The Callithumpian Blog

Archive for the ‘upcoming’ Category

Announcing 2013-2014!

In concerts, upcoming on September 11, 2013 at 2:13 pm


We’re excited to announce our current season — lots of incredible music by Onur Yildirim, Alvin Lucier, Lei Liang, Tristan Murail, Helmut Lachenmann, Morton Feldman, and John Zorn for our 2013-2014 performance season. We’ll be giving world premieres of new works written by Chaya Czernowin and Lee Hyla, featuring both Czernowin and Hyla in our OPEN FOR’M platform in conjunction with the Gardner Museum in Calderwood Hall — not to mention we’ll also be playing in a new series at the Gardner, “In and Out”: daytime concerts in which Callithumpian will perform Karlheinz Stockhausen‘s Aus den sieben Tagen. We’re also stoked to be playing a new piece by Roger Miller later in the spring.

What else? We’re off to Mexico in November, and we’re performing all around Boston and in NYC with a unique, all-Lucier show at Roulette.

Why don’t you check out our 2013-2014 calendar? More information will be coming your way — sign up for our newsletter to get the latest!


1-2-3: Solos, Duo, Trio

In concerts, upcoming on September 21, 2012 at 7:46 pm

John Harbison (photo by Katrin Talbot)

Callithumpian Consort is back! — and ready to kick off the new season. We’re in Jordan Hall on Thursday, October 4th with an intimate program, focusing more inside the ensemble to reveal our individual, virtuostic soloists. The opening concert features two premieres (a Harbison world premiere, and a Roberts US premiere) performed by cellist Benjamin Schwartz.  All in all, the night contains a wide-ranging array of detailed sounds and ideas, coming from around the world and stretching deep into the mind and imagination.

Karina Fox begins the evening with Tristan Murail’s C’est un jardin secret, ma soeur, ma fiancee, une source scellee, une fontaine close… . The subtle work, written for viola (and as a wedding present for two of Murail’s friends), is described by Julian Anderson as “an exquisite miniature” containing the particular timbres and senses we come to identify as coming from Murail’s soundworld. Next, Trevor Bača gives us this pristine image for his Sekka (for unaccompanied flute): “Shining white sounds. A shifting multiplicity. And an intense and sculpted whisper.” The title essentially is a fusion and play on the Japanese characters for “snow” and, in part, “flower”, opening to a beautifully minimal analogy perfectly suited for the design and structure of the instrument. Flutist Jessi Rosinski performs.

Clarinetist Rane Moore and pianist Elaine Rombola team up to explore the sonic contours and extremes in the terrain of Jonathan Harvey’s Be(com)ing, and cellist Benjamin Schwartz presents two premieres this evening: Invention on a Theme by Wm. Shakespeare by John Harbison (a world premiere) and Anakhtara by Adam Roberts (US premiere). Both are commissioned works; the Harbison was commissioned for Schwartz’s 40th birthday (a treat from family and friends), and the Roberts piece was commissioned by the cellist himself.

Gabriela Diaz performs Roger Reynolds’s Kokoro for solo violin, a 27-minute work in 12 parts, exploring the idea of “kokoro” in its various meanings: the actual, physical heart, the emotional “true” heart, the mind, soul, and spirit (Daisetsu Suzuki). According to a program note, Reynolds found this multi-tiered concept to be “irresistable”, and in a performance note, imagines the ideal performance as “involv[ing] the assumption of an entirely new psychological stance for each of the parts.” Finally, we close the night with the conceptual Georges Aperghis’s Les guetteurs de sons, performed by percussionists Mike Williams, Jeff Means, and Nick Tolle.

Join us for this rare program highlighting our soloists within the Consort — Thursday, October 4th in New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall at 8:00 PM; free admission. Not to be missed!

— your friendly webbottress.

Alvin Lucier at NEC: March 11-13

In concerts, upcoming on March 10, 2012 at 6:15 pm

In what may sometimes be an overly-saturated world, the natural sonic phenomena that we find in the music of composer Alvin Lucier is always a much-needed breath for the human mind and body. With acoustic instruments mixing with pure wave oscillators that slowly sweep through a space, or through a gradually-morphing iterative process, we subconsciously learn more from this music and from this new way of listening: a way that can be likened to an intuitive and profound mapping of time, of space, and of the musical experience.

Starting Sunday, March 11th through Tuesday, March 13th, the New England Conservatory celebrates Alvin Lucier, in residence for the next few days for coachings, conversations, and daily concerts in a school-wide event.

