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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ICE/Xenakis Site and Blog

ICE/Xenakis has launched a new blog and has the following upcoming shows.

Tracing Xenakis
The International Contemporary Ensemble Explores the Work
of a Modern Master via Podcast, Blog and Performance

“…a baptism by noise and fire that awaits every listener” – Steven Schick

Brooklyn, NY– This spring, the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) embarks on an exploration of one of the 20th century’s most prodigious creative minds: the maverick composer, architect, and mathematician Iannis Xenakis.

ICE teams up with percussionist Steven Schick for a series of performances of Xenakis’s explosive chamber music in Boston on April 16, at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and in Chicago on June 4, at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. In the fall, the Ensemble will bring the show to New York as part of the Composer Portraits Series at Miller Theatre of Columbia University (October 17).

“Despite his undeniable role as a musical giant of the 20th century, performances of Xenakis’ large-scale chamber works are still relatively rare in the US,” says flutist and ICE executive director Claire Chase. “With this project, we have the opportunity to bring this groundbreaking and timeless music to our audiences in Chicago, New York, and Boston. This is music that burns, rocks, grinds, blisters and surges forward with a visceral energy that you don’t normally associate with concert music. It’s a perfect match for Steve Schick, who’s one the most exciting interpreters of our time, and for the boundary-pushing, thrill-seeking young performers of ICE.”

In an effort to ground the experience of this physically charged, other-worldly repertoire for the listener, ICE is also curating a Xenakis-focused blog and podcast.

The Tracing Xenakis podcast, available for download on iTunes or through the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, features musicians of disparate genres, music scholars, aficionados, and Xenakis’ associates. The second podcast, “The Weight of Sound,” is available on April 1 and features ICE saxaphonist and composer David Remnick, Steven Schick, sound artist Francisco López, and Paul A. Miller, better known as DJ Spooky.

The ensemble’s Xenakis-focused blog (www.iceorg.org/xenakis) delves into biographical, academic, inferential, and tangential thoughts around Xenakis’ life and work.

“The goal of the blog,” says curator Whit Bernard, “is to become, like the polytope models Xenakis used to compose, a repository of possible impressions–a space to explore. Over time, a picture of Xenakis will emerge that is particular to our ears, our experience, and our time.” To date, contributors have included precussionist Steven Schick, Whit Bernard, DJ Spooky and writer Marc Geelhoed.

The Concerts

Boston
Thursday, April 16 at 7:00 p.m.
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston
For tickets: http://www.MuseumTix.com or 617.278.5156

On the program:
Psappha
Akanthos
Palimpsest
Echange

Chicago
Thursday, June 4 at 7:30 p.m.
Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
For tickets: http://www.mcachicago.org or 312.397.4010

On the program:
Psappha
Echange
Akanthos
Palimspsete
O-Mega

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