For the 2014-15 season, MIT inaugurates the innovative annual performance series MIT Sounding, curated by Evan Ziporyn, featuring rare live performances by new music pioneers Terry Riley and Alvin Lucier, early music denizens Boston Camerata, and the Grammy Award-winning ensemble Roomful of Teeth.
The series includes world and US premieres by Ziporyn, Elena Ruehr, Christine Southworth, Arnold Dreyblatt, Gyan Riley and others.
Featuring World Premieres, Reconstructed Classics, and Grammy Award winning musicians in a new concert series
Terry Riley’s 80th Birthday with Terry Riley, Eviyan, Gamelan Galak Tika, Sarah Cahill, Wallace Halladay and the University of Toronto Saxophone Ensemble, Eliot Gattegno
World premiere of Evan Ziporyn’s all-live multi-saxophone version of Riley’s classic Poppy Nogood and the Phantom Band; also world premieres of new works in honor of Terry Riley by Keeril Makan, Elena Ruehr, Christine Southworth, others.
Headlining MIT Sounding, legendary composer Terry Riley makes his second appearance at MIT for his 80th birthday concert. Terry Riley launched minimalist music with his revolutionary classic In C in 1964 – in fact he comes to MIT directly from the World Minimal Music Festival, to be held in his honor at Amsterdam Muziekgebouw in early April. In C (featured at the MIT CAST Marathon in 2013) – which Riley composed on a bus while en route to a gig – has proven seminal, its influence being heard in works by Steve Reich, John Adams, The Who (“Baba O’Riley” is a direct homage), and innumerable electronica artists world wide. In the 50 years since, Riley’s hypnotic, multi-layered, and multi-cultural approach to music has proven equally inspiring and influential. From his early 60s tape loop and trance music experiments and collaborations with La Monte Young to his study of Hindustani musical traditions, Riley is a true musical innovator. His recordings of In C, A Rainbow in Curved Air, Poppy Nogood and the Phantom Band and the Church of Anthrax were all issued by CBS Masterworks in 1968-69. In 1970, Terry became a disciple of the revered North Indian Raga Vocalist Pandit Pran Nath, appearing frequently in concert with the legendary singer as a tampura, tabla and vocal accompanist. His long-standing collaboration with David Harrington, founder and leader of the Kronos Quartet, has produced thirteen award-winning string quartets, a quintet, and a concerto for string quartet. Riley’s Cadenza on the Night Plain was selected by both Time and Newsweek as one of the ten best classical albums of the year. The epic five-quartet cycle, Salome Dances for Peace, was selected as the #1 Classical album album of the year by USA Today and was nominated for a Grammy.
Riley first came to MIT in 2011, when Gamelan Galak Tika premiered his White Space Conflict for gamelan and electronics. This year MTA and CAST celebrate Riley’s 80th birthday with a concert spanning the depth and breadth of his work and influence. The concert includes new works commissioned and performed in his honor by pianist Sarah Cahill; first-ever improvisations by Riley & Eviyan (featuring Iva Bittova and Gyan Riley), a spectacular multi-saxophone version of the classic Poppy Nogood, and a reprise performance of White Space Conflict.
Learn more about Terry Riley.
Image: Terry Riley performs at LIFEM, 2010
Portes du Ciel
Of All the Flowers: Song of the Middle Ages
Delving deep into the early music repertory, the esteemed Boston Camerata – celebrating its 60th season – enlivens an important chapter of cultural history: the competing centers of France and Italy in the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance. Boston Camerata will work in collaboration with MIT musicologist and programmer Michael Cuthbert, whose open-source software music21 allows scholars to find patterns and “fill in the gaps” among pieces of music from vast data sets. Their performance at MIT will include the first performances in over six hundred years of newly reconstructed works.
Portes du Ciel
Sung by a celestial trio of female voices, accompanied by vielles and harp, “Heaven’s Gate” opens the portals to an abundant treasure of song in French, both secular and sacred from the regions of Champagne, Picardy, and Lorraine. The compositions, by turns refined and aristocratic, and simple as folksong, all celebrate and praise the Virgin Mary. Noble melodies in the refined trouvère style, narrations in word and song, and rollicking dance music with sacred texts, comprise this production. Featured composers are the prior of Vic-sur-Aisne, Gauthier de Coincy (1177/8-1236), a passionate and prolix musician-poet, who recounts the miracles of the Virgin that took place in his parish; Thibault de Champagne (1201-1253), count of Champagne and king of Navarra, who praises the Queen of Heaven in the most elegant and subtle style; and a fraternity of anonymous minstrels who transform wordly songs of the day into vigorous, toe-tapping spirituals.
