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UW Music: Contemporary Group

Submitted by Jacob M Lambert on February 1, 2011 - 12:00am

The University of Washington School of Music presents an evening of new works performed by internationally renowned visiting artists Garth Knox (France), Stefan Östersjö (Sweden), Nguyen Thanh Thuy, and Ho Hoai Anh (Vietnam). Works on the program include the premiere of a music-only version of Idioms, a piece of experimental musical theater combining experimental Western music and traditional Vietnamese music, created by School of Music composer Richard Karpen in dialogue with the musicians of the Six Tones (Swedish guitarist Stefan Östersjö and Vietnamese musicians Nguyen Thanh Thuy and Ho Hoai Anh) and programmer Josh Parmenter from the Center for Digital Arts and Experimental Media. For the second half of the concert, Garth Knox joins the Six Tones, Karpen and Parmenter to perform collaboratively composed and improvised music for viola d'amore, dan trahn, dan bau, guitars, and live electronics.

Tuesday, February 14, 2011
7:30 p.m.

Meany Theater

$10 all tickets. 

NOTE: Violist Garth Knox also leads a free master class with students of Melia Watras, Friday, February 11, 1:30 p.m. in Brechemin Auditorium. Admission is free and open to the public.

Background on Idioms

Idioms is a piece of experimental music theatre with three actors and the three musicians in The Six Tones. The text in the piece is in English, Swedish and Vietnamese and can be understood as a deconstruction of three classic stories of impossible love across cultures and social barriers: Marguerite Duras: The Lover, Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, and the Vietnamese tale of My Chau and Trong Thuy. The different traditions that the actors represent provide a range of expression in a wide span between spoken theatre and opera. The music, which in a similar way weaves traditional Vietnamese music together with experimental Western music, is produced by Richard Karpen in dialogue with the The Six Tones and Josh Parmenter from DXARTS.

The Sonat Series
SONAT is a series of experimental music-dramatic projects by Teatr Weimar and Ensemble Ars Nova. The point of departure is the form and aesthetics of the hörspiel transformed into scenic formation. The hörspiel has it’s strongest traditions in Germany and is the German term for radio drama. It is in other words one of the most recent dramatic and musical forms, directly linked to a technical achieve-ment that still today has an important role in our culture; the radio. The hörspiel brings together radio documentary, soundscape, acoustic and electroacoustic music with the semiotics of the theatre. Since 2008, we have cooperated in order to find new forms for experimental music theatre. The core of this activity is the production of new works, merging the aesthetics of the hörspiel with the theatre’s modes of expressions. So far, we have produced seven works, five of these were world premieres and two had their first Swedish performances. Our overarching ambition is to build an artistic competence and methodology for finding new forms of expressions for musical drama. An important part of this project is to create a European network of scenes for new and experimental musical drama.

IDIOMS brings the collaboration between Teatr Weimar and Ars Nova in connection with Transitions, a project launched by Ensemble Ars Nova in 2006. Transitions wishes to enable contemporary art music to face the challenge of the multicultural society of today by means of creating meeting points where sound artists, composers and performers from any possible cultural background can come together in a context of mutual learning. Central issues to the project are aspects of cultural identity and heritage and how these can be kept alive and brought into creative use in the Western multicultural situation. An important figure of thought is how the transmission of a tradition always involves an element of transformation. One may say that it is this transformation that is in focus, in the artistic projects as well as in the research.

Working methods: Intercultural dialogue between traditional and experimental arts.
In the meeting between performance traditions of traditional Vietnamese Music and contemporary Western art music, the door is also opened to traditional Vietnamese Tuong drama. With the Western actors, also experimental modes of theatrical expression are added to the artistic framework. The project brings traditional cultures in dialogue with state of the art audio technology. The production of the electronics for the performances is done in collaboration with DXARTS at University of Washington.

Workshops with the musicians and actors
The fundamental building block of the artistic methodology is that of mutual learning. Also, the piece is to be developed jointly by all the participators, the composer and writer functioning as ’artistic directors’ of a process in which all performers can contribute material to the piece. This open process is intended to result in a piece that is built on the merging of different traditions of improvisation but eventually leading to a theatrical work which has a fixed identity and structure. 

Introductory workshops
Two workshops in 2010 constitute a pilot project part of the production. The first sessions took place in Seattle in May 2010. In these sessions, only the musicians of The Six Tones met with Richard Karpen, the programmer Joshua Parmenter and writer Jörgen Dahlqvist. These sessions solidified the main ideas of how to develop the piece in a workshop format. The second series of sessions took place in October 2010 in Hanoi. The main objective with these sessions was to find an actor from the traditional Vietnamese theatre who might want to join the project and to continue developing the material in sessions also with the three musicians. 

