Tickets are now available for MusicNOW, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s new-music series, which offers innovative works by some of today’s most prominent composers and young artists. The concerts are programmed and hosted by Mead Composers-in-Residence Mason Bates (b. 1977) and Anna Clyne (b. 1980) with MusicNOW Principal Conductor Cliff Colnot. The music is performed by CSO members in collaboration with guest artists.
MusicNOW concerts take place at Millennium Park’s Harris Theater for Music and Dance (205 E. Randolph Dr.), with a new, earlier start time of 7 p.m. for the 2010/11 season. The earlier start time allows concertgoers more time to mingle with the composers and performers during the free pizza and beer receptions which follow each performance.
Subscriptions for the four-concert 2010/11 MusicNOW series are available for $60 (student subscriptions are $20). For more information, please call CSO ticketing services at 312-294-3000 or 800-223-7114, or visit cso.org/musicnow.
Here are details about the performances from the CSO press release:
The eclectic and gripping programs this year encompass larger works for chamber ensemble, pieces informed by contemporary electronic dance music, solo works and multimedia projects, fully utilizing the sound and lighting capabilities at the state-of-the-art Harris Theater for Music and Dance in Millennium Park.
- The first MusicNOW event of the season, on Monday, October 4, shines a spotlight on the unique personal styles of Bates and Clyne. Bates’ Digital Loom pits the imposing, grand sounds of the pipe organ against edgy electronics, and Clyne’s Steelworks, originally composed for dance, uses prerecorded tape and metallic percussion with flute and clarinet to explore levels of anxiety. In addition, this program honors Chicago’s México 2010 celebration with intricate and enthralling music by Mexican composers: Enrico Chapela’s Li Po, inspired by Mexican poetry, and Ana Lara’s Bhairav for string quartet. Chicago-based Brazilian composer Marcos Balter’s string trio Visual Mantra completes the program; Cliff Colnot conducts this concert.
- On Monday, December 13, musical boundaries are crossed and heights scaled with a dynamic program including Derek Bermel’s rhythmic Three Rivers, which combines fully notated and improvised music; multimedia composer-artist Paola Prestini’s lush Spell for clarinet, cello and percussion; Edmund Campion’s sonic exploration for sax and electronics, Corail; and Jason Eckardt’s jazz-influenced Tangled Loops for soprano sax and piano. Colnot also leads this program, which closes with the 20-minute Micro-Concerto by contemporary giant Steven Mackey, featuring solo percussionist—pulling one-man-band duty on standard instruments, kitchen utensils and hobby-shop paraphernalia—accompanied by flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano.
- The progressive German electronics duo Mouse on Mars takes center stage for the third MusicNOW concert, on Monday, January 31. Mouse on Mars is known for blending techno, trance and disco, and for this program they are joined by musicians from the CSO for a 45-minute set of their trademark electronica enhanced with classical arrangements. The concert opens with Argentine composer Martin Matalon’s Las siete vidas de un gato (A Cat’s Seven Lives). Completed in 1996, the piece is a “cinema counterpoint” to the masterpiece 1929 silent short film Un Chien andalou (An Andalusian Dog), written by Spanish surrealist director Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí. The film is shown on the big screen and accompanied by an eight-player ensemble plus tape, led by young U.K.-based German conductor André de Ridder, principal conductor of Sinfonia ViVA since 2007 and a regular guest of the Philharmonia’s Music of Today series.
- The MusicNOW series closes Monday, March 21, with world premieres of two new compositions by Mason Bates and Anna Clyne, commissioned just for MusicNOW. The concert also showcases the luminous music of Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho in her Graal théâtre, a concerto for violin and string ensemble. Composer and percussionist Nathan Davis’ ambient work is exemplified in his Like sweet bells jangled, written in 2009 for clarinet, crotales and interactive electronics; Davis’ music is inspired by natural processes, acoustic phenomena and the abstraction of simple stories.