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‘Festival of New Music’ highlighted at fairgrounds

The Union photo/Kris Wakefield/ Festival participants are, seated left to right, Mikail Graham, Mark Vance and Jay Sydeman; standing, Howard Hersh, Menlo Macfarlane, David Dvorin and Ludi Hinrichs.
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By Carol Feineman

Nevada City composer Mark Vance doesn’t mind being approached in area supermarkets by strangers.



In fact, he welcomes the conversations.

“It’s a wonderful feeling when in the supermarkets they stop to say something to me. It’s happening more often than it used to,” said Vance who credits the increased recognition as a result of belonging to the Nevada County Composers’ Cooperative.




The cooperative formerly called the Nevada County Composers Coalition was founded nine years ago; composers meet twice monthly to network and organize events.

After Monday’s fourth annual Festival of New Music at the Nevada County Fairgrounds, Vance should expect more spontaneous conversations from strangers as he strolls by supermarket fruit, vegetable and meat aisles.

That’s because he will be one of seven local composers highlighted Monday during the cooperative’s fourth annual Festival of New Music at the Nevada County Fairgrounds.

Five of the featured compositions Monday will be world premieres. Most of the composers have lived here for years and like their works to first be heard before their hometown friends and family and then be introduced in New York, Los Angeles, Europe and elsewhere.

“We live here, we’re part of the community, I’ve lived in Nevada County for 30 years. We’ve raised our children here, we’re a definite part of the community. Where else better to have our music premiered,? ” Vance asked.

Vance also welcomes the opportunity to have his works performed close to home because he has recently seen both an increase in the number of musicians here who can perform the works and more of an audience.

“For years, there weren’t enough professional musicians to play the music but the community is growing. We have at our fingertips very high quality musicians, we have a larger listener base now who are interested in serious music,” Vance said with a chuckle as he recalled sparser audiences in past years at concerts featuring new works.

The fourth annual festival works range from choral to chamber to computer-generated music.

“As members of the cooperative, we agree that we’re wonderfully diverse, from improv and jazz, to very traditional chamber works for violin and piano,” said Vance, who on behalf of the other composers, said their mission is to promote new music.

Hoping to clarify perceptions from anyone not familiar with the composers’ works, Vance explained that new music does not mean new age works.

“New music simply means works that are being written today, today’s music which is performed,” Vance said.

KNOW & GO

WHAT: Fourth annual Festival of New Music presented by Nevada County Composers Cooperative in conjunction with Music in the Mountains’ Summer Festival of Classics

WHEN: Monday. Preconcert talk at 7 p.m. Concert at 8 p.m.

WHERE: Amaral Family Festival Center, Nevada County Fairgrounds, 11228 McCourtney Road, Grass Valley

ADMISSION: $18 in advance and $22 at the door. $5 for anyone under age 18

INFORMATION: 265-6173 or 478-0983

By Carol Feineman

W. Jay Sydeman, composition department chairman at Mannes College of Music in New York City; was a major figure in the East Coast 1960s avant-garde scene. Sydeman is one of the country’s most published composers with a catalog of virtually every performing media: voice, chamber music, orchestra and opera.

In 1988, he moved to Nevada City and formed Twin Cities Chamber Players and the Auburn Youth Symphony. Sydeman was one of three founders of the Nevada County Composers Cooperative.

On Monday, he’ll add another premiere to his resume with “Relationships – 2003,” a work in piano and violin composed this past February. His “Overturino,” also written recently, will feature Dmitriy Cogan on piano and Matthew Darling on snare.

David Dvorin received a B.A. in Music Composition from the University of California at Los Angeles, and a M.F.A. in Music Composition from the California Institute of the Arts. While attending both schools, he worked as a film, CD-ROM and television composer – and while still an undergraduate was nominated for an Emmy Award in the Outstanding Achievement in a Craft: Music Composition category.

Dvorin’s works are featured at new music venues, technology conferences and festivals including the Northern California Experimental Music Festival, Carmel Performing Arts Festival and Big Sur Experimental Music Festival.

Last year, Dvorin worked with composer Terry Riley and Kronos Quartet on the NASA-commissioned piece, “Sun Rings.” The concert-length work is booked through next year in major cities throughout the United States and Europe.

Dvorin presents computer music workshops, directs the education department at Emagic, Inc. (developer of professional music soft and hardware) and teaches at Sierra College. On Monday, Dvorin will premiere Duets for Vibraphone, Computer and Bowed Psaltery which will be performed by Darling and Dvorin.

