The Callithumpian Blog

Posts Tagged ‘tristan murail’

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!


CC at Boston College

In concerts on October 20, 2012 at 10:59 pm

We’re in residence this season at Boston College, working and performing with BC students in shared concerts as well as concerts of our own.

Coming up on Monday, October 22, Callithumpian performs music by CageFeldmanWolffBrown, and MurailThe concert begins at 8:00 PM in Gasson 100Admission is free.

Program details:

John CageString Quartet in Four Parts, Music for Seven
Morton FeldmanTwo Pieces for Clarinet and String Quartet
Tristan MurailLachrymae (commissioned by Callithumpian)
Earle BrownString Quartet
Christian WolffHay Una Mujer Desaparecida

For more information, please visit the Boston College Music DepartmentFor directions to the campus, please click here.

This concert is sponsored by the Institute for the Liberal Arts and the Music Department.

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.

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.

Kicking Off: Murail, Reich, Liang

In Uncategorized on September 9, 2011 at 11:15 am

(photo of Tristan Murail by E. Schneider)

Happy September!  We’re off to a hefty start this season, kicking off with Tristan Murail‘s Le Lac, Steve Reich‘s Sextet, and Lei Liang‘s Aural Hypothesis on Wednesday, September 14th in Jordan Hall.

This past summer, we were thrilled to have French composer Tristan Murail in residence here in Boston at our annual Sick Puppy (SICPP: Summer Institute of Contemporary Performance Practice) festival, where we performed a large array of his music, including the world premiere of Lachrymae (2011) as well as our first performance of Le Lac (2001).  Murail describes this work (scored for an ensemble of 19) as being inspired by the emergent and ephemeral layers he experienced at a lake to the north of New York City.  “Every day, every hour, the lake has a different light, a new mood. It is ever present but ever changing, reflecting and magnifying the incessant movement of the seasons and climates.” (

Steve Reich‘s Sextet (1985) is written for percussion and keyboards: a shifting exploration of melody and harmony, at times revealing itself as foreground, then melting into the background (and back again).  Without a doubt, Sextet is a work of utmost focus, with its cyclic weaving of rhythm and patterns lasting just under half an hour.

Chinese-born American composer Lei Liang brings us Aural Hypothesis (2010), scored for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano and vibraphone.  In the approximately eleven minutes that elapse, quiet and intimate sounds suddenly rush into a saturated storm, making its exit with glissandi and staccati carving and punctuating an elusive sonic texture.  A beautiful work, not to be missed live.

These three works — Le Lac, Sextet, and Aural Hypothesis — are guaranteed to blow you away into new musical worlds.  What better way to start the season?  Come join us on Wednesday, September 14th at 8pm in Jordan Hall and share this experience with us.

— your friendly webbottress.

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