From ClevelandClassical.com – No Exit at Bop Stop: “Homage to Eric Dolphy” (May 27)
By Joshua Rosner
Recently declared “the hippest haunt on the Cuyahoga” by New York Magazine, the Bop Stop was abuzz for No Exit’s “Homage to Eric Dolphy.” No Exit is no stranger to inventive, new programs. But especially intriguing on Saturday night, May 27 was that this outstanding new music ensemble added to its ranks a trio of talented local jazz musicians: Bobby Selvaggio (alto saxophone), Scott McKee (trumpet/flugelhorn), and Dustin May (drum set).
“Hat and Beard,” from Dolphy’s seminal album Out to Lunch, was heard in an arrangement by Andrew Rindfleisch, who reimagined the piece for string trio (violinist Cara Tweed, violist, James Rhodes, and cellist Nick Diadore), trumpet, alto saxophone, and drum set.
May began with a medium-tempo swing, and the rest of the ensemble entered with a sharp, sudden pop. Diadore took the role of bass, locking in stunningly with May, while Tweed and Selvaggio played the melody with a beautiful blend. Soon the room was filled with trills from trumpet and high strings, and Rindfleisch’s arrangement became a vessel for Selvaggio’s improvisations. Thanks to Dustin May, this contemporary ensemble was swinging.
After Tweed left the stage, Luke Rinderknecht (vibraphone) and Gunnar Owen Hirthe (bass clarinet) joined the ensemble for Selvaggio’s arrangement of Serene. As he writes in the program notes, here the saxophonist’s fascination with avant-garde musicians playing “pretty straight-ahead” songs was apparent. The arrangement featured Rhodes and Rinderknecht improvising over backgrounds written in a way that they, too, could be determined in the moment.
With Tweed back in the mix and the composer at the piano, Paul Epstein’s Looking for Eric immediately set up a chaotic conversation among the musicians before settling into a bass figure between the left hand of the pianist and Hirthe. This was the first moment in the evening that sounded like fully-fledged jazz minus a bass player — the traditional big band sax soli was distributed between winds and strings before Selvaggio, McKee, and Epstein all took solos.
Selvaggio’s arrangement of Out There begins as a ballad derived from Dolphy’s melody for string trio and saxophone, then the entire ensemble improvises together before returning to the melody in unison.
The first half concluded with Tim Beyer’s Elegy for saxophone, bass clarinet, trumpet, vibraphone, and cello, conducted by James Praznik. The most traditional chamber piece on the program, Elegy begins with cacophony as a Dolphy-esque line is passed around the ensemble. While Hirthe blasted out an impression of a didgeridoo, Praznik left the stage. The ensemble continued with a collective improvisation, finishing with a flurry of key clicks and McKee flicking the bell of his trumpet — one of the most sonically satisfying moments of the evening.
After intermission, Hirthe performed Roger Janotta’s direct transcription of Dolphy’s live solo performance of Billie Holiday’s and Arthur Herzog, Jr.’s God Bless the Child. Hirthe made the arpeggios and his entire instrument seem effortless.
Greg D’Allesio’s Late Lunch is a collage of themes from Out to Lunch with lovely orchestration, including an especially memorable blend of vibraphone, bass clarinet, and viola.
Selvaggio’s arrangement of Truth featured lush backgrounds from bass clarinet, flugelhorn, and viola. The saxophonist soared as the improviser Cleveland has come to adore. His arrangement was reminiscent of the Third Stream greats (like Gunther Schuller) and even ended with a Picardy third (minor piece of classical music ending on a major chord).
Closing out the program was Praznik’s Iron Manic, a restructuring of Dolphy’s Iron Man. Taking the bare essence of that work, Praznik, who played piano for the performance, gives the ensemble a set of instructions to follow — almost a road map. Featuring large-scale improvisations, sustained strings, and an incredible drum solo from May, the piece delivered on the manic energy it promised.
A fine line exists between appropriating jazz into classical music and paying homage to a musician whose work defies genre. In this case, No Exit paid elegant tribute to Dolphy, balancing the notes he played with why Dolphy played them. One can only hope that No Exit and other ensembles in Cleveland continue to wrestle with this challenges — and, more importantly, that they are as successful as Saturday evening’s homage to Eric Dolphy.
Article originally published on ClevelandClassical.com on May 31, 2017.
The full article can be found – Here
From Cleveland.com – Cellist Nicholas Diodore aims to crush cello pigeonhole with modern recital series (preview)
By Zachary Lewis, The Plain Dealer
CLEVELAND, Ohio – Think you know how the cello sounds? Think again.
Better yet, attend one of the solo concerts cellist Nicholas Diodore has planned this spring and summer, beginning Saturday at Heights Arts. Do that, and never again will you regard the cello as a simple source of warm depth.
“We tend to kind of pigeonhole the cello as dark and brooding,” said Diodore, a member of the Cleveland-based new music ensemble No Exit. “But it isn’t that way at all.”
Sure, the cello is great for Bach, Brahms and Dvorak. Some might even say the instrument was built for that music.
But that’s not the view Diodore holds. For him and many others, the cello has kept up with the times and remains a vital and powerful medium for the music of the 20th and 21st centuries.
Yes, it can sing, soar and wax uncommonly romantic. But it can also screech, howl and haunt in a way no other acoustic instrument can. Just as modern composers pushed the limits of the orchestra, so too have artists found new ways of making the cello speak.
