Long-lost BSU festival of new music posts… (1)


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Trying to write about an event that you’re working always turns out hard for me. Rather than let the event pass with only one measly post, I’m going for a post-post-mortem review or two.

Friday night’s concert might have been the most whiplash-inducing mix of styles I ever experienced. It certainly encourages some thought about whether to “ghetto” styles or mix them together. (“ghetto” referring to lumping together pieces of one style or instrumentation.)

Tending towards the soft and gentle side of new music were works by Alexander Nohai-Seaman, Derek Healy, Richard Brooks, and Michael Young. Young gave an impressive performance of his work. Healy’s work is part of a set of Chinese folk songs that my colleague Mei Zhong is releasing on CD.

Tending towards the modern were works by Eric Nathan, a gorgeous chamber ensemble work title Onement, Tom Wells’ Kisa, and of course, Elliott Carter. Notably different about the Carter guitar work, Shard, was its interpretation on electric guitar by Derek Johnson.

The work that generated the most discussion was Jeff Stanek’s Love and Aggression, for electric guitar and amplified cello. What was interesting to me was the reaction by the college students, who seemed to be against the very idea of a cello playing through an amp, and playing with distortion. Many people have written about the connection between certain avenues of experimental rock and new music among younger composers, as exemplified by the Bang on a Can All Stars, the Wordless Music concerts, and others, but the connection seemed to be lost in this locale. Knowing the success of the above groups, it says more to me about the culture of young people locally.

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