Lontano is synonymous with “the future in music.”
The famed London-based Lontano Ensemble, which is dedicated to celebrating the works of major American composers, returned to MIT in spring 2015 to perform works by the numerous acclaimed composers who are music faculty at the Institute.
Lontano has engaged with the music of MIT faculty since 2011, when it was in residence at the Institute as part of MIT’s 150th Anniversary celebrations. In November 2014, Lontano’s 5th London Festival of American Music featured music by MIT composers, including two world premieres and several UK first performances. This program included Charles Shadle’s Red Cedar and Peter Child’s Seeing the Unseen, a soundtrack to the 1936 film by Doc Edgerton of the same name, which uses stroboscopic photography to show milk drops and hummingbirds in startling detail. Lontano also selected Elena Ruehr’s Blackberries for the BBC Invitational in honor of International Women’s Day on March 8, 2015. The piece is based on a poem written by the composer’s daughter.
On this occasion, Lontano also performed John Harbison’s Chaconne, Keeril Makan’s Afterglow and a movement from Evan Ziporyn’s Thread. Harbison’s Chaconne, as the title suggests, is based on a simple ground bass figure: “I wanted to choose a pattern as familiar to our times as the descending chromatic used in Bach’s cantatas 12 and 78 (and more loosely in his D Minor violin chaconne) was in the 1700s.” Makan’s Afterglow, as the title implies, is designed to draw the listener into hearing beyond the immediate, to focus on resonance and the remains of sound, including the sympathetic vibrations of unplayed piano strings. Ziporyn’s Thread was originally part of a multidisciplinary piece based on the work of batik artist Mary Edna Fraser, something reflected in its slowly evolving, tightly woven micropolyphony. The concert demonstrated the stylistic diversity and richness that are the hallmarks of both Lontano Ensemble and MIT composers.
Lontano Ensemble’s visit to the Institute is part of MIT Sounding, an innovative annual performance series that blurs the boundaries between contemporary and world music. Curated by Evan Ziporyn, Faculty Director of the MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology, the 2014-15 season of MIT Sounding’s diverse offerings range from live performances by new music pioneers Alvin Lucier and Terry Riley to early music denizens Boston Camerata and the Grammy Award-winning ensemble Roomful of Teeth.
Since its inception in 1976 by conductor/composer Odaline de la Martinez and flautist Ingrid Culliford, Lontano has established an international reputation as one of the most exciting and versatile exponents of 20th and 21st century music.Lontano Ensemble’s impact on the perception of new music has been profound and enduring.
Lontano commissions, produces, performs and records with the primary aim of bringing to the fore the work of contemporary living composers, notably women and Latin American composers. The ensemble’s sphere of activity includes contemporary opera, music theatre, concerts, workshops, education projects, tours, broadcasts and recordings.
Lontano Ensemble’s performances feature some of the most noted, inventive and radical names in contemporary composition including Judith Weir, Martin Butler, Roberto Sierra, Errollyn Wallen, Nicola Le Fanu, Peter Sculthorpe, Sir Harrison Birtwistle, Chen Yi, Lindsay Cooper and Steve Reich. Lontano, in collaboration with the BBC Singers, recently recorded for the BBC a programme featuring the music of Brian Ferneyhough, which will be followed by a CD for the Metier Label. In 1992, Lontano was one of the first ensembles to set up its own record label. LORELT has since acquired the same reputation for versatility, eclecticism and vision enjoyed by Lontano itself.
More at the artist’s website: Lontano Ensemble.
Lontano Ensemble Concert
March 15, 2015 / 4:00pm
MIT Killian Hall, 14w-111
160 Memorial Drive, Cambridge MA
Free and open to the public
Rowland Sutherland flute; Peter Furniss clarinet; Caroline Balding violin; Clare O’Connell cello; Mary Dullea piano; Odaline de la Martinez, conductor, with a guest percussionist. Music by MIT composers Peter Child, John Harbison, Keeril Makan, Elena Ruehr, Charles Shadle, and Evan Ziporyn.
BBC Music Magazine: Martin Butler/Lontano Ondeline de la Martinez Review
Independent: Lontano/De la Martinez, The Warehouse, London
The Guardian: Lontano/De la Martinez review
Peter Child, Class of 1949 Professor of Music and MacVicar Faculty Fellow, MIT Music and Theater Arts
John Harbison, Institute Professor, MIT Music and Theater Arts
Keeril Makan, Associate Professor, MIT Music and Theater Arts
Elena Ruehr, Lecturer in Music, MIT Music and Theater Arts
Charles Shadle, Senior Lecturer in Music, MIT Music and Theater Arts
Evan Ziporyn, Kenan Sahin Distinguished Professor, MIT Music and Theater Arts and Faculty Director, MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology