Thursday, January 17, 2013

A Musical Aside: Carla in the ICE House

Nine days from today, the New Sounds Live and the Ecstatic Music Festival will present a program of new music which will include the world premiere of At Night We Walk in Circles and Are Consumed by Fire. This piece was composed by Carla Kihlstedt and commissioned by ICElab.  ICE stands for the International Contemporary Ensemble. This event will take place at Merkin Hall in New York City, 7:30PM, on Saturday, January 26, 2013.

The Merkin Hall press release offers this description of Carla's piece:  "Multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and composer Carla Kihlstedt joins the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) to premiere Kihlstedt's new ICElab commission, At Night We Walk in Circles and Are Consumed by Fire.  Written for nine members of ICE plus Kihlstedt, the song cycle is based on images, impressions and textures taken from dreams from various sources, including the players themselves.

"The title of At Night We Walk in Circles and Are Consumed by Fire is a translation of a Latin palindrome:  In Girum Imus Nocte et Consumimur Igni....Kihlstedt brings her experience as both a songwriter and an improviser to the piece [consisting of nine through-composed songs].


"As Kihlstedt explains: 'I've always been struck by the dissonance between our waking and sleeping lives.  Regardless of the fact that we spend such significant time in both worlds, we have to leave one to enter the other, bringing with us only the faintest residue, image or inscrutable sensation.  My goal with this piece was to bridge these two worlds as much is possible -- to access the unpredictable logic of the dream world, using the particular characters and talents of each musician.'"

If this description, itself, hasn’t intrigued you, maybe the photographs below of the individual performers will help pique your interest.  I took these one day last month, when I accompanied Carla to the ICEhouse in Brooklyn: she to rehearse with the nine members of ICE who will perform with her in Merkin Hall on January 26, 2013; I to walk around a new part of New York in search of interesting photographic subjects.




Carla Kihlstedt, Brooklyn, ICEhouse rehearsal, December 2012
Carla Kihlstedt, Brooklyn, ICEhouse rehearsal, December 2012
Carla Kihlstedt has trained as a violinist at the Peabody Institute, the San Francisco Conservatory and the Oberlin Conservatory of Music.  She is also a singer, composer and major musical improviser, and she teaches at the New England Conservatory of Music.  

As a collaborative artist, Carla has been a founder and principal member of several diverse musical groups, including Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, Tin Hat Trio (now Tin Hat), 2 Foot Yard, Causing a Tiger, Book of Knots, Minamo, and Rabbit Rabbit Radio.



Claire Chase, Brooklyn, ICEhouse rehearsal, December 2012
Claire Chase, Brooklyn, ICEhouse rehearsal, December 2012
Claire Chase is a graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory, a co-founder of ICE and its artistic director.  The latter position has impelled her beyond being simply a masterful flute soloist and collaborative artist, but also a curator and arts entrepreneur.  In that capacity, she became a 2012 recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship for her role in forging a new model for the commissioning, recording, and performing of contemporary classical music.


Dan Lippel, Brooklyn, ICEhouse rehearsal, December 2012
Dan Lippel, Brooklyn, ICEhouse rehearsal, December 2012
Guitarist Dan Lippel earned a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the Manhattan School of Music and is the founder and artistic director of New Focus Recordings, an independent label specializing in contemporary classical music



Erik Carlson, Brooklyn, ICEhouse rehearsal, December 2012
Erik Carlson, Brooklyn, ICEhouse rehearsal, December 2012
Erik Carlson holds a Master's degree from the Julliard School, is a violinist and composer, and (beyond ICE) is a member of the Talea Ensemble and the founder of the New York Miniaturist Ensemble.



Jennifer Curtis, Brooklyn, ICEhouse rehearsal, December 2012
Jennifer Curtis, Brooklyn, ICEhouse rehearsal, December 2012
Jennifer Curtis holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Mills College and a Master of Music degree from the Julliard School.  She is a violinist and composer and, besides being a member of ICE, she is the founder and artistic director of Tres Americas Ensemble, a group dedicated to the Celebration and preservation of musical traditions of North, Central and South America. 