“The thing most people say to me after concerts is they had no idea the cello could sound like that,” Diodore said.
Here’s a revealing fact: The oldest work on Diodore’s program hails from 1976, the year cellist Mstislav Rostropovich commissioned 12 solo flights on the name Sacher (the notes E-flat, A, C, B, E and D), in honor of Paul Sacher, the late, great champion of new music.
One day, Diodore hopes to perform them all. For the time being, this Saturday, he’s focusing on four, each of them as different as can be: “Sacher Variations” by Witold Lutoslawski, “Les mots sont alles” by Luciano Berio, Punena No. 2 by Alberto Ginastera and “Trois strophes,” by Henri Dutilleux.
“The melody that comes from that [name], it doesn’t settle,” Diodore said. “The amount of variations they were able to get out of it is unbelievable.”
That’s not all Diodore has in store for his audiences (the second planned performance is 7 p.m. Friday, June 30 at Appletree Books in Cleveland Heights; more are TBA). In addition to the Sacher commissions, the cellist also intends to feature “Spins and Spells” by Finnish titan Kaija Saariaho and two works by Cleveland-based composers: “Afflictions,” by his No Exit colleague Timothy Beyer, and “Quiet Music” by Andrew Rindfleisch.
Not your typical recital, in other words. Then again, “typical” is a relative term. For Diodore, who grew up on the cutting edge of music, a series of modern solos is all in a few days’ work.
“It’s an ambitious program, but it’s also right in my wheelhouse,” Diodore said. “I’ve always been around that creative process. It’s kind of what I do.”
Cellist Nick Diodore
When: 7 p.m. Saturday, May 6.
Where: Heights Arts, 2175 Lee Road, Cleveland Heights.
Tickets: Free. Go to heightsarts.org or call 216-371-3457.
Article originally published on Cleveland.com on May 2, 2017.
The full article can be found – Here
From ClevelandClassical.com – No Exit brings Eric Dolphy back for three concerts in April and May
By Mike Telin
When NoExit celebrated jazz great Eric Dolphy back in 2012, the Ensemble’s artistic director Timothy Beyer said that although Dolphy is best known for his contributions in the jazz world, his music transcends that idiom. “His is a unique voice in American music, one that defies categorization.” On Saturday, April 29 at 8:00 pm at Heights Arts, NoExit will present the first of three concerts that will once again pay tribute to Eric Dolphy. The program will be repeated on May 13 at SPACES and on May 27 at The Bop Stop.
“When we did that first series of concerts dedicated to Dolphy we were just dipping our toe in the water,” Beyer said during a recent conversation. “But this program not only takes a deeper look at his music, it emphasizes his living legacy.” The concerts will include Dolphy’s Hat and Beard, arranged by Andrew Rindfleisch, Serene and Out There, arranged by Bobby Selvaggio, and a collage of Dolphy’s music titled Late Lunch, arranged by Greg D’Alessio, as well as the premieres of original works by Paul Epstein, Timothy Beyer, and James Praznik.
In addition to NoExit’s regular personnel — violinist Cara Tweed, violist James Rhodes, cellist Nicholas Diodore, pianist Nicholas Underhill, flutist Sean Gabriel, clarinetist Gunnar Owen Hirthe, and percussionist Luke Rinderknecht — the concert will feature special guests: drummer Dustin May, trumpeter Scott McKee, and saxophonist Bobby Selvaggio.
“Eric Dolphy is a singular presence in the music world,” Beyer said. “The more I’ve been thinking about and listening to Dolphy’s music, the clearer it becomes that he wasn’t just ahead of his time, but he was truly of another place. He’s often associated with jazz, and for good reason, but ultimately that was his launching point to something else. That’s why I think his music is as much akin to avant-garde classical music as it is to jazz.”
Prior to the 2012 performances, we spoke to alto saxophonist, composer, arranger, and educator Bobby Selvaggio and asked him to give his thoughts on cross-genre collaborations.
“I wanted to do something a little different for this project, so I arranged Dolphy’s Out There more like a Bartók string quartet where the alto sax is treated as a second violin. But this idea of collaborating across musical styles is happening more and more. It’s something that I have talked to Nick and Cara about in the past, and it’s something they have been thinking about as well. Although there have been crossover attempts where jazz musicians were doing classical type things for years — all the way back to the 40’s and 50’s — this idea of having everyone join together is really important in this day and age. A leading reason behind this NoExit project was to arrange pieces that would require improvisation. It’s been exciting to do that with classical musicians. Improvisation is not just a jazz thing, it’s important to music in general.”
Article originally published on ClevelandClassical.com on April 28, 2017.
The full article can be found – Here
A Taste of No Exit’s Upcoming Tribute to Jazz Luminary Eric Dolphy.
In Spring 2012, No Exit dedicate a concert to the works of legendary jazz musician Eric Dolphy. It was our first concert incorporating jazz in to our repertoire, and we had a blast. In fact, it was such much fun that we are expanding on our previous offerings and doing it all again April 29th (Heights Arts), May 13th (SPACES) and May 28th (The Bop Stop). Here is a sneak peek at one of the returning tunes, Andrew Rindfleisch’s arrangement of Dolphy’s “Hat and Beard” from the 1964 album “Out to Lunch”.
