Over the summer, I wrote about the Pittsburgh Festival of New Music. Well, details of the festival have been announced, and it looks like an awesome few days of new-music-making. Check out details of the festival below, from the press release:
Festival of New Music to transform Pittsburgh's soundscape May 22-25
Alia Musica Pittsburgh presents The Pittsburgh Festival of New Music, four days of public events spanning a wide range of contemporary chamber music, May 22-25. Framed by two unique musical events happening in unconventional venues throughout the city, the Festival includes performances by Pittsburgh's most active new music organizations, artists of national and international renown, and guests hailing from Chicago, New York, Michigan, and Houston.
May 22: Perfect Lives by Robert Ashley
Miniature operas staged in everyday locations
On March 22, New York collective Varispeed presents its acclaimed arrangement of Robert Ashley's seminal work Perfect Lives, a daylong crawling concert installed in sites throughout the city. As performers and audience members journey from location to location — a park, a bank, a church, a backyard — participants imagine a folksy, Midwestern town where the bank tellers know the captain of the football team, and everyone drinks together at the end of the night.
Originally conceived as a 7-episode TV opera, Perfect Lives debuted on the BBC in 1986. The piece weaves together overlapping subplots: an unspoken crime, an elopement, and the mischief of two itinerant musicians. Ashley, the composer of what Fanfare has called "nothing less than the first American opera," died in NYC in 2014. "He would have been 84 at the end of the month," says David Ruder of Varispeed. "He was a great guy and we miss him already. Doing Perfect Lives in Pittsburgh is going to have an additional level of catharsis & meaning."
May 24: Rzewski plays Rzewski
The composer/pianist performs a rare program of his own works
New Hazlett Theater, 7:30pm
American maverick composer and pianist Frederic Rzewski has made his home in Brussels since the 1970s. Now 76, his appearances in the US are less and less frequent. Compared by turns to legendary pianist Glenn Gould and blacklisted folk singer Pete Seeger, Rzewski's works are often anarchic, sometimes satirical, and always powerfully virtuosic.
Rzewski's first-ever performance in Pittsburgh is long overdue, as he has Pittsburgh ties -- his two sons, Daniel and Alexis, live here. "When I was talking to him during his last visit," says Federico Garcia-De Castro, director of Alia Musica, "and mentioned our plans for the Festival, he realized, right then and there, that he actually had never played in Pittsburgh before. I knew that I had to take the chance." See this not-to-be-missed performance at the New Hazlett Theater on Saturday, May 24, 2014, at 7:30pm.
May 25: Inuksuit by John Luther Adams
Drums, gongs, and glockenspiels transform Lake Elizabeth Park, 2pm
Scores of musicians converge on Lake Elizabeth Park in Pittsburgh's North Side to perform Inuksuit, by John Luther Adams, 2012 receipient of the Heinz Award. Inuksuit is meant to be played by 99 musicians dispersed in a large outdoor area, using an incredible array of instruments including conch shells, air raid sirens, gongs, bells, shakers, drums, cymbals, and glockenspiels.
Inuksuit is the ultimate environmental piece, designed to heighten our awareness of the sights and sounds that surround us every day and to energize our experience of our own environment. The work, "a sonic and scenic glory almost beyond description" according to critic Alex Ross, has been performed around the world — in Melbourne, Toronto, Chicago, Berkeley, Lisbon, the Hague, and Belo Horizonte, Brazil — and was recognized among the most memorable performances of 2011 in New York City by The New Yorker, Time Out New York, and New York Magazine.
May 24: The Pittsburgh Soundpike
The pay-as-you-exit event that encourages discovery
New Hazlett Theater, 2pm
Pittsburgh's lively new music scene has a dedicated place in the Festival, as the most active local organizations join forces in a marathon concert dubbed The Pittsburgh Soundpike. Groups include Trillium Ensemble, the Black Orchid String Trio, Directions Duo, the Eclectic Laboratory Chamber Orchestra (ELCO), and features a performance of Steve Reich's monumental Different Trains by the Freya String Quartet. "We wanted to create an ideal setting for audience cross-over and mutual discovery," says Garcia-De Castro about the novel marathon concept where listeners pay for their tickets as they exit the performance, and the price depends inversely on the length of their stay—the more groups they hear, the less they will pay.
Alia Musica Pittsburgh and the Bugallo-Williams Duo
Also at the New Hazlett, the festival presents the Bugallo-Williams Piano Duo (Thursday, May 22). Consisting of Pitt professor Amy Williams and Argentinean pianist Helena Bugallo, the duo made a place for themselves as the foremost interpreters of Conlon Nancarrow's music, and have recently turned to the piano-duo music of Gyorgy Kurtág. Their Festival performance also includes music by Williams herself, Garcia-De Castro, and more.
On Friday, May 23, Alia Musica Pittsburgh performs Luciano Berio's famous cycle of Folk Songs in its entirety, with New York-based soprano Jamie Jordan. The ensemble, entering its eighth year of performances, also presents music by University of Pittsburgh professor Eric Moe, CMU and Pitt graduate Matthew Heap, and Austrian composer Georg Friedrich Haas.
Major support for the Festival comes from The Heinz Endowments and The Pittsburgh Foundation. Other partners include the Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts, the Sprout Fund, and Music on the Edge. Outdoor events are produced in partnership with the Office of Public Art, the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, and James Simon's Sculpture Studio. The City Paper is media sponsor of the Pittsburgh Festival of New Music.
Thursday May 22, Perfect Lives (Varispeed), episodes at 11am, 1pm, 3pm, 5pm, 7pm, 9pm, 11pm. Starting at Market Square, venues across the city. Free.
Thursday May 22, 7:30pm: Bugallo-Williams piano duo. New Hazlett Theater. $10. Music by Kurtág, Williams, Garcia-De Castro, and more.
Friday May 23, 7:30pm: Alia Musica Pittsburgh. New Hazlett Theater. $15. Music by Berio, Heap, Moe, and Haas. Featuring Jamie Jordan, soprano, and Houston's Duo Scordatura.
Saturday May 24, 2pm: Pittsburgh Soundpike featuring Steve Reich's Different Trains (Freya String Quartet), plus performances by Trillium Ensemble, Black Orchid String Trio, Directions Duo, ELCO, Alia Musica, and members from the CMU Contemporary Ensemble.
Saturday May 24, 7:30pm: Rzweski plays Rzewski. New Hazlett Theater. $15.
Sunday May 25, 2pm: Inuksuit by John Luther Adams. Lake Elizabeth Park. Free.
Sunday May 27, 5pm: Guests' Concert: Duo Scordatura (Houston), Clocks in Motion (Michigan). New Hazlett Theater. Free.
Alia Musica Pittsburgh: $15
Rzewski plays Rzewski: $15
Pittsburgh Soundpike: $5-$15
Two-event pass: $20
Full festival pass: $40
Tickets will be available online starting April 10th.
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