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Gerald Carpenter: ECM Concert Explores the Spirit Realm at UCSB

Under the thematic banner "The Thing Possessed," the UCSB Ensemble for Contemporary Music (ECM), under their heroic director, Jeremy Haladyna, plays its final concert of the (academic) year at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 30, in Lotte Lehmann Concert Hall.

"The theme wraps this concert in the spirit world, with exotic traditions tied to spirits from Japan, Guatemala, Southwestern pueblos and Polynesia all playing roles," Haladyna said.

"Unique as well is the way single pieces on the concert reflect different aspects of spiritualism: spirits that are seasonal; spirits in service to, or inimical to, humankind; and even spirits inhabiting both animals and things," he said.

The collection of possessions, possessed, and possessing includes:

Hans Werner Henze's "La Mano Sinistra for Solo Piano (1990)" (Evan Losoya, piano); a sampling from Haladyna's "Organ Sonata, 'Maximón' " (2018)" (Haladyna, organ); André Jolivet's "Mana, Six Pieces for Piano (1935)" (Marie-Agathe Charpagne, piano).

Also, two movements from Stephen Hartke's "Netsuke, Six Miniatures for Violin & Piano (2011);" (Sara Bashore, violin; Evan Losoya, piano); Katherine Hoover's "Winter Spirits for Solo Flute, Opus 51 (1997)" (Cynthia Vong, flute).

William Bolcom's "Bird Spirits, Nine Pieces for Piano (1999-2000)" (Jarod Fedele and Keith Sibal, pianos); Richard Orton's "Gyges for Oboe and Piano" (Lexie Callaway-Cole, oboe; Jarod Fedele, piano).

Plus, two world premieres by UCSB graduate composers Scott Perry — "Movement for Viola and Piano" (M.D. Owensby, viola) — and Owensby — "Mockery Pursuit for Violin and Cello" (Sara Bashore, violin; Katherine Carlson, cello).
"Quite apart from its possession theme," said Haladyna, "ECM’s May 30 concert also contains a heady dose of musical lagniappe, in the form of very short works by modern composers of great import, including György Ligeti, Marcel Chyrzynski, Henri Dutilleux and Alvin Lucier.

There is also an item brought straight from Sloveniaby graduate pianist Petra Persolja: "Dimensions," a lively showpiece in three short sections by noted Slovenian composer, Bojan Glavina. Sharing the single keyboard will be the "One-and-a-Half Slavs” (that is, Petra Persolja and Haladyna).
For the fearless souls attending this concert, all will be revealed, but since they will be sworn to secrecy, the only way you can solve the mystery is to acquire your own seat in Lehmann Hall on the night.

If your sense of adventure deserts you, you should at least not want to pass up a new work by Haladyna, one which celebrates a Guatemalan folk saint.
Admission to this concert is free for UCSB students, $5 for non-UCSB students, and $10 for the general public. For more information, consult the Music Department website,

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributing writer. He can be reached at [email protected]. The opinions expressed are his own.

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