Beat Furrer at Miller Theatre

Beat Furrer
Beat Furrer

Composer Portrait – Beat Furrer

Miller Theatre

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Either/Or Ensemble; Richard Carrick, conductor

By Christian Carey

 

NEW YORK – Miller Theatre has long had plans for a Composer Portrait evening of Beat Furrer’s music. In 2001, the event was disrupted by 9/11, which made it impossible to bring in the musicians slated to perform. After a long hiatus, the American ensemble Either/Or, conducted by Richard Carrick, was invited to undertake the first Miller portrait event in 2017, finally featuring Furrer’s compositions. The concert was masterfully performed and artistically satisfying. Alas, this time out, it was Furrer who could not attend. The Swiss-born, Austrian-based composer had taken ill and his doctors advised him against flying. One felt sorry that Furrer had missed a chance to hear his work at Columbia not once, but twice. What’s more, audience members were denied a planned onstage conversation with the composer about his work. Thankfully, Miller has continued to employ Paul Griffiths, one of the foremost writers on contemporary music, as their program note writer. Griffiths supplied a great deal of biographical background and information about the pieces, giving listeners a fine entryway into Furrer’s compositional aesthetic.

 

Carrick conducted the largest work on the program, the nonet linea dell-orizzonte (2012), which includes winds, brass, strings, piano, percussion, and electric guitar. Propulsive rhythmic activity underscored frequent glissandos. Rollicking gestures from Taka Kigawa’s piano, string harmonics, and guitar distortion, courtesy of Dann Lippel, created a hazy sound world, which gradually receded into syncopated brass, from trumpeter Gareth Flowers and trombonist Chris McIntyre, and percussion outbursts offset by rests, from Russell Greenberg and Dennis Sullivan.

 

Ira-Arca (2012), a duo for the unusual combination of bass flute and double-bass, was given a characterful performance by flutist Margaret Lancaster and bassist Ken Filiano. The piece frequently had the two mimic each other’s gestures, creating a nimble duet leavened with copious effects: exhalations, key clicks, flute and bass harmonics, slaps, and all manner of pizzicatos.

 

The quintet Spur (1998), for piano and string quartet, is one of Furrer’s most popular works. Kigawa played its repeated note gestures with fleet-fingered dexterity, while the quartet – violinists Jennifer Choi and Pala Garcia, violist Erin Wright and cellist Erin Popham – haloed the octaves, sevenths, and ninths of the piano part with pizzicato and altissimo lines, their sense of ensemble nicely complementing the keyboard ostinatos. In several places, the overall ascent of this central line breaks down into more diverse textures and gradual processes, but it is the piece’s inexorable drive and propulsive character that make it a strong entry in the composer’s catalog.

 

The second half of the concert was devoted entirely to the US premiere of one of Furrer’s most recent pieces – the clarinet quintet intorno al bianco (2016). It was in this piece that the composer most clearly demonstrated his affinity for spectral harmonies. Extended passages built out of overtones shimmering brightly. Clarinettist Vasko Dukovski blended seamlessly with the aforementioned string players, at times seeming to find the breath support to buoy impossibly long lines and performing with an enviably dulcet tone. The climax of intorno al bianco chimes chords with stratospheric highs before receding into a sumptuous denouement. It showed a different facet of Furrer’s music entirely. One felt that both his gestural and overtone-based pieces reveal potential avenues of further inquiry. While Miller tends to give composers a single portrait concert, another of Furrer’s music, this time with him in attendance to talk about it, would be most welcome.

Program for 5/28 Concert

Hope to see some of you tomorrow at 5 PM at the concert being given at All Saints Church in Princeton. Five world premieres in one show – what joy, what luck!