Of All the Flowers: Song of the Middle Ages
The constantly evolving and inventive musical minds of Italian and French masters during the fourteenth century has left us with repertoires, both sacred and secular, that successfully unite the search for new and different creative paths with astonishing lyricism and sensual beauty. In this specially commissioned program for MIT, you will hear music spanning the worlds of God and Man, by the greatest composers of their day: Machaut, Landini, da Bologna, and others, performed by Camerata’s virtuoso soloists and instrumentalists.
Learn more about Boston Camerata.
Image: Boston Camerata. Image courtesy of the artists.
Pawel Romanczuk, Small Instruments
(Małe Instrumenty) at MIT Museum’s Second Fridays program series
January 9, 2015 / 5:00-8:00pm
MIT Museum, N51
265 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA
Open to the public; No registration required
Free for MIT ID holders; $5/students and seniors; $10/adults
Presentation of new instruments and music by MIT students with Pawel Romanczuk, composer, video artist, instrument builder and founder of Small Instruments (Małe Instrumenty)
During the winter session, MIT students will be part of a workshop with Pawel Romanczuk, composer, instrument builder and founder of Małe Instrumenty (Small Instruments), a five-piece band that explores new sounds using a wide array of small instruments, from toy pianos to homemade child-sized cellos. Inspired by the soundtracks to old Polish animated films, the instruments used in the group’s sonic experiments feature an ever-expanding array of instruments, children’s toys and strange musical inventions. MIT students will work with Romanczuk to build their own instruments and create their own compositions, presenting their work in a public concert at the end of the residency. This is the first performance of Pawel Romanczuk in the US and is co-sponsored by culture.pl.
Learn more about Pawel Romanczuk.
Image: Paweł Romańczuk [Małe Instrumenty], Cage & Toy Piano.
World Premieres of Elena Ruehr’s Cassandra in the Temples
and Borderland: A Cantata for Ukraine by Evan Ziporyn/Christine Southworth,
Allemande (from Partita) by Caroline Shaw
Run Away by Judd Greenstein
Otherwise by Brad Wells
Founded in 2009 by Brad Wells, Roomful of Teeth is a Grammy Award winning vocal octet dedicated to mining the expressive potential of the human voice — from yodeling to Inuit throat singing. Through study with masters from non-classical traditions the world over, the eight voice ensemble continually expands its vocabulary of singing techniques and, through an on-going commissioning project, invites today’s brightest composers to create a repertoire without borders. At MIT, Roomful of Teeth collaborates with MIT composer Elena Ruehr and librettist Gretchen Henderson on an a cappella opera-in-progress Cassandra in the Temples, exploring themes of mysticism, disaster, hysteria and belief in a new interpretation of the apocalyptic Greek myth. The group will also perform the World Premiere of Borderland: A Cantata for Ukraine By Christine Southworth and Evan Ziporyn in a concert on November 21st.
Learn more about Roomful of Teeth.
Image: Roomful of Teeth. Courtesy of the Artists.
I am sitting in a room (Live) (Boston premiere)
In Memoriam Jon Higgins
September 27, 2014 / 7:00 pm
MIT Media Lab, E14 (6th Floor)
75 Amherst Street, Cambridge, MA
As part of the CAST symposium, “SEEING / SOUNDING / SENSING,” Alvin Lucier performs his iconic I am sitting in a room – live (the technology did not exist for live performance when he composed the work in 1969). Almost every Lucier composition includes a “first” — including the use of brain waves in live performance, the generation of visual imagery by sound in vibrating media and the evocation of room acoustics for musical purposes. Now a Professor Emeritus at Wesleyan University, Lucier continues to creates sound installations and works for solo instruments, chamber ensembles and orchestra.
Learn more about Alvin Lucier.
Image: Alvin Lucier, Music On A Long Thin Wire, 1977.
Sarah Cahill, Piano
Performing works from her acclaimed CD A Sweeter Music
Steppe Music, Meredith Monk
Peace Dances, Frederic Rzewski
The Olive Branch Speaks, Mamoru Fujeda
Authentic Presence, Ingram Marshall
Fragrant Forest, from Pondok, Evan Ziporyn
RCSC, Annea Lockwood
The Long Winter, Phil Kline
Be Kind to One Another, Terry Riley
November 16, 2014 / 4:00 pm
MIT Killian Hall, 14W
160 Memorial Drive, Cambridge, MA
No registration required
Bay area pianist, writer and producer Sarah Cahill has commissioned, premiered and recorded numerous compositions for solo piano. Composers who have dedicated works to her include John Adams, Terry Riley, Frederic Rzewski, Pauline Oliveros, Annea Lockwood and Evan Ziporyn. She has also premiered pieces by Lou Harrison, Julia Wolfe, Ingram Marshall, Toshi Ichiyanagi, George Lewis, Leo Ornstein and many others. Cahill has researched and recorded music by the important early 20th-century American modernists Henry Cowell and Ruth Crawford, and has commissioned a number of new pieces in tribute to their enduring influence.
Learn more about Sarah Cahill.