S.E.M. Ensemble December Show in NY

Iannis Xenakis

Source: S.E.M. Ensemble.

The S.E.M. Ensemble presents its annual concert at Paula Cooper Gallery, Saturday, December 19, 2015

Premieres by Alvin Lucier, Liisa Hirsch (Estonia), and Early-music Composer Pavel Jan Vejvanovský, Also Music by Iannis Xenakis, Petr Kotik, and Eli Greenhoe

The S.E.M. Ensemble, led by conductor, composer, and flutist Petr Kotik, returns to the Paula Cooper Gallery’s main space for its annual holiday concert on Saturday, December 19, 2015 (8 p.m.). A tradition started in 1984, the evening will feature contemporary works, along with music by one early-music composer.

Iannis Xenakis: Kassandra (1987)
Eli Greenhoe: Etymology (2015)
Pavel Jan Vejvanovský: Sonata la posta (1680)
Alvin Lucier: Orpheus Variations (2015) – U.S. premiere
Pavel Jan Vejvanovský: Serenata in C (1685) – U.S. premiere
Lisa Hirsch: Four Glides (2015) – World Premiere
Petr Kotik: Reiterations and Variables (1972 – 2015)

Paula Cooper Gallery is located at 534 West 21st Street, NY. Tickets are $15/10 (advanced sale); $20/15 (at door). To order tickets: http://www.brownpapertickets.com More info: (718) 488-7659 or info@semensemble.org

The concert highlight is the U.S. premiere of Alvin Lucier’s chamber work, Orpheus Variations. Composed for the cellist Charles Curtis and Ostravská banda (many of its musicians are also members of the SEM), the work premiered at the 2015 Ostrava Days last August. It is built on a 7-tone sonority taken from Stravinsky’s ballet, Orpheus, and scored for solo cello and seven wind instruments. Lucier describes the sonority of the 7-tone chord as “one of the most mysterious and compelling moments in Stravinsky’s music.”

This year, SEM will perform early music rarely heard in the U.S. – Serenata in C and Sonata la posta by Czech/Moravian composer and virtuoso trumpeter, Pavel Jan Vejvanovský (ca. 1639-1693). Born in Hukvaldy (also the birthplace of Leos Janacek), Vejvanovský was the musical director of the Kromeriz Castle (Moravia) during its heydays. Thanks to him, the castle is widely recognized today for having one of the most important collections of late seventeenth-century music on the European continent. Vejvanovský was a virtuoso trumpeter with a remarkable ability to play chromatic passages on the natural trumpet.

The concert will also include Iannis Xenakis’ Kassandra, a work for solo baritone and percussion, which, in 1987, the composer attached to his major music drama, Oresteia (1965-6). A dialogue between Cassandra and the chorus of elders, it features a highly demanding part for male voice, which ranges from extreme falsetto to low chanting, allowing to portray both Cassandra and the elders. It will be sung by Jeffrey Gavet, accompanied by percussionist Chris Nappi.

Also on the program is Petr Kotik’s Reiterations and Variables (1973 – 2015), a collage for voices and instruments. It is comprised of excerpts from the composer’s early vocal compositions (with texts by Gertrude Stein) and instrumental segments, including some from a work-in-progress for solo violin and ensemble.

In addition, the concert will feature two works by young, emerging composers: Four Glides (Premiere), a chamber piece written for the SEM by Estonian composer Liisa Hirsch (born 1984), and Etymology (2015) for trombone by New Yorker Eli Greenhoe (born 1994), featuring soloist William Lang.