From ClevelandClassical.com – NEOSonicFest presents contemporary music over a ten-day period (March 17-26)
By Mike Telin
No Exit’s Friday, March 24 program at Heights Arts opened with Ryan Gallagher’s Night Falls Fast for viola and percussion. The work begins as though the two performers are working at cross-purposes, later evolving into a single unit. Violist James Rhodes and percussionist Luke Rinderknecht were magnificent.
Gunnar Owen Hirthe brought an abundance of life to the world premiere performance of Michael Rene Torres’s Voices of Contempt for solo clarinet. Traveling from the lowest to the highest range of the instrument, Hirthe played with nimble technique. The sometimes angry-sounding work ends with a final screech before fading into silence.
Matthew Ivic’s Piano Quartet No. 1 is defined by long sustained lines and intermittent rhythmic blasts. Violinist Cara Tweed, violist James Rhodes, cellist Nicholas Diodore, and pianist Nicholas Underhill gave a convincing reading of this anxious work.
The evening also featured an outstanding performance of Bohuslav Martinů’s Duo No. 2 for Violin and Cello by Tweed and Diodore, while alto flutist Sean Gabriel found all the wit and whimsy in Donald Erb’s Music for Mother Bear.
Article originally published on ClevelandClassical.com on April 11, 2017.
The full article can be found – Here
From ClevelandClassical.com – NEOSonicFest continues with four new music concerts this week
By Mike Telin
NEOSonicFest 2017 continues this week with four concerts that celebrate the breadth of Cleveland’s new music scene.
The festival will feature a performance by No Exit on Friday, March 24 at 8:00 pm at Heights Arts. “It will be a great concert. These are some of our favorite pieces in our repertoire, and it’s nice to be able to perform them again,” artistic director Timothy Beyer said during a recent conversation.
The program will include Ryan Gallagher’s Night Falls Fast for viola and percussion. “Ryan grew up in Cleveland, and one of his first pieces was part of CCS’s Young and Emerging Composers concerts, which is where I first met him,” Beyer said. “I’ve always been impressed with his music.”
Another composer Beyer first met through the Young and Emerging program is Matthew Ivic. “His Piano Quartet No. 1 is one of two pieces we’ve commissioned from him, and we’ve always loved it. We first performed it during our second season, and it’s nice to be able to bring it back.”
Columbus-based saxophonist and composer Michael Rene Torres’s Voices of Contempt for solo bass clarinet will receive its world premiere at the concert. “We were introduced to his music through our clarinetist, Gunnar Owen Hirthe, and we hope to play more of his music in the future.”
The evening will also feature Bohuslav Martinů’s Duo No. 2 for Violin and Cello and Donald Erb’s Music for Mother Bear. “I never had the opportunity to really get to know Donald Erb,” Beyer said. “Obviously, he loomed larger than life in the Cleveland new music scene. He was an inventive and original composer, and it’s great to include this piece on the program.”
Excerpted from an article originally published on ClevelandClassical.com on March 21, 2017.
The full article can be found – Here
From ClevelandClassical.com – No Exit: a conversation with composer Emily Koh
By Mike Telin
Composers never know how and when they will find inspiration for a new work. For Emily Koh it was during a visit to a museum. “I was walking around the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and a painting by Esphyr Slobodkina caught my attention,” Koh said during a recent telephone conversation. “Her pieces are abstract, colorful, and angular — all the things I find interesting, not only in music, but in art and sculpture as well.”
On Saturday, February 4 at 8:00 at SPACES Gallery, No Exit will present the world premiere of Emily Koh’s esphyr, performed by violinist Cara Tweed, pianist Nicholas Underhill, and percussionist Luke Rinderknecht. The concert will also include Lou Harrison’s Suite for Solo Piano (tribute to Arnold Schoenberg), Christopher Deane’s Mourning Dove Sonnet for vibraphone, Nicholas Underhill’s Habanera for violin, and George Antheil’s Violin Sonata No. 2. The program will be repeated on Monday, February 6 at Cleveland State University’s Drinko Auditorium, and on Saturday, February 11 at Heights Arts. Both concerts begin at 8:00 pm.
Koh began working on esphyr by sketching some of her musical ideas using brightly colored writing utensils. “The piece is not written in graphic notation, but the map was full of straight lines and angular movements,” she said.
Born in 1986, Koh is the recipient of awards from ASCAP, Prix D’Été, and PARMA. She has received commissions from the Barlow Endowment for Music Composition, Composers Conference at Wellesley College, Singapore Symphony Orchestra, and Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, and has been awarded grants from New Music USA, Women’s Philharmonic Advocacy, and Artistic Excellence (Paul Abisheganaden Grant). A graduate of the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, NUS, and the Peabody Institute at Johns Hopkins University, Koh is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Music Composition and Theory at Brandeis University.
Koh has found her success as a composer surprising. “I always thought of myself as going to conservatory to become an orchestral bass player. In high school, I had one composition class which made me think that maybe I should consider writing music. When I applied to college I also sent in a composition application, so I guess you could say the rest was history.”
Even with her busy schedule in North America, Emily Koh finds the time to stay in touch with her family in Singapore. “I visit my parents and grandparents as often as possible,” she said. “I’ve also had a lot of performances of my pieces there, which I am very thankful for. The fact that people are interested in hearing my music is very humbling.”
