Jacobs School Preview: New Music Ensemble

The New Music Ensemble under David Dzubay will perform music of Schwantner and Berg.

A group of musicians stand on a staircase

Photo: Indiana University

IU's New Music Ensemble.

Event Information

IU New Music Ensemble

Music of Schwantner and Berg


Auer Hall

Thursday, October 25, 8 pm

Free admission

Jacobs School of Music Events Calendar

The New Music Ensemble‘s second concert of the year features old and new works of guest composer, Joseph Schwantner and Alban Berg’s Chamber Concerto. David Dzubay will conduct.

Schwantner, a professor of composition at the Eastman School of Music since 1970, is known for his diverse output which reflects many of the dominant compositional trends of the twentieth century. Thursday’s program will open with his Distant Runes and Incantations for amplified piano and orchestra, commissioned by the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra in 1984. The NME will perform a revised version for a smaller ensemble that dates from 1987. The work is associated with a poem by the composer, a portion of which gives a sense of Schwantner’s mystical imagination:

Give heed…/Lord of the Dark Winds,/Give heed…/solitary sentinel of the black moors,/Give heed…/fearsome knight/your daunting presence proclaimed,/ …slayer of foes/Forever vigilant…/cloaked guardian of the ancient citadel,/Forever endure…/you who for so long remained watchful, ever steadfast,…

Having absorbed this mature work of Schwantner, listeners have the opportunity to hear a more recent work, Taking Charge, composed in 2012. This work was commissioned by the Bienen School of Music at Northwestern University for the retirement of flutist and long time faculty member Walfrid Kujala. Mr. Kujala was also principal piccolo of the Chicago Symphony from 1958-2001. In tribute to his legacy, Taking Charge is scored for a flutist doubling on piccolo and tambourine, two percussionists, and piano doubling on percussion. Flutist and Jacobs School of Music faculty member Kathryn Lukas will perform. A video of the world premiere of this work shows the multitude of percussion instruments and the use of lighting effects in performance.

The concert will conclude with Alban Berg’s Chamber Concerto for violin, piano and 13 wind instruments, composed in 1925. This work represents a transitional period during which Berg began to adopt serialism, or the use of 12-note rows in place of tonal scales. Called Kammerkonzert in German,  it is an immensely complex work, both in terms of its use of serial ideas and its formal structure.

Further intrigue is introduced by the “secret” programmatic elements of the work, including musical renderings of the names “Arnold Schönberg,” “Anton Webern” and “Alban Berg,” the three members of the Second Viennese School. There is not space here to go into everything the Kammerkonzert  has to offer to listeners and scholars. The New Music Ensemble’s performance of this seminal work is sure to be both provacative and enlightening.

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