Mark Vance, specializing in choral and instrumental works, has been an advocate in the local arts community via composing, arranging, teaching and conducting. Numerous commissions and performances have been in conjunction with Music in the Mountains, Twin Cities Concert Association and Nevada Union High School choirs.

Vance’s “Downshift” will be presented Monday by 32 Nevada Union High School Chamber Choir members led by conductor Rod Baggett. Written three years ago, “Downshift” takes the listener from the auto showroom, through the test drive, to the infatuation and resulting psychoanalysis.

The composer will premiere his “Glory Train,” an a cappella work in the American spiritual style with Nevada Union High School’s “Europe Choir” and Music in the Mountains Festival Chorus, led by Music in the Mountains’ choir conductor Ken Hardin. His “The New Life,” commissioned by Twin Cities Concert Association which debuted in Grass Valley last November, will feature Bill Barbini on violin and Aileen James and Ken Hardin on four-hands piano.

Nevada County Composers Cooperative cofounder Howard Hersh has composed, written about music, directed music programming at KPFA and led ensembles, including the San Francisco Conservatory’s New Music Ensemble and Sacramento’s Music Now for 35 years.

Hersh, one of nine composers selected last year for residencies across the country in the American Symphony Orchestra League’s “Music Alive – Composers and Orchestras Together” program, chose Music in the Mountains to complete his residency. His “Run,” a solo work for five-octave marimba commissioned in 2002 through the Bay Area Chapter of the American Composers Forum, will be featured Monday.

Terry Riley selected by the London Times as one of the 1,000 ‘makers of the 20th century’ is regarded as the father of the minimalist movement with his “IN C” from 1964, which set the stage for the New Age movement. He is also recognized for bringing Eastern Indian music to Western audiences beginning in the ’70s.

Riley, the third of the three cooperative founders, spends half the year working in his Camptonville home studio and the other half touring. He writes for film, chamber, orchestral, jazz, rock and world music ensembles. In the last 23 years, Riley has produced 15 major works for the Kronos Quartet.

Riley’s “Salome Dances for Peace” (1989) was selected as the No. 1 classical album of the year by USA Today and nominated for a Grammy. His “Cadenza on the Night Plain” (1985) was chosen by Time and Newsweek as one of the 10 best classical albums of the year. The song “Baba O’Riley” on the “Who’s Next” CD honors Riley and the late Indian mystic Meher Baba.

A new version of Riley’s “A Rainbow in Curved Air” from 1968 using a Vox Continental Combo Organ, Baldwin electronic Harpsichord and Rocksichord (an early electronic keyboard), dubec and tambourine will be performed Monday.

The updated “A Rainbow in Curved Air” featuring modern technology, original sections and new sections switches from Western scales to scales Riley recently created with Eastern music influences.

This time, Riley will play a Korg Studio Triton 88 and Mikail Graham will play keyboards and percussion, and mix components from both versions.

Graham can’t relax though after Riley’s composition is over; Graham’s multimedia piece, “Falling From a Comet Into The Sea,” will debut. Music and sound design is by Graham and choreography, set design and costumes are by Menlo Macfarlane. Last year, Graham and Macfarlane formed the company, “Two Minds Working,” and Monday’s piece is their second public collaboration.

A third-generation Nevada City native, Graham has composed more than 40 original scores for theater and independent film projects, and is an album producer and mixing engineer. He produced and mixed folk troubadour Utah Phillips’ 1997 album “Loafer’s Glory,” nominated for a NAIRD award.

Macfarlane is a performance and visual artist who has choreographed, taught and danced with numerous companies and individuals in the United States, Canada and Europe, including Merce Cunningham Dance Company, John Cage, Martha Graham, Yerek Bogayevis and the Polish Theatre Lab, New York Open Theatre, Dance Theatre of Harlem and Theatre Absolute.

Named after Ludwig van Beethoven, Ludi Hinrichs started playing trombone professionally when he was 16. Classically trained on trombone and piano, Hinrichs is also at home on vocals and the didjeridoo.

Hinrichs will premiere “Piece Of Peace,” a multi-instrumental suite in seven sections for solo piano, voice, trombone and didjeridoo. The sections are “In the Garden,” ” Kiss the Land, ” Blues for Ur / Two Faced Blues,” “Denial Virus/One World channel,” “The Eagle, Fox, Skunk and Child Speak,” “Epidaurus Therapeutic” and “Own Your Mind.”


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