“The More Things Change” by Kansas City favorite Ingrid Stölzel highlighted the opening concert of the newEar Contemporary Chamber Ensemble’s 20th season Saturday night in Kansas City.
All seven pieces conveyed their composers’ intentions successfully. And all were beautifully played, as usual, by newEar’s stellar musicians.
Gilbert Galindo’s “Divergent Escape” is a long seven minutes, but of undeniable power “Surrounded in chaos/In turmoil that is nearly unbearable-uncontrollable.”
João Pedro Oliveira’s “Iris” is practically neo-Romantic by comparison. It’s a quintet for four acoustics and one electronic, and based on the Book of Revelation and on Olivier Messien’s “Quartet for the End of Time.”
Oliveria writes that “My work will not break with the past or confront it” and there are many places in “Iris” where acoustic and electronic sounds intersect wonderfully, especially in its string writing.
It’s very conservative music, with electronics. Once again, it’s been shown that Olivier Messiaen is one of the most fruitful apostles of modern music, and that he points strongly in a direction that is the right way forward for it.
Oliveria’s respect for the past also permeates Stölzel’s all-acoustic “The More Things Change.”
Sweet and wistful, with a distinct salon music feel, Stölzel’s music is familiar territory here, and over too soon. She says that “the more things change, the more my desire for permanence increases” and she gives eloquent voice to this sentiment in this enchanting music.
Dylan Schneider’s “Nocturne and Wake-Up Call” is a nice little solo flute work. It’s very atmospheric, very Quiet City, very enjoyable.
Mark Snyder’s “Harvey” conveys well his shock and incomprehension of the sheer, random brutality of the Harvey family murders in his hometown of Richmond, Virginia in 2005. It’s a tribute to the human capacity to wrestle meaning and even beauty from evil.
On the other hand, Arthur Levering’s jaunty, big-city “Still Raining, Still Dreaming” paid uptown homage to both Toru Takemitsu and Jimi Hendrix. Levering explored the dissolving boundary between acoustic and electronic sounds in an interesting way here: it’s all acoustic, but at times it sounds electronic.
Jonathan Pieslak’s “Prednisomnia” is program music at its most pharmaceutical. It’s like watching political conventions on TV, in that it’s all about “sensing that one’s mind is at times not fully under one’s control.”
Pieslak’s ended with a delightful, beautifully executed musical joke. It was the perfect end to a perfect evening. What a great concert this was!