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The Beauty of the Night | October 12, 2018 – 7:30 pm

with special guests Semiosis Quartet 

The Center for Arts at the Armory, 191 Highland Ave Somerville, MA

Missed it? See the full concert here.

Nickitas DemosAkathist
Ash StemkeEmergent
Cheng Jin Koh*Kuda Kepang
Angela SlaterFlickering Airs
David HeuserTaxi of Midnight
Osvaldo GolijovNight Prayers


Caroline ShawValencia
Angela SlaterNight Airs
Eren GümrükçüoğluBozkır
Ryan ChaseStargazer

*winner of our 4th Annual Young Composer Competition

Presented by Semiosis Quartet and the Boston New Music Initiative core ensemble conducted by Tian Hui Ng

Recommended Donation $10

Get Tickets Here

Program Notes
Composer Bios
Performer Bios
Staff Bios

Program Notes

Within the Eastern Orthodox Christian Tradition, an Akathist (from the Greek, akathistos) refers to a hymn dedicated to a saint, a holy event, or one of the Persons of the Holy Trinity. While many akathists date back to the first millennium of Christianity, the writing of these types of hymns continues today especially in the Slavic tradition. Most of the newer akathists are a pastiche, incorporating a generic form that imitates an earlier akathist into which a particular saint's name is inserted.
The idea of an akathist being a pastiche of new and old elements intrigued me as I set upon the writing of this work. Instead of fitting new words into older forms, I decided to incorporate a more contemporary musical vocabulary around an ancient Byzantine Chant melody. The chant melody, Ti Ipermaho (To You Theotokos, O Champion Leader) is from the most well known akathist, written in the 6 th century to the Theotokos (from the Greek, Mother of God, referring to the Virgin Mary). During Great Lent, it is chanted each Friday during the Salutations to the Theotokos Service and at each Divine Liturgy.
All musical material within this work revolves around the ancient melody. It is a reminder to me of the anchor that informs the motion of my life and the ties of this temporal existence to eternity. – ND

To emerge is to rise up or come into notice from concealment or obscurity. Given the constant addition of countless new ideas, emotions, and memories to our repertoire of experiences, which parts will we remember? Which events, theories, or stories will be Emergent at the end of each day? At the end of each year? At the end of our lives? – AS

Kuda Kepang ("braided horse") is a traditional ritualistic dance in Javanese and Malay communities which re-enacts battles of holy wars. Battles are presented with dancers riding wooden painted horses. Dancers first enter into a trance through incense, enabling them to be possessed. The Danyang leads by directing the movements with a whip. The crack of the whip accentuates their frenzy and the performance usually becomes more agitated.
Incense is an atmospheric portrayal of the preparation before the dance. Gestural effects and sonorities seek to paint an ambience of active inertia in the possessed. Trance, the dance, begins with the Gamelan scale and groove. The scale is then distorted, the whip more assertive in manipulating the tempo and the texture shifts into abstract forms. I deviate from the usual concept by having the “horse” eventually rebelling and gaining its agency. An impassioned rhythmic hysteria is conjured and the entire force spirals out of hand.

Flickering airs in coloured skies was written for the 2017 St Magnus Festival Composition Course. The piece explores the imagery and the beautiful colours of the Orkney’s rugged landscapes, capturing the essence of the rapid changes in the wild weather and the impact these have on the light qualities. An ethereal and tranquil section opens the piece, punctuated with off-stage air sounds from the winds, with string harmonics being used to create a transparent fragile sound that is soon disturbed by explosive bursts of energy that quickly dissipate into nothingness. As the piece progresses, the bursts become more sustained, representative of some of the turbulent weather that Orkney endures throughout the year. Each of the flickering airs returns a number of times throughout the piece, though always in a subtly different guise. A theme from the St Magnus hymn subtly permeates the piece.

Taxi of Midnight was composed for AURA (the Moores School of Music Contemporary Ensemble), Rob Smith, director.
The piece is inspired by the poem The Taxi of Midnight by Olga Cabral (reproduced on the next page), whose poems I have set in a number of songs and choral works over the last 15 years; the three movement titles are all drawn from the poem. Cabral composed the poem after seeing Salvador Dali's surrealist assemblage, The Rainy Taxi. The music draws on the imagery of darkness, speed, and water, and speaks also of dark and uncertain journeys, both real and metaphorical, in my own life.
For this concert, only movement I, fluid, flowing, falling, will be performed. The other movements are of brine and mists and veils of midnight stars and on currents of strangeness.– DH

