Here’s Relâche performing at the Penn Museum in October (thank you guest bassist Nancy Meriam!) We were accompanying one of those great silent films by the French master of illusion Georges Méliès. David Patrick Stearns of the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote “With its tradition of accompanying path-breaking silent films, Relâche’s usual manner of exploring gray areas between experimental and vernacular art was quite at home…It was particularly fascinating to those who wonder what was really rattling around inside people’s heads in the ages past.”
Next concert: February 5 at the Penn Museum (advance tickets here), 3260 South St. Philadelphia 19104- at 3 PM featuring the premiere performance of Chris McGlumpy’s score to the recently discovered complete version of the Max Linder silent comedy “Be My Wife” (1921) plus two Relâche gem commissions, Gavin Bryars’ “Creamer Etudes” and Mark Hagerty’s “High Octane.”
High Octane – Mark Hagerty
High Octane was written for the Relâche Ensemble in 2002- the title refers to the eight high-energy, bravura musicians of Relâche. The original concept was a piece of unrelenting motion and heedless energy, but international events and personal concerns impressed themselves on the writing process, resulting in the more reflective sections and a more complex form. The opening pages were sketched a few hours before dawn, when the opening saxophone riff in 11/8 interrupted sleep. The sax serves as the agency of creation, conjuring up the initial energy. It is joined in turn by the other winds, which accumulate into an intricate texture set off by driving chords of piano, percussion, and strings. There follows jagged duets, ribbons of melody that trail slower-moving sonorities, layered fragments, and expressive melodies. After this relative disorder the forces finally coalesce. The woodwind motives and driving chords alternate with virtuoso percussion “fill-ins” and build to a concerted, if open-ended, coda.
High Octane has been recorded by Relâche on its CD “Press Play.”
Mark Hagerty is an award-winning, highly individualistic American composer who pursued classical training as an instrumentalist, singer, and composer, and then determined his own path, outside of any tradition or institution. He has been developing two compositional practices in parallel. One extends historic, particularly pre-classical forms, and the other sets all traditions aside in favor of forays into more extreme forms and modes of expression. He strives for a deep connection with performers and listeners, and his music has found enthusiastic audiences internationally and across the United States. He is currently working in larger forms and exploring the melding of sound sculpture with more intimate musical expression. Inspirations include science and nature, the poetry of Wallace Stevens, backpacking in Vermont’s Green Mountains, the art music of India, and his two favorite cities, Amsterdam and Rio de Janeiro.
Creamer Études – Gavin Bryars
Creamer Études was composed for Relâche in 2005 and is dedicated to Anthony B. Creamer III, a former Relâche board member instrumental in the commission of the work. The Études are comprised of a series of broad, plaintive gestures, ebbing and flowing with introspective solemnity. The impression is of several voices moving in parallel, which emerge and subside, accumulating to build a sense of dramatic tension. Creamer Études has been recorded by Relâche on its CD “8 Point Turn.”
Gavin Bryars was born in Goole, Yorkshire. While reading philosophy at Sheffield University he became a professional jazz bassist and a pioneer of free improvisation. These factors influenced early works such as the indeterminately scored The Sinking of the Titanic of 1969 and the classic Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet of 1971. Though their conceptual nature was new to British music, it stayed true to Bryars’ own creative concerns, combining an openness to experience with an imagination rich in powers of association. Since then he has composed operas, ballets, several books of madrigals and other vocal music including for Philadelphia’s choral ensemble The Crossing. He has written for theater, for many chamber groups, and in collaboration with artists.
Be My Wife – Chris McGlumphy
In 2011 Chris McGlumphy wrote the music for a 13 minute excerpt from Max Linder’s comedy Be My Wife, one of several French silent films Relâche presented as part of the first Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (PIFA.) At that time, the excerpt was all that was publicly available. For many years, the rest of the film was thought to be lost, but it was eventually found and restored.
Chris McGlumphy is based in Albuquerque where he produces concerts around New Mexico by leading world, folk, and eclectic musicians with AMP concerts. As a composer, Chris has scored a number of films, including the award winning independent feature Being Claudine, Vasarma’s Lovers, and the experimental silent film Synchronicity. He has also scored works for live theater such as Gibbous Moon, Inchoate’s Journal, James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake and songs for the American premiere of Dario Fo’s The Devil With Boobs. Chris has also worked with the Music Department of ABC Television and the promotion department of one of America’s oldest and most respected classical music publishers, G. Schirmer, Inc. He also served as Executive Director of Relâche, the Pittsburgh Chamber Music Society, and the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble.
On June 18, the annual Dina Wind Commission Concert will feature the premiere of Heath Allen’s “Bearded Ballerina” (composition underway!) featuring vocalist John Jarboe of the Bearded Ladies Cabaret.
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Relâche is a new music ensemble that for over thirty-five years has maintained an international reputation as a leader in commissioning and performing the innovative music of our time. Relâche has a unique sound—flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, viola, piano, bass and percussion, and performs works that are neither classical, nor popular, but somewhere in between—a melding of Western classical traditions with jazz, rock, electronica, world music, and more.
Among the oldest continuously operating, non-profit organizations and chamber ensembles dedicated to contemporary music in the United States, Relâche has consistently offered world-class performances and presentations of music by leading American and international composers and artists. To date, Relâche has performed more than 600 concerts in the Greater Philadelphia area, around the country and the globe, including residency, festival and touring appearances in South America, Japan, and Eastern and Western Europe. The Ensemble boasts a touring-ready repertoire of over 50 pieces and a repertory library of over 400 works. Relâche commissions include works by Robert Ashley, Kitty Brazelton, John Cage, Uri Caine, Fred Frith, Kyle Gann, Philip Glass, Fred Ho, Michael Nyman, Pauline Oliveros, Bobby Previte, George Russell, Somei Satoh, Gavin Bryars, Mark Hagerty, and Lois V Vierk. Relâche has released seven CD’s to date, from Relâche on Edge (1991), to Comix Trips (2014).
Contact Relâche via emailing Chuck Holdeman, firstname.lastname@example.org or calling (215) 574-8248.