Join the Callithumpian Consort on Sunday, March 11th in Williams Hall, as we perform the complete Still and Moving Lines of Silence in Families of Hyperbolas (1973-1974) and on Tuesday, March 13th in Jordan Hall, when we give the world premiere of Braid (2012), written expressly for this festival.

NEC students will also perform a dozen Lucier pieces in daily late-afternoon and evening concerts, including Music for Solo Performer (1965), Serenade for 13 Winds and Pure Wave Oscillators (1985-2012), Still Lives (1995), and more.

You won’t want to miss out — experiencing Lucier in these live performances will provide a newly-found depth to the way you listen to music and to sound.

Info for all the concerts can be found by…
clicking the image at the top
• visiting:
• visiting the Facebook event: 

Curran, Elwood, Murray, Cage, Brown, Zorn

In concerts, upcoming on February 19, 2012 at 11:51 pm

Closing February and opening March, we have a two-day, new music extravaganza in Boston: two nights of incredible music as we continue the 2012 Callithumpian season. Mark your calendars for Wednesday, February 29 and Thursday, March 1!

Wednesday, Feb. 29, 2012 at 8:00 pm
Brown Hall, New England Conservatory

Paul Elwood: Stanley Kubrick’s Mountain Home
Paul Elwood: Under the Table (world premiere)
Alvin Curran: Schtyx
Brendan Murray: Deployment (world premiere)

On Wednesday, February 29, we’ll perform two Paul Elwood works (Stanley Kubrick’s Mountain Home, as well as premiere Elwood’s Under the Table), Alvin Curran‘s trio Schtyx — described by Curran as “charts, bones, professions, shades, numbers, glues, hypes, acts, devils, organgrindings, wood implements, jugglers, chance operations, performance art, the Yiddish underground” — and we also give the world premiere of Deployment, a new work by Brendan Murray.

The music of composer and banjo-player Paul Elwood has been performed internationally, from the US, to Darmstadt, to South Africa, Australia, and France, to name but a few. His new piece, Under the Table, is based on rhythms and cadences of auctioneers. Our own Callithumpian cellist, Ben Schwartz, had sent Paul some recordings he had made of rural Pennsylvania auctioneers, and in addition, Paul had interviewed an auctioneer from Colorado while writing this new work. Also, a treat: Paul himself will perform his new piece with us (Ben tells me he’s a beast on banjo). Under the Table is written for Jen Ashe, Jessi Rosinski, and Ben Schwartz.

Boston-based electronic musician and composer Brendan Murray has a particular bent with drones and repetition, being interested in recording and processing instruments and tapes “until all traces of instrumentality are blurred, leaving only large blocks of pure sound”. His new work, Deployment, scored for 7 instrumentalists, computer, microphones, and loudspeakers, plays on the concept of a live, self-looping instrumental cluster which is then sampled and diffused in digital variations, interacting with the original acoustic source as well as with the physical space.


Thursday, Mar 1, 2012 at 7:00 pm
Calderwood Hall, Gardner Museum

John Cage: Apartment House 1776
Earle Brown: Available Forms I
John Zorn: For Your Eyes Only

On Thursday, March 1, we migrate over to the lovely new Calderwood Hall at the Gardner Museum for the first of Callithumpian’s series of John Cage celebrations (it’s his 100th birthday this year!). As Part I of the series, we’ll perform Cage’s Apartment House 1776, Earle Brown‘s Available Forms I, and John Zorn‘s For Your Eyes Only. We’ll follow this structure of a Cage work, a work by one of Cage’s New York School contemporaries, and a work by a third composer profoundly influenced by Cage throughout the year for a total of three Callithumpian concerts celebrating the 2012 Cage Centennial at the Gardner Museum.

So, there you have it: two consecutive nights of good music you don’t want to miss. Bring your friends, grandma, downstairs neighbor, etc. — anyone who’s interested in experiencing and engaging with new sounds and ideas … join us!

Debussy, Mori, Murail, Vines, Zorn

In concerts, upcoming on January 14, 2012 at 4:24 pm

photo + artwork: Chippy (Heung-Heung Chin)

Happy New Year! We’re kicking off 2012 with an exciting and powerful program on January 25th, with Debussy, Ikue Mori, Tristan Murail, Nicholas Vines, and John Zorn, featuring special guests: electronic artist / musician Ikue Mori, and the incredible soprano Adrienne Pardee. Here’s the line-up:

Claude Debussy: Sonata for Flute, Viola, and Harp
Ikue Mori: Confucius Becomes Popular
Tristan Murail: Lachrymae
Nicholas Vines: The Economy of Wax
John Zorn: Orphée

Ikue Mori has quite the colorful range of experiences in the avant-garde and electronic art + music realms since her days with the seminal NO WAVE band DNA. Lately Mori has been working on her animation + live music project, Kibyoshi, which was released on DVD in 2011. Translated as “The Yellow Covers”, Kibyoshi were very popular picture books during the Edo period (1600-1860), comprised of unique woodblock prints and satirical texts directed at society, with narratives creating “the most preposterous views of art, culture, religion, and all aspects of people’s daily lives.” Mori’s Confucius Becomes Popular from Kibyoshi is definitely something not to miss — more information on Kibyoshi can be found here.