Originally Published on ClevelandClassical.com January 30, 2017.
No Exit Composer Portrait: Emily Koh
For No Exit’s upcoming February concert series, which will feature violinist Cara Tweed, pianist Nicholas Underhill and percussionist Luke Rinderknecht, we are excited to present a newly commissioned work by extraordinary composer Emily Koh. Emily’s work, which can be characterized for both its recognizably musical character and its re-imagining of instrumental texture, has been performed all over the world by ensembles such as the Singapore Symphony, the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, the New England Philharmonic and the participants of the 2015 Singapore International Violin Competition.
Emily’s new work “Esphyr”, for violin, percussion and piano, is an intense look at how textures can grow out of an instrument with a fixed tuning and be transformed in to a far more robust texture through micro-tonal inflections on the violin and spectral accents in the percussion.
For now, enjoy a similarly colorful work by Emily “cis-[flux]”, recorded by the Boston based sinfonietta “[sound icon]”, which uses the same ingenious textures as “Esphyr”, but spread across an entire chamber orchestra.
From ClevelandClassical.com – No Exit and Zeitgeist at New SPACES (Jan. 15)
by Daniel Hathaway
Zeitgeist, the new music ensemble from St. Paul, Minnesota, hosted their Cleveland colleagues, No Exit, in concerts in the Twin Cities last fall. No Exit returned the favor last weekend, joining Zeitgeist for three concerts at the Happy Dog Euclid Tavern, Heights Arts, and SPACES. We caught some of the pieces on their joint playlist at SPACES’ new location in Hingetown on Sunday, January 15, where the musicians presented several sets between noon and 5:00 pm.
The ambiance was completely informal. A double row of chairs was set up in the main gallery, but most of the audience either stood around the perimeter or circulated between rooms. Titles were only sporadically announced, and at times it was difficult to know if musicians were warming up, testing equipment, or if a piece had actually started.
The audience was obviously a mix of visual art fans and new music followers. The former were a chatty crowd, even when seated, the latter intent on hearing what was going on and not averse to shushing their more garrulous fellow travelers. Still, the laid-back atmosphere made it easy for the curious to dip an ear into music that was often both new and strange. And there was enough visual content to hold the attention of those who may be more stimulated by images than sounds.
Like most No Exit performances, this one featured a fascinating variety of styles and media. We walked in halfway through the first performance of Mark Applebaum’s The Metaphysics of Notation, in which the whole group of instrumentalists performed a graphic score projected on the back wall. In the program notes, No Exit associate director James Praznik writes that the piece “seeks to deconstruct and reinterpret the way in which musicians are trained to respond to certain symbols and then, by placing these symbols in a series of abstract collages, force a group of players to improvise and audibly bend their understanding of music in front of you, the audience.”
While made up of a vast catalogue of familiar symbols, the collages are complex and sometimes mystifying. Needless to say, the musicians’ reactions were as varied as individual interpretations of Rorschach images, and the collective texture could never be the same twice — as we heard in a second performance an hour or so later. Did the piece go on a bit too long? Perhaps, but there was a lot to watch and listen to.
A second multimedia work was James Praznik’s film Almost a New Man, originally performed by No Exit in 2011 with live cello, but now recomposed for bass clarinet and percussion (Zeitgeist’s Pat O’Keefe and Heather Barringer). Praznik shot the 17-minute film in addition to writing the live music to go with it.
The narrative is inscrutable, and some of the images disturbing. A man on a beach (Derrik Balogh) confronts a figure whose head is swathed in gauze. Cut to a filthy washroom sink into which the man spits up blood and later extracts a vinyl record from under the water. Gauze man drowns beach man in a bathtub, but both return for another encounter on the shore. And there’s more. The live music on Sunday was more sporadic than on the film, but no less chilling, and expertly played.
Per Bloland’s Shadows of the Electric Moon, a rare, virtuoso piece for upside-down snare drum, featured Zeitgeist’s Patti Cudd in league with a Mac laptop and a sound exciter. Eighty-some cues found Cudd using sticks and antique cymbals to conjure sounds from every part of the drum and its stand. Her virtuosic performance was equally riveting to watch and to listen to.
The two most accessible pieces we caught on Sunday were Marc Mellits’ Black and Pat O’Keefe’s Hello, Cleveland! Praznik writes in the program notes that “one of the greatest expressive qualities of ‘American Minimalism’ is its ability to clearly project a message of unfiltered excitement and joy during a performance.” That’s precisely what bass clarinetists Gunnar Owen Hirthe of No Exit and Pat O’Keefe of Zeitgeist accomplished during their dazzling encounter in Black. Chasing each other at daring time intervals, they ran through a whole roster of musical styles — breathlessly, though they seemed scarcely winded at the finish line.
O’Keefe’s piece, inspired by the Frank Gehry building at Case Western Reserve University, begins with lush textures, then turns foot-tappingly jazzy. Earning its Hello, Cleveland! inscription, it brought smiles to the faces of the onlookers.
Among other very positive impressions to be formed on Sunday: the acoustics of SPACES’ new digs are just as favorable to music as the old gallery space down the street. More performances to come, we hope.
Originally Published on ClevelandClassical.com January 17, 2017.
