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UMS Concert Program, April 14, 2018 - Sorrow

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Saturday Evening, April 14, 2018 at 8:00 Michigan Theater Ann Arbor SORROW Colin Stetson / Alto and Bass Saxophones; Contrabass Clarinet Megan Stetson / Mezzo-Soprano Amanda Lo / Violin Caleb Burhans / Violin Rebecca Foon / Cello Dan Bennett / Tenor and Baritone Saxophones, Clarinet Andrew Bishop / Tenor Saxophone, Clarinet Grey Mcmurray / Guitars Ryan Ferreira / Guitars Justin Walter / Keyboards, EVI Shahzad Ismaily / Synthesizers Greg Fox / Drums 85th Performance of the 139th Annual Season This eveningÕs performance is funded in part by the Building Audiences for Sustainability initiative of The Wallace Foundation. Media partnership provided by Metro Times and WEMU 89.1 FM. Special thanks to Paul Feeny, Michael Gould, Jonathan Kuuskoski, Ingrid Racine, Caitlin Taylor, U-M EXCEL, and the U-M Center for World Performance Studies for their participation in events surrounding this eveningÕs performance. Sorrow appears by arrangement with The Billions Corporation. In consideration of the artists and the audience, please refrain from the use of electronic devices during the performance. The photography, sound recording, or videotaping of this performance is prohibited. PROGRAM Sorrow Ñ A Reimagining of G—reckiÕs Third Symphony Henryk G—recki Symphony No. 3, ÒSymphony of Sorrowful SongsÓ Lento Ñ Sostenuto tranquillo ma cantabile Lento e Largo Ñ Tranquillissimo Lento Ñ Cantabile-semplice This eveningÕs concert is performed without intermission. THE SPACE WHERE YOU USED TO BE
by Doyle Armbrust I donÕt want to write these words. Or, conversely, when I knew IÕd be covering Colin Stetson this season, I was over the moon. Forgive the caveat, but as a music journalist, my mailbox is jammed with dozens of albums every weekÉbut ColinÕs records remain at or near the top of the pile, ever since I laid hands on a copy of his New History of Warfare, 
Vol. 1 (2008). So I finally get the opportunity to cover an artist whose creativity cuts glass Ñ that continues to startle and inspire me. And then Stoneman Douglas sends us all reeling. At this point in our countryÕs history, UMS could have thrown a dart at the calendar when considering a piece about the loss of children and it would have coincided with a mass shooting. ThatÕs not what prompted this concert, or this re-imagining of G—reckiÕs iconic Third Symphony, but IÕll bet that IÕm not the only one reckoning with this excruciating reality as we encounter this exquisite piece. Why, in 1992, did the Nonesuch Records release of this symphony miraculously sell a million copies? Maybe because pain is the one existential element we are all assured of sharing in this lifetime. Maybe because one thing we can all agree upon is that there is no analogue for the loss of a child. Those that have experienced it cannot possibly translate its depth, and yet those that have not have no trouble empathizing with it. G—recki just found the vein, and he opened it up. Columbine was the defining school tragedy of my childhood. Ever since then, the voices of the victimÕs parents have always haunted me well beyond the moment the story escapes the news cycle. Though the brave speeches and interviews with surviving students at Stoneman Douglas offer a glimmer of hope that maybe this time it will be different, and that change is peeking out from its dark cell, itÕs the parents Ñ those most acutely left behind Ñ that level me. Tributes and policy change are vitalÉbut there remain those that will live out the rest of their years with a blank space that a child was meant to fill. Movement 1: ÒLento Ñ Sostenuto tranquillo ma cantabileÓ ÒTo be honest, it seems to be getting harder. I keep looking for him. I reach out for him. I keep thinking heÕs here and canÕt understand why heÕs not.Ó Ñmother of six-year-old Sandy Hook Elementary School victim Even if your religious beliefs trend elsewhere, or not at all, there is something universal uncovered in the story of the mother, Mary, and her fated son, Jesus, which provides the launch point for G—reckiÕs lament. The moment of intimacy between them, as he staggers under the burden of his crucifix, is so movingly captured in HaydnÕs Seven Last Words of Christ, but here we enter more tenebrous emotional territory. ColinÕs sooty reeds moan into view, ushering in low strings and woodwinds to this dirge. There is a solemnity evident here, and yet the steady progression of the assembling voices reveals that this is not the first time this song has been sung. The pain is singular Ñ the tears unlike any that have ever flowed Ñ but the tune is unfortunately a familiar one. One