Attendees at this music festival will have the opportunity to discover classical contemporary music, “which is often off the radar in these times of media overload,” said one of the musicians involved.
The University of Massachusetts Amherst Department of Music and Dance will host the 2019 Five College New Music Festival on Friday through Sunday, Sept. 6-8, featuring four concert programs of music by Five College faculty composers, world premieres, electro-acoustic works and pieces by modern masters.
“We hope the festival gives the college and larger communities a chance to discover classical contemporary music, which is often off the radar in these times of media overload. There’s tremendous variety and something for everyone,” said Eric W. Sawyer, an Amherst College professor of music.
His contribution to this year’s festival is String Quartet #2, written in 1999 shortly after the birth of his daughter, Lydia. The work was recently picked up by the Wistaria String Quartet who will present it. “The centerpiece of the quartet is a lullaby in the ancient Lydian mode (an altered major scale) that carries some of the intensity of the feelings of early parenthood,” he explained. “The outer movements loosely represent pre-birth and the growing capabilities of a young child.”
The biennial festival includes nearly 50 performers and composers, primarily current and former Five College faculty but also current students and community musicians. All four concerts will take place in Bezanson Recital Hall in the UMass Fine Arts Center and are free and open to the public.
T. Elizabeth Chang, an organizer of the festival and University of Massachusetts professor, attributed the popularity of this festival to the fact that “people are gratified to see the warm mingling of the Five College community and this exuberant concentration of talent and energy in the first weekend of the fall.”
The festival will feature works by Five College composers David Sanford (Mount Holyoke College), Daniel Warner (Hampshire College), Salvatore Macchia (University of Massachusetts), Felipe Salles (University of Massachusetts), Eric Sawyer (Amherst College), Kate Soper (Smith College) and Lewis Spratlan (Amherst College, emeritus).
“Because the performers and the composers of the Five Colleges have such impressive profiles nationally and internationally, it’s especially exciting to see those same Five Colleges artists converging in this format and sharing their work in their home environment,” Chang said. “The Five College Consortium, now more than 50 years old, has fostered a unique brew of intellectual stimulation and artistic excellence. We are lucky to host an amazingly rich tradition of composition and performance in contemporary/modern music. Each of the institutions has been graced by a long list of distinguished professors and alumni who have consistently demonstrated a compelling commitment to the art of contemporary classical music.”
Saturday’s “An Afternoon of Premieres” will feature works by Five College alumni Adam Har-Zvi (University of Massachusetts), Edward Jacobs (University of Massachusetts), Dylan Schneider (Amherst College) and Victor Zheng (University of Massachusetts), as well as Jee Seo’s “On Fever,” the winning piece from the festival’s composition competition.
“It’s a real pleasure to participate both as composer and an organizer,” Sawyer said. “The festival as a whole situates faculty and student composition and performance within a national and global musical context, with the later concerts featuring some of the best-known composers in the U.S. and Europe.”
- The schedule of the 2019 festival is:
- Friday, Sept. 6, 7:30 p.m. – Five College Composers’ Concert. Composers: Daniel Warner, David Sanford, Eric Sawyer, Kate Soper and Salvatore Macchia
- Saturday, Sept. 7, 2 p.m. – An Afternoon of Premieres. Violin duos by Felipe Salles, Dylan Schneider, Adam Har-Zvi and Victor Zheng, and a saxophone duo by Neal Endicott, plus competition-winning piece by Jee Seo
- Saturday, Sept. 7, 7:30 p.m. – American Connections. Composers: Jennifer Higdon, Francine Trester, Ryan Truesdell, Yehudi Wyner, Edward Jacobs, Lewis Spratlan
- Sunday, Sept. 8, 3 p.m. – New Sounds from the Old World. Composers: Oliver Knussen, Kalevi Aho, Helen Grime, and Alfred Schnittke
The festival is funded by the Five Colleges Inc. and the individual colleges. Faculty members donate their time and talent.
“Programming is remarkably diverse this season,” Chang commented.
For more information, go online to 5cnmf.org
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