From ClevelandClassical.com – Zeitgeist to join No Exit for three Cleveland concerts
by Mike Telin
“Groups like ours appeal to the most adventurous of listeners,” Zeitgeist percussionist Heather Barringer said during a recent Skype conversation. “They’re people who enjoy listening to something that hasn’t been listened to before.”
Beginning on Friday, January 13 at 7:30 pm at Happy Dog at the Euclid Tavern, the St. Paul, Minnesota-based new music ensemble will join forces with Cleveland’s own No Exit for three free concerts featuring experimental music that explores the possibilities of multimedia, improvisation, and electroacoustics. Performances continue through Sunday. See below for a complete list of programs, times, and locations.
“These concerts are going to be really amazing, and each program is a little different,” No Exit artistic director Timothy Beyer wrote in an email. “These Cleveland concerts are the second leg of our multi-city collaboration. The first part of this season’s ensemble exchange program took place in St. Paul in the fall, and now Zeitgeist will be in Cleveland to return the favor.” The collaboration grew out of the two ensembles’ shared goal to bring greater national visibility to composers and performing artists who make their homes in the Midwest.
Founded in 1977 at Macalester College, Zeitgeist began as a loose collective of seven to ten musicians, but has since evolved into a quartet of two percussionists, a woodwind player, and a pianist.
Heather Barringer, who joined the group in 1990, said that the two groups have been friends since they were first introduced to each other through Cleveland State University composition professor Andrew Rindfleisch. “Andy was aware of our group and brought us to Cleveland many years ago, and that was when we first got to know Tim,” Barringer said.
Now in its second year, the collaboration has expanded to include the commissioning of new compositions. “During this series of concerts, No Exit will be performing a work they commissioned from Ann Millikan, a St. Paul composer they met last year,” Barringer said. “For Zeitgeist’s part, we’re going to be playing music by No Exit composers Tim Beyer and James Praznik.”
As the commissioning project grows, Barringer said she hopes they will commission works around shared topics such as the two areas’ relationship to the Great Lakes. “We want to create music that highlights the contrasts and similarities between St. Paul and Cleveland.”
Given that today’s composers are inspired by a such a range of sources, I asked Heather Barringer how she characterizes the music performed by ensembles like Zeitgeist and No Exit. “It is hard to describe, but I usually use the words ‘newly created music.’ There is an incredible amount of musical variety out there — from music that is completely electronic, to music that sounds very pop-oriented, to that which does not stray very far from classical.”
Originally Published on ClevelandClassical.com January 10, 2017.
No Exit Welcomes St.Paul Based Ensemble Zeitgeist for a Weekend of Music Making
We are very excited to announce our upcoming series of concerts which will serve as the second leg of our multi-city collaboration with the amazing Zeitgeist! The first part of this season’s ensemble exchange program took place in St. Paul, Minnesota where Zeitgeist hails from. Now Zeitgeist will be in Cleveland to return the favor! We have three concerts scheduled – 1/13 at the Happy Dog at the Euclid Tavern, 1/14 at Heights Arts and on 1/15 a day long ‘open house’ concert at the new SPACES.
No Exit and Zeitgeist will be presenting a weekend of avant-garde music, performing both as individual ensembles and collectively to bring to you an experience which will run the gamut of experimental sounds including pieces which explore the realms of multimedia, improvisatory and electroacoustic music. Each concert will feature a different program so please check out each individual event invitation to see what we’ll be performing.
Featured on the program(s) are a few pieces which were written for (or otherwise are seeing their premiere) this series of concerts including Ann Millikan’s experiment in ‘chance’ music “Streams”, Timothy Beyer’s otherworldly “Shtetl”, Janika Vanderveide’s multimedia exploration of reality “This World is Maya” and a profound reimagining of James Praznik’s film/live music creation “Almost a New Man”.
You can find out more about Zeitgeist by visiting their Facebook page or by going to zeitgeistnewmusic.org
James Praznik’s Almost a New Man Re-imagined for Zeitgeist
Composer, filmmaker and No Exit’s associate director James Praznik created a unique piece for the ensemble, entitled Almost a New Man, which was premiered in April of 2011. James created both a film and a musical element (which was performed live and in real-time by No Exit’s cellist Nick Diodore), the result being an extraordinary and spellbinding work of art.
For No Exit’s upcoming series of concerts with Zeitgeist (which will take place in St.Paul, Minnesota November 10-13), James has re-imagined his multimedia masterpiece by composing entirely new music for it which will be performed by Zeitgeist’s clarinetist Pat O’Keefe and percussionist Heather Barringer. We plan on presenting Almost a New Man again this January when Zeitgeist comes to Cleveland to perform with No Exit.
Please enjoy the original version of James Praznik’s Almost a New Man…..
From ClevelandClassical.com – (Review) No Exit: “Sonic Landscapes” at Heights Arts (Oct. 8)
by Mike Telin
For their latest series of concerts, the first-rate new music ensemble No Exit presented “Sonic Landscapes,” a program of six appealing works that explored the variety of ways composers use timbre, texture, and rhythm to create vivid imagery with sound. I was part of the capacity audience who attended the October 8 performance at Heights Arts.
Short, jabbing rhythmic patterns interjected into long melodic lines are the defining features of Danish composer Per Nørgård’s Spell (1973), which opened the concert. Like a trio of chameleons, clarinetist Gunnar Owen Hirthe, cellist Nicholas Diodore, and pianist Nicholas Underhill deftly changed musical colors with each of the work’s short motifs.
