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  • 04

    Kevin Laskey’s Almanac Variant 6, Warp Trio, Kevin Sun Quartet

    8:00 PM
    University Lutheran Church
    3637 Chestnut St, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104
    Bowerbird presents acclaimed ensembles Variant 6, Warp Trio, and the Kevin Sun Quartet in Philadelphia composer Kevin Laskey’s new evening-length work Almanac. Crossing many stylistic borders, the work explores an almanac’s dual nature as information compendium and prophetic text. Dark sibylline prophecies emerge from catalogic texts about colors and food and flowers. And despite its best efforts, this Almanac cannot completely predict its own fate. Confronted with unforeseen circumstances, the performers improvise, seeking an ordered conclusion from a flotsam of cliches.
    Support for Almanac has been provided by The Sachs Program for Arts Innovation.  Bowerbird’s Steinway Model O piano was donated in honor of Virginia Francis Lease.

    Variant 6
    Rebecca Myers & Molly Netter, soprano
    Elisa Sutherland, mezzo-soprano
    Steven Bradshaw and James Reese, tenor
    Daniel Schwartz, bass-baritone
    Warp Trio
    Josh Henderson, violin
    Ju-Young Lee, cello
    Mikael Darmanie, piano
    Kevin Sun Quartet
    Kevin Sun, tenor saxophone
    Adam O’Farrill, trumpet
    Walter Stinson, bass
    Matt Honor, drums
    Kevin Laskey, composer/conductor

    Variant 6 is a virtuosic vocal sextet that explores and advances the art of chamber music in the twenty-first century. The ensemble’s work includes radically reimagining concert experiences, commissioning substantial new works, collaborating closely with other ensembles, and educating a new generation of singers. Variant 6 believes that the process of compromise achieved from the diversity of opinion and specialty of its six individual artists can create deeply impactful experiences for its audiences, collaborators, and students.
    Described as “A talented group that exemplifies the genre-obliterating direction of contemporary classical music (Columbia Free Times)”, Warp Trio is an Internationally touring cross-genre chamber music experience. Reflecting the combination of Juilliard trained members juxtaposed with members steeped in rock and jazz styles, the one of a kind trio can be seen performing classical works in prestigious halls on the same tour where they headline a standing room only show at a rock venue. In addition to their electrifying public performances, they have gained a reputation for their innovative educational workshops with students from grade school through university level.
    Kevin Sun is a Brooklyn-based saxophonist, clarinetist, and improvisor-composer. Kevin was the 2013 Vandoren Emerging Artist Competition winner and the 2012 Yamaha Young Performing Artists Competition winner in the jazz saxophone category. He was previously the editor of Jazz Speaks, the blog of The Jazz Gallery, a nonprofit jazz cultural center in New York City. His co-led 2016 release, Earprint, was named #1 Debut Album in the 2016 NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll.
    Kevin Laskey is a composer, percussionist, and writer based in Philadelphia, PA. His music lives in a netherworld between formal concert music and more vernacular styles, drawing from classical, jazz, and popular idioms alike. He has written for notable ensembles including PRISM Quartet, the International Contemporary Ensemble, the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, and Bearthoven, and has performed with, among others, trombonist Ray Anderson, pianist Anthony Davis, and composer/vocalist Ted Hearne. Kevin is currently completing a PhD in music composition at the University of Pennsylvania where he studies with Anna Weesner and James Primosch.
  • 05

