Gaudeamus Music Week 2010: A Cornucopia of Composition
Day three of the Gaudeamus Festival was even more music-packed than the previous days, with three concerts in three different venues, and performances of eighteen pieces, including seven world premieres. Yowza!
The 12:30 p.m. concert was presented by Orkest de ereprijs, a wind-heavy large chamber ensemble based out of Apeldorn. It was fun to get to hear them play again, after working with them a couple years ago at the 2009 Young Composers Meeting. They played a very Dutch-sounding program, including an exciting first performance of An Irish Process by Irish composer Donnacha Dennehy, one of the jurors for the competition; and a new piece by one of my favorite composers of all time, Richard Ayres, called No.44 (diary pieces). I was a little disappointed not to see Ayres at the concert, but one of the sentences in his bio in the booklet pretty much made up for it:
“In 1989 he accidentally rubbed an old copper teapot, heard a whooshing sound, and mysteriously found himself next to Louis Andriessen who was teaching him how to compose music.”
The highlight of the day for me came at the very end of the night, with the premiere of Julia Wolfe’s With a blue dress on (‘for multiple Monica’s'). It was based on the folk song with the lyric “pretty little girl with a blue dress on, stole my heart and now she’s gone.” It opened with a slow build up of live violin and taped violins, which was eventually interrupted by sample-like vocalizations of the folk melody, in the electronics and also sung live. It started rather innocently but continuously unfolded in unpredictable ways into something darker and strangely beautiful.
I feel like I’ve already heard enough good music to go home happy, but the concerts continue through Sunday. Next up, gamelan.