The work presented here is the last movement of The Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind. I have this image of my great-grandfather, who shared my bedroom when I was seven. I'd wake up and see him by the window, praying with his phylacteries in the early light. I think of him always praying, or fixing things, his pockets full of screws. I remember thinking, three of his children are dead; why does he still pray? Why does he still fix things? But we were taught that God had assigned the task of repairing the world to the Jewish people–Tikkun Olam. Incomprehensible.
This movement was written before all the others. It's an instrumental version of K'vakarat (Night Prayers), a work that I wrote for the Kronos Quartet and Cantor Misha Alexandrovich. In this final movement, hope is present but out of reach. There is a question woven into the hardening, incense: why this task? Repairing a world forever breaking down, with pockets full of screws. – OG

There is something exquisite about the construction of an ordinary orange. (Grocery stores around the country often offer the common "Valencia" as the standard option.) Hundreds of brilliantly colored, impossibly delicate vesicles of juice, ready to explode. It is a thing of nature so simple, yet so complex and extraordinary. In 2012, I performed at the MoMA with the musician and performance artist, Glasser — a song which she described as being about the simple beauty of fruit. Later that summer I wrote Valencia, for a concert I was playing with some good friends in Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts. I decided to channel Glasser's brave and intuitive approach to melody and texture, such that Valencia became an untethered embrace of the architecture of the common Valencia orange, through billowing harmonics and somewhat viscous chords and melodies. It is also a kind of celebration of awareness of the natural, unadorned food that is still available to us. – CS

Night Airs is from a series of pieces inspired by the natural world and explores imagery of the night. The piece opens with a stillness that explores different timbral combinations to create unusual tone colours. This stillness is disturbed by energetic bursts of colour that act as pre-echoes to the more melodically and rhythmically agile faster section. The faster section continues to combine the instrumental voices in interesting ways and particularly shows off the agility of the flute and clarinet in duet passages. Dovetailing cascades return the music to the stillness of the opening as the night draws to a close.

This piece is inspired by the endless steppes that span Eurasia—from Eastern Turkey until Western China. The title Bozkır literally means 'steppes’ in Turkish. The string quartet is treated as a homogeneous unit rather than four separate entities, and at times, imagined as an oriental instrument. The first third of the piece explores several ideas derived from Turkish maqams and the folk tradition of bards’ songs, while presenting it in a manner where a constant shift of focus occurs back and forth between melodic and rhythmic structures. The second third of the piece depicts an imaginary journey from East to West through localities of texture. The final third of the piece concludes on an Anatolian folk song-like theme.

Stargazer was written for the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble for the 2012 Aspen Music Festival. Composed in the spring prior to the festival, the piece was borne of my excitement for what the summer had to offer. In addition to the incredible musical experiences I knew the festival had to offer, I was also looking forward to the chance to summit a handful of the “fourteeners,” Rocky Mountains exceeding 14,000 feet in elevation.
In order to climb these massive peaks, one needs to get an early start. Unpredictable storm patterns typically emerge by midday and so climbers must get back below the tree line around noon to avoid danger. In order to summit in time, climbers will leave the trailhead around three or four o’clock in the morning depending on the length of the climb.
The low light pollution and thin air from the extreme elevation makes for some of the best stargazing in the country. In the darkest hours before the dawn, the Milky Way appears in all its luminous glory and climbers are often treated to spectacular meteor showers. Being there in mid-summer, I was lucky enough to catch the Perseids shower on several occasions.
Throughout the entire history of our species, we have looked to the cosmos for answers to many of our most crucial scientific and metaphysical questions. While this piece doesn’t offer any further clarification to these big questions, it speaks to our child-like wonder of of the night sky in all of its majesty. – RC