The mark of a great composer of miniatures is the ability to create a complete musical arc within a three- to four-minute period, and the late Stephen Paulus knew exactly how to do that. Performing three movements from his Seven Miniatures (1989), Diodore, violinist Cara Tweed, and violist James Rhodes nimbly brought the jazzy “Caprice,” to life. The Trio evoked the stark, cold Nordic winter during “Lament,” and tossed off the quicksilver lines of the ending “Toccata” with flair.
The evening included three world premieres, the first of which was Cleveland State University faculty composer Greg D’Alessio’s Secret Lives of Birds (2016), for solo flutes and electronics. The work is beautifully constructed and inventively interweaves recorded bird songs and lyrical flute passages with live acoustic melodies. Performing on c and alto flutes, Sean Gabriel, for whom the piece was written, brought a graceful warmth to the alluring writing. A nice aspect of the piece is D’Alessio’s resistance to using a barrage of extended techniques in his flute writing, only a few flutter tongues are added here and there for ornamentation, allowing the listener to bask in the serenity of the music.
Born in Taiwan in 1995, Yuan-Keng Ling is currently studying composition at Brandeis University. A very brief, lighthearted work, Out of…// (2016), is centered around a single musical gesture with humorous riffs exchanged between the instruments around it. Here, percussionist Luke Rinderknecht joined Hirthe, Rhodes, and Underhill in a performance that articulated all that the music had to say.
The third premiere was Malaysian-born Hong-Da Chin’s Perpetuity (2016) for solo bass clarinet. Commissioned and performed by Gunnar Owen Hirthe, the work utilizes the entire range of the instrument, including some arresting harmonics in the high register. Throughout, Hirthe repeatedly demonstrated his technical prowess, as well as his stunning breath control. But in the end, Perpetuity indeed like something that was lasting forever.
Except for a slow “Americana-sounding” middle section, Jefferson Friedman’s 78 (2006), is ten minutes’ worth of rhythmic pulsating sound that creates the illusion of two trains on a fast track to collision. Friedman’s imaginative inclusion of blues chords, syncopations, and constant modulating harmonies keep the hyper-active work exciting. Rinderknecht led Gabriel, Hirthe, Tweed, Diodore, and Underhill in an impressive display of pin-point precision, bringing the evening to a wonderful conclusion.
Originally published on ClevelandClassical.com November 3, 2016.
From clevelandscene.com: Whether for Contemporary or Old Music, Two Artists Find Cleveland a Great Place to Live and Work
By Mike Telin
Cleveland provides fertile ground for artists who have grown up or gone to school here and later decided to make the city their home and a place for creating their artistic identities.
Just to choose two examples, composer and new music advocate Timothy Beyer, and Baroque oboist Debra Nagy have chosen to settle here — rather than move to the coasts — and each has established an ensemble that both represent their individual artistic missions and contribute to the cultural life of Cleveland.
“Music was always part of me,” native Clevelander and No Exit artistic director Timothy Beyer said, “although when I was a kid I never thought I would be a composer in the classical music sense. I was sure I would compose, but I thought it would be in the rock or jazz genres.”
Beyer, who spent most of his pre-adult life in the Heights, said that like a lot of kids, he began studying music at a young age, and played in a number of bands with friends.
“In the 1990s I formed a Jamaican Jazz band called Pressure Drop,” Beyer recalled. “We toured, recorded a record, and were featured on a few compilation CDs. It was a great way to spend my 20s, although it wasn’t something I saw myself doing forever.”
When Beyer began to find the Pressure Drop’s music to be too limiting for his expanding musical ideas, he started to think seriously about pursuing a career in classical music, a genre he had enjoyed all of his life. “Because the band was touring and playing a lot of gigs, I enrolled at Lakeland Community College. That was the easiest way to fit in my studies, and it seemed like a good way to get an education.”
After Lakeland, Beyer decided to totally immerse himself in his classical music studies. He enrolled at Cleveland State University and studied composition with Andrew Rindfleisch and Greg D’Alessio. “Both of them were wonderful teachers and the school provided me with the best set of circumstances I could ask for,” Beyer said. “Some college students are trying to find themselves, but because I was older, I had a very clear idea of what I wanted to do. I just needed to find the tools and the means to get there, and Andy and Greg were big forces in my life.”
Beyer earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in composition while beginning to create new music groups. “All composition students look to their peers to perform their music. During my last year as a student, I officially formed No Exit with pianist and composer Nick Underhill, violinist Cara Tweed, violist Tom Bowling, and cellist Nicholas Diodore. After I graduated in 2009, we became a professional ensemble. Composer James Praznik, and our art director, Matt Shaffer, have also been involved with the group since the beginning.”
Beyer noted that forming an ensemble was essential to the development of his career. “Musicians, and especially composers, need to be entrepreneurial,” he said. “It becomes clear very quickly that if you want any chance of having a life in this business, you have to create your own opportunities. And I find that I’m much happier doing it this way.”