detail of ColinÕs records that draws me in is that his human-ness is left intact. His breath is a feature, rather than something to be deleted by an engineer, which brings the listener closer to live performance than albums typically allow. The vulnerability of this Third Symphony Ñ what makes it so captivating Ñ is honored by his ensembleÕs interpretation, even enhanced with the dramatics of splashing cymbals and sublimated blast beats in the drums. Though illuminated through these interpretive filters, G—reckiÕs reverential economy of means is undisturbed. This writing, and this reinvention, move beyond the liturgical to something altogether more beautifully crude. More raw, and more riveting, and ColinÕs coda is pure scorched earth. Movement 2: ÒLento e largo ÑTranquillissimoÓ for GŽrard Lema”tre ÒI am broken as I write this trying to figure out how my family gets through thisÉhold your children tight.Ó Ñfather of 14-year-old Marjory Stoneman Douglas victim The rising ÔEÕ Ð ÔG-sharpÕ descending to ÔF-sharpÕÉto my mind, this is the most memorable figure from G—reckiÕs Third, and perhaps the most heartbreaking. There is something so hopeful about an ascending major third, and something equally resigned about its settling back a step lower. Hope seems so dangerous in this realm, but also so necessary if we are to carry on. When they emerge, ColinÕs sax and the synths embody an almost Angelo Badalamenti-esque aesthetic, magnifying the potency of this dire supplication to Mary. Rich vibrations in the guitar and strings provide the foil for the incremental rises and falls in the doleful vocal line before the music, and our thoughts return to the expectant ÔEÕ Ð ÔG-sharpÕ Ð ÔF-sharp,Õ and with it, a propulsive beat from the percussion. Perhaps there is catharsis to be found amidst all this despair. Movement 3: ÒLento Ñ 
Cantabile-sempliceÓ ÒOne of the hardest things to accept, for me, is that this horrible way of feeling is the new normal.Ó Ñmother of 31-year-old Pulse nightclub victim It was understandably assumed that G—reckiÕs Third Symphony was instigated by the horrors of the Second World War. According to the composer it wasnÕt, but neither was this project born out of our too-frequent mass slayings of students. It just fits, because loss of this magnitude is a possibility, or current reality, for us all. This third movement is in some ways the most transformed of the three, in ColinÕs interpretation. The drums again shift forward in the orchestration, building to a frenetic intensity before the arrival of the revelatory key of A Major that concludes the piece. ÒAnd you, GodÕs little flowers / May you blossom all around / So that my son / May sleep happily,Ó implores the soprano. This is real life. This is a winsome spring morning seen trickling through the sieve of rapacious grief. It is beauty, attenuated, but beauty nonetheless. It is the best we can hope for. Doyle Armbrust is a Chicago-based violist and member of the Spektral Quartet. He is a contributing writer forÊWQXRÕs Q2 Music,ÊCrainÕs Chicago Business,ÊChicago Magazine, Chicago Tribune, and formerly, Time Out Chicago. ARTISTS Colin Stetson (alto and bass saxophones; contrabass clarinet) was born and raised in Ann Arbor, spent a decade in San Francisco and Brooklyn honing his formidable talents as a horn player, and eventually settled in Montreal in 2007. Over the years he has worked extensively live and in-studio with a wide range of bands and musicians including Tom Waits, Arcade Fire, Bon Iver, TV On The Radio, Feist, Laurie Anderson, Lou Reed, Bill Laswell, Evan Parker, The Chemical Brothers, Animal Collective, Hamid Drake, LCD Soundsystem, The National, Angelique Kidjo, Fink, and David Gilmore. Meanwhile, he has developed an utterly unique voice as a soloist, principally on saxophones and clarinets, his intense technical prowess matched by his exhilarating and emotionally gripping skills as a songwriter. Mr. StetsonÕs astounding physical engagement with his instruments (chiefly bass and alto saxophones) produces emotionally rich and polyphonic compositions that transcend expectations of what solo horn playing can sound like. Mr. Stetson is equally at home in the avant jazz tradition of players who have pushed the boundaries of the instrument through circular breathing, embouchure, etc. (i.e. Evan Parker, Mats Gustafsson) and at the nexus of noise/drone/minimalist music that encompasses genres like dark metal, post-rock, and contemporary electronics (i.e. Tim Hecker, Ben Frost Ñ both of whom have mixed or remixed Mr. StetsonÕs recordings). In 2008 Aagoo Records released Mr. StetsonÕs debut, the first in his New History Warfare album cycle. New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges