O R B I T

Contemporaneous presents
O R B I T

Tuesday, September 20, 2016 | 7:30 pm
Lex54 Concerts | St. Peter's Church
619 Lexington Ave at 54th Street | New York, NY

O R B I T is an immersive musical experience that traces the seasonal cycle through sound and light and explores the idiosyncratic and alluring spaces of Saint Peter’s Church, a celebrated architectural masterwork in midtown Manhattan. Three different works are performed simultaneously, with the audience, divided into three groups, moving from one to the other, until finally all come together for a final piece.

The program includes paired works by Angélica Negrón and Fjóla Evans that convey two different sides of summer, autumn is evoked in a serene piece by Eve Beglarian, and spring comes to life in the strange magic of Nicole Lizée’s music for phonograph and ensemble. Reconvening at the end to hear the wintry beauty of Janice Giteck's Breathing Songs from a Turning Sky, audience and musicians together may find that that they have, in the words of T. S. Eliot, come "to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time."

Program

Nicole Lizée (b. 1973): Phonographenlieder (2014) — performed in the Sanctuary
Angélica Negrón (b. 1981): bubblegrum grass / peppermint field (2011) — performed in the Chapel
Fjóla Evans (b. 1987): FIVE (2013) — performed in the Chapel
Eve Beglarian (b. 1958): The Continuous Life (2000, arr. 2016) — Performed in the Music Room
Janice Giteck (b. 1946): Breathing Songs from a Turning Sky (1984) — performed in the Sanctuary (at end)

About Contemporaneous

Contemporaneous is an ensemble of 21 musicians whose mission is to bring to life the music of now by performing and promoting the most exciting work of living composers through innovative concerts, commissions, recordings, and educational programs.

Based in New York City and active throughout the United States, Contemporaneous has performed over 90 concerts at a wide range of venues, including Lincoln Center, Park Avenue Armory, (le) poisson rouge, Merkin Concert Hall, Baryshnikov Arts Center, St. Ann’s Warehouse, and the Bang on a Can Marathon. The ensemble has worked with artists as diverse as David Byrne, Donnacha Dennehy, Andrew Norman, Dawn Upshaw, and Julia Wolfe.

Recognized for its “passionate drive for new music in a younger generation of composers” (I Care If You Listen), Contemporaneous has encouraged the composers of the over 70 works the ensemble has premiered to take risks and defy constraints. The ensemble’s recordings are featured on New Amsterdam Records, Roven Records, and two releases on Innova Recordings. Contemporaneous has held residencies at Simon's Rock College, the University of New Orleans, Williams College, and Bard College, where the ensemble was founded in 2010. For more information, visit www.contemporaneous.org

Notes on the Program

Called a “brilliant musical scientist” and lauded for “creating a stir with listeners for her breathless imagination and ability to capture Gen-X and beyond generation”, JUNO-nominated composer Nicole Lizée creates new music from an eclectic mix of influences including the earliest MTV videos, turntablism, rave culture, Hitchcock, Kubrick, 1960s psychedelia and 1960s modernism. She is fascinated by the glitches made by outmoded and well-worn technology and captures these glitches, notates them and integrates them into live performance.

Nicole’s compositions range from works for orchestra and solo turntablist featuring DJ techniques fully notated and integrated into a concert music setting, to other unorthodox instrument combinations that include the Atari 2600 video game console, omnichords, stylophones, Simon™, and karaoke tapes. In the broad scope of her evolving oeuvre she explores such themes as malfunction, reviving the obsolete, and the harnessing of imperfection and glitch to create a new kind of precision.

In 2001 Nicole received a Master of Music degree from McGill University. After a decade and a half of composition, her commission list of over 40 works is varied and distinguished: the Kronos Quartet, BBC Proms, the San Francisco Symphony, the National Arts Centre Orchestra, l’Orchestre Métropolitain du Grand Montréal, CBC, Powerplant, Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society, So Percussion, Eve Egoyan, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Tapestry Opera, MATA Festival, Fondation Arte Musica/Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal, Continuum, Soundstreams, Arraymusic, and Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony. Her music has been performed worldwide in renowned venues including Carnegie Hall, Royal Albert Hall (London), Muziekgebouw (Amsterdam), and Cité de la Musique (Paris) – and in festivals including the BBC Proms (UK), Huddersfield (UK), Roskilde (Denmark), Bang On a Can (USA), Classical:NEXT (Rotterdam), Barbican’s Sound Unbound (UK), Metropolis (Australia), X Avant (Canada), Luminato (Canada), Other Minds (San Francisco), Switchboard (San Francisco), Melos-Ethos (Slovakia), Casalmaggiore (Italy), and Dark Music Days (Iceland).

