Classical music is reinventing itself, and the diverse compositions of today's modern composers have found a home -- at Colorado College's Summer Arts Festival. The sixth annual New Music Symposium, which will be held July 18-21 at CC's Packard Hall, will feature a variety of different pieces every night, with the intent of introducing the audience to up-and-coming, quality classical music, all free of charge.
In 1996, CC Professor Ofer Ben-Amots began inviting distinguished modern composers to Colorado Springs to present their pieces to the public. What began as an attempt to "connect people using new music" quickly grew into a prestigious event, featuring the confluence of the some of the nation's elite musicians.
This year, in collaboration with Leonard Rhodes (director of the Pikes Peak Young Composers), Ben-Amots will bring together renowned composers such as Richard Lavenda and David Crumb, with a crop of promising young students for a seminar designed to teach music structure, notation and performance to the maestros of tomorrow.
For three consecutive nights, modern classical music will reign supreme. The symposium will begin with Joseph Dorfman performing his 1991 piece, "Verses from Klezmer-Ballade." Following the celebrated pianist/composer, will be a series of short compositions featuring a wide range of influences and sounds.
According to Ben-Amots, "Classical music today can utilize aspects of the avant-garde when it needs to, but there seems to be a desire for aestheticism as well," and the pieces represented in this year's symposium clearly demonstrate the eclectic nature of the art.
On Friday, audiences can enjoy two world-premiere pieces: Ben-Amots' "Akeyda" and Jennifer Higdon's "Sky Quartet." The former is a solemn piano piece, drawn from a traditional Hebrew prayer for the deceased; Higdon's is a composition that was commissioned for performance by the local Da Vinci Quartet. Audiences can expect to hear everything from somber piano dirges, to experimental, rhythmic compositions. The common denominator, says Ben-Amots, "is that it's all great music."
As if three straight nights of world-class music weren't enough, the symposium welcomes the community back on Sunday, July 21, for a matinee performance of the Pikes Peak Young Composers' works. Come and watch classical music evolve firsthand as the symposium embraces the youthfulness of tomorrow's new talent, and recognizes the brilliant works of today's composers.
-- Joe Kuzma
Thursday, July 18, 7:30 p.m.
"Verses from Klezmer-Ballade" (1991), composed and performed by Joseph Dorfman.
"On Thin Ice" (1998), composed by Janice Misurell-Mitchell; performed by Paul Nagem, flute, and John Kinzie, marimba.
"September Elegy," composed by David Crumb; performed by Jerilyn Jorgensen,violin, and Alice Rybak, piano.
"Untitled," composed by Jonathan Lee; performed by Victoria Hansen, soprano; Margaret Miller, viola; and David Colson, percussion.
"Sonata for Violin and Piano" (1970), composed by Joseph Dorfman; performed by Joo Mee Lee, violin; and Susan Grace, piano.
Friday, July 19, 7:30 p.m.
"Akeyda: Variations on a Prayer" (2000), composed by Ofer Ben-Amots; performed by Susan Grace, piano.
"Three Songs" (2000), composed by Richard Lavenda; performed by Victoria Hansen, soprano; Paul Nagem, flute; Margaret Miller, viola; and Susan Grace, piano.
"Phantasy for 2 Pianos" (1987), composed by Joseph Dorfman; performed by Susan Grace and Alice Rybak of the Quattro Mani piano duo.
"Intaglios for solo vibraphone," composed and performed by David Colson.
"Sky Quartet" (World Premiere), composed by Jennifer Higdon; performed by the local Da Vinci Quartet.
Saturday, July 20, 7:30 p.m.
"Ceremonial Fanfare for Hradec Kralove" (2002), composed by Ofer Ben-Amots; performed by Sarah Balian, oboe; Susan Grace, piano; and David Colson, percussion.
"Lustration for the Millennium" (1996), composed by Robert Patterson; performed by Sarah Balian, oboe; Susan Grace, piano; and David Colson, percussion.
"Paisajes Audibles," composed by Stephen Scott; performed by Victoria Hansen, soprano; and CC's Bowed Piano Ensemble.
"Two Lieder on Poems by Rainer Maria Rilke," composed by Carlton Gamer; performed by Herbert Beattie, bass-baritone; Sarah Balian, oboe; Michael Yopp, horn; and Katharine Knight, cello.
"Trio (in memory of Dimitri Shostakovich)" (1976), composed by Joseph Dorfman; performed by Jerilyn Jorgensen, violin; Katharine Knight, cello; and Joseph Dorfman, piano.