Program

*All selections composed by Christian B. Carey, unless otherwise noted

Spiritual Variations I & II

Tom Colao, organ

Je suis aimé de la plus belle Text by Cle ment Marot

Sara Noble, soprano

Selections from Nocturnes Composed by Cortlandt Matthews

i. on a particularly clear night

ii. a streetlight manifesto

iii. a Mulder meditation

Jessica Moreno, mezzo-soprano and Sergey Tkachenko, piano

He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven Text by W.B. Yeats

Fiery Sunset

Psalm 103

Megan Ihnen, mezzo-soprano and Graeme Burgan, piano

Thomas Cunningham, piano

Megan Ihnen, mezzo-soprano and Sara Noble, soprano

-intermission-
Anniversary

Lullaby

Reunion

Solo 2

From Blue Symphony Text by John Gould Fletcher

Lullaby Vocalise

Thomas Cunningham, piano

Ian Good, piano

Sara Noble, soprano and Graeme Burgan, piano

Three Kenyon Settings Text by Jane Kenyon

Song

Otherwise

Let Evening Come

Megan Ihnen, mezzo-soprano and Graeme Burgan, piano

Hymn: Add one more seat to the table Text by Kay Mitchell

*All are invited to join in the singing of this hymn*

5/28 Recital: Press Release

CONTEMPORARY UNDERCURRENT OF SONG PROJECT PRESENTS
CHRISTIAN CAREY: A COMPOSER PORTRAIT

PRESS CONTACTS | Alexandra Porter, director; alexandra@princetonopera.org
MAY 16, 2016 | For immediate release

CONTEMPORARY MUSIC CONCERT SERIES PRESENTS LOCAL COMPOSER

CareyComposerPortrait2016poster

PRINCETON May 12, 2016 Contemporary Undercurrent of Song Project (CUSP) is Princeton’s newest concert series dedicated to the elevation of modern art song composition. CUSP closes out their inaugural season with a concert dedicated to the music of Christian B. Carey.

Dr. Carey is an accomplished composer, music critic and Associate Professor of Music Composition, History, and Theory at Westminster Choir College of Rider University. Celebrating Dr. Carey’s music and his contribution to the community as a composer and teacher, the concert will feature performances by many of his friends and former students, including six alumni of Westminster Choir College. The performance features emerging artists from across the region, including mezzo-sopranos Megan Ihnen and Jessica Moreno, soprano Sara Noble, composer Cortlandt Matthews, organist Tom Colao, and pianists Ian Good, Thomas Cunningham, Graeme Burgan, and Sergey Tkachenko.

The concert will feature selections from Carey’s works for voice, piano, and organ, including the world premieres of four pieces for solo piano (Solo 2, Reunion, Anniversary, Lullaby), performed by Ian Good and Thomas Cunningham, and the concert premiere of his Lullaby Vocalise for soprano and piano, performed by Sara Noble and Graeme Burgan. The concert will also include Carey’s song cycle “Kenyon Songs,” based on the poetry of Jane Kenyon, performed by Megan Ihnen and Graeme Burgan, and Cortlandt Matthews’ “Nocturnes for Mezzo,” performed by Jessica Moreno and Sergey Tkachenko.

CHRISTIAN CAREY: A COMPOSER PORTRAIT – Saturday, May 28 at 5pm

ARTISTS:                  Graeme Burgan, Tom Colao, Thomas Cunningham, Ian Good, Megan Ihnen,
Cortlandt Matthews, Jessica Moreno, Sara Noble, Sergey Tkachenko

VENUE:                   All Saints’ Episcopal Church | 16 All Saints’ Rd, Princeton NJ 08540

TICKETS:                   Free admission, donations gratefully accepted.

ABOUT CONTEMPORARY UNDERCURRENT OF SONG PROJECT

The Contemporary Undercurrent of Song Project creates a platform for modern classical compositions for the voice by supporting both emerging and established performers, composers, and visionaries in the world of contemporary music. Audiences will become familiar with the music of our time – the music being composed and performed all around them, previously unheard and unseen. Young performers are given the chance to create something new through unique programming. Composers can work closely with artists to bring their work to life.

STAY UPDATED

TWITTER:                   @CUSP_newmusic
FACEBOOK:                   facebook.com/contemporaryundercurrent
WEB:                                     contemporaryundercurrent.com

http://www.contemporaryundercurrent.com
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BIOS