Tristan Murail was our composer-in-residence at Sick Puppy 2011 (Summer Institute for Contemporary Performance Practice); Murail composed a new work, Lachrymae (alto flute + string quintet), for the Callithumpian Consort. At the world premiere, the piece was described by the Boston Globe as “a more intimate and emotional aspect of Murail’s personality”. Here’s your chance to hear it again (and here’s the full review from the world premiere).

The Economy of Wax (soprano, flute/piccolo, viola, + harp) by Nicholas Vines was commissioned in 2009 by soprano Jane Sheldon and biologist Peter Godfrey-Smith with the idea of setting portions of Darwin’s Origin of Species to music for soprano and chamber ensemble. In Vines’ work, the focus is on the “meticulous descriptions of how bees construct honeycomb … the music reflects this structure’s intricate mathematics, the intense activity of the bees themselves and Darwin’s keen, and on occasion, ecstatic observations.” Since its premiere at the Harvard Museum of Natural History, The Economy of Wax has been performed at Stanford University in California, at the Australian National University, and at Tanglewood Music Festival among other disparate venues. This performance in Jordan Hall will feature soprano Adrienne Pardee, who performed The Economy of Wax at Tanglewood in 2010.

And to round things off, we pair John Zorn‘s Orphee with Claude Debussy’s Sonata for Flute, Viola, and Harp. Depicting the legend of Orpheus’s trip to the Underworld to rescue Eurydice, Zorn mirrors Debussy’s lush romanticism and instrumentation, adding percussion, keyboards, and electronics. Electronic artist Ikue Mori will be performing in Zorn’s Orphee. (

Wednesday, January 25 at 8pm in Jordan Hall: a solid start to the new year, and a night not to miss — free admission, too.

Eckardt, Epstein, Vivier, Weisert

In concerts, upcoming on December 1, 2011 at 10:11 am

New music coming up in December! We’re thrilled to be presenting two Callithumpian commissions on this concert — Lee Weisert‘s New England Drift (2011), which we premiered at Sick Puppy 2011, is an open-form piece with a variety of layers for individual performers to play (“Drone”, “Noise”, “Clusters”, “Triads”, “Vocal”) at any given point determined by the conductor. Also a Callithumpan commission, Marti Epstein‘s Troubled Queen (2011), a 17-minute work for flute, bass clarinet, trombone, 2 violins, viola, cello, piano, and percussion, will be receiving its world premiere this evening.

Rounding out the program are three duos: Two pieces by Claude Vivier, Pièce pour violon et clarinette and Pièce pour flute et piano, both written in 1975 by the Canadian composer, and Jason Eckardt‘s Rendition (2006) for bass clarinet and piano, a piece exploring the word “rend”, as from the mid-’90’s CIA decision to implement a program of “extraordinary rendition”. Eckardt writes, “The etymology of “extraordinary rendition” can perhaps be traced to the meaning of the verb rend: to tear, to remove from a place by violence, to wrest. Other meanings include to tear (the hair or clothing) as a sign of anger, grief, or despair, to lacerate with painful feelings, and to pierce with sound.”

Join us for this evening of duos and commissions. Monday, December 19th at 8pm in Williams Hall — free.

Sick Puppy, 2011

In concerts, SICPP, upcoming on June 9, 2011 at 2:50 am

© 2011 Aaron Dana (

Yes, we will have T-shirts (original graphic by Aaron Dana) to purchase at this year’s SICPP festival, which is happening soon: June 18 – 25 at the New England Conservatory in Boston.  SICPP (also known as “Sick Puppy”) is an intensive performance seminar on music of the 20th & 21st centuries for advanced instrumentalists, vocalists, and young composers.  It’s a full schedule: 8 days of master classes, lessons, back-to-back rehearsals and concerts — invaluable for anyone interested in the newest music and ready to tackle the challenges of this special repertoire under a faculty uniquely experienced in learning, performing, and teaching this music.  In many cases our SICPP faculty have worked directly with the composers themselves — Cage, Reich, Wolff, Czernowin and more — and can impart first-hand information about the music.

