Composers Festival spotlight: Khemia Ensemble

Khemia Ensemble will play a prominent role during their Mizzou International Composers Festival debut this year, presenting three performances featuring works by a total of 16 different composers.

Founded and led by University of Missouri School of Music faculty members Carolina Heredia and Bret Bohman, and including Mizzou assistant professor of cello Eli Lara, Khemia (pictured) is “a contemporary chamber ensemble focused on championing the works of living composers through vivid, multimedia performances.”

Members of Khemia will be featured in two afternoon “pop-up” concerts in downtown Columbia, on Thursday, July 25 outside Sparky’s Homemade Ice Cream and on Friday, July 26 near Uprise Bakery, with the entire group set to perform in a matinee concert on Saturday, July 27 at Whitmore Recital Hall in the Fine Arts Building on the Mizzou campus.

Over the course of the three performances, they’ll play music by Heredia, Bowman, and 2019 MICF resident composer inti figgis-vizueta, as well as Andy Akiho, Lembit Beecher, Bjarne Brustad, John Cage, Chris Cerrone, Daniel Fawcett, Ellen Harrison, Tom Johnson, Bruno Mantovani, Patricia Martinez, Emma O’Halloran, Tim Peterson, and Heitor Villa-Lobos.

With an original lineup of musicians featuring members from four different countries – Argentina, Brazil, China, and the United States – Khemia brings diverse approaches to the music of a variety of living composers and to their stated mission, which is to “foster collaborations among the arts by working closely with designers, visual artists, and writers as well as incorporating poetic, visual, and interactive elements in our performances.”

The ensemble’s collective interest in multimedia led to the creation several years ago of “Khemia Lights,” an installation devised in a collaboration between Bret Bohman and Intermedio, a Cincinnati-based sound and visual production company. Employing “audio-visual technology that responds live to the rhythm and intensity of the music we are performing, creating an exciting multi-sensory experience for the audience,” the lighting system has been used as part of interactive concerts in Cincinnati, Ann Arbor and Detroit.

Khemia Ensemble has been featured in venues and festivals such as National Sawdust, Strange Beautiful Music in Detroit, the third annual New Music Gathering, Latin IS America at Michigan State University and the Biennial New Music Festival at the National University of Cordoba.

They also have had residencies at University of Michigan, Tufts University, Michigan State University, the National University of Bogota and the National University of Cordoba, as well as two consecutive years at Avaloch Farms.

You can check out recordings of some past Khemia Ensemble performances in the embedded players below.

“Negative Image/Fragil,” composed by Carolina Heredia and Natali Herrera, recorded May 3, 2018 at National Sawdust in New York City

“Visual Abstract” by Pierre Jalbert, recorded in September 2017 at Strange Beautiful Music X in Detroit, MI

“Ear, Skin, and Bone Riddles (excerpt)” by Marcus Balter, recorded in September 2016 at Distler Hall, Tufts University, in Medford, MA, featuring Amy Petrongelli (soprano), Lauren Pulcipher (violin), and Horacio Contreras (cello)

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