The University of Nebraska at Kearney Department of Music and Performing Arts will host the 12th Annual New Music Festival with a series of three concerts and a composers’ symposium on Monday and Tuesday, Feb. 11-12.
The New Music Festival, directed by UNK music professor Dr. Darleen Mitchell, will feature more than 30 musicians performing work by 16 composers from nine states, as well as Cuba. The festival is free and open to the public. All three concerts will be in the UNK Fine Arts Recital Hall.
The music at the festival won’t be like anything on the radio, according to Dr. Mitchell. “It’s not classical like Beethoven, and it isn’t pop,” she said. “Some would call it avant-garde.”
Some of the composers chose to write their compositions in a unique graphical notation rather than the traditional notation that includes a staff and notes.
“This makes it difficult, because it calls for performer improvisation,” Dr. Mitchell said, adding that there will be several world premieres at the festival.
“A world premiere is a brand new piece that has never been performed or recorded,” Dr. Mitchell said. “This creates a new challenge for the performers, because there is no frame of reference to guide the sound. Since there is no recording, you never know what the composer wants.”
John Paul Lempke, a UNK freshman composition major from Wallace, will premier two of his compositions during the festival. According to Dr. Mitchell, freshman rarely get their compositions chosen for the festival.
“It usually takes a couple of years before they’re chosen, so it’s very unusual,” she said, “especially since two of his compositions were selected.”
The festival will open Monday with two concerts -- one at 5:30 p.m. and one at 7:30 p.m. The first concert will feature composers from five different states, along with a composer who is originally from Cuba. Dr. Mitchell said that it isn’t uncommon to receive compositions from international composers.
“We’ve gotten pieces from Canada and countries in Europe,” she said. “We don’t advertise internationally, but sometimes people submit scores anyway.”
Composers and performers featured in the opening concert at 5:30 p.m. on Monday include Jeffrey Prater of Ames, Iowa, with “The Lake Isle of Innisfree,” performed by UNK assistant professor of music and arts Dr. Sharon Campbell, mezzo soprano, and Todd Thalken, UNK staff accompanist, on the piano. An eight-member ensemble under the direction of Dr. Deborah Freedman, UNK associate professor of music and performing arts, will perform “Refuge,” a piece written by Gregory Hoepfner of Medicine Park, Okla. Performers of the piece include Victoria Klaus of Bennington, flute; Hillary Fick of Wahoo, clarinet; Matthew Stubbs of Minden, trumpet; Erich Gebers of Lincoln, cello; Joel Montes of Lextington, vibraphone; Nate Skinner of Omaha, tom-toms; Matt Powell of Mitchell, crotales; and John Paul Lempke of Wallace on the piano.
“Texeando,” composed by Ivette Herryman Rodriguez of Waco, Texas, will be performed by Chelsea Sentelle of Waco, Texas, on the saxophone and Rodriguez will accompany Sentelle on the piano. “Lur,” composed by Edwig Fattig of Kirksville, Mo., will be performed by Luis Viquez of Kirksville, Mo., on the clarinet.
“Moppet Songs,” composed by Jason Bahr of Fort Myers, Fla., will be performed by Dr. Andrew White, UNK associate professor of music and performing arts, baritone. He will be accompanied on the piano by Dr. Nathan Buckner, UNK professor of music and performing arts.
The second concert will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Monday and will open with a composition by Barry Ford of Omaha titled “Elements: Theme and Variations on ‘Si Xiang Qu,’” performed by the Omaha-based Zephryus Duo comprised of Dr. Christine Beard, a University of Nebraska at Omaha associate professor, playing flute, and Dr. Tomm Roland, UNO coordinator of percussion studies and multicultural music, playing percussion. “Moon Over Appalachia,” composed by Oliver Caplan of Somerville, Mass., will be performed by UNK assistant professor Dr. Noah Rogoff on the cello. “Life at its End,” composed by John Paul Lempke of Wallace, will be sung by Dr. White, baritone, and Kory Reeder of Kearney, bass. They will be accompanied on the piano by Lempke.
“Meadowlark Rag,” composed by Nels Drue Daily of Lincoln, will be performed by Dr. Ting-Lan Chen, UNK associate professor of music and performing arts, violin; Dr. Rogoff, cello; and Dr. Buckner, piano.
Dr. Mitchell will present “Watery Moon,” performed by Franziska Nabb, UNK lecturer of music, flute, and Dr. Duane Bierman, UNK assistant professor of music and performing arts, vibraphone.
“Danse de Cirque pour le Trombone,” composed by Jim Puckett of Gambier, Ohio, will be performed by Dr. Seth Fletcher, UNK senior lecturer of music and performing arts, on the trombone and Nancy Curry, UNK staff accompanist, on the piano.
“Cycles,” composed by Kory Reeder of Kearney, will be performed by Ann Castater of Omaha, bass. “Serious Music for the Dog Star,” composed by Stefanie Lubkowski of Cambridge, Mass., will be performed by Franziska Nabb, flute; Dr. Rogoff, cello; Dr. Brian Alber, assistant professor of music and performing arts, clarinet; Dr. Bierman, percussion; and Dr. Mitchell, piano. Dr. Fletcher will conduct the piece.
The final concert will be held on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. and will include a tribute to Phil Winsor, a composer who passed away in 2012. Dr. Mitchell said that Winsor had been a mentor of hers for many years.
“We don’t usually program composers who have passed away,” Dr. Mitchell said, “but this was an exception.”
The UNK New Music Ensemble will perform Winsor’s “Assemblage.” Ensemble members and their instruments will include: Castater, violin; Daniel Gibbs of Kearney, flute; Lempke, piano, Reeder, bass; and Skinner, vibraphone.
“What Comes from the Inside,” composed by John Paul Lempke, will be performed by Isabella Hoppens of Ogallala on the piano. “Six Love Songs,” composed by David Wolfson of New York, N.Y., will be performed by Dr. White, baritone, with Thalken playing piano. “Sun Moon Rain,” composed by Gibbs will be performed by Dr. Jan Harriott, UNK associate professor of music and performing arts, clarinet. “Miss Manners on Music,” composed by Dominick Argento of Minneapolis, Minn., will be performed by Dr. Campbell, mezzo soprano; and Dr. Valerie Cisler, chair and professor of the Department of Music and Performing Arts, piano.
For more information about the New Music Festival or other events sponsored by the music department, visit http://www.unk.edu/fah/music.aspx?id=46882.