    thingNY & Erik Ruin's Ominous Cloud Ensemble

    8:00 PM
    Vox Populi
    thingNY is a collective of New York composer-performers who fuse electronic and acoustic chamber music with new opera, improvisation, theater, text, song and installation. Founded in 2006 for an ad hoc festival in the historic Loew’s Jersey City Theater, thingNY performs experimental sound works created collaboratively by the core ensemble – Paul Pinto, Erin Rogers, Jeffrey Young, Gelsey Bell, Dave Ruder, and Andrew Livingston – and by adventurous composers such as Robert Ashley, Frederic Rzewski, John King, Pauline Oliveros, Miguel Frasconi, Vinko Globokar, John Cage, Julius Eastman, James Tenney, David Snow, and Andrea La Rose.
    The musicians of thingNY are a prolific bunch. They’ve collaboratively created three concert-length operas: their latest, This Takes Place Close By, “Blackly Amusing, Sonically Rich” (NY Music Daily) explores the reactions of isolated individuals in the wake of a devastating storm. Premiering September 2015 at The Knockdown Down Center, a 50,000 square-foot space in Maspeth, Queens, the opera toured to Philadelphia, Boston, New Haven, and Edmonton and Calgary (Canada) during its production. ADDDDDDDDD, premiered in 2009 and released on CD in 2010 with a comic-book libretto, and Time: A Complete Explanation in Three Parts, a 2011 performance collaboration with Panoply Performance Laboratory accompanied by a 250-page hardcover book.
    This performance will feature Dave Ruder’s sextet work You Must Read a Lot of Jung – a spacious, melodic chamber piece scored for voice, clarinet, violin, saxophone, cello, and percussion that grew out of materials created for thingNY’s 2015 opera This Takes Place Close By.
    Erik Ruin’s Ominous Cloud Ensemble:
    Erik Ruin’s Ominous Cloud Ensemble is an ever-evolving, collectively-improvising large ensemble for projections and music, led by visual artist Erik Ruin, recently lauded by the New York Times for his “spell-binding cut-paper animations.” Erik manipulates intricate paper-cuts and painted films on overhead projectors to create abstract landscapes and fragmentary scenes that are nonetheless charged with meaning, merging with music that ranges from dark atmospherics to ecstatic peaks of dissonance. Members of the ensemble include a rotating cast of Philly’s finest musicians, who have collaborated with everyone from Anthony Braxton to the Sun Ra Arkestra to Bardo Pond.
    Please note that Vox Populi is located on the third floor of a historic warehouse building at 319 N. 11th Street and that there are five steps leading from the street-level to the first-floor landing where the passenger elevator picks-up/drops-off. The entry into/out of the elevator is 29-inches wide, so may not accommodate all wheelchairs or motorized chairs. Any individual requiring a ramp to navigate this entryway is encouraged to get in touch with Vox Populi ahead of time to coordinate ramp-access and discuss accessibility details. Our ramps may not be suitable for all wheelchairs or motorized chairs, so we strongly encourage anyone requiring a ramp to be in touch at: or 215.238.1236
  • 11

    Mystical Paths, Ekmeles

    8:00 PM
    University Lutheran Church
    3637 Chestnut St, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104
    Bowerbird is excited to present Ekmeles Vocal Ensemble performing Mystical Paths, a program of music with spiritual focuses as diverse as Sufism, silence, cooking, and humor. Taylor Brook’s Motorman Sextet anchors the program, as an expressive setting of the most nostalgic episodes from David Ohle’s cult novel Motorman. Forrest Pierce’s Tighten to Nothing explores the composer’s Sufism through a text by medieval Dutch mystic Hadewijch II. Lucia Ronchetti’s Anatra al sal, heard here in its U.S. premiere, is a raucous exposition on cooking (the title is Duck with salt). Agata Zubel’s Madrigals, another U.S. premiere, draws from the composer’s experience as a renowned contemporary vocalist. Evan Johnson’s 3 in ad abundantiam, and vo mesurando, are extraordinarily delicate works that play on the edge of sound and silence, questioning the very nature of vocal performance.

    Taylor Brook – Motorman Sextet
    Forrest Pierce – Tighten to Nothing
    Agata Zubel – The Alphabet of the Ars Brevis
    Evan Johnson – 3 in ad abundantiam
    Evan Johnson – vo mesurando
    Lucia Ronchetti – Antara al sal

    Ekmeles is a vocal ensemble dedicated to the performance of new and rarely-heard works, and gems of the historical avant garde. New York is home to a vibrant instrumental New Music scene, with a relative paucity of vocal music. Ekmeles was founded to fill the gap by presenting new a cappella repertoire for solo voices, and by collaborating with these instrumental ensembles.  Director Jeffrey Gavett brings a hybrid vision to the group: he is an accomplished ensemble singer and performer of new works, and holds degrees from Westminster Choir College and Manhattan School of Music’s Contemporary Performance Program. He has assembled a virtuoso group of colleagues who bring their own diverse backgrounds to bear on the unique challenges of this essential and neglected repertoire.
  • 13

