Archive for January, 2014

Alarm Will Sound to perform free concert on Friday, February 7 at Missouri Theatre

Alarm Will Sound, the acclaimed chamber orchestra dedicated to contemporary classical music, is returning to Columbia to perform a concert at 7:30 p.m., Friday, February 7 at the Missouri Theatre.

The group (pictured) has served since 2010 as the resident ensemble for the Mizzou International Composers Festival, which takes place each year in July, but this will be their first performance here during the regular academic year. The February 7 concert is presented by the Mizzou New Music Initiative and the University of Missouri School of Music, and is free and open to the public.

The concert will feature seven works written or arranged specifically for Alarm Will Sound, including five that will be part of their next album. According to managing director Gavin Chuck, it’s a program that shows off the group’s established ability to translate music between idioms while also exploring human performance of sounds originally made by technology.

Two of the pieces they’ll play – Matt Marks’ arrangement of the Beatles’ “Revolution 9,” heard previously as part of the multi-media show 1969; and Evan Hause’s arrangement of Edgard Varèse’s “Poème électronique” – use traditional acoustic instruments to realize music originally created using tape machines and electronic manipulation.

A different form of interaction between man and machine is explored in Alarm Will Sound’s renditions of music by Conlon Nancarrow, whose works for player piano are essentially impossible for any human pianist to perform. The February 7 concert at the Missouri Theatre will include Nancarrow’s “Study 2A,” arranged by Gavin Chuck, and “Study 3A,” arranged by Derek Bermel, which were recorded for the group’s 2008 album a/rhythmia.

The three other works on the program destined for Alarm Will Sound’s next CD are “Big Spinoff,” from the esteemed American composer Charles Wuorinen; “Will Sound,” from Wolfgang Rihm, one of Germany’s most prolific contemporary composers; and “Zoetrope,” written by the young British composer Charlie Piper for the 2012 Mizzou International Composers Festival.

St. Louis Symphony performs Stephanie Berg’s “Ravish and Mayhem”

Mizzou alumna Stephanie Berg‘s composition “Ravish and Mayhem” was performed by the St. Louis Symphony on January 10 and 11 at Powell Hall in St. Louis to standing ovations from the audiences and rave reviews from local critics.

Writing for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, classical music critic Sarah Bryan Miller found “Ravish and Mayhem” to be “a really delightful work…It’s a fun, creative piece, and (guest conductor Andrey) Boreyko and the orchestra rendered it with accuracy and elan.” Miller also called Berg “a promising new compositional voice,” concluding, “We can trust that this won’t be the last we hear from Berg.”

Meanwhile, in his review on the website of KDHX (88.7 FM), critic Chuck Lavazzi noted that the performance “drew enthusiastic ovations for both the orchestra and—when Mr. Boreyko persuaded her to appear on stage—Ms. Berg as well.”

“This unabashedly cinematic and vivid piece was a delight from the opening Coplandesque fanfares and melismatic woodwind figures to the brass glissandi near the end that conjured up images of trumpeting elephants,” said Lavazzi.

Berg (pictured), who earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Mizzou and won the 2009 Sinquefield Composition Prize, wrote “Ravish and Mayhem” to be performed by Alarm Will Sound at the 2012 Mizzou International Composers Festival. It’s the first work created under the auspices of the Mizzou New Music Initiative to be performed by a major symphony orchestra.

(It’s also one of two pieces the St. Louis Symphony played this season from composers involved with the 2012 MICF; in September, they performed “Rapture” by Patrick Harlin of the University of Michigan, who also was a resident composer for the festival that year.)

The reviews culminated a week of media attention for Berg, in which she was interviewed on Radio Arts Foundation-St. Louis’ “Friday With the Arts” and St. Louis Public Radio/KWMU’s “Cityscape”; appeared on KSDK’s “Show Me St. Louis” and the mid-day news broadcasts on KTVI and KPLR; and was the subject of articles in St. Louis magazine, Alive magazine and the weekly South County Times and Webster-Kirkwood Times newspapers.

Berg also was interviewed during the intermission of KWMU’s broadcast of the Symphony’s concert on January 11. You can listen to that interview, and see the SLSO program notes for the entire concert, here.