Did they think about the role that No Exit could play in the musical life of Cleveland when they formed the group? “We did, and not to sound too full of myself, we planned out a course from the beginning and we’ve stuck with it. We’ve been very lucky that so far it’s paid off. We knew it would take some time to build an audience that would support groups like us. We needed to develop relationships with venues that fit the music we play, and places whose audiences were already somewhat aware of new music. That way, we’d have a chance of getting people in there even if they didn’t know us.”
Since the group’s founding, No Exit has performed regularly at Cleveland State University, where they are an ensemble in residence, as well as at SPACES Gallery, and Heights Arts.
Over time, No Exit has increasingly made collaborations an important part of their programming philosophy. “As I’ve grown older, I see less of a separation between artistic mediums,” Beyer said, “and over the past few years we’ve sought out collaborators who blur those lines. We’ve also brought in some great musicians from all over the country. This also ties into the idea of creating a culture for what we do. Cleveland has a lot of great new music groups aside from us, but it is beneficial to bring in people who I feel are the best at what they do. And the audiences have been responded positively.”
Beyer takes great pride in the fact that No Exit has had only one personnel change since 2009, when violist James Rhodes replaced Tom Bowling a couple of years ago. “Everyone has a good time making music together, and they want to get it right. There has been an astounding level of dedication to the ensemble, and all of the members have dedicated to make their homes in Cleveland. They’ve had opportunities in other places, but have chosen to stay because they want to be here.”
How does Beyer spend his time in the city when he’s not working? “I could talk about Cleveland all day,” he said with a laugh. “I’ve always been a local history buff, and there’s a plethora of interesting buildings and neighborhoods in this city. I do go to the Art Museum on a regular basis, and I like going to the police museum and some of the lesser-known cemeteries. And now that there are many great restaurants in Cleveland, I do take advantage of them. My folks were very hip on Zack Bruell’s restaurants, so I grew up eating at them. I still think they’re as good as it gets, but I do enjoy all of the great ethnic food as well.”
Excerpt originally published on clevelandscene.com: September 28, 2016
From clevelandclassical.com: No Exit to play three “Sonic Landscape” concerts on September 29 and October 1 & 8
by Mike Telin
“We live in an era where composers are constantly re-imagining and re-contextualizing how sound can be used in their work,” No Exit artistic director Timothy Beyer said during a recent telephone conversation. “And the music featured on our upcoming series of concerts will explore the different ways that composers can use sound to really paint a picture.”
On Thursday, September 29 at Cleveland State University’s Drinko Auditorium, Saturday, October 1 at SPACES, and Saturday, October 8 at Heights Arts, No Exit will present “Sonic Landscapes.” The program will include music by Per Nørgård, Stephen Paulus, Jefferson Friedman, Hong-Da Chin, Greg D’Alessio, and Yuan-Keng Ling. All performances are at 8:00 pm.
“In addition to having a strong connection to nature, most of the pieces featured on these concerts focus on timbre, texture, and rhythm,” Beyer said. “While these elements are present in all music, the idea of using them as the primary means of expression is very cool. It almost challenges the listener to hear these pieces more as one may experience an abstract painting. So I suppose this is where the notion of ʻsonic landscapesʼ or ʻsonic painting,ʼ if you will, came from.”
Beyer described Per Nørgård’s Spell for clarinet, cello, and piano as fugacious and captivating. “Nørgård’s music doesn’t get the attention it deserves, and I’m surprised by that. I know you hear this kind of fluffy language applied to a lot of pieces, but Spell is a great showpiece that really is a journey from beginning to end.”
When asked about Stephen Paulusʼs Seven Miniatures, Beyer said that in his mind, they are the perfect embodiment of what miniatures should be. “Paulus knows how to approach the form. He knows how to minimize the materials and ideas, and he knows how to bring out that special something that is so wonderfully evocative and moving.”
Beyer is happy to able to include Jefferson Friedmanʼs 78 on the program, a work he compared to a freight train. “A lot of composers bring rock music or other popular forms of music into the classical arena, and I think that Jefferson does it in the best way I have ever heard. It doesn’t sound like pop or rock, but you can clearly hear those styles in it.”
Continuing a long No Exit tradition, world premieres will play a key role in the program. Greg D’Alessio’s The Secret Lives of Birds for flute and electronics is built around field recordings of bird songs. “Greg has inventively manipulated those songs. Besides the flute that will be played live, he also recorded some flute sounds and has manipulated those as well. It’s the kind of writing that Greg does best.”
Hong-Da Chin’s Perpetuity was commissioned by No Exit clarinetist Gunnar Owen Hirthe. “Gunnar has worked with Hong-Da in the past and liked his music very much. The way he uses sounds fits the program’s title perfectly. It’s a colorful piece with a lot of rhythmic texture.
“Yuan-Keng Ling is a student at Brandeis University. I would not go so far as to call his Out of…// ‘spectral music,’ but it is in that camp. It’s very nuanced and impeccably put together. Both Chin and Ling are very talented young composers who have a lot to say and are definitely speaking in their own voices.”
Published on ClevelandClassical.com September 27, 2016.
From coolcleveland.com: NO EXIT New Music Ensemble Paints a Picture with New Contemporary Classical Art Music Program
Thu 9/29 @ 8PM
Sat 10/1 @ 8PM
Sat 10/8 @ 8PM
For the better part of the last decade, Cleveland’s NO EXIT New Music Ensemble has been pushing the boundaries of contemporary classical art music.
