Weekend Music Picks: On The New-Music Soapbox
By Alexander Hough in Arts & Entertainment on Apr 22, 2010 6:40PM
Photo of composer Tomi Räisänen from MAVerick's website
But all classical music was at one time new, and those classics traveled a long road before becoming established pieces. Listening to contemporary music is like attending the road's groundbreaking ceremony. Hearing a concert of unknown, adventurous music is exciting. Not only do you not know if you're listening to the next classic, you, by your reaction, also get to play a role in the historical path the music takes. Contemporary music hasn't been filtered by history yet; the audience - you - is that filter's first layer.
Contemporary music has its risks. Without a familiarity with what you're getting into, this often dense music becomes even denser. Like modern visual art, it's sometimes an intellectual exercise, and unlike visual art, you have contend with dissonance - sound waves that your ear literally finds uncomfortable. And that's to say nothing of buttholes like Arnold Schoenberg, who, way back at the beginning of the 1900s, specifically said that new music should not be accessible.
Palomar will play music by Kaija Saariaho (Photo from Saariaho's website)
Two of our local new-music groups, the MAVerick Ensemble and Accessible Contemporary Music's Palomar, will perform music by living composers this Sunday. MAVerick will play "Vox Balanae (Voice of the Whale)" by George Crumb, who, at age 80, is the oldest of the bunch; "Vox" is a classic piece of modern music. All but one of the other composers featured were born post-WWII, and most of those folks were born in the 1970s. Each concert is at a relaxed, informal location, costs very little, and comes highly recommended. Check it out and see what you think. Keep in mind, police broke up a riot at a Schoenberg concert in 1913; now orchestras perform his music regularly.
Cappricci #4 and #5 - Salvatore Sciarrino
"Intone" - Seth Boustead
"Petroushka Dreams" - John G. Bilotta
"Omaggio a Burri" - Salvatore Sciarinno
"Forged" - Tomi Räisänen
"Vox Balaenae" - George Crumb
Sunday at 2:00 p.m., Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art, 2320 W. Chicago, $15 suggested donation
Accessible Contemporary Music's Palomar
"Dialogues" for Horn and Cello - Alexandra Pierce
"Mulatash Stomp" - Derek Bermel
"Yellows" - Kaija Saariaho
"Super Soft" - Stefan Weisman
"Breakdown Tango" - John Mackey
Sunday at 2:00 p.m., Green Mill, 4802 N. Broadway, $6