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Bienen Institute for New Music welcomes David T. Little and Judd Greenstein

Mivos Quartet, Bienen choral and orchestral ensembles round out spring schedule

Bienen Contemporary Ensemble/Early Vocal Ensemble conducted by Donald Nally
Bienen Contemporary Ensemble/Early Vocal Ensemble conducted by Donald Nally. Photo by Jonathan Townsel.

The Institute for New Music at Northwestern University’s Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music welcomes contemporary American composers David T. Little and Judd Greenstein for an April 24 to 27 residency. During their visit, the composers will coach the Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble, University Chorale and Northwestern University Symphony Orchestra in preparation for the April 27 Midwest premieres of two of their works. Little also will meet and converse with Bienen voice and opera program students and discuss his compositional process and body of work, including his opera “Dog Days,” which will be performed by Northwestern Opera Theater in fall 2019.

Other events presented by the Institute for New Music this spring include a residency by the Mivos Quartet and performances by the Contemporary Music Ensemble, Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble and University Chorale.

Founded in 2012 and directed by Hans Thomalla, the Institute for New Music functions as the nerve center of all contemporary music activities at the Bienen School of Music. It presents numerous events over the course of the academic year -- from residencies of visiting ensembles and composers to workshops, lectures and masterclasses, to the biennial Conference/Festival NUNC! Additionally, the Institute provides a platform for new music activities for all areas of the Bienen School and Northwestern.

Institute for New Music spring events:

Preconcert talk with David T. Little and Judd Greenstein

Saturday, April 27, 6:30 p.m.
McClintock Choral and Recital Room, Ryan Center for the Musical Arts
70 Arts Circle Drive

Composer David T. Little has earned widespread acclaim for his operas “Dog Days,” “JFK” and “Vinkensport” (librettos by Royce Vavrek), as well as his monodrama “Soldier Songs.” His music for orchestra, choir, string quartet and contemporary ensemble has been premiered by the London Sinfonietta, eighth blackbird, the Kronos Quartet and The Crossing. He is developing a new opera with librettist Royce Vavrek, commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera and Lincoln Center Theater new works program, as well as the music theater work “Artaud in the Black Lodge” with poet Anne Waldman for Beth Morrison Projects.

Composer Judd Greenstein writes for a variety of instrumentalists and soloists, blending multiple styles, sounds and influences. His music has been commissioned and performed by new-music groups including yMusic, Roomful of Teeth and NOW Ensemble, as well as such institutions as the Minnesota Orchestra, Lucerne Festival and the North Carolina Symphony. In 2020, Greenstein will relaunch The Yehudim, an ensemble of singers, percussionists, keyboards and guitars that explores Biblical subjects through a contemporary lens.

The two composers will discuss their works “Am I Born” (Little) and “My City” (Greenstein) before their performance by the Northwestern University Symphony Orchestra with conductor Donald Nally. Admission is free.

Northwestern University Symphony Orchestra and Choirs: American Explorer II

Saturday, April 27, 7:30 p.m.
Pick-Staiger Concert Hall
50 Arts Circle Drive

Donald Nally conducts the Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble, University Chorale and Northwestern University Symphony Orchestra in the second of two spring performances devoted to American composers. (The first, featuring music of Samuel Barber, Christopher Rouse and John Corigliano, takes place Friday, April 12 at 7:30 p.m. in Pick-Staiger Concert Hall.) The program is devoted to the Midwest premieres of two works which have their origins in Brooklyn. David T. Little’s “Am I Born” is inspired by the Francis Guy painting “Winter Scene in Brooklyn” and draws on the hymn “Idumea” composed by Ananias Davisson with lyrics by Charles Wesley to create a dialogue between soprano and choir that asks, “Am I born to die?” Judd Greenstein’s “My City” celebrates Walt Whitman’s 200th birthday in a cosmopolitan romp combining his iconic poems “Mannahatta” and “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry.” In Greenstein’s work, both poetry and music capture the present and imagine the future. Tickets are $12 for the general public and $6 for full-time students with valid ID.

Mivos Quartet

Thursday, May 2, 7:30 p.m.
McClintock Choral and Recital Room, Ryan Center for the Musical Arts
70 Arts Circle Drive

Founded in 2008, the Mivos Quartet -- violinists Olivia De Prato and Lauren Cauley, violist Victor Lowrie Tafoya and cellist Tyler J. Borden -- is devoted to performing the music of contemporary composers. The quartet has appeared at such prestigious festivals and series as the New York Phil Biennial, Austria’s Wien Modern, Germany’s Darmstadt International Summer Courses, Shanghai New Music Week, Edgefest and Aldeburgh Music. Recent collaborators have included poet-musician Saul Williams and composers Sam Pluta, Dan Blake, Mark Barden, George Lewis and Kate Soper. The Mivos Quartet will coach Bienen composition and string students as part of their three-day residency. In this concert, the quartet performs new compositions by Bienen School students. Admission is free.

Additional spring performances by Bienen School ensembles include:

Contemporary Music Ensemble

Thursday, April 25, 7:30 p.m.
Galvin Recital Hall, Ryan Center for the Musical Arts
70 Arts Circle Drive 

Alan Pierson, Ben Bolter and Victor Huls conduct a program featuring the U.S. premiere of “Trois études mécaniques” (Three Mechanical Etudes) by Philippe Hurel; “a visible trace” by Rebecca Saunders; “Common Fate” by Tyondai Braxton; and a new work by Zoe Morfas. Tickets are $6 for the general public and $4 for full-time students with valid ID. 

Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble and University Chorale

Wednesday, May 15, 7:30 p.m.
Galvin Recital Hall, Ryan Center for the Musical Arts
70 Arts Circle Drive

Donald Nally conducts a program with a theme of waiting, longing and hope, featuring Kile Smith’s “The Waking Sun” and Ted Hearne’s “Fervor,” interspersed with early music of Bach, Tompkins and Marenzio. Tickets are $8 for the general public and $5 for full-time students with valid ID.

Contemporary Music Ensemble

Friday, May 24, 7:30 p.m.
Galvin Recital Hall, Ryan Center for the Musical Arts
70 Arts Circle Drive

Alan Pierson, Ben Bolter and Victor Huls conduct a program featuring arrangements of Aphex Twin’s “Cock/Ver10,” “Gwely Mernans” and “Omgyjya Switch 7”; “Music in Similar Motion” by Philip Glass; “Pranam II” by Giacinto Scelsi; and a new work by George Papajohn. Tickets are $6 for the general public and $4 for full-time students with valid ID.

Tickets are available online at concertsatbienen.org, by phone at 847-467-4000 or in person at the Bienen School ticket office, located at the southeast entrance of Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, 50 Arts Circle Drive.

Ticket office hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and noon to 3 p.m. Saturdays.

The Bienen School is a member of the Northwestern Arts Circle, which brings together film, humanities, literary arts, music, theater, dance and visual arts.

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