New England Conservatory Composers End New Music Season on High Note

April 28 22:52 2015

Graduating composers take a bow after Tuesday Night New Music Finale concert in Boston’s Jordan Hall
Graduating composers from the New England Conservatory put on a rousing Tuesday Night New Music Finale concert last night at Jordan Hall in Boston. The concert featured genres both familiar (violin concerto) and unfamiliar (guitar, flute, and violin trio) to classical music audiences.


April 28 2015, Boston MA

Graduating composers from the New England Conservatory put on a rousing, if long, Tuesday Night New Music Finale concert last night at Jordan Hall in Boston. A showcase concert in kind and definition, it featured many genres both familiar (violin concerto) and unfamiliar (guitar, flute, and violin trio) to classical music audiences. Talent, too, was on display as each composer gave a strong impression of their musical aesthetic in this concert, on their way out the conservatory door and into a post-graduation world. 

Sybil, a violin concerto by Stephanie Ann Boyd, was lush and exciting. Channeling American masters, perhaps the likes of Barber and even Glass, Boyd gave folk-like melody and oversaturated color center stage in both the solo violin and the orchestra. Timpani and cross-rhythms emphasized structure as Boyd’s tonal palette over the three movements grew continually dark and vivid. 

Two Flies, a piece for loadbang ensemble by Niki Harlafti, was a dark comical revel, possibly drawing on the delightful misery often found in Kafka and Dostoevsky. The extended techniques in the wind instruments complimented the crazed mutterings by the baritone and showed quite clearly a man gone mad with chasing flies. 

Tres Danzas, a string orchestra piece by Luis M. Ruelas Romo, was a thrilling work in color and melody, with rhythms alluding to origins in the Ballrooms of Havana, Cuba, of the late 1890s. The stringed instruments had passages that resembled those of their well-known stringed cousins, the guitar and the jaranas. A wonderful marriage of old content and new techniques. 

Images for Oboe, Bassoon, Trumpet, Percussion, and Cello by Arielle Rabinowitz were three movements concerned with the myriad colors that can be drummed up by that particular amalgamation of instruments. At times melodic, at times pointillistic, the piece maintained an understated and meditative quality throughout, much like a painter’s first dabbing of color to canvas. 

Ek Kahaani: Two Scenes from Radha Krishna by Krish Jaiman utilized guitar, violin, and flute to summon the smoky melodic leanings of Ancient India. Borrowing inspiration from a folk tale where one character woos the other with their flute playing, here too did Jaiman’s flute writing woo this audience member. A charming, calming piece. 

Sonata No. 1 by Julian Korzeniowsky, for fixed electronics, was the perfect mid-concert piece. An uproariously funny recorded dialogue between two friends attempting to compose a piece, it was probably a bit too-close-to-home for many composers in the audience (plaintive exclamations of “why do I even compose?” were a recurring theme in the piece). Korzeniowsky’s deft use of satire was particularly stringent in this 15 minute work, and the audience’s mirthful reaction was no joke. 

Scratch the Surface for solo violin by Dana Kaufman was an unbridled exploration of violin techniques, extended and otherwise. Kaufman’s lyrical passages resonated well in Jordan Hall and her use of the violin’s harsher-sounding capabilities brought all movements, Slit, Slash, and Wound, to life.  

Sonata in F-sharp Minor for english horn and piano, by Ethan D’Ver, was a thick aural feast with many hidden references. An entertaining egg-hunt for the music history aficionado while agilely displaying the melodic capabilities of the english horn, D’Ver’s piece also delicately paired the woodwind instrument with the piano – a difficult feat. 

Wayfinding, a piano quartet by Jiyoung Ko, was a brilliant study in timbre, tone, and color. The strings subtly shifted through harmonic passages with varying vibrato, giving this listener a distinct image flowers blooming over a dark background. The one descending melodic line in the piano struck deep with its focus. A haunting piece by Ms. Ko. 

Loading, a piece by Chuchu Wen for piano, drum set, and marimba, was a terrific piece to end the concert. Counterintuitively groovy, Wen’s writing somehow balanced the drum set with the marimba and left the audience grinning and dancing in their seats. Constantly moving and feeling the beat herself, Wen proved to be the most enthusiastic page turner I think I’ve ever seen.  

Recordings of last night’s performances will be available shortly on the Tuesday Night New Music website, This was the last concert for series co-director Stephanie Ann Boyd, as she graduates with her masters degree in composition in May. Doctor of Musical Arts candidate composer Benjamin Park will continue running the series in the 2015/2016 season alongside sophomore composer Joshua Mastel. 


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