‘Wet Ink’ to feature mix of contemporary music | TheUnion.com

‘Wet Ink’ to feature mix of contemporary music

Along with traditional arts, cutting edge art is vital to the cultural fabric of Nevada County. That’s what you will get at the upcoming contemporary music concert titled “Wet Ink” on June 27 at the Amaral Center at the fairgrounds in Grass Valley at 8 p.m.

It seems, however, that there is quite a history behind this annual presentation. The idea of presenting premiere performances of contemporary music in the area began about 16 years ago and was spearheaded by composer Howard Hersh. It was a festival that lasted several days and featured the music of Howard Hersh, Terry Riley and Jay Sydeman, ranging from avant garde to minimalism in style. This Composer’s Coalition has continued to grow in stature, and six years ago its name was changed to the Nevada County Composers Cooperative.

Now headed by composer Mark Vance, NCCC 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 of Jerry Grant and from the elegant traditional to avant garde to postmodern to electro-acoustic to minimalism, Mark Vance, Jay Sydeman, Howard Hersh, David Dvorin and Terry Riley bring a rich fabric of contemporary musical styles to Grass Valley and Nevada City.

Each year a guest composer is invited to add to the already diverse program; the 2005 concert included the work of CSU Chico composer David Colson. This year features the addition of guest composer Craig Palmer, who has an extensive background as a composer for television commercials.

In the last four years, this NCCC concert has become affiliated with the Music in the Mountains Summer Fest, adding yet another dimension to the festival’s rich presentation of classical, romantic and 20th-century orchestral and chamber music. Featured at this year’s new music concert are piano trios by Mark Vance, Jay Sydeman and Craig Palmer, in addition to a song cycle for soprano and piano by Howard Hersh and a song cycle for soprano, cello and piano by Jerry Grant. Rounding out the program is a multimedia work by Mikail Graham for guitar, sound design and narration with images.

Even more so than in past years, some of the wonderful musicians from the Festival Orchestra will be featured soloists at this year’s concert; there will also be performances from the tremendously talented musicians living in the area. This concert features the superb local pianist, Ken Hardin, and soprano Janis Martin, who has performed with the Berlin Opera for many years and now lives in Grass Valley. Mikail Graham is performing on guitar with talented local artist Menlo McFarland, who wrote text for the work and will also be the narrator, with images from the recent Katrina disaster. Additional featured musicians are a piano trio and a soprano from the University of Southern California. It’s clear to see that there are wonderful choices of music and art that cater to a tremendous variety of tastes here in Nevada County. This upcoming concert is one of those highlights.

Tickets are $20 for adults and $5 for youth and are available at Music in the Mountains, 265-6124 or http://www.musicinthemountains.org. Additional information with biographies can be seen at the NCCC Web site, http://www.nccomposerscooperative.org.

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