Composer Bios

Nickitas Demos (b. 1962) holds a DMA from the Cleveland Institute of Music, a MM from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music and a BM from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His principal teachers were Donald Erb (1927-2008) and Roger Hannay (1930-2006).
Commissions include works for the Cleveland Orchestra, Atlanta Ballet, Nashville Chamber Orchestra, Atlanta Chamber Players, and the National Association of College Wind & Percussion Instructors. His awards include: Finalist in the 2016 American Prize in Composition – Orchestra; Semi-Finalist in the 2015 Rapido! Composition Competition; MacDowell Arts Colony Fellowship (2012); Grand Prize in the 2004 Millennium Arts International Competition for Composers; Grand Prize in the 2005 Holyoke Civic Symphony Composition Competition; and 19 ASCAP Awards among others. Demos’s works have been programmed at festivals, symposia and conferences including the 43rd Dimitria Festival (Thessaloniki, Greece); the 18th International Review of Composers (Belgrade Serbia); the New Music Forum Festival of Contemporary Music (San Francisco, CA); and at National and Regional Conferences of the Society of Composers, Inc. (SCI) and the College Music Society (CMS). His music is self-published through Sylvan Lake Press (ASCAP) and recorded on Ablaze Records, Albany Records, MSR Classics and Capstone Records.
Demos is the Director of the Georgia State University School of Music and Coordinator of Composition Studies. He is the Artistic Director of the neoPhonia New Music Ensemble and Director of the Center for Collaborative & International Arts (CENCIA) within the Georgia State University College of the Arts. Co-Founder and Co-Artistic Director of the SoundNOW Contemporary Music Festival, he also served on the Board of Directors for the MacDowell Colony (2013-2016), the Executive Committee of the Society of Composers, Inc. (2005-2014) and was a Co-Founder of Bent Frequency, a professional ensemble based in Atlanta, serving as Composer-In-Residence and Artistic Board member (2003-2008).

Ash Stemke (b. 1991) "...simply composes music he wants to hear, because it is beautiful, spouts no unpleasant theories, and manages nonetheless to avoid the too- well-known and trite." (Steven Kruger, New York Arts). His music explores symmetry, trajectory, and organicism, and traverses several mediums, including commissions from the UNC Lab Orchestra (Vincent L. Povázsay, conductor), Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, the V3N trio, and a film score for violinist Christin Danchi that will soon be sent to the moon as part of the MoonArk project at Carnegie Mellon University. Ash’s music has been championed by ensembles such as the San Francisco Choral Artists, Duo per se, the Tallis Chamber Orchestra, and Present~Continuous, and has been featured at events such as New Music on the Bayou, NSEME, DIGITECH, numerous SCI conferences, and the Schoenberg Academy in Vienna, Austria.
Ash currently studies composition with Clifton Callender and Ellen Taaffe Zwilich at Florida State University (DM, anticipated graduation 2019) where he has been recognized as an outstanding graduate teaching assistant. Ash holds a Master of Music in Composition and a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Music Theory from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where his thesis composition, Starmount Vespers: an oratorio for voices and strings, demonstrated how several levels of self-similar music can embody poetry on the subject of self-similarity. Ash also holds a Bachelor of Music with Highest Honors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and has studied composition with Steven Bryant, Mark Engebretson, Alejandro Rutty, and Allen Anderson.

Recognized as one of the four 2016 new artists by Zaobao Singapore, with an “impressive debut” described by the Straits Times for the premiere of her orchestral work “Horizons”, Koh Cheng Jin (b.1996) is a Singaporean composer, Yang Qin and violin performer currently based in New York. As a Yang Qin player, she was the First Prize winner of the Singapore National Chinese Music Competition Youth and Open categories in 2012 and 2014. She has also played as a soloist with the Singapore Chinese Orchestra. She is currently a member of the Chinese Music Ensemble of New York.
Cheng Jin has written works for the Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO), Singapore Chinese Orchestra (SCO), T’ang Quartet, School of the Arts Singapore (SOTA) Chinese Music Ensemble, Juilliard’s Azure Quartet and other ensembles. Her works have been performed in Singapore, the United States and Australia. In 2016, her work was performed by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra for their 37th Anniversary Concert, and another, commissioned by Singapore’s newest flute trio Flutterfly, at the 44th Annual National Flute Association Convention in San Diego, California. She attended summer composition programs at the Cleveland Institute of Music and Oberlin Conservatory in 2012 and 2013, as well as the Yale-Norfolk New Music Workshop where her Kuda Kepang was commissioned, and the European American Musical Alliance (EAMA) in 2017.
Cheng Jin graduated from School of the Arts Singapore in 2014 with the International Baccalaureate Diploma. She is now studying music composition with Robert Beaser at The Juilliard School, generously sponsored by Singapore’s Loke Cheng Kim Foundation.