Nicole was awarded the prestigious 2013 Canada Council for the Arts Jules Léger Prize for New Chamber Music. She is a Civitella Ranieri Foundation Fellow (New York City/Italy) and recently received a 2016 Lucas Artists Fellowship Award (California). Additional awards and nominations include a UNESCO International Rostrum of Composers’ Top 10 Works (2015), International Society for Contemporary Music award (2014), Prix Opus (2013), a Dora Mavor Moore Awards in Opera, two Prix collégien de musique contemporaine, (2012, 2013) and the 2002 Canada Council for the Arts Robert Fleming Prize for achievements in composition.

Angélica Negrón: bubblegum grass / peppermint field

A lot of my music is about the desire of being in a different time and place than the one I'm currently in. For bubblegum grass / peppermint field, I was inspired by the idea of daydreaming and escaping to my own personal made up land. This piece was originally written for an electronic gamelan ensemble designed and developed by Alex Rigopulos, which is modeled after a Balinese Gong Kebyar, with ten players performing the electronic gamelan instruments along with a string quartet. The electronics consist of acoustic samples of found objects in my apartment and also micro-samples from some of my previous pieces reflecting my interest in capturing and retaining different moments in time through my music. For tonight’s performance, the electronic gamelan part is pre-recorded.

— Angélica Negrón

Composer and multi-instrumentalist Angélica Negrón was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1981 and is currently based in Brooklyn. Interested in creating intricate yet simple narratives that evoke intangible moments in time, she writes music for accordions, toys, and electronics as well as chamber ensembles and orchestras. Her music has been described as “wistfully idiosyncratic and contemplative” (WQXR) and noted for its “capacity to surprise” (The New York Times). She was recently selected by Q2 and NPR listeners as part of “The Mix: 100 Composers Under 40” and by Flavorpill as one of the “10 Young Female Composers You Should Know.”

Angélica has been commissioned by MATA Festival, the 2016 New York Philharmonic Biennial and loadbang and she has curated concerts for El Museo del Barrio (Composers Now Festival), MATA Interval Series and Pregones Theater. Her music has been performed at the Bang on a Can Marathon, the Look and Listen Festival and the Ecstatic Music Festival and she has collaborated with artists like Sō Percussion, TRANSIT Ensemble, Choral Chameleon, janus trio, Cadillac Moon Ensemble, Cantori NY, Face the Music, Iktus Percussion Quartet, ETHEL, American Composers Orchestra, NYU Symphony Orchestra and the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra.

She has written music for documentaries, films, theater and modern dance. and frequently collaborates with the experimental theater company from Puerto Rico Y No Había Luz writing music for their plays. A long time member of the Puerto Rican underground music scene, Angélica is a founding member of the electro-acoustic pop outfit Balún where she sings and plays the accordion and keyboards. With her project Arturo en el Barco she concentrates on working with lo-fi ambient compositions and has released albums on Observatory (Austria) and Carte Postale Records (Belgium).

Angélica received an early education in piano and violin at the Conservatory of Music of Puerto Rico where she later studied composition under the guidance of composer Alfonso Fuentes. She holds a master’s degree in music composition from New York University where she studied with Pedro da Silva and is currently a doctoral candidate at The Graduate Center (CUNY), where she studies with Tania León. Also active as an educator, Angélica is currently working as a teaching artist for New York Philharmonic’s Very Young Composers and Lincoln Center Education and co-founded the Spanish immersion music program for young children Acopladitos.

Fjóla Evans, a Canadian composer and cellist originally from Reykjavík, Iceland, writes both electronic and acoustic music. Her works are informed by her cello performance practice, using structures where timbral hierarchy dictates the musical development. Commissions and performances have come from ensembles such as the JACK Quartet, Contemporaneous, Bearthoven trio, and Architek Percussion. Her work has been featured on the MATA Festival, Ung Nordisk Musik, and the American Composers Orchestra's SONiC Festival. Current projects include commissions from Viðarneisti duo, Bang on a Can All-Stars pianist Vicky Chow, and an evening length work for cello and electronics based on Icelandic folk song.

As a performer, she has presented her own work at the Cluster Festival of New Music, núna (now), and at Toronto's the Music Gallery. She has performed with ensembles such as Hotel Elefant, singer/producer Lydia Ainsworth, and Bing & Ruth. A graduate of McGill University where she studied with cellist Matt Haimovitz, Fjóla recently completed her master's degree in composition with Prof. Julia Wolfe at NYU Steinhardt. Fjóla was the winner of GroundSwell's Emerging Canadian Composers Competition, and recently collaborated with instrument maker Merche Blasco on a piece for three sopranos and theremin orchestra. She has participated in the Bang on a Can contemporary music festival in Massachusetts, both as a composer and as a cellist, in the Soundstreams 2016 Emerging Composer Workshop studying with mentor composer Steve Reich, and has attended residencies at the Banff Centre for the Arts, KulturKontakt Austria, Kimmel Harding Nelson Center, and the Old School Arthouse in Hrísey, Iceland. Her work has been supported by the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, and the SOCAN Foundation. Fjóla will be pursuing graduate studies in composition at the Yale School of Music starting in the fall of 2016. 

