New Music New Haven returns to in-person performances

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After a year of prerecorded virtual concerts, New Music New Haven’s live concert on Sunday will feature work by student composers and two teaching composers.


Contributing journalist


Sarah Cook, collaborating photographer

After more than a year of pre-recorded virtual concerts, the New Music New Haven concert series will return live on October 7 at 7:30 p.m. at Morse Recital Hall.

The New Music New Haven series spotlights various Yale School of Music student composers in six concerts throughout the year, and also occasionally features works by college composers. Five of the concerts feature chamber music, and one includes orchestral pieces performed by the Yale Philharmonia, an orchestra made up of students from the School of Music. The concert on October 7, which will feature pieces by four composers and two teachers, will be broadcast live on the site of the School of Music.

Last year, composers worked with performers to create recordings which were then compiled into Youtube videos. Thursday’s concert will only be open to students, faculty and staff of the School of Music and the Institute of Sacred Music.

“As a composer, I feel like not listening to music cuts off the oxygen,” Harriet Steinke MUS ’22 said. “Over the last year a lot of songwriters have been through this, so it’s a big deal to have that first gig in person. “

Steinke is one of four students who will have works presented in Thursday’s concert. Her piece, titled “Second Suite for Two Cellos”, will premiere – a piece she only started writing last month. Steinke explained that while writing this piece, she was thinking about the last piece she particularly enjoyed writing, which was her “First Suite for Two Cellos”.

Steinke stated that this piece is similar to the “First Suite for Two Cellos” in the way the cellists’ bows move together in the same direction and how the unique sight of two cellists on stage creates a feeling of “pomp and circumstance. circumstance”. She also further explored the opportunities created by having two cellos on stage while writing her new piece.

“By entering with more intentionality, I could experiment a little more by having [musicians’] the arcs always go in the same direction, the sections that get louder last longer and really bathe in the parts of the music that I liked in the first one, ”Steinke said.

Lila Meretzky’s piece MUS ’22 titled “Sea Glass Partita” is the first of one of three iterations of the piece. It was inspired by Eleni Katz MUS ’21, another Music School student who wanted to showcase both her vocals and her bassoon playing in one piece. The first iteration featured Katz’s shift between vocals and bassoon, and the title came from a poem Katz wrote during the pandemic.

Katz’s poem uses the central metaphor of a piece of sea glass to represent how the changes and journeys one experiences do not detract from the ever-present beauty of life. Thursday’s concert will feature the third iteration, performed by a bassoonist and singer.

Meretzky said that two musicians playing the piece allow for larger textures than when a musician alternating between instruments had to switch between voices. Meretzky added that she was very excited to start the live performances again.

“Performing arts is something different. it’s pretty exciting, and I don’t think any of us have been back to this space for a while, ”Meretzky said. “I think there will be nerves as well, but that only makes these things more exciting.”

Sophia Pfleger’s piece MUS ’22 entitled “When the Sun is Low” will also be premiered during the concert. Pfleger wrote this piece in the first week of this year for guitarist Jiji Kim MUS ’17 as part of a songwriting challenge they created on Instagram.

According to Pfleger, the inspiration for the play came from her home in Germany, which was on lockdown for the COVID-19 pandemic when she wrote the play.

“In this wintry environment, it had a very calming effect for me personally,” said Pfleger. “I felt very good personally at that time, which was and is in stark contrast to what’s going on in the world right now. “When the sun is low” captures this moment as a diary entry. “

Faculty composers Aaron Jay Kernis MUS ’83 and David Lang MUS ’83 will also have pieces performed at the next concert. Lang’s piece, “Let me in,” was inspired by the Old Testament verse Song of Songs 5: 2 and commissioned by the Los Angeles Opera and Fisher Center at Bard College. The piece includes soprano, percussion, viola, and cello, and it was originally premiered in a video project created by filmmaker Bill Morrion. October 7 will be the play’s first in-person performance.

“As someone with a moderately religious education, I’m interested in what all of these texts mean to us, and in particular what they mean to me,” Lang said, “When you are a composer you move on. a lot of time with yourself. What you really do with these pieces is try to figure out who you are, what you love, what makes you vibrate and what makes you feel things.

While researching the biblical text, Lang found 17 different interpretations of American religious groups. In it, Lang tried not to “distinguish between versions”, but instead attempted to make a “supertext” that treats all interpretations equally.

Kernis’ piece “From a Dark Time” will also premiere on October 7, having been composed in early 2020. Kernis originally composed the piece for his son’s high school piano trio. It begins with lyrical lines on violin and cello and contrasts with Kernis’ other piano trio piece, which is comical in nature and features narration.

Kernis said the title of this most recent article comes from the prevalence of gun violence and the actions of the last presidential administration.

“When there had just been another gun massacre in America, and I sat down and started this play,” Kernis said. “It kinda looks like it’s been preserved in amber.

New Music New Haven’s next concert takes place on November 4 and will feature guest conductor Caroline Shaw.


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