A few things to note: this year we welcome our 2011 composer-in-residence, Tristan Murail, who has written Callithumpian Consort a new work, Lachrymae, for string quartet, bass, and flute, which will be premiered during the festival.  We also welcome guest artist, pianist Ursula Oppens, who will be giving a solo concert of Corigliano, Rzewski, and Wuorinen as part of the SICPP festivities, as well as coaching our pianists on a variety of repertoire.  Another exciting bit of news: during SICPP, Stephen Drury and Scott Deal will premiere John Luther Adams‘s Four Thousand Holes, a work commissioned by Drury, which was recently released on Cold Blue Records, selected by Alex Ross as one of his top CD picks, and which received a stellar review from Textura.  And finally, a new Callithumpian-commissioned work, Counterfactual by Joshua Fineberg, will be receiving its second performance after a successful Spectral Summer concert at Boston University last weekend.

A full bill this year!  Lots of exciting things to look forward to.  Check out our concert listing, now up on our website, or visit the NEC calendar events page.  You can find detailed program information on both sites, and you can follow us on Twitter or “like” us on our brand new Facebook page for the latest.

More soon — SICPP countdown starts now!

until next time,

Learning by Doing: Spectral Summer Interview

In concerts, interviews, upcoming on May 31, 2011 at 7:44 pm


Stephen Drury and the Callithumpian Consort will premiere Joshua Fineberg’s Counterfactual during the Spectral Summer Professional Performance workshop at Boston University’s CFA School of Music on Sunday, June 5 at 8pm. The event is free and no tickets are required.

In this unique interview, Matthias Röder converses with Artistic Director Stephen Drury and Composer-in-Residence Joshua Fineberg about Spectral Music: what it is exactly, and what sounds are to be expected at the culminating concert on Sunday, June 5.

Matthias RöderThis year’s Spectral Summer workshop at Boston University is coming up soon. The workshop consists of classes and a final concert. Tell us a little bit about what the courses will look like.

Steve Drury: Learning by doing! The courses are basically rehearsals: we will prepare a range of music from very early, “pre-spectral” repertoires to a most recent work by Josh Fineberg especially written for us to play at this event. The workshop program includes Grisey’s Echanges, his first published work, written when spectralism was barely a gleam in his eye (he was 22 at the time) as well as a fascinating work by Murail which uses two pianists with one playing exclusively inside the instrument, accompanied by a single bass fiddle. We will also work on more familiar compositions such as Murail’s Feuilles à travers les cloches (“Leaves across the Bells”), a tribute to Debussy’s prelude Bells across the Leaves as well as completely unfamiliar music by Grisey and Levy for solo saxophone. The performers are players of the Callithumpian Consort, serving as faculty/mentors playing alongside some younger adventurous musicians.

MR: Some of our readers may wonder, what is spectral music? Is this a new kind of music?

Joshua Fineberg: Spectral Music, is a trend that dates back to the mid 1970’s. It is not exactly a new kind of music, but it has represented an important shift in attitude towards composing. In the visual arts in the nineteenth century, most painters would have said they painted pictures of things, but the impressionists came along and said they were painting light, texture and shadow. In the same way, many early 20th century composers viewed music as being constructed of pitches, rhythms, motives, counterpoint, etc. but spectral composer’s viewed music as being sound evolving in time as perceived by a listener. This flipping of subject and object sounds trivial, but has enormous implications for all aspects of art making.

In particular, viewing sound as the starting point, not the end result, means that many of the innovations from modern acoustics and psychoacoustics can directly inform the musical possibilities and music can be created that requires less of an explicit historical context to be appreciated. This music as sound attitude has now become so ubiquitous that it can be easy to forget what a foreign idea it was even 20 years ago.

MR: What are some of the challenges in performing spectral music?

SD: First of all: reading the notation! The music is frequently written in “space=time” notation rather than in conventional quarter-notes as you would expect. Then it is quite difficult for young performers to adjust to playing in new tuning systems. Many of the pitches in spectral music fall “between the cracks” on the piano. But most important is listening, which is true for all music, but in this case the notes of various players frequently combine to create a kind of composite cloud-sound; you imagine hearing a new instrument which doesn’t really exist but kind of floats in the air above the players.

MR: (to Joshua Fineberg) the Spectral Summer Workshop ends with the premiere of your newest piece, Counterfactual, a composition that is based on what you call the “central gesture” of Giacinto Scelsi’s Okanagon. Will it be possible for the listeners to hear that connection or is this something that is present only in the inaudible super structure of the composition?

