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SBU Music Department Celebrates 27 Years of World Premieres with Concert Series


STONY BROOK, N.Y., Nov. 10, 2014 – The Music Department at Stony Brook University presents its 27th annual Stony Brook Premieres! concert on Thursday, Nov. 13 at 8 p.m. at the Staller Center for the Arts in Stony Brook, NY and on Friday, Nov. 14 at Roulette in Brooklyn, NY at 7:30 p.m.

The Stony Brook Contemporary Chamber Players—advanced performers primarily from the University’s accomplished graduate music department—perform. Five prominent, well-established composers are featured at this year’s concert. They include:

  • Daniel Weymouth, a Stony Brook University professor of composition who writes kinetic and immediate music;
  • Mark Applebaum, a Stanford University professor of composition considered the “mad scientist of music”;
  • Cindy Cox, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley whose energetic music features imaginative and impressionistic colors and textures;
  • Matthew Ricketts, a New York-based composer whose music is visceral and engaging;
  • and Stephen Taylor, a professor at the University of Illinois whose musical works integrate nature and science;

Three composers—Applebaum, Cox, and Weymouth—will be in-residence at Stony Brook University to coach the Contemporary Chamber Players, give colloquia, and participate on a panel discussion about their works during intermission at the Nov. 13 concert.

Each work explores contemporary themes, ranging from sonic workings of interpersonal interactions to works that explore protein structure and nature through sound.

“There is tremendous excitement in seeing what has been written for us and in the knowledge that we are hearing these most recent manifestations of composers’ creativity, and that the pieces have been written for our students and this occasion,” says Chair of the Stony Brook Music Department Perry Goldstein, also a professor of composition. “We’re proud of having had over 100 pieces written for us, pieces that but for us may never have been conceived, and of the contributions we have made to the literature of new music.”

Follow are descriptions of works on the program:

  • Mark Applebaum’s Speed Dating is a high-octane octet made up exclusively of duos—instrumental couples who pair off and re-pair in a frenzied, poly-amorous orgy of spasmodic rhythms, questionable “key” parties, and vocal chirrups in response to notations appearing on individual players’ wristwatches. Listeners can safely enjoy this hygienic mating spectacle: the love is only aural.
  • The entwined and interwoven puzzle pieces of Cindy Cox’s Hishuk ish ts’awalk builds a space full of echoes, noises, and silence. Inspired by a wild Canadian temperate rainforest, the ensemble of clarinet, strings, and piano evokes a resonant, forceful, yet fragile musical ecosystem.
  • Matthew Ricketts’ Enclosed Position gets caught in a relentlessly gentle maze of claustrophobic triads drawn from three uncannily related opera scenes in Ravel (L’enfant et les sortilèges), Puccini (Manon Lescaut), and Massenet (Manon).  
  • Stephen Taylor’s Writhe attempts to ‘sonify’ an extremophile—a tiny organism that can live only in extreme environments, like the hot springs of Yellowstone. “Writhe,” which refers to twists and knots in DNA, translates the genetic structure of a protein—reverse gyrase, found only in extremophiles—into music.
  • You turn a corner; you catch a glint of sunlight; you read the world’s more perfect sentence, and suddenly—all too briefly—it is all just so clear. By turns explosive, agitated, tender, confused, heartbreakingly sweet, this piece, Brief Moments of Clarity by Daniel Weymouth, for two pianos and percussion explores those moments when we experience that which lies below this life of ours. 

For more information about The Music Department at Stony Brook University visit https://www.stonybrook.edu/commcms/music/index.shtml.


About Premieres!:

Directed by distinguished performers and educators Gilbert Kalish and Eduardo Leandro, Stony Brook’s Contemporary Chamber Players has been called “a small army of musicians who demonstrate consistent accomplishment” by the New York Times. The group has commissioned over 100 scores by composers in various stages of their careers, including those by Pulitzer Prize and MacArthur Fellowship recipients. Composers selected for commissioning represent a wide range of styles, geographical locations, and ages, from talented young composers to established masters. The ensemble aims to provide copious rehearsal time and outstanding first performances of challenging works in collaboration with the commissioned composers.  Since 1988, when the program was conceived by eminent composer John Lessard and pioneering new music performers Gilbert Kalish and Raymond DesRoches, the premieres concerts have drawn the attention and interest of composers and audiences. The Stony Brook Contemporary Chamber Players’s unique commissioning and performance project has been recognized by composers nationally as an outstanding contribution to contemporary music, one which is virtually unmatched by other collegiate student ensembles in the nation.

Reporter Contact: 
Alida Almonte
University Media Relations Manager
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