Nine Doors, a full length, multilingual, ritual music drama by Jen Shyu, came about as the result of a self-issued artistic challenge. “I wanted to write for as big a group as I could,” Shyu says, “and then distill it down to a solo.” The new project will have its premiere on June 29 in two concerts at National Sawdust, co-presented with World Music Institute and in association with Asia Society.
“Our mission, our goal as an ensemble, is to play percussion music that we feel is as good as any other chamber music for any other instruments that is being written now, and get it in front of people who have never heard it before,” Ian Rosenbaum declares of Sandbox Percussion, the esteemed quartet of which he’s a member. The group appears at National Sawdust on June 7, playing works by Christopher Cerrone and Timo Andres.
Percussionist Matt Cook and composer Ellen Reid have known each other since their days as graduate students at CalArts, and have been regular, close collaborators ever since. Reid is in residence at National Sawdust this season, and this week brings an east coast rendezvous when Los Angeles Percussion Quartet performs Reid’s Fear | Release during the group’s New York debut concert, at National Sawdust on June 1.
Yellow Barn, the famously intrepid summer chamber music festival, is bringing the concept of “taking the show on the road” to a new level. In October 2015, the center introduced Music Haul, a mobile stage in the back of a truck that allows Yellow Barn’s musicians to perform virtually anywhere it can travel to. Having already visited Boston, Baltimore, and Dallas, Music Haul is undertaking its most ambitious voyage yet: “Music No Boundaries: NYC,” a nine-day residency.
As both a member of the highly regarding Mivos Quartet and as a solo artist in her own right, cellist Mariel Roberts has demonstrated an affinity for uncompromising music and a capacity for making even the most challenging works sing. Composer Eric Wubbels is among the numerous beneficiaries of Roberts’s advocacy – his gretchen Am Spinnrade, a duo for cello and piano, is featured on Roberts’s new CD, Cartography, with Wubbels himself at the piano. In advance of an album-release concert at National Sawdust on May 19, as well as a New York Philharmonic Contact! program that includes Wubbels’s katachi coming up at National Sawdust on May 22, the two sat down recently at a neighborhood café to compare experiences and agendas.
For all that his large-scale works have commanded the spotlight over the last decade or so, David Lang initially burst into the public eye and ear with pithy, concise, and clever chamber works… On ‘thorn,’ an appealing new CD by flutist Molly Barth, Lang’s puckish instrumental miniatures assume center stage.
Though it’s not exactly a case of “opposites attract,” those who know the music of composer-performers Tristan Perich and Christopher Tignor might not automatically pair the two creators despite a shared association with electroacoustic music and technical ingenuity. Yet in a recent interview in advance of their joint appearance at National Sawdust on May 5, they discovered a healthy amount of overlap in their working methods and philosophies.
How do you invite an audience into an opera that has no characters to relate to, no story to follow? The inventive director RB Schlather, mounting A Madrigal Opera as the final entry in his engaging, productive National Sawdust residency, approached that challenge in an artfully literal-minded way, mingling members of the stellar vocal ensemble Choral Chameleon among the audience and engulfing them all within an elegantly simple, smartly realized common frame of reference.
For every musician, their instrument is their most prized possession. For refugees, this instrument can also be the passport to freedom and safety. This was the case for Syrian musician Mariela Shaker, whose violin became her entrée card to the United States. At the National Sawdust/Carnegie Hall Neighborhood Concerts co-presentation of the Canales Project’s program “Between Two Worlds,” Shaker brought her experiences to the stage through story and sonata.
On March 26 at National Sawdust, the composer Harold Meltzer will celebrate his 50th birthday with a program of two substantial recent works. Meltzer sat down recently for an interview conducted by the acclaimed tenor Paul Appleby, a longtime colleague, who questioned him thoroughly regarding his musical development, textual inclinations, compositional influences, and creative process.