Composer Christian B. Carey is an Associate Professor of Music Composition, History, and Theory at Westminster Choir College of Rider University. His music has been performed by ACME, organist Joseph Arndt, Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, Atlantic Chamber Orchestra, C4 Choral Ensemble, Cassatt String Quartet, the choirs at Grace Church (Newark), the Choral Fellows at Harvard’s Memorial Church, pianist Hubert Ho, mezzo-soprano Megan Ihnen, percussionist Peter Jarvis, Chamber Players of the League of Composers/ISCM, loadbang, Locrian Chamber Players, pianist Ashlee Mack, Manhattan Choral Ensemble, flutist John McMurtery, New York New Music Ensemble, soprano Sara Noble, singing cellist Jody Redhage, Righteous Girls, and the Urban Playground Chamber Orchestra. Recordings of his music have appeared on New Focus Records and Perspectives of New Music/Open Space. He has published articles and reviews in Perspectives of New Music, Tempo, Integral, Musical America, Musicworks, Playbill, and Time Out NY. He has a book chapter in Hommage a Elliott Carter, published by Editions Delatour. Christianbcarey.com

Graeme Burgan is a passionate and versatile pianist working within opera, chamber music, musical theatre and jazz. He has performed in collaboration with artists Alan Held, Margaret Cusack, Timothy Bentch, Steven Condy, Robin Massie, Nick Parnell and Samuel Hsu, with composers Morten Lauridsen and Rollo Dilworth, and at events including the Adelaide Fringe Festival, Bundaleer Forest Weekend, and Woodend Winter Arts Festival. Graeme has also appeared at the Philadelphia Lieder Society, the Melbourne Recital Center, the Resonate Concert Series at the Art Gallery of New South Wales and Friday Musicale in Jacksonville, Florida. Piano teachers have included Samuel Hsu, James Correnti, Graham Williams, JJ Penna, Daniel Beckwith and Dalton Baldwin.

Graeme has worked with the State Opera of South Australia, University of Adelaide, University of South Australia and Westminster Opera Theater where he assisted Daniel Beckwith as chorus master. As a chorister, Graeme has performed with the Adelaide Chamber Singers, the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, the Westminster Symphonic Choir, the Philadelphia Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic, singing under the batons of Carl Crossin, Paul Hillier, Joe Miller, Arvo Volmer, Christoph Eschenbach and Ton Koopman. Graeme has played for the the voice studios of Sharon Sweet, Laura Brooks Rice, Sally Wolf, Scott McCoy, Amy Zorn, Carolann Page, Claudia Catania, Katherine Johnson and Nova Thomas. He is also the director of music at Hilltown Baptist Church.

Tom Colao, tenor, is currently Director of Music and Organist at All Saints’Church, Princeton, New Jersey. Born and raised in the northern suburbs of Chicago, Mr. Colao attended the Mannes College of Music in Manhattan, studying voice and choral conducting, before transferring to Westminster Choir College to pursue studies in organ and sacred music. While at Westminster, he sang as a member of Westminster Choir, under the direction of Dr. Joe Miller, in addition to performances with the Choir as both a tenor and organ soloist. He also made frequent appearances conducting various student ensembles. Mr. Colao maintains an active schedule as an accompanist, vocal coach, freelance conductor and recitalist. In addition, he is the composer of several works for both choral and instrumental ensembles.

Thomas Cunningham is artistic director of Urban Playground Chamber Orchestra. Founded in 2014, this orchestra for the 21st century is malleable in size, genre and venue and collaborates anywhere, anytime, with anyone. Mr. Cunningham made his New York debut conducting Iolanta for Opera Slavica in 2012. He is on the conducting staff of Voices of Ascension Chorus & Orchestra in New York, NY and the Youth Orchestra of Bucks County in Bucks County, PA, and works regularly with The Princeton Festival, Opera Slavica and The CoOPERAtive program.

A conductor of distinctly broad repertory, recent engagements have included the concertos of Bach, Dvorak and Berg, orchestrating Addi & Jacq’s award-winning songs, and commissioning numerous young composers. Passionate about the American repertory, Mr. Cunningham believes deeply in the underperformed compositions of African American composers, especially William Grant Still and George Walker. He recently completed and premiered a symphonic suite of William Grant Still’s grand opera Troubled Island.

