Connected \\ December 11, 2019

Musical collaborations

Hub New Music violinist, Alyssa Wang, reflects on the preparation leading up to a concert at PEM on December 14, as well as what it’s like playing concerts in such a unique space.

The week leading up to a PEM performance is always insanity. This time is no different. With holiday celebrations behind us and ahead, there is a special feeling in the air. Every minute of our rehearsals for the December 14 concert at PEM involves tweaking transitions, tuning chords, drilling with the metronome. Between bites of holiday cookies and baked goods, we are working out the kinks of a difficult, vibrant and virtuosic repertoire. Soon we can go into the museum for dress rehearsals, along with the lighting crew.

Our upcoming concert is eclectic, daring and very personal to us. For one, the entire program consists of pieces written specifically for the four of us, a phenomenon that only started happening this past fall once we had built enough commissioned pieces in our lexicon. On top of that, two out of four of the pieces will be world premieres. The first is a piece by Ryan Carter called Motion Access, which involves audience participation using their cell phones. The audience is called to open a browser in their mobile device which connects them to a server. The server then emits noises through everyone’s phones, which directly correlate with the music that’s being played on stage. I can only imagine what it’ll look and sound like from the stage to have an audience full of people holding phones that are crying out, jingling around and whooping along with us.

Visitors to the gallery, take in Hofmann paintings

Visitors to the gallery take in Hofmann paintings. Photo by Ken Sawyer/PEM

The second premiere is a 25-minute work by Michael Ippolito called Capriccio. We’ve been working on this beast since August and are so excited to finally be able to share it. Michael’s piece draws inspiration from the abstract expressionist painter Hans Hofmann, whose work is currently on view at PEM in the Hans Hofmann: The Nature of Abstraction exhibition. He bases each movement on a Hofmann painting and draws inspiration from Baltic folk dances--in other words, it’s a party. Also on the program are works that have been under our fingers our whole Fall touring season: Wavelengths by Takuma Itoh and Rogue Emoji by Kati Agocs.

In the Current: Hub New Music performing with Matthew Aucoin and shakuhachi player Kojiro Umezaki in East India Marine Hall, 2017. Photos by Ken Sawyer/PEM

In the Current: Hub New Music performing with Matthew Aucoin

Playing at PEM is always a giant creative endeavor. In a way, the venue is a laboratory where we can cook up our most daring, most out-of-the-box programs. PEM has often been a place where we can make our program aspirations a reality, and they usually lead to programs that we end up touring all around the country. To date, we’ve brought our Matsuri program which developed from PEM’s In the Current concert presented with composer Matthew Aucoin, longtime friend of PEM, who incubated many projects there. In 2017, with the Asia/America New Music Institute our Soul House program premiered at PEM with choreography and dancers from Urbanity Dance. In the Spring we’re bringing to PEM our biggest project to date: Terra Nova, a giant collaboration project where we will have the privilege to play alongside rock/indie collective, Oracle Hysterical.

Soul House: Hub New Music performs with Urbanity Dance, 2018

Soul House: Hub New Music performs with Urbanity Dance, 2018. Photos by Kim Indresano.

Soul House: Hub New Music performs with Urbanity Dance, 2018

So many of our unique collaborations and ambitious programs start at PEM, and we are so thankful and excited to be bringing another one to the fantastic Atrium on December 14. This Saturday, when the doors have closed and the regular visitors are ushered out for the night, when it’s dark outside, we’ll shuffle into the Atrium. There’s something about that Atrium that makes you want to look up. Then it’ll be lights-camera-action for us until the wee hours of the night. There will be a lighting team changing our hues on stage, audio engineers fixing our mics and of course there will be the four of us. Sometimes it’s hard to believe what four instruments can do--the range of sounds and the variety of colors and moods. This program explores it all, and the PEM audience will be the first to get a taste.

TOP IMAGE: Hub New Music performing Soul House at PEM, December 2018. Photo by Kim Indresano.

Saturday, December 14, 2019 at 7:30 pm

Paintings by artist Hans Hofmann serve as the muse for this program of evocative, hyper-emotional and sometimes surreal musical works. Composer Michael Ippolito’s Capriccio, a new 25-minute multi-movement work, pulls inspiration from four Hofmann paintings, epitomizing the visceral, spontaneous and rebellious spirit of abstract expressionism. Additional music written for Hub by Kati Agócs, Takuma Itoh and Ryan Carter further immerse audiences in otherworldly listening experiences and sonic landscapes.

Location: Main Atrium
Members, Salem residents, students with ID $20, nonmembers $25
Includes special access to the Hans Hofmann: The Nature of Abstraction exhibition

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