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New music concerts for winter and spring at the Bienen School of Music

Institute for New Music hosts residency with Unheard-of//Ensemble and the return of NUNC!
The New York-based contemporary chamber group Unheard-of//Ensemble performs an evening of world premieres by Bienen School students March 11.

Ted Hearne’s SCOTUS-inflected choral cantata “Sound from the Bench” and NUNC! 5 are among the winter and spring offerings at the Institute for New Music at the Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music.

Five student ensembles will be spotlighted in the Feb. 3 to March 11 concert lineup as will premieres of new compositions and collaborations with visiting artists.

Since 2012, the Institute for New Music has served as the nexus of all contemporary music activities at the Bienen School, providing collaboration and performance opportunities for student instrumentalists, singers and composers. The institute also hosts NUNC!, one of the world’s leading festivals and conferences for new music. The fifth iteration of NUNC! will take place at the Bienen School of Music April 21-23.

Institute director Hans Thomalla said, “I very much look forward to the Unheard-of//Ensemble's debut residency at the Institute for New Music. This young group has made a name for itself for its unconventional performances, the integration of electronics into their chamber music repertoire, and a strong advocacy for young composers. It's very exciting to have them here to work with the composition students at the Bienen School of Music.”

Events will be held on Northwestern’s Evanston campus. Tickets and more information are available on the Bienen School website.

Institute for New Music lineup

Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble: Ted Hearne’s “Sound from the Bench”
Friday, Feb. 3, 7:30 p.m.
Galvin Recital Hall, 70 Arts Circle Drive
Tickets are $8 or $5 for full-time students with valid ID.
This performance will also be presented as a live stream.

Ted Hearne’s cantata “Sound from the Bench” was a finalist for the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in music. This five-movement (ch)oral argument draws on text from Jena Osman’s poetry collection “Corporate Relations.” In her poems, Osman uses Supreme Court documents to follow the historical trajectory of corporate personhood in the United States, borrowing language from the 2010 Citizens United decision as well as language from ventriloquism textbooks.

Hearne’s composition is built around the tension between the human voice and electric guitar, person and machine, asking, “Who is speaking?”

Donald Nally conducts the Bienen Contemporary/Early Music Ensemble. Musicians from the 2014 premiere of “Sound from the Bench,” including guitarists Taylor Levine and James Moore and percussionist Ron Wiltrout, join the performance. 

Contemporary Music Ensemble
Friday, Feb. 10, 7:30 p.m.
Galvin Recital Hall, 70 Arts Circle Drive
Tickets are $8 or $5 for full-time students with valid ID.

Dallas Symphony Orchestra principal harpist Emily Levin and Michelle Gott, a regular soloist with ensembles throughout the U.S. and Canada, join the Contemporary Music Ensemble for a world premiere by Bienen alumnus Aaron Holloway-Nahum ’05. Also featured on the program are Ted Hearne’s dance-like 2019 work “Authority” and a world premiere by Bienen composer Serge Wen. Alan Pierson and Ben Bolter conduct. 

Saxophone Ensemble
Thursday, Feb. 16, 7:30 p.m.
Galvin Recital Hall, 70 Arts Circle Drive
Tickets are $6 or $4 for full-time students with valid ID.

Taimur Sullivan directs the Bienen School’s saxophone ensemble in a program of vibrant new works for saxophones, including the world premiere of “Hawk’s Nest” by Berlin Prize winner Laura Schwendinger and “Portal” by Lawrence Dillon, plus the U.S. premiere of “Landscapes from a Night Train” by Estonian composer Tõnu Kõrvits. 

Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble
Saturday, Feb. 18, 7:30 p.m.
Galvin Recital Hall, 70 Arts Circle Drive   
Tickets are $8 or $5 for full-time students with valid ID.

One of America’s leading choral musicians, Andrew Megill returns to conduct a program on the eve of Lent — a season rich in introspective works from the Church. The program is anchored by Argentinian composer Alberto Ginastera’s 20th-century masterpiece, “Lamentations of Jeremiah,” and the strikingly innovative responsories for Tenebrae (religious services held in the three days preceding Easter) by Italian composer Carlo Gesualdo, written 400 years earlier. The program also features music of James MacMillan, Gregorio Allegri and Johannes Brahms. Charles Foster will provide keyboard accompaniment. 

Contemporary Music Ensemble
Friday, March 10, 7:30 p.m.
Galvin Recital Hall, 70 Arts Circle Drive
Tickets are $8 or $5 for full-time students with valid ID.
This performance will also be presented as a live stream.

This performance features Bienen faculty composer and Wet Ink Ensemble co-director Alex Mincek’s “Pendulum VII”; Charlie Piper’s shimmering “Zoetrope”; inti figgis-vizueta's richly textured “Primavera Crown”; and a new work by Gen Tanaka. Ben Bolter will conduct. 

Unheard-of//Ensemble: An Evening of World Premieres
Saturday, March 11, 7:30 p.m.
McClintock Choral and Recital Room, 70 Arts Circle Drive
Admission is free and open to the public.

New York-based contemporary chamber group Unheard-of//Ensemble is dedicated to the development and performance of adventurous programs, using technology and interactive multimedia. The ensemble will visit the Bienen School for a three-day residency, workshopping new music with student composers and culminating in this performance of world premieres. Featured student composers are Konstantinos Baras, Wan Heo, Lily Hoyt, Mya Vandegrift, Alissa Voth and Jasmine Thomasian. Ensemble members include Ford Fourqurean (clarinet), Matheus Souza and Erica Dicker (violin), Iva Casian-Lakoš (cello) and Daniel Anastasio (piano).

Tickets for Institute for New Music events may be purchased from the Bienen School Ticket Office by visiting the southeast entrance of Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, 50 Arts Circle Drive, visiting or calling 847-467-4000. Ticket Office hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and noon to 3 p.m. Saturday.

Northwestern University New Music Conference

The Northwestern University New Music Conference (NUNC!) brings together composers, performing musicians, scholars and other new music advocates for a series of workshops, panel discussions and concerts.

The fifth conference and festival — NUNC! 5 April 21 to 23 — will feature guest composers Julia Wolfe and Alex Temple ’17 DMA and a keynote address by Miki Kaneda (Boston University). Guest ensembles will include the New York-based Yarn/Wire and the Chicago-based Constellation Men’s Ensemble

Concert highlights will include a performance of Luciano Berio’s Sinfonia alongside Julia Wolfe’s “Fountain of Youth” and Anna Meredith’s “Nautilus” performed by Northwestern University Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Alan Pierson, as well as Julia Wolfe’s “Impatience,” Alex Temple’s “The Man Who Hated Everything” and Tania León’s “Rítmicas”  performed by the Contemporary Music Ensemble conducted by Ben Bolter and Alan Pierson.

Choral performances will include the Midwest premiere of Julia Wolfe’s “Letter from Abigail” together with David Lang’s “the national anthems” by the Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble, led by Donald Nally.

Tickets and more information will be available late February on the Institute for New Music website.

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