Saturday, August 2, 2014

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Ekmeles Ensemble to Lend a Voice to New Music in Friday Performance

The graduate student composers in the program in Composition and Computer Technologies in the University of Virginia’s McIntire Department of Music will host a concert of works for voices, performed by members of the acclaimed Ekmeles vocal ensemble.

The concert is the capstone event of Ekmeles’ U.Va. residency, supported by the Office of the Vice Provost for the Arts. The concert will be held Friday at 8 p.m. at the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Church at 717 Rugby Road. The event is free and open to the public.

Ekmeles is a vocal ensemble dedicated to the performance of new and rarely heard works and gems of the historical avant garde. Its name is drawn from ancient Greek; in the music theory of the time, ekmeles was an adjective used to describe tones of indefinite pitch and intervals with complex ratios and tones “not appropriate for musical usage.”

The New York Times praised Ekmeles for its “extraordinary sense of pitch”, and the New Yorker’s Alex Ross called it a “promising addition to the New York scene.”

Though New York is home to a vibrant instrumental New Music scene, it has a relative paucity of vocal music. Ekmeles was founded to fill the gap by presenting new a cappella repertoire for solo voices, and by collaborating with instrumental ensembles.

Recent collaborations include the U.S. premiere of Beat Furrer’s “FAMA” with Talea Ensemble, the U.S. premiere of Luigi Nono’s “Quando Stanno Morendo” with AMP New Music, and two concerts of 10 world premieres by Columbia University and New York University composers. Other performances include a program at Columbia University’s Italian Academy, two nights of Christopher Cerrone’s opera “Invisible Cities” with Red Light New Music and a collaboration with violinist Mary Rowell of Knee Plays from Philip Glass’ “Einstein on the Beach” at Issue Project Room.

Ekmeles’ director, Jeffrey Gavett, brings a hybrid vision to the group; he is an accomplished ensemble singer and performer of new works, and holds degrees from Westminster Choir College and Manhattan School of Music’s Contemporary Performance Program. He has assembled a virtuoso group of colleagues with diverse backgrounds, ranging from the operatic stages of Europe to Anglican choirs of men and boys, necessary to the unique challenges of this essential and neglected repertoire. 

Also as part of the residency, members of Ekmeles will lead a discussion and workshop on new music for voices on Thursday at 3:30 p.m. in Old Cabell Hall, room 107.

For information, call the McIntire Department of Music at 434-924-3052.

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