Angela Elizabeth Slater is a UK-based composer. She is also the founder and artistic director of the Illuminate series. In her AHRC-funded PhD in composition at the University of Nottingham, Angela developed an interest in incorporating different aspects of the natural world into her compositions. She has been working on a series of works that engage with the natural world, musically mapping certain aspects into the fabric of her music.
Angela has worked with many professional and amateur musicians, and enjoys working with both groups with equal passion and enthusiasm. Recently she has worked with the BSO, Bozzini Quartet, Assembly project, Aurea Quartet, BBC Singers, and Psappha, amongst others. Angela is passionate about the promotion of new music for amateur and professionals and particularly about raising the profile of female musicians and composers.
Angela has recently participated in the St Magnus Composition Course 2017, working with Alasdair Nicholson and Sally Beamish and the Britten-Pears Young Artists Composers’ Course 2017, where she has worked with Oliver Knussen, Colin Matthews and Michael Gandolfi. Her work Soaring in Stasis was premiered at 2018 Aldeburgh Festival on 22nd June. Angela will also be participating in the 2018 Cheltenham Composers Academy working with the Juice vocal ensemble and composer Michael Zev Gordon. She has recently become London Firebird Orchestra’s Young Composer of the year 2018 and is beginning work on a new piece for them. She is also delighted to be the winner New England Philharmonic’s 2018 call for scores, they will premiere her piece Roil in Stillness in April 2019. Angela has recently become a 2018 Mendelssohn Scholar and will continue her studies with Michael Gandolfi in Boston later this year or next.

David Heuser’s music has be hailed as “all-American music at its most dynamic and visceral” (Houston Chronicle), “thoughtful, beautiful and wonderfully made” (San Antonio Express-News), and “just the sort of music classical music needs more of” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette). His degrees are from the Eastman School of Music and Indiana University. A native of New Jersey, Heuser resided in San Antonio for 14 years, where he was a Professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio teaching music composition, theory, and electronic music. Since July 2011 he has been the Associate Dean at the Crane School of Music in Potsdam, New York.
Heuser is a storyteller, crafting emotional journeys for listeners, but his stories go beyond words to things only music can speak to. His over 70 compositions range from exuberant orchestral works to intimate chamber pieces. His most characteristic works are rhythmically active, strongly melodic, and often deal with extremes of tempo, dynamics and register. Just as a painter fills space, a composer fills time, and it is Heuser’s goal to lead the listener through the time his music occupies in a way that is compelling and moving.
Heuser’s music is published by Non Sequitur Music.

Osvaldo Golijov grew up in an Eastern European Jewish household in La Plata, Argentina. Born to a piano teacher mother and physician father, Golijov was raised surrounded by classical chamber music, Jewish liturgical and klezmer music, and the new tango of Astor Piazzolla. After studying piano at the local conservatory and composition with Gerardo Gandini he moved to Israel in 1983, where he studied with Mark Kopytman at the Jerusalem Rubin Academy and immersed himself in the colliding musical traditions of that city. Upon moving to the United States in 1986, Golijov earned his Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania, where he studied with George Crumb, and was a fellow at Tanglewood, studying with Oliver Knussen.
Golijov has received numerous commissions from major ensembles and institutions in the U.S. and Europe. He is the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship and the Vilcek Prize among other awards. In addition to the artists mentioned above, he collaborates closely with conductor Miguel Harth-Bedoya; vocalists Luciana Souza and Biella da Costa; cellists Yo-Yo Ma, Alisa Weilerstein, Maya Beiser and Matt Haimovitz; the Kamancheh virtuoso Kayhan Kalhor and percussionist Jamey Haddad; also with young, multitalented musicians such as Michael Ward-Bergeman, Gonzalo Grau, Ljova, Jeremy Flower and Cristina Pato; ensembles including the Atlanta Symphony, the Boston Symphony, the Chicago Symphony, Silk Road Ensemble and eighth blackbird; the artist Gronk, playwright David Henry Hwang, and directors Francis Ford Coppola and Peter Sellars. The latter staged critically acclaimed runs of Ainadamar at the Santa Fe Opera and Lincoln Center.
In January and February 2006 Lincoln Center presented a sold-out festival called "The Passion of Osvaldo Golijov", featuring multiple performances of his major works, his chamber music, and late night programs of music dear to him. In 2007 he was named first composer-in-residence at the Mostly Mozart Festival. He has also been composer-in-residence at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Spoleto USA Festival, the Los Angeles Philharmonic's Music Alive series, Marlboro Music, Ravinia, Ojai, Trondheim and Holland festivals. For the 2012-13 season, Golijov holds the Richard and Barbara Debs Composer's Chair at Carnegie Hall in New York. Golijov is Loyola Professor of Music at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA, where he has taught since 1991. He also taught for several years at Tanglewood, has led workshops at Carnegie Hall with Dawn Upshaw and teaches in the summers at the Sundance Composers Lab.
Golijov has scored the soundtracks for Francis Ford Coppola's Youth Without Youth , Tetro (both released by Deutsche Grammophon) and Twixt, for Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu Darkness 9'11' (with Gustavo Santaolalla) and for Laura Poitras' documentary The Oath. Other recent works include Azul, a cello concerto for Yo-Yo Ma and the Boston Symphony; Rose of the Winds, premiered by the Silk Road Ensemble and the Chicago Symphony under Miguel Harth-Bedoya; She Was Here, a work based on Schubert lieder premiered by Dawn Upshaw and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra.
His works are published by Boosey and Hawkes. Deutsche Grammophon has issued the recordings of Ainadamar, Ayre, Oceana, Youth Without Youth, Tetro, and the CD and DVD of the St. Mark Passion. Other compositions have been released on Nonesuch, Sony Classical, Hänssler Classics, Naxos, Koch, Harmonia Mundi and EMI.