arrived via Constellation in spring 2011. The album met with universal acclaim from critics across a spectrum of jazz and indie rock/pop cultural spheres: Òpure revelationÓ according to All About Jazz, the album was shortlisted for the Polaris Music Prize, and landed on year-end lists at Pitchfork, Tiny Mix Tapes, SPIN, and the Village Voice. His frequent appearances on stages at SXSW, All TomorrowÕs Parties, and countless stops on the international jazz festival circuit cemented his reputation as a versatile and virtuosic player while bringing his solo work to a broad international audience. April 2013 saw the release of New History Warfare Vol. 3: To See More Light via Constellation, completing the conceptual and narrative arc of the series and constituting a definitive realization of his unparalleled musicianship and stunning skill as a composer. It has been received with exemplary recognition and was shortlisted for the Polaris Music Prize. April 2015 saw the release of the first recording of his duo project with long-time collaborator Sarah Neufeld. Never Were the Way She Was charts an expansive sonic trajectory with a multiplicity of structures and voicings that belies the fundamental economy of two acoustic instruments combining in real time. The resulting musical chronicle powerfully establishes its own spatial and temporal horizon; Mr. Stetson and Ms. Neufeld offer up an impressively immersive integration of composition, performance, timbre, and texture. Never Were the Way She Was is a sum quite definitively and thrillingly greater than its parts. Currently residing in the San Francisco Bay Area, Megan Stetson (mezzo-soprano) is an active performer nationally and internationally in the classical realm, as well as in musical theater and dance. She has performed over 25 lead and supporting operatic and musical roles, including the title role of BizetÕs Carmen and the role of Princess Betsy in the US West Coast premiere of Anna Karenina byÊDavid Carlson.Ê Amanda Lo (violin) is a multi-genre acoustic and electric violinist currently based between New York and Los Angeles. She moved to New York in 2007 to attend New York University and study with Stephanie Chase, earning her bachelorÕs degree in violin performance in 2011. She has collaborated with artists including Andrew Bird, Bill Whelan, Bjšrk, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Efterklang, Guards, Goldfrapp, Harry Connick Jr., JJ Lin (...), Judith Hill, M’che‡l î Sœilleabh‡in, Mono, Natalia Lafourcade, Paul Simon, Pink, Pink Martini, Ra Ra Riot, Rihanna, and Sufjan Stevens. She has also appeared on AmericaÕs Got Talent, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Mozart in the Jungle, Saturday Night Live, and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Called ÒNew YorkÕs mohawked MozartÓ by Time Out New York, Caleb Burhans (violin) is a composer and performer. His commissions include Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, Library of Congress, and the Kronos Quartet. In 2009 he became an Annenberg Fellow recipient. Mr. Burhans is a founding member of Alarm Will Sound, itsnotyouitsme, Ensemble Signal, Wordless Music Orchestra, and is also a member of ACME and Newspeak. In 2013 his debut album Evensong was one of NPRÕs ÒTop 10 Classical Albums of the Year.Ó As a conductor, he has worked with the London Sinfonietta and the Wordless Music Orchestra. Rebecca Foon (cello) is a Montreal-based cellist, best known as co-founder of contemporary chamber group Esmerine and member of Thee Silver Mt. Zion, Set Fire To Flames, and most recently Saltland. Ms. Foon has also collaborated with the likes of Vic Chesnutt, Islands, British Sea Power, Carla Bozulich, Land Of Kush, and Little Scream, and played concerts alongside Patti Smith, Warren Ellis, and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. She is also a co-founder along with Jesse Paris Smith of Pathway to Paris, a series of concerts highlighting the importance of establishing a legally binding agreement on climate in the lead-up to the United Nations climate talk in Paris in December 2015. Dan Bennett (tenor and baritone saxophones, clarinet) is a saxophonist currently residing in Ann Arbor. He has toured extensively in the US and Europe with the band Nomo and is an active member of the Ann Arbor/Detroit music community. Currently, he performs and records regularly in Ann Arbor, Detroit, and Chicago with various artists as well as leading his own ensembles. Andrew Bishop (clarinet and tenor saxophone) is a versatile multi-instrumentalist, composer, improviser, educator, and scholar comfortable in many musical idioms. He maintains an international career and serves as an associate professor and chair of