From the Earth to the stars

Fourth NIU New Music Festival begins Oct. 29 with acclaimed guests

NIU New Music Festival poster 2013There is something for everyone during this year’s NIU New Music Festival!

Under the leadership of Artistic Director Gregory Beyer, and in collaboration with School of Music professors Geof Bradfield and Ryan Muncy, the festival will bring to campus two sets of guest artist ensembles and will offer three very different programs for audiences Tuesday, Oct. 29; Tuesday, Nov. 5; and Thursday, Nov. 7.

All concerts begin at 8 p.m. in the Boutell Memorial Concert Hall. The finale event’s pre-concert lecture begins at 7:30 p.m.

All events are free and open to the public, and the auditorium is accessible to all.

The Oct. 29 concert features members of the NIU New Music Ensemble performing alongside guest artists Marco Albonetti (Italian saxophonist) and Dane Richeson (American percussionist) to present “Terra Madre” (Mother Earth) a set of traditional folk tunes from around the world in chamber jazz arrangements by critically acclaimed jazz composer, Fred Sturm.

Sturm and Richeson are colleagues at Wisconsin’s Lawrence University and recently presented this series of works in a larger setting to accompany Bobby McFerrin.

The settings for saxophone, percussion and strings are simply arresting and anyone interested in chamber music and jazz will be captivated not only by the great music, but by the incredible musicianship of Albonetti and Richeson.

These two guests will begin their campus visit Sunday, Oct. 27, to rehearse with the student ensemble as well as coach ensembles and offer lectures for the School of Music community. “Terra Madre” will be preceded by short works by Alex Mincek and Kevin Volans that feature Beyer (percussion) and Muncy (saxophone) alongside their students.

Bradfield, a new professor of jazz saxophone, has coordinated with some of his incredible colleagues in Chicago to bring to campus jazz bassist and composer, Matt Ulery, and his group, Loom, for the Nov. 5 concert.

Gregory Beyer

Gregory Beyer

Loom will be joined by members of the NIU New Music Ensemble for an evening of incredible chamber jazz works by Ulery, whose music betrays heavy Eastern European influences. Ulery’s music is critically acclaimed and absolutely haunting. Everyone will enjoy seeing NIU music students performing side-by-side with the highest caliber jazz musicians in Chicago.

The Nov. 7 festival finale brings together the NIU Physics Department and NIU Observatory alongside the NIU Graduate Percussion Ensemble to present Gerard Grisey’s “Le Noir de l’étoile” (the Black of the Star).

Composed in 1989-90, this percussion sextet masterwork was inspired by the discovery of “cosmic clocks” known as pulsars (deceased stars spinning at incredible rates of speed). Its duration is approximately one hour and sets the audience inside a ring of percussionists and percussion music, accompanied by recordings of the pulsars themselves as well as by images of pulsars created by the Hubble space station.

The visual and sonic elements of this incredible musical voyage will be unforgettable. Professor David Hedin and graduate student Matthew Wiesner will be on hand before the concert to offer a lecture titled, “Ten Awesome Things you Didn’t Know About Astronomy.” After the concert, Hedin and Wiesner will escort interested audience members to the NIU Observatory for a tour to see the stars and other celestial bodies in the evening sky.

For more information on the NIU New Music Festival, contact Beyer at (815) 753-7981 or gbeyer@niu.edu.

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