Garth Knox, viola d’amore

Garth Knox was born in Ireland and grew up in Scotland. Being the youngest of four children who all played string instruments, he was encouraged to take up the viola, and he quickly decided to make this his career. He studied at the Royal College of Music in London with Fredrick Riddle, where he won several prizes for viola and for chamber music. Thereafter he played with most of the leading groups in London in a mixture of all repertoires, from baroque to contemporary music. In 1983 he was invited by Pierre Boulez to become a member of the Ensemble Intercontemporain in Paris, where he had the chance to do much solo playing (including concertos directed by Pierre Boulez) and chamber music, touring widely and playing in international festivals.

In 1990 Garth Knox joined the Arditti String Quartet, playing in all the major concert halls of the world, working closely with and giving fi rst performances of pieces by most of today’s leading composers including Ligeti, Kurtag, Berio, Xenakis, Lachenmann, Cage, Feldman and Stockhausen (the famous «Helicopter Quartet»). Since leaving the quartet in 1998, Garth Knox has given premieres by Henze (the Viola Sonata is dedicated to him), Ligeti, Schnittke, Ferneyhough, James Dillon, George Benjamin and many others. He also collaborates regularly in theatre and dance projects and has written and performed shows for children and young audiences.

Improvisation is also an important part of his musical activity, and he has performed with George Lewis, Steve Lacy, Joel Léandre, Dominique Pifarély, Bruno Chevillon, Benat Achiary, Scanner and many others. He appears on the Frode Haltli CD Passing Images. In the past decade he has begun to write his own music, and is much in demand for theatre, dance and fi lm scores as well as concert pieces and instrumental works.

Garth Knox has recently begun to explore the possibilities of the viola d’’amore in new music, with and without electronics, and is in the process of creating a new repertoire for this instrument. His CD D’Amore (EMI New Series 1925) features old and new music for the viola d’amore.

Garth Knox now lives in Paris playing recitals, concertos and chamber music concerts all over Europe, the USA and Japan. His solo CD with works from Ligeti, Dusapin, Berio, Kurtág and others (MO 782082) won the coveted Deutsche Schallplaten Preis in Germany.

Nguyen Thanh Thuy, dan tranh
Nguyen Thanh Thuy studied at the Hanoi National Conservatory of Music where she received her diploma in 1998, followed by a Master of Arts at the Institute of Vietnamese Folklore in 2002. Since 2000 she holds a teaching position at the Hanoi National Conservatory of Music. She has performed at the Roskildefestivalen in Denmark, Guzheng Melody in Indonesia, in Singapore, Ryssland, Kina and at numerous festivals in Vietnam. She has received many distinctions, in 1992 First Prize in the Contest of Traditional Instrument Performance on Television and Radio, Vietnam, as well as in 1998 First Prize and the Best Traditional Music Performer Prize in the National Competition of Zither Talents, 1998, Vietnam. Thuy has recorded several CD’s as soloist with orchestra: Nhung danh cam dan toc tre (Young musician Talents) – 1998, Giai dieu bon mua (Four Seasons’ Melodies) – 1998, Loi ru que huong (Lullaby of the Native Land) – 2001 and a solo CD: Doc tau dan tranh Nguyen Thanh Thuy Vol.1 (Solo dan tranh Nguyen Thanh Thuy Vol.1) – 2005

Ho Hoai Anh: dan bau
Ho Hoai Anh graduated from the University of Traditional Music at the Vietnam National Academy of Music in 2003. In 2009 he was awarded the Musician of the Year award – voted by community of Vietnamese Press. He also Performed in various countries around the world, along with orchestras in Europe, Japan, and Americ. In 2010, he was voted ‘Best Musician‘ by FM audiences. 

Stefan Östersjö: ten-stringed guitar and ty bau
Stefan Östersjö is one of the most prominent soloists within new music in Sweden. Since his debut CD (Swedish Grammy in 1997) he has recorded extensively and toured Europe, the US and Asia. He writes articles on contemporary music and is frequently invited to give lectures and master classes at universities, festivals and academic conferences. His special fields of interest are the interaction with electronics, and experimental work with different kinds of stringed instruments other than the classical guitar. His great interest in chamber music has resulted in the founding of flute, viola and guitar-trio HOT 3 and collaboration with most chamber ensembles and important soloists in Scandinavia such as Jonny Axelsson, Geir Draugsvoll, KammarensembleN, Ensemble Gageego and Ensemble Ars Nova. He is continuously working with composers both in Sweden and abroad on the task of extending the repertory of solo works and chamber music with guitar. As a soloist he has cooperated with conductors such as Lothar Zagrosek, Peter Eötvös, Pierre André Valade, Mario Venzago, Franck Ollu and Tuomas Ollila. He has recorded extensively for the Swedish National Radio and also for Swedish TV as well as in many other countries.

Dr. Stefan Östersjö studied with Gunnar Spjuth and Prof Per-Olof Johnsson at the Malmö Academy of Music (1987-1992) and also with Peder Riis and Magnus Andersson in Stockholm and Darmstadt. He continued his studies with a PhD project within the field of artistic research, carried out in 2002-2008. His thesis SHUT UP ‘N’ PLAY! Negotiating the Musical Work is published by Lund University. He is at present engaged in artistic research on improvisation in different cultural contexts at the Malmö Academy of Music.

