Composers Cooperative part of rich cultural fabric |

Composers Cooperative part of rich cultural fabric

I moved from Los Angeles to Grass Valley two years ago partly because I felt that there was a rich cultural life perking along here in every aspect of the arts, and I have not been disappointed. It is indeed amazing to reflect on the wonderful choices of music and art that cater to a tremendous variety of tastes here in Nevada County.

Along with traditional arts, cutting-edge art is vital to the cultural fabric of Nevada County, and that’s what you will get on the upcoming contemporary music concert, “Wet Ink,” on June 28 at the Amaral Center, Nevada County Fairgrounds, Grass Valley, at 8 p.m.

There is quite a history behind this annual presentation. About 16 years ago, Jay Sydeman had the idea of presenting premiere performances of contemporary music in the area. This idea was spearheaded by composer Howard Hersh. It was a festival lasting several days and featured the music of Howard Hersh, Terry Riley and Jay Sydeman, ranging from avant garde to minimalism in style. Continuing to grow in stature, this Composer’s Coalition changed its name five years ago to the Nevada County Composers Cooperative.

Now headed by composer Mark Vance, the cooperative has a genuine board of directors and nonprofit status, and the concerts now reflect the diversity of seven composers – from the sound paintings of Mikail Graham to the eclectic blending of jazz and symphonic contemporary tonality in my musical style, from elegant traditional to avant garde, from postmodern and electro-acoustic to minimalism – Mark Vance, Jay Sydeman, Howard Hersh, David Dvorin and Terry Riley bring a rich fabric of contemporary music to the area.

Each year a guest composer is invited to add to the already diverse program. In 2004, it was the work of Bay Area composer Nancy Duessen. This year, it is local artists Janis Martin, soprano, and David Dvorin on bowed psaltery. I will be performing on saxophone, coming out from behind the podium as composer and conductor.

In the last three years, the Nevada County Composers Cooperative’s concert has become affiliated with the Music In the Mountains Summer Festival, adding yet another dimension to the festival’s rich presentation of classical, romantic and 20th-century orchestral and chamber music. Even more so than in past years, some of the wonderful musicians from the Festival Orchestra will also be featured soloists.

Many opportunities exist for everyone to participate in the rich cultural life in this area. This upcoming concert is one of those highlights.

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