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Gerald Carpenter: UCSB Ensemble for Contemporary Music Celebrating the Here and Now

The program for Tuesday's 'Park the WABAC Machine!' concert is not at all 'Wayback'

Jeremy Haladyna and the UCSB Ensemble for Contemporary Music have whipped up a heady mixture of contemporary sounds for their season finale at 8 p.m. Tuesday in UCSB’s Lotte Lehmann Concert Hall.

Sherman and Mr. Peabody enter the WABAC Machine circa 1960, but you won't need it to get to the next concert of the UCSB Ensemble for Contemporary Music.
Sherman and Mr. Peabody enter the WABAC Machine circa 1960, but you won’t need it to get to the next concert of the UCSB Ensemble for Contemporary Music. (Wikipedia photo)

They’re calling this concert “Park the WABAC Machine!” I had to have this reference explained to me because, at a time when most of my school friends were watching The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, and rehashing it in detail amid breathless laughter at lunch the next day, I was doing something else. Apparently, the “WABAC Machine” — as in “way back” — is a kind of time machine featured in one of the segments of that popular cartoon show of the early 1960s. The message in the title, according to Haladyna, is that “the program content is simply all new and not at all ‘Wayback’ … recent enough to have this famous cartoon time machine parked and idling.”

Sort of like Bob Dylan singing, “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.”

There is a subtext, as well, which Haladyna encapsulates in the word “rarity: here is a program deep in variety and filled with rare occasions to hear items seldom programmed, items entirely new and by both emerging and ‘name’ composers” — the lovely song “San Francisco Night,” for instance, by Henri Dutilleux (born in 1916), to be sung by soprano Allison Bernal. The words, written by Paul Gilson, seem to be a response to the death of François Poulenc. And, too, there is an often-overlooked work by the fine American composer Lou Harrison: three movements from his Grand Duo for Violin and Piano, played by violinist Dimitry Olevsky and pianist Kacey Link.

Among those items that will seem more exotic in print than in performance, we have David Schober’s Higher Ground, a setting of a Korean revivalist-style hymn tune for flute and piano, performed by Carol Joe on flute and Haladyna on piano.

Native Cuban Tania León dedicated her miniature quintet, Parajota Delaté (for “J.” from “T.”) to Joan Tower; it will be translated by five budding virtuosos drawn from the ranks of ECM. In the category of “treasures” that are “practically unknown,” we have Leo Brouwer’s Triptico for two classical guitars, performed by Mark Covey and Reyes Gonzalez-Valle.

Composer-in-residence Marc Satterwhite, from the University of Louisville faculty, has two works on the program: Imágenes del atardecer, a musical memory of a unique sunset Satterwhite witnessed in Mexico, is scored for marimba and alto flute onstage, plus singing cello and percussion off; and Epitafio, for saxophone (Joel Hunt) and percussion (Anthony Garcia), will be featured saxophonist with percussionist.

And if you were wondering if there will be any contributions from UCSB’s own young composers, rest assured. We will hear Fish Affected by Dreams for Viola and Synthesizer by Ph.D. candidate Christopher Jette, performed by violist Shannon McCue (to whom the work is dedicated), with Jette working the electronics; and Two Textures for four string players by Luke Thomas Taylor. Haladyna urges us to: “Forget traveling back in time — here is a compelling case for the musical present!”

Admission to “Park the WABAC Machine!” is $15 (general) and $7 (students), with tickets sold at the door. For more information, click here or call 805.893.7001.

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributor. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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