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Gerald Carpenter: UCSB Ensemble ‘Going Out with a Bang’

Ensemble for Contemporary Music will honor three departing players during Tuesday's concert

UCSB’s Ensemble for Contemporary Music will end another adventurous season/academic year with a concert at 8 p.m. Tuesday in the Music Department’s Lotte Lehmann Concert Hall.

Luciano Berio
Luciano Berio

Rather than slip out quietly, ECM — under the deft direction of Jeremy Haladyna — has determined to take Dylan Thomas’ advice to “not go gentle into that good night!” And they serve notice with the concert’s title that they will be “Going Out with a Bang!”

The “going out” part refers not only to the end of the year but to the graduation and consequent departure of three of ECM’s most valuable players — flautist Carol Joe, clarinetist Laurence Young and violist Gentry Hill, each of whom will mark his or her departure with a show-stopper performance. There will also be a guest artist in the mix, as ECM “ecumenically welcomes as guest performer that exciting advocate of newer repertoire, Philip Ficsor, violinist of the Westmont faculty.” (This and all quotations below are drawn from ECM’s own description of the concert.)

Joe “has chosen a whale of a final act: a landmark in the one-woman repertory for her instrument. This is the Flute Sequenza of Luciano Berio, from 1958, which introduced a whole new set of challenges to the flute world. The audience hears a firecracker solo chock full of uncanny new sounds, but misses an even more revolutionary element-how the music is positioned on the page in space, with no measure bars.”

Young “offers as his valedictory gift to ECM Steve Reich’s minimalist tour de force, New York Counterpoint. Against a rocketing, hocketing accompaniment on CD of 10 clarinet fellows, all pre-recorded, Young will need to thread the needle, bracketing his own live clarinet notes precisely where they are designed to fit.”

Hill “takes on music with a new ethnic identity as she plays Director Jeremy Haladyna’s duo work, El Llanto de Izamal. The piece, which has also been heard in Mexico’s National Palace, treats the theme of an agricultural town in the northern Yucatán, torn by a split allegiance for centuries. In music which alternately treats the Mayan side and then the Spanish side, the piece reflects the fact that the town Izamal was an important religious center to both, with predictable tensions and conflict.”

Then Katherine Saxon, a composer in UCSB’s Ph.D. program, “offers an alluring quartet in its UCSB premiere, Quilt I. … In the new Saxon work, ECM’s players will be conducted by Jeremy Haladyna and will welcome as collaborating guest violinist Philip Ficsor from Westmont.”

Finally, Federico Llach, composer and contrabassist from Buenos Aires, is a new Ph.D. candidate. In his work nadie decía nada (nobody said anything), “two improvising players, led by saxophonist Joel Hunt, will enter the conversation in mid-course and emerge as key constituents. The composer himself will hold down a virtuosic part for contrabass, one of six layered parts that are written out with great precision, the others being: flute, clarinet, violin, vibraphone and percussion.”

Tickets to the ECM concert are $15 for general admission and $7 for students, and they will be sold only at the door on the night of the performance. For more information on this or other departmental concerts, click here or call the department’s information line at 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). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews.

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