New music from the Nevada County Composers Cooperative |

New music from the Nevada County Composers Cooperative

Mark Vance will be playing inbetween performances with his work "Encantar" during the Command Performance Concert at 2 p.m. Sunday at he Besemer Concert Hall.
Submitted photo to Prospector

Music lovers know that one of the most dynamic and surprising elements of Nevada County’s celebrated music scene is the opportunity to hear brand new contemporary music — normally associated with sophisticated, world-class cities — in the beautiful, accessible, and affordable environs of the Sierra Foothills.

Premiere performances of music by renowned composers of the modern era have occurred regularly in Western Nevada County for the past 21 years, courtesy of the Nevada County Composers Cooperative.

This coming Sunday at 2 p.m. in the Besemer Concert Hall, the Cooperative is presenting their Command Performance Concert, a retrospective mélange of new music starting with pieces by founding member Jay Sydeman and ending with a piece by the newest composer to join the organization, Alexis Alrich, according to a release.

Works from Sydeman include “Violin Sonata No. 1” and “Chaconne,” while Alrich’s piece, “Trio Retro,” will close the concert.

In between will be works from area favorites including Mark Vance (“Encantar”), Durwynne Hsieh (“Violin Sonata”). Adding an extra dash of international flavor and fun will be a performance of New Zealand contemporary composer John Psathas’ “One Study One Summary” for marimba, junk percussion, and digital audio.

Sydeman refers to his 1955 “Violin Sonata No 1” as “a good jumping off place. Movement 1 is somewhat muscular, while the second movement is spooky with the hint of a belly dance creeping in.”

About the “Chaconne,” he said, “The chaconne is a very familiar form to everybody, whether you know it or not, because every piece of popular music ever written is a chaconne. The issue for the composer is to make a line on top that is interesting and fluid enough that you might not even know that was a chaconne.”

Hsieh’s 1997 Violin Sonata tells a story “but we’re not exactly sure what that story is.”

A four note motif announces the beginning of the piece and forms the basis for much of the first movement.

The second movement is a love song, and the final movement depicts a noisy and active street scene, with barking dogs, fighting cats, and general mayhem. Will there be a happy ending?

Mark Vance’s contribution is a trio written for his friends, Kirsti Powell (flute), Dave Riddles (bassoon) and Lynn Schugren (piano). The title, “Encantar,” is Spanish for enchant, and the work features six increasingly intense thematic movements related to that concept: curious, fascinated, tantalizing, infatuated, more curious and obsessed.

Vance notes, “Considering how easy it is to become intrigued with an idea/thing/person and quickly become consumed by it/them, this trio explores the extent of the meaning of encantar.”

“One Study One Summary” for solo percussion and digital audio premiered in London in 2005. A short piece in two movements, it exhibits multiple contrasting rhythmic textures alternating between “busy and reflective.”

Mike Downing will be performing this work that is sure to perk up an audience.

The concert closes with a piece by Alexis Alrich, the Cooperative’s newest member. An accomplished composer whose work is respected and played around the world she now resides in Nevada County.

She notes, “The title ‘Retro’ comes from the old-style compositional methods and references I used in this piece. It is in three movements like many classical trios and Haydn was a model. However, other sounds peep through, such as ragtime, Asian music and others.”

“The third movement is in Rondo form — the first idea returns several times with other sections sandwiched between. It is fast and dance-like. The contrasting idea is more lyrical, with a slightly Asian-sounding melody over bell-like accompaniment. There is a hidden quote near the end in the piano part from the theme song of the 60’s TV show, the Addams Family.” (Hint: ‘Their house is a museum, when people come to see ‘em.’)

Only a small number of tickets are available for this beautiful and intimate venue. As with all Nevada County Composers Cooperative concerts, attendees can enjoy a complimentary glass of wine and hors d’oeuvres included for the price of their ticket.

For tickets or more information, contact the Nevada County Composers Cooperative at 530-478-0983 or visit

Source: Nevada County Composers Cooperative

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