A feast of The New " for ears and eyes: Wet Ink 2009
Special to The Union
Nevada County Composers Cooperative’s 10th Annual Wet Ink concert offers music lovers more than its usual intriguing mix of The New.
Once again the concert premieres works by local composers, ground-breaking and ear-opening. But there’s more: Four string quartets get star treatment from the acclaimed San Francisco-based Del Sol String Quartet on its first visit to Nevada County.
Del Sol, “the new Kronos, with ferocious virtuosity and major league chops” according to the San Francisco Chronicle, specializes in music by living composers, exploring the boundaries of the new.
Founded in 1992, Del Sol, its members classically trained, quickly found their niche. “There are so many more composers writing today than there are performers playing their works,” says quartet cellist Hannah Addario-Berry. “We give their voices a chance to be heard, and may inspire others to play their music”.
In preparing a new work, often with little rehearsal time and the notes still wet on the page, the quartet look for the “hook” to capture an audience: rhythm perhaps, dynamic variation, balance.
“We can’t necessarily be looking for classical melody, harmony, and structure”, says Addario-Berry.
But the pieces Del Sol will play do offer classical elements as well as improvisation. Jay Sydeman’s String Quartet #1 pays homage to 20th century masters Stravinsky, Bartok and Berg. Jerry Grant’s “Polarities on Four Strings” focuses on opposites and the energy they engender. Mark Vance’s “Between Midnight and Dawn” explores the possibilities of night – creativity, searching, slumber, courtship. Randy McKean’s “Passages” is a netherworld dreamlike experience of wandering, but never quite arriving.
Other works on the program show the richness of today’s music: a birthday tribute played by pianist Anne Rainwater to 100 year-old American composer Elliot Carter, “90+”, written for the birthday of his friend Italian composer Petrassi; a premiere by Wet Ink regular Howard Hersh, “Dancing at the Pink House”, performed by clarinetist, Mara Plotkin, and pianist, Anne Rainwater; Vance’s Duo for Percussion, played by Peter Newsom and Greg Schutle. And no program would be complete without a multi-media work by the irrepressible Mikail Graham/Menlo Mcfarlane duo.
It’s a program rich in visual imagery, and to complement it the concert is preceded by an Art Show, curated by Julie Baker of Julie Baker Fine Art, of paintings by local artist Jenny Wunderly, and sculptures by the team of Elisabett Gudmann and Kirk Slaughter.
Though NCCC’s slogan is “Emerging New Music”, the program is much more, with imaginative performances by leading new music proponents and emerging new art as well. A feast of The New – for ears and eyes.
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