ICE does Saariaho chamber works proud

A recent ICE Chicago concert is reviewed:

Chicago has yet to hear any of Kaija Saariaho’s large-scale works, which is a great pity. At least attention is being paid to the instrumental output of this gifted and prolific Finnish composer, a world-class original who just completed the first of two residencies she will undertake this season at Northwestern University’s Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music.

The Museum of Contemporary Art took up the Saariaho cause Thursday night when it presented an entire program of her chamber works as performed by the brilliant Chicago- and New York-based International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE). The crowd received it with rapt appreciation.

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Concerts that will keep audiences humming

Not sure if you really want to hum this stuff, but has a list of upcoming Chicago classical shows of note, including a few left of center.

Music in the Loft. This is a good time to sample this high-quality chamber music series, presented in an intimate West Loop setting. The 17th season includes such promising ensembles as the youthful Biava Quartet and showcases music by resident composer Conrad Tao, an astonishing 14-year-old, Illinois-born prodigy. Begins Oct. 3-4; $20, $10 students. 1017 W. Washington Blvd.; 312-243-9233

Frederic Rzewski. The characteristic drive and intensity of Rzewski’s music should emerge in performances given under auspices of the Chicago Symphony’s MusicNOW series, Oct. 5 at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance 205 E. Randolph St.; and the University of Chicago’s Contempo series, Nov. 14 in Ganz Hall, Roosevelt University, 430 S. Michigan Ave. Cliff Colnot conducts; eighth blackbird and the Pacifica Quartet share the latter program. 312-294-3000; $20 (Music NOW). 773-702-8068; $15, $4 students (Contempo)

ICE and Kaija Saariaho. The adventurous, Chicago-based International Contemporary Ensemble affords listeners a rare glimpse into the luminous, mystical chamber music of the celebrated Finnish composer. Nov. 19; $20-$25, $10 students. Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago Ave.; 312-280-2660

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City Sonics Festival in Belgium

Starting June 26 and alasting a month, the City Sonics festival takes place in the Belgian city of Mons and features a ton of sound installments and performances.

For its seventh edition, City Sonics invades the city center of Mons with over thirty installations and environments. Once more, the festival questions sound and matter and listens to its stories about us and others, about here and there, about the sounds of the world and their sweet opposites.

On twelve locations, “indisciplinary” artists offer creations and dialogues with visitors of all ages and categories. This temporary enchantment of the city is poetic resistance against the dark planetary times that are upon us and the chaosounds that aggress us daily. Sound is a fantastic medium that addresses our body and senses: there is no need to be a music lover or contemporary art expert to enjoy these works of sound.

Eric Van Osselaer, Isa Belle, Alexander Mac Sween, Colin Ponthot, Sébastien Roux, Ensemble Musiques Nouvelles, Giya Kancheli, Paradise Now, Christian Vialard, Yann Rocher, Françis Flament, Alexandre Castant, Jodi Rose, Jean-Paul Dessy, Lavender Hill, Stéphane Kozik, Perrine Joveniaux, Arthur Zerktouni, Pierre Bastien, Dinahbird, Jocelyn Robert, Cédric Sabato, Mathieu Schmidt, Erick D’orion, Yoko Fukushima, Rodolphe Alexis, Alice Pilastre, Ryutaro Mimura, Jérome Grivel, Armando Menicacci, Christian Delécluse, Simon Dumas, Nicolas Clauss, Manuel Chantre, Simon Laroche, Sub-tle, Gauthier Keyaerts aka, Mister Calagan, Annick Rivoire
Jean-Philippe Renoult, Déborah Fabré, Julie Normal, Ka Tia, Dominica Eyckmans, Radio Grenouille, Philippe Dehaspe, CarlY, Mathier Recarte

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Xenakis in concert — no, really, XENAKIS…IN…CONCERT

Iannis Xenakis
Image via Wikipedia

From Chicago’s Gapers Block:

It’s worth repeating, in case you’re thinking that you read that wrong: this Thursday, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) will present five short pieces by legendary composer Iannis Xenakis, as performed by the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), an up-and-coming group dedicated to performing modern and classic works of the avant-garde and, in their words, “advancing the music of our time.” Xenakis’ structurally difficult works require virtuosos who not only possess outstanding chops, but excellent instincts and problem-solving abilities, as the pieces often demand something beyond perfection from its performers, requiring them to make sounds not easily coaxed from their instruments, and to play them perfectly each time. As a result, the ground-breaking Greek composer’s works are seldom performed, and even more rarely by an ensemble so dedicated to making them EXACTLY RIGHT, making this event a rare and essential musical event.

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RIP Max Neuhaus

Max Neuhaus in Stommeln-Pulheim, Germany discu...
Image via Wikipedia

From the Houston Chronicle:

Max Neuhaus, a percussionist with Houston ties who pioneered a field of contemporary art known as sound installation, died Tuesday of cancer at his home in Marina di Maratea, Italy. He was 69.

Josef Helfenstein, director of the Menil Collection, described Neuhaus as a sculptor who worked with nonmusical sound instead of traditional materials such as clay or steel. Neuhaus’ second permanent U.S. museum piece, Sound Figure, was installed at the Menil in May.

“He is really part of that generation who changed art in the 1960s,” Helfenstein said. “What he did is very radical, actually. … He managed to define space with sound.”

Born in Beaumont in 1939, Neuhaus began performing as a percussionist when he was 14. He graduated from Lamar High School in 1957 and trained at the Manhattan School of Music. During the 1960s, he performed solo recitals of contemporary music by composers such as John Cage and Karlheinz Stockhausen at a time when it was rare for a percussionist to be a soloist.

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