Caroline Adelaide Shaw is a New York-based musician—vocalist, violinist, composer, and producer—who performs in solo and collaborative projects. She is the youngest recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Music, for Partita for 8 Voices, written for the Grammy-winning Roomful of Teeth, of which she is a member. Recent commissions include new works for the Dover Quartet, the Calidore Quartet, the Aizuri Quartet, FLUX Quartet, Brooklyn Rider, Anne Sofie von Otter, The Crossing, Roomful of Teeth, yMusic, ACME, ICE, A Far Cry, Philharmonia Baroque, the Baltimore Symphony, and Carnegie Hall’s Ensemble Connect. In the 2017–18 season, Caroline’s new works will be premiered by Renée Fleming with Inon Barnatan, Dawn Upshaw with Sō Percussion and Gil Kalish, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s with John Lithgow, the Britten Sinfonietta, TENET with the Metropolis Ensemble, the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia, the Netherlands Chamber Choir, and Luciana Souza with A Far Cry. Future seasons will include a new piano concerto for Jonathan Biss with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and a new work for the LA Phil. Caroline’s scoring of visual work includes the soundtrack for the feature film To Keep the Light as well as collaborations with Kanye West. She studied at Yale, Rice, and Princeton, and she has held residencies at Dumbarton Oaks, the Banff Centre, Music on Main, and the Vail Dance Festival. Caroline loves the color yellow, otters, Beethoven opus 74, Mozart opera, Kinhaven, the smell of rosemary, and the sound of a janky mandolin.

Eren Gümrükçüoğlu (b. 1982) is a Turkish composer currently based in Durham, where he is a PhD candidate in music composition at Duke University.
Eren's music dwells on the borders between styles. As a concert music composer with a strong jazz background, he refrains from creating a crass amalgam of genres but rather incorporates the idiosyncrasies, contours, shapes, rhythms and pacings of different styles into his music.
Eren holds a master's degree from Istanbul Technical University and a bachelor's degree from Berklee College of Music in Boston. Performers of his music include Ensemble Suono Giallo, JACK Quartet, New York Polyphony, Mivos Quartet, Conrad Tao, Reuben de Lautour, Ulrich Mertin, Deviant Septet, yMusic Ensemble, Naked Drum Project, Istanbul State Symphony Orchestra, and Metropole Orkest.

Balancing the extremes of the familiar and the experimental, music by Ryan Chase has been described as "the stuff of memory" (The Herald-Times) and hailed by the New York Times as a "whirlwind of deftly explored contrasts of mood, from bombastic to introverted." Though sonically diverse, his body of work is unified by a fascination with virtuosity and an affirmation of melody. Chase's pieces have been performed by such artists and ensembles as Alarm Will Sound, the Albany Symphony Orchestra, the American Composers Orchestra, the Chelsea Symphony, Contemporaneous, the Flux Quartet, Juventas, the Mexico City Woodwind Quintet, rogue collective, SONAR New Music Ensemble, and others.
Coming to classical music as a jazz pianist, he is an avid and eclectic collaborator. His music has been presented at the Cannes Film Festival, Tanglewood, the Aspen Music Festival, the Copland House, the Mizzou International Composers Festival, the Resonant Bodies Festival, the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, the Oregon Bach Festival, and on PBS. He remains active as a pianist, recently performing his chamber and solo piano music with the Society for New Music.
Chase's accolades include a Charles Ives Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Fromm Commission from the Harvard Fromm Music Foundation, two consecutive BMI Student Composer Awards, two ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Awards, the Audience Choice Award from the American Composers Orchestra Underwood Readings, the Northridge Composition Prize, the Brian M. Israel Prize from the Society for New Music, the Suzanne and Lee Ettelson Composer's Award, and 1st Prize in the NACUSA Young Composers Competition, among others.
Chase holds degrees from the Mannes School of Music and Indiana University, where his primary teachers were Claude Baker, David Dzubay, Keith Fitch, Don Freund, and Gabriela Ortíz. He is currently an Assistant Professor at Colgate University.

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