It’s official: Relâche, Philadelphia’s new music ensemble with an international reputation for commissioning and performing innovative music of our time, has reached a milestone anniversary. The ensemble, which melds Western classical traditions with jazz, rock, electronica, world music, and more, concludes its in-residence season at the Penn Museum June 23 and 24, with a weekend-long 40th birthday celebration of concerts and special programming.
As always, guests to the concerts, presented in the Penn Museum’s Widener Hall, may arrive early and enjoy time exploring the Museum’s international galleries. Cost for each concert is $20 general; $15 for seniors; $10 for Penn Museum members; $5 for students with ID, with an accompanying student free. (A ticket may be used to enter and explore the Museum galleries any time after 1:00 pm on the day of the concert.) Admission is free for the 10:30 am June 23 Anniversary Panel with composers-in-residence, but does not include Museum admission. Tickets may be purchased online in advance of the programs (www.penn.museum/calendar), or at the Museum on the day of the performance, while supplies last.
The 40th Anniversary Weekend, made possible in part from a grant by the Presser Foundation, features three programs:
Saturday, June 23, 10:30 am
Relâche’s history and the state of new music in Philadelphia is explored by panelists Kile Smith, Guy Klucevsek, Mary Ellen Childs, Andrea Clearfield, Anna Weesner, Thomas Albert, Joseph Kasinskas, Cynthia Folio, Jay Fluellen, Kyle Gann, and Relâche co-founders Joseph Franklin and Joe Showalter, moderated by Relâche co-artistic director Lloyd Shorter. The panel discusses their association with the ensemble, and their thoughts on new music in Philadelphia past, present, and future. The program includes performances of works-in-progress by Relâche’s young composers-in-residence: Erica Ball’s Riding the EL, Joshua Hey’s Recreation, and Mike Stambaugh’s The Gerontocrat. The program is co-sponsored by American Composers Forum, Philadelphia Chapter.
Saturday, June 23, 2:00 pm
Music commissioned by Relâche in its earlier years, as well as the world premiere of composer Kile Smith’s Adieu, Adieu in memory of composer Romulus Franceschini, an early advocate for the ensemble, are featured. The new commission is supported by the Musical Fund Society. The concert includes three pieces by Guy Klucevsek: The Swan and the Vulture (2014), Little Big Top (2014), and Haywire Rag (a Waltz)(2010), with the former two pieces featuring Guy on the accordion; Paul A. Epstein’s Chamber Music: Three Songs from Home (1986) – a collaboration with American novelist and poet Toby Olson; Mary Ellen Childs’ Parterre, Part 1(1988); Joseph Kasinska’s The Rider, from Demeter’s Lament (1991); selections from William Duckworths’sSimple Songs about Sex and War (1984); selections from Fred Ho’s Contradiction, Please! The Revenge of Charlie Chan (1992), and Thomas Albert’s A Maze (with Grace) (1975).
Sunday, June 24, 2:00 pm
Works commissioned in Relâche’s more recent history are performed in the final concert of the weekend: Trax(1997, rev. 2002) by longtime Relâche keyboardist Andrea Clearfield; Eric Moe’s 8 Point Turn (2001); Paul Lansky’s Comix Trips (2008-09); two selections from Kyle Gann’s The Planets (1994-2008) “Venus” and “Mars”; music from TSE (Persephone) (1994) by the famed minimalist composer Philip Glass; Arturo Marquez’s Octeto(1996); and Leslie Savoy Burrs’ Voyeuristic Absurdities (2001).
Relâche Concerts at the Penn Museum
New international music and the international galleries and collections at the Penn Museum have been meeting since November 2013, when Relâche began its concerts-in-residence program at the Penn Museum, using the Museum’s new Widener Hall. Since then, the Ensemble has performed two or three concerts a year, often accompanying silent films, and sometimes influenced by the Museum’s collections or special exhibitions. A January 2015 concert, Mummies Outside the Box, was a musical bow to the Museum’s ancient Egyptian collections, and mummies. In February 2016, the Ensemble offered up a Turkish-inspired concert in honor of the Museum’s special exhibition The Golden Age of King Midas.. In October 2016, Relache performer/composer Chuck Holdeman was inspired to write Sumer Redux, a musical response to the Museum’s ancient Mesopotamian cuneiform tablets, and stories. Philip Jones, Associate Curate and Keeper, Babylonian section joined the ensemble for the world premiere of the piece, serving as one of the performance’s narrators.