Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble letting music speak for itself
Sometimes the music is more than enough, even for Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble. The group's third program of the season is an exception to its general programming practice, except for the presence of a world premiere.
“There's no theatrical concept. No arching theme. Just nice, complementary pieces,” artistic director Kevin Noe says.
Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble will perform concerts July 25 and 26 at City Theatre, South Side. The program is “First Lines” by Amy Williams, “I will learn to love a person” by Christopher Cerrone, and the world premiere of “Album for Guitar” by Ryan Francis.
“Album for Guitar” will be the fourth piece by Francis that Noe has programmed. The ensemble presented “Consolations” in 2005, Etudes in 2008, and “Wind Up Bird Preludes” in 2011.
“He's wicked-smart. This looks like nothing else by Ryan Francis, without him being a new-complexity guy,” Noe says. “He's so intellectual he can ratchet it down to emotions. There's almost nothing to play in this music. I look at the score, and I see footballs,” the term musicians use for whole notes, one note per measure.
“The guitar plays little gestures, troubadour refrains. In some way, this is a piece of cake, technically. That's the part I'm most excited about. It looks outside his thing.”
“Album for Guitar” was commissioned by the Augustine Foundation in New York City, and includes the cost of bringing in guitar soloist Mattias Jacobsson, for whom the piece was written.
The concert will open with Williams' “First Lines” for flute and piano, with flutist Lindsey Goodman. It is a set of 11 miniatures, each one using the first line of poems by 11 women.
Noe programmed it without knowing that the ensemble's new executive director Pamela Murchison is completing his doctoral dissertation on Willliams' 2006 composition.
“Each movement uses a compositional method to bring each poem to life by exploring different tone colors and different methods of playing both flute and piano,” says Murchison, who is a flutist. “They are the sort of techniques “where the pianist plucks the strings and the flutist sings and plays at the same time.”
She notes that Williams, an assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh whose main instrument is piano, studied flute with extended-technique master Robert Dick.
“She's exceptionally good at the different ways you can use the instrument to make different sounds,” Murchison says. “It makes a lot of sense.”
The concert includes Cerrone's “I will learn to love a person.” The song's text by New York City based-poet Tao Lin is like nothing Noe's seen before.
With no discernible emotion and no discernible lack of emotion, Noe says the poetry “flows like as open a canvas as I've ever heard.”
Mark Kanny is classical music critic for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7877 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
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.