    Two-Way Street perform “The Reinvention of Romance” by Sarah Hennies

    8:00 PM
    Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Atonement
    1542 E Montgomery Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19125, USA
    Co-presented with Mutual Irradiation
    Two-way Street:
    Based in Knoxville, Tennessee, Two-way Street is a collaboration between Adam Lion (percussion) and Ashlee Booth (cello.) The duo collaborates on a multitude of interdisciplinary projects, exploring ideas such as experimentation, technology, and socio-political concerns. Two-Way Street is very active within the Knoxville music scene, and works closely with its local community to present innovative musical ideas in an accessible manner.
    In addition to their commitment to local community, the duo maintains an active presence in contemporary music communities across the United States. Recent engagements include an artistic residency at the Avaloch Farm Music Institute, and performances at the Black Mountain College {RE}Happening Festival, the New Music Gathering at Boston Conservatory, the University of Chicago, and the Red Room (Baltimore.) Their most recent project with composer Sarah Hennies will be released through the Astral Spirits label in 2020.
    “The Reinvention of Romance” by Sarah Hennies is a new work for percussion and cello that examines the care and empathy that emerge when two lives share space. Over 90 minutes, a series of repeating patterns creates a peculiar kind of harmony in which two musicians are rarely “playing together” but are nonetheless intimately bonded. The Knoxville-based duo Two-Way Street (Ashlee Booth and Adam Lion) commissioned Hennies to compose “a very long piece;” for this performance they step into its two intertwining roles.
    About the composer:
    Sarah Hennies (b. 1979, Louisville, KY) is a composer based in Ithaca, NY whose work is concerned with a variety of musical, sociopolitical, and psychological issues including queer & trans identity, love, intimacy, psychoacoustics, and percussion. She is primarily a composer of solo and chamber works, but is also active in improvisation, film, performance art, and dance. She presents her work internationally as both a composer and percussionist.  As a composer, she has received commissions across a wide array of performers and ensembles including Bearthoven (NYC), Bent Duo (NYC), Cristian Alvear (Santiago), Claire Chase (NYC), R. Andrew Lee (Denver), LIMINAR (Mexico City), The Living Earth Show (San Francisco), The Thin Edge New Music Collective (Toronto), Two-Way Street (Knoxville), and Yarn/Wire (NYC).
    She is the recipient of a 2019 Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artists Award, a 2016 fellowship in music/sound from the New York Foundation for the Arts, and has received additional support from New Music USA, the New York State Council on the Arts, and the Community Arts Partnership of Tompkins County.
  • 16

    Wally Gunn: Moonlite Variant 6, Mobius Percussion, Veronica Jurkiewicz

    8:00 PM
    The Maas Building
    1325 N Randolph St, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19122, USA
    Bowerbird is pleased to present Moonlite, a new work by composer Wally Gunn and librettist Maria Zajkowski performed by Variant 6, Mobius Percussion and Veronica Jurkiewicz. Moonlite concert-length oratorio is based on the true story of the 19th-century Australian outlaw Andrew George Scott, known as “Captain Moonlite.” Captain Moonlite—a rogue, a brigand, a criminal, and a queer—is an outsider who chafes at the constraints of Victorian-era society. He dreams of founding a utopia for himself and the lover he met in prison, James Nesbitt. Unable to make a life in society upon their release, Scott and Nesbitt resign themselves to living outside it, and in pursuing this end, the pair, by misconduct and misfortune, fall foul of the law. Banding together with some other misfits, they set off on a gruelling trek through Australia’s arid outback and find themselves in a series of increasingly desperate situations which culminate in a stand-off and shoot-out with police. An officer is shot and killed, and Nesbitt, also shot fatally, dies in Scott’s arms. Scott, stricken and defeated, is imprisoned and sentenced to death by hanging for his crimes. In his cell, he writes heartrendingly of his love for Nesbitt, his terrible loss, and his hope that he will be reunited with his lover in the next world.
    Variant 6
    Rebecca Myers and Kathryn Radakovich, sopranos
    Elisa Sutherland, mezzo-soprano
    Steven Bradshaw and James Reese, tenors
    Daniel Schwartz, bass-baritone
    Mobius Percussion
    Mika Godbole
    Nicole Patrick
    Victor Pablo
    Jessica Tsang
    Veronica Jurkiewicz, viola
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