Mr. Cunningham’s previous engagements include Bard SummerScape, Berkshire Choral Festival, Opera Forza, the String Orchestra of Brooklyn and Westminster Opera Theater. He was a finalist in the 2016 International 4×4 Prizes for composers and conductors, held at the University of Oklahoma. Mr. Cunningham counts Tito Muñoz, Kynan Johns, Kenneth Kiesler and Dennis Keene amongst his teachers and mentors. He is a graduate of Westminster Choir College. Thomascunningham.us

Ian Good’s compositions and arrangements have been performed by the Gordon College Choir, Lyricora, the Westminster Bell Choir, Cape Symphony Orchestra, and various chamber groups and soloists. He has been commissioned by churches and school choirs, including LaGuardia High School in NYC, and his art song “Nocturne in a Deserted Brickyard” was a finalist in the ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award competition. Ian holds an M.M. in Composition from Westminster Choir College and currently resides in northern New Jersey. Ianmichaelgood.com

Mezzo-soprano Megan Ihnen is a tireless promoter of contemporary classical music for the voice. Megan was praised by the Baltimore Theatre Journal for her “mesmerizing dramatic and musical account of the strange mystic, Mary Magdalen de Pazzi,” in her performance of Salvatore Sciarrino’s one-woman operatic drama, Infinito Nero, with SONAR new music ensemble in February 2014. She was invited as the only voice fellow to Fifth House Ensemble’s Fresh Inc. program in 2013 as well as at the 2012 Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival at MASS MoCA. Her performance of George Crumb’s Ancient Voices of Children at “Banglewood‟ was called “very good indeed, sharp and fervent” by NewMusicBox. She has been a featured soloist at both SICPP (’14) and MusicX (’11). She returned to Graz, Austria in February for IMPULS 2015. Megan is also the author behind the popular classical voice blog, The Sybaritic Singer. She reviews classical music performances and writes about musical entrepreneurship during her “28 Days to Diva” series. Meganihnen.com

Cortlandt Matthews is a singer and composer currently based on Long Island, New York. Primarily interested in writing vocal music, his choral music has been performed internationally by ensembles small and large, including Westminster Williamson Voices, NOTUS Ensemble of Indiana University, Queens College Vocal Ensemble, Southold Festival Singers, The Incarnation Cathedral Choir and Rho Kapp Men’s Chorale. A founding member of the Same Stream Choir, his music appears on their first record, The Same Stream: The Inaugural Recordings. As a graduate student at Queens College, he has had the pleasure of studying under Jeff Nichols, Bruce Saylor, and James John. He holds a B.M. in Sacred Music from Westminster Choir College. Several of his choral compositions are available under the GIA Evoking Sound Choral Series. www.cortlandtmatthews.com

Jessica Moreno is a graduate of Westminster Choir College of Rider University, with a Bachelor of Music in Voice Performance. She was a member of the Grammy-nominated Williamson Voices and the resident choir of the Choral Music Institute at Oxford. She also sang in the Westminster Choir, which is the resident choir for Spoleto Festival USA. While in Spoleto she performed in the first fully staged production of John Adams’ El Niño. She is originally from Long Island, NY but currently resides in Princeton, NJ.

Sara Noble is a versatile performer whose credits include Susanna (Le nozze di Figaro), Cousin (Madame Butterfly), Miles (The Turn of the Screw), La Chauve-Souris (L’Enfant et les Sortilèges) and Laurey (Oklahoma!). Ms. Noble served as artist-in-residence with the Continuo Arts Foundation from 2011-2014, where she was the featured soloist for the Schubert Magnificat in C, Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater, and Dona Nobis Pacem by Ralph Vaughan Williams.

A passionate supporter of new American classical music, Sara has premiered works by Elliot Cless, Martin Sedek, Christian Carey, Blake Henson and Jon Magnussen. In 2013, Sara premiered five original art songs written by the young winners of New Jersey Arts Collective’s PICTURES Composition Competition. She is a graduate of Westminster Choir College and in addition to performing, Sara serves as the Executive Producer for Opera on Tap New York and the Company/Media Manager for the Chautauqua Opera Company. Saranoblearts.com

Sergey Tkachenko is the Choral Director at Moorestown High School as well as the bass Choral Scholar at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Haddon Heights. Sergey is a solo and collaborative pianist. In addition to vocal coaching, he has also accompanied for several private voice studios and recitals. Sergey won first place at the Westminster Choir College piano competition in 2013. He made his orchestral debut as a soloist with the Westminster Community Orchestra in 2014. Singing, playing the piano and conducting are three lifelong pursuits for Sergey. He is also committed to the advancment of music in America. Mr. Tkachenko graduated Westminster Choir College with a BM in Music Education. Sergey would like to thank Dr. Carey for his service to the musical arts. sergeytkachenko.weebly.com