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Eve Beglarian: The Continuous Life

The original commission for The Continuous Life was for a piece celebrating the millennium. The piece is supposed to celebrate Houston and incorporate electronics and interactivity. Right away, I knew that the only way I could really get interested in writing a piece about the millennium would be to write a piece about the meaninglessness of the idea of a uniquely important moment in time like the turning of the clock from 1999 to 2000.

Ten years ago, I had cut out a poem by Mark Strand from The New Yorker and put it up on my bathroom wall. I knew the moment I read it that I wanted to set it to music, and for a millennial piece, I knew immediately that I'd finally found the right situation for making the piece I'd been imagining on and off for ten years. The poem is about the rhythm of everyday life, and how we long to find meaning in it; I think it's kind of an anti-millennial poem.

One thing I had always thought about Mark Strand's poem, is that it is definitely a man's voice, a father's voice talking. It may sound sort of essentialist for me to say this, but I think women and mothers tend to think a little differently about daily life than men and fathers do. So I started thinking about composer fathers, I even made a list of every composer father I know personally, and of course my own father is at the top of that list.

My father began his professional life as a talented and promising composer, but as years went by, he wrote fewer and fewer pieces, and he became more well-known for his administrative skills than for writing music. I remember his music from my childhood, and I think it's really beautiful. We happened to have dinner one evening, just the two of us, and I asked him if he would give me scores and tapes of some of his music. I wasn't sure if he would do it, but a week later, a whole bunch of reel-to-reel tapes and beautifully hand-copied scores arrived in a big box, and I spent a month going through them.

At the same time that I was working through my father's music, I had just bought a guitar, and my friend Mole was beginning to teach me the basics. I had never gotten around to learning to play the guitar, and I immediately fell in love with it. Part of it is that the strangeness of the layout let me just play around and find stuff. I understand why some great songwriters refuse to learn to read music: there is something great about working by ear and not having the organizational/analytical grid laid on top of what you're hearing.

I had decided to make the whole piece on the guitar. I re-tuned the guitar, and I made a bunch of loops that would all work over an E pedal, but would also cover all twelve notes of the chromatic scale. The whole piece is built out of these sixteen loops and canonic delays of those loops. Three of them come from my father's music, and a couple of others are quotations from my own music, and one is an old folksong my mother sang to me when I was a child.

There is one more recording that I used in the collage. It's not a recording of Houston at all. It's a recording made outside my childhood home in Los Angeles. My friend Hunter Ochs made the recording for me a couple of years ago, and I used it in a dance piece for Victoria Marks that's called the Father/Daughter Dance, interestingly enough.

I guess it's pretty obvious by now that I dedicated the piece to my parents. In addition to all the reasons I've described, they are just celebrating their fiftieth wedding anniversary, which is the continuous life if nothing else is!

To read more about The Continuous Life, click here.

— Eve Beglarian

According to The Los Angeles Times, composer and performer Eve Beglarian “is a humane, idealistic rebel and a musical sensualist.” She has been awarded the 2015 Robert Rauschenberg Prize from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts for her “innovation, risk-taking, and experimentation.”

Beglarian’s current projects include Lighten Up, an multimedia music-theater piece about visionary visual artists in America; the long-term undertaking A Book of Days, text/music/visuals, one for each day of the year; and Brim, the ensemble and repertoire she has created in response to her 2009 journey down the Mississippi River by kayak and bicycle.

Beglarian's chamber, choral, and orchestral music has been commissioned and widely performed by the Los Angeles Master Chorale, the American Composers Orchestra, Bang on a Can All-Stars, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, California EAR Unit, Orchestra of St. Luke's, Relâche, Paul Dresher Ensemble, Sequitur, loadbang, Guidonian Hand, Newspeak, Ekmeles, and individual performers including Maya Beiser, Sarah Cahill, Lauren Flanigan, Marya Martin, and Mary Rowell.

Highlights of Beglarian's work in music theater includes music for Mabou Mines' Obie-winning DollhouseAnimal MagnetismEcco Porco, Choephorai, and Shalom Shanghai, all directed by Lee Breuer; Forgiveness, a collaboration with Chen Shi-Zheng and Noh master Akira Matsui; and the China National Beijing Opera Theater's production of The Bacchae, also directed by Chen Shi-Zheng.

