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VPA Faculty to Present World Premieres at Society for New Music Concert Jan. 31
Performers affiliated with the Setnor School of Music in the College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA) are teaming up with the Society for New Music (SNM) for world premieres by two up-and-coming composers.
Cellist Gregory Wood and percussionist Rob Bridge, both VPA faculty members, are performing in a virtual concert on Sunday, Jan. 31, at 3 p.m. in the Onondaga Community College Recital Hall. They are joined by former VPA faculty members Kelly Covert and Sar Shalom Strong G’98, who respectively play flute and piano, and violinist Sonya Stith Williams, a veteran of the University’s Women in Leadership initiative.
Tickets are $20 (regular), $15 (seniors/students) and free for ages 18 and under. For more information and tickets, visit societyfornewmusic.org.
The online concert is part of SNM’s annual “Sound-Futures” series, which grew out of Syracuse Symposium in the Syracuse University Humanities Center.
Founding Director Neva Pilgrim says the concert reflects SNM’s yearlong theme of “Sound Worlds in Uncommon Time(s).” “We’re interested in the intersection and recontextualization of the old and new,” says the former VPA faculty member, who is an artist-in-residence at Colgate University. “The program uses music and technology to bring myths, stories and poetry from the past into the present—and future.”
The concert features the world premieres of Ryan Carter’s “Floating Points” and Paul Leary’s “Hephaestus’ Fire.”
An assistant professor of music at Hamilton College, Carter has earned commissions from all over the country, including Carnegie Hall, and praise from The New York Times, which describes his music as “imaginative … like a Martian dance party.” “Floating Points” is scored for chamber ensemble and electronics and encourages audience participation via an app from his website.
Later this semester, he will participate in an online forum in the Setnor School.
Leary’s piece is inspired by Hephaestus, the Greek god of blacksmiths. An assistant professor of music at the State University of New York at Oswego, Leary describes “Hephaestus’ Fire” as a “juxtaposition of ancient machinery and new technology.” Case in point: It is written for antique anvil and electronics.
“Sound-Futures” continues with two pieces by women with ties to Cornell University. “Cereus: Night Blooms” (2019) is by Kay Kyurim Rhie, a UCLA music professor who recently served as a Cornell Visiting Lecturer. The piece honors her late father, who gave up creative writing to move his family from Korea to the United States. Jihyun Kim, a doctoral student at Cornell, is the composer of “Once Upon a Time” (2018), which she characterizes as a “fanciful fairy tale.”
Rounding out the program are two works foreshadowing “Black History Month.” Regina Baiocchi’s “Feather and Bowties” (2009) memorializes her composition mentor, Hale Smith, who “always wrote with a Montblanc pen and wore a bowtie.” Valerie Coleman’s “Fanmi Imèn” (2018) is a nod to the Maya Angelou poem “Human Family.” The piece features French flute stylings, laced with elements of indigenous African and Asian music.
Now in its 49th year, SNM is one of the nation’s oldest and largest organizations dedicated to the commissioning and advocating of new works by regional composers.
SNM has enjoyed a long partnership with the University and, more recently, has provided mentoring opportunities for aspiring composers. Kevin Swenson, a master’s student in composition in VPA, is in his second year of working with SNM. Past mentees include Andrei Skorobogatykh G’20 and Chris Cresswell ’11.