In 1995 he made his CD debut as soloist on Ensemble Ars Nova's second CD (nominated to a Swedish "Grammy -96" for best classical album). - His first soloCD, with works by E Carter, J Dillon, F Donatoni and T Murail, recieved a Swedish "Grammy Award" in the category of "Best Classical Album" in 1998. - In summer -99 he recorded Kent Olofsson's "Il Liuto d'Orfeo", a recording which is released by GMEB in Bourges and by dB Productions (Sweden). - His second soloCD, Impossible Guitar Parts, with works by Swedish composers, was released in spring 2001 on dB Productions, Sweden - Portrait CD with the music of “Fredrik Ed”, soloist in ’Leash’, dB Productions, Malmö - He recorded the lute works of JS Bach on the 11-stringed alto guitar, released on dB Productions (Sweden) in 2003. - In 2003 “Trio con Forza”, a constellation of Swedish works for flute, viola and guitar, with HOT 3 was released on Phono Suecia. - His fourth solo CD on dB Productions, “Play Time” with works for guitar and electronics was released in 2004. - In 2005 “Rhizome”, a portrait CD with works for guitar and chamber ensemble by Swedish composer Christer Lindwall was released on Phono Suecia (Sweden). Portrait CD with the music of Johannes Johansson, recordings with HOT 3 and Ensemble Ars Nova), dB Productions, Malmö - His recording of Kent Olofsson’s Guitar Concerto “Corde” with the Gothenburg Symphony and Mario Venzago was released on Phono Suecia in 2008. - He has also recorded the complete guitar works by Danish composer Per Nørgård, released on Caprice records in autumn 2008.

Richard Karpen, composer
Richard Karpen (b. 1957) is one of the leading composers and researchers of electroacoustic music internationally. He is known not only for his pioneering compositions for live and electronic media, but also for developing computer applications for composition, live/interactive performance, and sound design.

Karpen is currently Director of the School of Music at the University of Washington after previously serving at the UW as Founding Director of the Center for Digital Arts and Experimental Media (DXARTS) and Dean for Research in the College of Arts and Sciences. He is also a Professor of Music Composition. He has been the recipient of many awards, grants and prizes including those from the National Endowment for the Arts, the ASCAP Foundation, the Bourges Contest in France, and the Luigi Russolo Foundation in Italy. Fellowships and grants for work outside of the U.S. include a Fulbright to Italy, a residency at IRCAM in France, and a Leverhulme Visiting Fellowship to the United Kingdom. He received his doctorate in composition from Stanford University, where he also worked at the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA). Karpen is a native of New York, where he studied composition with Charles Dodge and Gheorghe Costinescu.

Karpen's works are widely performed in the U.S. and internationally. While he is primarily known for his work in electronic media, Karpen has also composed symphonic and chamber works for a wide variety of ensembles. Furthermore, he has composed works for many leading international soloists such as soprano Judith Bettina, violist Garth Knox, trombonist Stuart Dempster, flutists Laura Chislett and Jos Zwaanenberg, guitarist, Stefan Östersjö, and oboist Alex Klein. Along with numerous concert and radio performances, his works have been set to dance by groups such as the Royal Danish Ballet and the Guandong Dance Company of China. Karpen's compositions have been recorded on a variety of labels including Wergo, Centaur, Neuma, Le Chant du Monde, and DIFFUSION i MeDIA, and Capstone.

Joshua Parmenter, programmer
Joshua Parmenter is currently a research artist in Computer Music and Composition at the Center for Digital Arts and Experimental Media (DXARTS) at the University of Washington, Seattle.  He completed his D.M.A. in Composition at the University of Washington in 2005, where he studied with Prof. Richard Karpen. He received his Master of Music in Composition in 2002 from the University of Washington. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Music from the University of California, Berkeley, where he studied with Edwin Dugger and Jorge Liderman. He is currently a Research Artist at the University of Washington at the Center for Digital Arts and Experimental Media.
Parmenter's music has been performed throughout the United States and Europe. He specializes in both acoustic and electro-acoustic music, especially music that combines performers with real-time electronics. An important part of his research has been in the development of real-time synthesis software as part of the SuperCollider open source project. He also uses the CSound and Common Music synthesis programs.  Currently, his research is focused on extending the real-time analysis and performance tools in the SuperCollider programming language, as well as a suite of Ambisonic Unit Generators for sound spatialization.
Parmenter's piece Organon Sostenuto for flute, bassoon, cello, double bass and live electronics was awarded the prize for outstanding composition from the Americas at ICMC 2007 in Copenhagen, Denmark. In 2008, he completed his "Musical Changes", a set of four pieces that explore crescendo, decrescendo, accelerando and ritardando The first piece "Cadence (III. Decrescendo) received its premiere in November 2005, and Concerto for Bass and Computer-realized Sound (II. Accelerando) was commissioned and performed in March, 2006 by bassist Kristjan Sigurleifsson.

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