She has collaborated with choreographers including Ann Carlson, Robert LaFosse, Victoria Marks, Susan Marshall, David Neumann, Megan Williams, and Take Ueyama, and with visual and video artists including Cory Arcangel, Anne Bray, Vittoria Chierici, Barbara Hammer, Kevork Mourad, Shirin Neshat, Matt Petty, Bradley Wester, and Judson Wright. Recordings of Eve's music are available on ECM, Koch, New World, Canteloupe, Innova, Naxos, Kill Rock Stars, CDBaby, and Bandcamp.

Janice Giteck: Breathing Songs from a Turning Sky

I. Crown (keter) — Light from Light; Extreme Light
II. Wisdom (hokhma) — Splendor from Splendor; Hidden Light
III. Understanding (bina) — Sparkle from Sparkle; Sparkling Light
IV. Greatness (gedula) — Splendor from Splendor; Pure Light
V. Power (gevura) — Light from Splendor; Of Light Pure
VI. Beauty (tiferet) — Sparkle from Light; Light Shining
VII. Majesty (hod) — Splendor from Sparkle; Light Bright
VIII. Victory (netsah) — Light from Sparkle; Light Refined
IX. Foundation (yesod) — Sparkle from Sparkle; Purer Light; Pure Light
X. Kingdom (malkhut) — Most Precious Precious; Shining Light Is

Breathing Songs from a Turning Sky is the outcome of several diverse influences passing through me at the same time of my life:

  1. The discovery of the Kabala (Jewish mysticism) through the 17th century poem The Sefirot As A Wheel of Light by Naftali Bacharach, which in effect is a series of ten meditations on particular states of enlightenment. My composition takes the form of the poem.
  2. The use of pentatonic scales. For years I have had an active interest in the musics of Asia, Native America and Africa, much of which is based on five-tone scales. The inevitable is that I finally use these scales myself. In this work I have ventured to derive all organization of pitch material from pairs of pentatonic scales – a pair assigned to each of the sections or meditations (except number seven, Majesty, which is a silent meditation).
  3. The ever-deepening knowledge that all human movement and sound comes from the breathing body has allowed me to give greater attention to the corporal experience of the performer and, hopefully, in turn, the audience.
  4. Finally, the title celebrates the continually dramatic, changing skies of the Pacific Northwest. Breathing Songs is the first piece I worked on after moving to Seattle in 1980.

— Janice Giteck

Janice Giteck (born New York, 1946) is a composer of music for concert, multi-media, dance and theater. Her work is most celebrated for its visceral connection to social issues, and is inspired by a variety of musical traditions. Giteck currently lives on Whidbey Island, Northwest of Seattle, and is a professor at Cornish College of the Arts teaching music and classes focused on how artists respond to their social environments.

Giteck's most recent composition, Potlatch Symphony, was commissioned by the Seattle Symphony, and is the result of a two-year residency with SSO and Native American Tribes in the greater Seattle area (2013-2015). Her concert music is known internationally, and includes being the first woman commissioned by the San Francisco Symphony. Her music has been performed and premiered by the Seattle Chamber Players, The Esoterics (a capella ensemble), Jane Harty, Vicky Ray, Relache, and the Saint Helens String Quartet, among others. In the past three decades Giteck's music has been performed and broadcast throughout the US, Canada, Europe and in Australia, Costa Rica, New Zealand, Japan, China and India. Her chamber music has been presented at festivals including Beijing Festival of Contemporary Music, Composer-to-Composer Festival in Telluride, Other Minds in San Francisco, Bang on a Can in New York, Aspen Music Festival, Las Vegas New Music Festival, First National Congress on Women in Music in New York, New Music America in San Francisco, New Music Across America in Seattle, Focus Festival at Juilliard, Gaudeamus, Holland Festival, Banff Center for Arts, UNESCO in Paris.

Janice Giteck has scored the music for six award-winning feature documentaries including Emiko Omori's Rabbit in the Moon (Sundance, Emmy Awards-1999); Johnny Simon's Daddy and Pappa, 2001; Katie Jenning's Teachings of the Tree People, 2007; and three films by Pat Ferrero: Hopi, Songs of the Fourth World, 1985; Hearts and Hands, 1988; and Yield to Total Elation, 2000. She has also scored as series of films for IslandWood (Environmental Learning Center) Washington, supported by National Geographic and National Science Institute.

Janice Giteck holds BA, MA in Composition from Mills College (1969) and an MA in Psychology from Antioch University (1986). She attended the Paris Conservatory and primary teachers include composers Darius Milhaud, Olivier Messiaen, and pianist Rebecca Weinstock. She also studied West African percussion with Obo Addy, and Javanese Gamelan with Daniel Schmidt.