Joshua Rubin, Brooklyn, ICEhouse rehearsal, December 2012
Joshua Rubin, Brooklyn, ICEhouse rehearsal, December 2012
Joshua Rubin is a clarinetist, co-founder and program director of ICE, overseeing more than fifty concerts/season, world-wide.  He holds Bachelor's degrees in Biology and Music from Oberlin College and the Oberlin Conservatory, as well as a Master's degree from the Mannes College of Music.  




Rebekah Heller, Brooklyn, ICEhouse rehearsal, December 2012
Rebekah Heller, Brooklyn, ICEhouse rehearsal, December 2012
Rebekah Heller, Brooklyn, ICEhouse rehearsal, December 2012
Bassoonist Rebekah Heller holds Bachelor's degrees in English Literature and Music from Oberlin College and the Oberlin Conservatory, as well as a Master of Music degree from the University of Texas at Austin.



Nathan Davis, Brooklyn, ICEhouse rehearsal, December 2012
Tools of the Trade, Nathan Davis, Brooklyn, ICEhouse rehearsal, December 2012
Bucket O'Mallets, Nathan Davis, Brooklyn, ICEhouse rehearsal, December 2012
Percussionist Nathan Davis holds Bachelor's degrees in composition and in percussion from Rice University and a Master's in Music from Yale University.   He studied at Rotterdams Conservatorium as a Fulbright Fellow and directs the Contemporary performance Lab at Dartmouth College.




Phyllis Chen, Brooklyn, ICEhouse rehearsal, December 2012
Phyllis Chen, Brooklyn, ICEhouse rehearsal, December 2012
Phyllis Chen, Brooklyn, ICEhouse rehearsal, December 2012
Phyllis Chen attended the Oberlin Conservatory and holds a Master's degree from Northwestern University.  She also is pursuing a DMA in piano performance at Indiana University under AndrĂ© Watts, and she founded the UnCaged Toy Piano.




Bridget Kibbey, Brooklyn, ICEhouse rehearsal, December 2012


Bridget Kibbey, Brooklyn, ICEhouse rehearsal, December 2012
Bridget Kibbey, Brooklyn, ICEhouse rehearsal, December 2012
Bridget Kibbey, Brooklyn, ICEhouse rehearsal, December 2012
Bridget Kibbey holds Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees from the Julliard School, and she a member of the harp faculties at Bard College, New York University and the Julliard School Pre-College program.




At Night We Walk in Circles and Are Consumed by Fire rehearsal, Brooklyn, ICEhouse, December 2012
At Night We Walk in Circles and Are Consumed by Fire rehearsal, Brooklyn, ICEhouse, December 2012

The International Contemporary Ensemble, founded in 2001 by Claire Chase and Joshua Rubin “on a Greyhound bus en route from Oberlin to Chicago,” consists of a flexible roster of thirty-three leading instrumentalists and is dedicated to “advancing the music of our time by developing innovative new works and pursuing groundbreaking strategies for audience engagement.” 


With the support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, ICE launched ICElab in early 2011 as a way to collaborate with emerging composers and develop works that push the boundaries of musical exploration.

The January 26, 2013 program at Merkin Hall is ICElab's collaborative venture with Carla Kihlstedt.  Besides the world premiere of Carla’s composition, At Night We Walk in Circles and Are Consumed by Fire, ICE will join Causing a Tiger and Face the Music to perform George Lewis’ Artificial Life (2007). I hope to see many of you at Merkin Hall next week for this New Sounds Live and Ecstatic Music festival performance.


FYI: ICE and Carla will perform At Night We Walk... on February 16 at Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art and on April 11 at the Atlas Theater in Washington, DC.


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