ShareThis Page

Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble kicks off 41st season with 'Off Leash,' 'Earthly Verses'

| Wednesday, July 6, 2016, 9:00 p.m.
Kevin Noe conducting the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble.
Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble
Kevin Noe conducting the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble.

Concerts by the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble stand out by design.

The group's leader Kevin Noe combines the pieces on a program the way a composer might combine the separate movements of a work, with a keen eye to the emotional and symbolic flow of the evening. His creation of a “Theatre of Music” approach is designed to enhance the impact of the music he presents.

“I, personally, don't have any interest in new music, per se,” Noe says. “What I believe in is transformative experiences for the audience in whatever medium and in whatever way you can get that to happen.”

Noe will conduct the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble's first concerts of its 41st season on July 8 and 9 at City Theater, South Side.

The season is dedicated to the memory of the group's founder, composer and conductor David Stock, who died in November. Stock's music will be performed on each of the four weekly programs.

The first concert will open characteristically with a world premiere, Russell Pinkston's “Off Leash,” which the new music ensemble commissioned. The composer was inspired, in part, by poet Mary Oliver's book “Dog Songs,” but he was attracted to it because he's a dog person, with all the emotional bonds that implies.

Composer Shahrokh Yadegari “Earthly Verses” combines violin and piano with “a very, very Persian-inspired soundscape,” Noe says. “It involves some written composition and a fair amount of improvisation, as well as the use of his personally invented electronic instrument called Lila, which is a computer program that allows him to do things in real time.”

Yadegari, who is also a sound designer and electronic-music composer, will be part of a behind-the-scenes project to explore integrating an advanced recording technique to take Noe's “Theatre of Music” to another level.

The ensemble is auditioning pianists this season, starting with Oscar Micaelsson playing Stephen Bryant's “Red Line.” The piece exists in several forms, but “no one wants to play the piano version because it's too hard and too fast,” Noe says.

The week one Stock tribute will consist of three vocal works performed by his daughter, mezzo-soprano Sara Stock Mayo. One is a Hebrew blessing he wrote for her son, Ziv, which will be used as an invocation throughout this season. Another is “Little Lost Girl,” a song he wrote with his daughter.

The Stock premiere will be “Songs of Solomon,” a score found only after his death. It was written for pianist Nanette Solomon, setting texts by her poet husband, Jonathan Solomon.

“When someone says to me after a concert that it was ‘the greatest night of art in my life and that it changed the way I view all of it,' that's what keeps me going,” Noe says. “It seems clear to me that new music, when it's toned and tempered just right, has the power to do that and is unique in our time.”

Mark Kanny is the Tribune-Review classical music critic. Reach him at 412-320-7877 or mkanny@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.