JF: No it is not only audible, but evident that the very unique trio from Okanagon (amplified tam-tam, harp and double bass) will be present in the middle of the stage to create a sort of touch-stone ‘original’ that opens the door to a ‘fictional’ world built around it.

MR: Throughout the history of music, making reference or commenting on the music of others has been an important artistic strategy for composers. Do you think that creating connections and relating to music that exists next to a particular composition or style is especially important in today’s fragmented music culture?

JF: For me it was really about that remarkable sonic object. As Proust found that astounding color in the wall of a Vermeer painting that led to a whole beautiful passage, the sound at the heart of Okanagon was uniquely and powerfully evocative to me and I wanted to see what it could become in my world of transformation and illusion as opposed to Scelsi’s world of repetition and ritual.

— Matthias Röder


In upcoming on May 17, 2011 at 1:22 pm

(excerpt of Tristan Murail's Winter Fragments)

In just a few weeks, we’ll be stretching into spectral domain with the likes of Gérard Grisey, Tristan Murail, Fabien Levy, and Joshua Fineberg.  We’re most pleased to announce that we’ll be in residence at the inaugural Spectral Summer Professional Performance Workshop at Boston University’s College of Fine Arts, with Fineberg as composer-in-residence.  Both Fineberg and Stephen Drury will be leading the workshop in introducing the exquisite details of spectralist music, including microtonal intonation, extended timbral techniques, and orchestral fusion.  All this will lead to the centerpiece of the 2011 workshop, a piece newly written by Joshua Fineberg called Counterfactual, scored for 9 instruments (a Callithumpian commission), to be performed at the culminating concert on Sunday, June 5th at CFA Concert Hall at 8pm.

On his piece Counterfactual, Joshua Fineberg writes:

Counterfactual history attempts to answer “what if” questions; it seeks to explore history and historical incidents by extrapolating a timeline in which certain historical events did not happen or resulted in an outcome which was different from that which did occur.  In this manner, the piece Counterfactual takes the central gesture of Giacinto Scelsi’s trio Okanagon and reimagines a new sound-world out of that gesture, creating a completely new work.  Scelsi’s gesture acts as a doorway into a completely different musical world, which unfolds in ways that would have been totally foreign to Scelsi.  The result is an impossible balance between memory and possibility, where the past and future rewrite each other.

We’re absolutely thrilled to be working with Fineberg, who has had a long history in coaching ensembles in the art of spectral music, having worked with Ensemble Fa and Court Circuit in Paris, as well as with Ensemble Sospeso, Speculum Musicae, Columbia Sinfonietta, Argento, and the Manhattan Sinfonietta in New York.  He’s also served as artistic director in overseeing the recordings of music by Tristan Murail and others with ensembles such as the renowned Ensemble InterContemporain.

We’re currently in the process of conducting a special interview with both Fineberg and Drury about the Spectral Summer workshop, which we will post in the next few days — stay tuned!

— more soon, from your friendly

Commissions/Premieres: Salkind-Pearl, Wendell Jones

In concerts, upcoming on April 17, 2011 at 5:20 pm

Poster design © 2011 CPARK

These past few weeks we’ve been underground (so to speak), rehearsing incredible amounts — all in preparation for our upcoming concert this Wednesday, April 20th.  We’re thrilled to present two new works, both of them fresh, 21st century, and written for the Consort.  On The Transience of Memory, newly composed by Christopher Wendell Jones, is scored for flute, clarinet, percussion, piano, two violins, viola, and cello, and will be receiving its world premiere in Brown Hall at New England Conservatory.  Jones, based in San Francisco, focuses on chamber music that is “intricately designed” in which he explores areas such as identity, narrative, and form through unconventional and unique methods.  He has had his music presented at Darmstadt (Germany), Ictus International Composition Seminar (Brussels, Belgium), and in New York at Merkin Hall among others — click here to read more.

Also highlighted on the program is Mischa Salkind-Pearl’s Autumn Voices, which was premiered last year at SICPP (fondly called “Sick Puppy”, short for Summer Institute of Contemporary Performance Practice) as the featured Composition Fellow commission .  Salkind-Pearl, a Boston-based composer, is Composer-In-Residence with Ludovico Ensemble and has his music performed in the US, Europe, and in Asia.  Autumn Voices, composed in 2010 for flute, clarinet, percussion, piano, violin, viola, and cello, will be given its second performance this Wednesday.

We’ll also be performing Norio Fukushi’s Silica, Giacinto Scelsi’s Okanagon, and Michael Finnissy’s Casual Nudity — tons of new music to satiate your appetite!  Admission is free.  8pm in Brown Hall at New England Conservatory this Wednesday, April 20th … see you there!

— your friendly webbottress.