jazz and contemporary improvisation at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Mr. BishopÕs three recordings as a leader have received widespread acclaim from national and international journals. As a composer and arranger, he has received over 30 commissions, numerous residencies and awards, and recognition from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP); the Chicago Symphony Orchestra; the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; the National Endowment for the Arts; and a nomination from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He earned five degrees in music including a DMA in music composition from the University of Michigan. Mr. Bishop is a Conn-Selmer and Vandoren artist. Grey Mcmurray (guitars) has performed and recorded with the likes of Meshell Ndegeocello, Tyondai Braxton, John Cale, Gil Scott Heron, the BBC Symphony Orchestra, and the American Contemporary Music Ensemble. He co-leads itsnotyouitsme with Caleb Burhans, and Tongues In Trees with Samita Sinha and Sunny Jain. He is also a frequent collaborator of S. Percussion. His ambition is to provoke joyful tears in strangersÕ eyes everyday. Ryan Ferreira (guitars) has played with Ralph Alessi, Sam Amidon, Bill Frisell, Alarm Will Sound, Aaron Parks, Dave King, Loren Stillman, and Ted Poor. He has been a regular part of Tim BerneÕs bands for the last few years and is also a regular part of Chris DingmanÕs band. He has played on over 40 recordings and recently recorded with David Torn. He released his first solo record in 2011 and now lives in Seattle. Justin Walter (keyboards, EVI) was born and raised in Ann Arbor. His most recent musical explorations are centered around the Electronic Valve Instrument, a rare wind-controlled analog synthesizer. He performs regularly as a jazz trumpeter, and records and releases music that encompasses his love of acoustic and electronic sounds, most recently the album Lullabies and Nightmares, on the Kranky label. Although known primarily as a bass player, Shahzad Ismaily (synthesizers) plays a variety of instruments, including electronic and double bass, guitar, banjo, accordion, flute, percussion, and electronic instruments such as Moog synthesizers. He is a member of the band Ceramic Dog by Marc Ribot, and Secret Chiefs 3, and has collaborated with Laurie Anderson, Lou Reed, John Zorn, Jolie Holland, Laura Veirs, Bonnie Prince Billy, Faun Fables, Elysian Fields, Shelley Hirsch, Will Oldham, Nels Cline, Bill Frisell, Guillermo E. Brown, Graham Haynes, David Krakauer, and Billy Martin. He recently opened the beautiful Figure 8 Studios in Brooklytn, where Sorrow was recorded. Greg FoxÕs (drums) prolificacy is only eclipsed by his adaptability; from the American black metal torchbearer, Liturgy, to the minimalist soundscapes of Ben FrostÕs A U R O R A, Mr. FoxÕs malleable style always comes across confident and on-point. Mr. FoxÕs drumming adds raw, concussive energy, reminiscent of 
John Bonham or Keith Moon in their heyday, while his avant-garde instinct adds complexity and fluidity throughout any recording. His eclectic discography is probably due to the duality of his nature. His demeanor is both relaxed and intense. His playing is calculated, yet free-form. In short, Mr. Fox is an enigma Ñ a force of percussive nature. UMS ARCHIVES This eveningÕs performance marks U-M alumnus and Ann Arbor native
Colin StetsonÕs third UMS appearance, following his UMS debut in January 2014 in the Arthur Miller Theatre. Justin Walter makes his fourth UMS appearance this evening and Dan Bennett makes his second UMS appearance this evening, following their UMS debuts in April 2010 in the Michigan Theater with Nomo, as the opening band for Baaba Maal. Mr. Walter most recently appeared under UMS auspices in January 2014 with Colin Stetson. Andrew Bishop makes his second UMS appearance this evening, following his UMS debut in November 2010 as part of the ONCE Festival in Rackham Auditorium. UMS welcomes the rest of this eveningÕs artists as they make their UMS debuts tonight. 10 TONIGHT'S VICTOR FOR UMS: The Wallace Foundation Supporter of this eveningÕs performance of Sorrow. MAY WE ALSO RECOMMEND... 4/15    ApolloÕs Fire: MonteverdiÕs LÕOrfeo 4/19Ð21    Cold Blood 4/22    Emanuel Ax Tickets available at ON THE EDUCATION HORIZONÉ 4/19    UMS 101, Dance/Theater: Cold Blood     (Power Center Green Room, 5:30 pm)     Paid registration required; please visit to register. 4/19    Post-Performance Q&A: Cold Blood     (Power Center, 121 Fletcher Street)     Must have a ticket to that eveningÕs performance to attend. Educational events are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted.

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