Now, NO EXIT returns with a new program of experimental music exploring the manner in which composers use sound to paint a picture. Free performances of compositions by Per Nørgård, Stephen Paulus and Jefferson Friedman, as well as new works by Hong-Da Chin, Greg D’Alessio and Yuan-Keng Ling are scheduled for Thu 9/29 @ 8pm at Cleveland State University’s Drinko Auditorium, Sat 10/1 @ 8pm SPACES and Sat 10/8 @ 8pm at Heights Arts.
CoolCleveland talked to NO EXIT artistic director/composer Tim Beyer about the unique septet, which this year will be performing more than 20 shows.
What’s the history behind NO EXIT?
Our first concert was in 2009. The original group was a piano quartet. These were all people I knew through my affiliation with Cleveland State. Since then, we’ve expanded the lineup to include a percussionist, a clarinetist and a flutist, as well as a supporting staff. The vision has always been focused on bringing this sort of avant-garde music to Cleveland and presenting a far wider plethora of what’s out there. It’s not a criticism, but we were all generally unsatisfied with what we were able to find in our area. A lot of the new music being played was the same sort of thing. And it’s a big world out there. We also had a desire to promote the works of young and emerging composers, people who hadn’t really had a lot of opportunities to get their music out there. So it was an opportunity to create our own opportunities as musicians, composers and also pass those opportunities on to other people. To date, we’ve commissioned over 70 pieces of music. That’s a big part of what we do. We also do residencies and workshops to further that aim.
Can you elaborate on the type of music and compositions that define the NO EXIT sensibility?
There are so many extraordinary people out there who have a very unique and singular voice. They really are sort of their own compass in what they’re doing, and a lot of that was not being represented. At least that’s what we saw. What we were seeing was music that represented the middle, and there’s a lot more taking place on either side.
It seems as though NO EXIT is attracted to esoteric or adventurous material.
It’s a lot of things. Our concept is we are into things that at times may be esoteric but are avant-garde, on the vanguard in some way or another. A few years ago, we did a program of Raymond Scott’s work. He was a very interesting, unique iconoclast of the jazz world. No one has done anything like him before or since. So we brought in a lot of other jazz musicians to supplement the group. And then on the other end of the spectrum, we may do a concert of people doing very interesting and vanguard things to multimedia or electronics work. And then we might do people who just write for a string quartet but they’re working in new and different ways to use sound and write pieces. So it’s not one thing we do. It’s more of an overarching philosophy that we look for composers that we feel are avant-garde and are very much working off their own compass.
Who have you found enjoys a NO EXIT concert?
At the beginning, we felt if we were going to see any level of success here you need to help create a culture for it. A lot of people won’t go to Severance Hall but they would go to SPACES. So what we found is a lot of different people. And there really isn’t a type. Also, it depends on shows. Like when we did the Raymond Scott thing, we got a lot of jazz people who may not come to the rest of our concerts. Last year we did a tribute to Erik Satie, so there were people there who had an interest in Satie. But generally speaking, the audience has been growing and we found people in Cleveland have been amazingly receptive.
It seems as though it’s safe to say if you’re into classical music or more esoteric contemporary styles, at the very least NO EXIT provides an entertaining evening of music.
People don’t walk away unhappy, regardless. And I think a lot of people really enjoy it. Usually when one goes to a see a concert, we put ourselves in a certain mode. We kind of understand what a concert-going experience is, whether it’s a rock concert or going to the orchestra or whatever. But I think when people get into this space and hear what we’re doing, it sort of challenges them to experience the music in a very different way. Most people find that very rewarding in one sense or another. And ironically, I think most of our audience is not the traditional sense classical people. In fact, I think classical people tend to stay away from things like this. They’d rather hear Beethoven or Mahler. Which is great. It’s incredible music so there’s not as much as a cross pollination as one might think.
Originally published on coolcleveland.com
‘Sonic Landscapes’ Composer Portrait: Yuan-Keng Ling
For our fall concert series ‘Sonic Landscapes’, No Exit is presenting music which seeks to create a ‘sonic environment’, one in which fully immerses the listener in the experience….music that you can really smell, touch and taste. To this end, we have carefully selected pieces that focus on color and texture, music that strives to evoke elements usually reserved for the visual arts. One of the composers we asked to participate in this project is Yuan-Keng “Ernest” Ling, whose work is subtly dramatic and imbued with organicism.
Ernest is also well versed in popular music, having a rock band in his native Taiwan. I believe this sort of “having a foot in two worlds” artist can always surprise an audience with whatever they create, as is most certainly the case with Yuan-Keng Ling. We’d like to share a piece of his that takes a very different approach than what you will hear on our fall program. Enjoy!
No Exit Welcomes Our Newest Member, Clarinetist Gunnar Owen Hirthe
No Exit is happy to announce the addition of Gunnar Owen Hirthe to the ensemble’s line-up. Gunnar thrilled us with his inspired performances during his stint as a special guest artist when he appeared on No Exit’s last series of concerts (April 2016).
Gunnar Owen Hirthe hails from Green Bay, Wisconsin and is currently studying new music for clarinet at Bowling Green State University’s Doctoral Program in Contemporary Music. This distinguished program is focused on the artistic specialization of music from the 20th and 21st centuries. Gunnar has worked extensively with experimental, avant-garde and electronic music.
We are proud to have him be a part of No Exit!