of the same loud percussive sound with no perceptible variation, one woman screamed “Take it off, I can’t bear it any longer!”. He did so, and another man in the class said “Why’d you take it off? I was just getting interested.”

I sympathize with both of the characters in this story, though I suppose they function as rhetorical foils. In something either repetitive or very sparse that goes on for more than a half hour, I usually find my mind beginning to race around, thinking of what I could be doing rather than continuing to hear the same thing over and over. But if it’s a good piece, I’m usually converted to the second man’s camp by something. Maybe it’s a point of structural articulation that illuminates a proportion in the form that wasn’t perceptible until a large section was defined by a slight change.

Can something in fact be both boring and meditative? Those of you who compose and perform extremely long, repetitive, or sparse music – do you consider the boredom of your audience a desirable effect, or at least a part of the experience? Even at the recent performance of Feldman’s For Samuel Beckett – which I found incredibly beautiful – moments of frustration set in, full of awareness of my thoughts and surroundings, rather than the music. Sciarrino has said that he is seeking “The tension and the thoughts of the person who listens, made perceptible by the person who plays.” I think this is an apt description of the self-awareness we experience during extended-duration works.

Maybe we have to accept this boredom, these frustrations, as a part of the experience of listening to music. The experience of one’s self is often uncomfortable, and just as often illuminating. I’ve done some great composing in my mind during concert performances that started to bore me.