S.E.M. Ensemble to Celebrate Christian Wolff's 80th Birthday with Concerts in NYC this Month
The S.E.M. Ensemble, under the direction of Petr Kotik, presents three concerts celebrating composer Christian Wolff's 80th birthday and his unique contribution to the Ostrava Days Institute and Festival. Mostly self-taught and working along such figures as John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Morton Feldman and Frederic Rzewski, Christian Wolff made an important mark on the music of our time. Since Ostrava Days' inception in 2001, Wolff has participated in all but one of the festivals, and some of his most ambitious orchestral works were composed for or performed there. Selected by Artforum as one of the Best of 2013 in Music, Ostrava Days is one of the largest international summer new-music events, combining a three-week institute with a 10-day, 17-event festival and focusing on music for large ensembles. It includes 35 resident-students from around the world, two resident orchestras, and resident composers and musicians who participate in public performances. Besides Christian Wolff, Ostrava Days 2013 included, among others, Philip Glass, Peter Ablinger, Bernhard Lang, Petr Kotik, Carola Bauckholt, Jon Gibson, Charlemagne Palestine, and Petr Cígler.
SEM x 3 will kick off at Roulette with Ostrava Days in New York, Wednesday, March 26, 8 p.m., bringing together SEM with Ostrava Days' resident chamber orchestra Ostravská banda to perform highlights from Ostrava Days. Next to compositions by Christian Wolff and Petr Kotik, the concert will feature two works by Czech composers - the American premieres of Martin Smolka's Autumn Thoughts and Petr Cígler's Über das farbige Licht der Doppelsterne - as well as Mirage for water-based percussion and strings by Ostrava Days 2013 student-resident from Tehran, Idin Samimi Mofakham. The evening will culminate in the performance of one of the most challenging pieces of chamber music ever written, Gyorgy Ligeti's Trio for Violin, Horn and Piano, performed by OB-Trio (Conrad Harris, violin; Daniel Costello, horn; and Daan Vandewalle, piano).
On Thursday, March 27, 7 p.m., the celebration will continue at Bohemian Hall (NYC) with Christian Wolff @ 80 - a concert featuring 37 Haiku, one of Wolff's major works, dedicated to Thomas Buckner, and large-ensemble works composed for Ostravská banda. These will include Wolff's Trust (2012), Alex Mincek's Subito No. 2 (2013), and Petr Kotík's Nine + 1 (2013) - premiered by the West German Radio in Cologne in 2013 - and Bernhard Lang's Monadologie XVII (2011), premiered in Ostrava in 2012. With the exception of 37 Haiku, all the pieces on the program will receive their American premiere.
The 7 p.m. concert will be followed by Concert & Party at 9 p.m. (also at Bohemian National Hall), combining informal performances by Ostrava Days participants with a birthday party. The event will offer the unique experience to hear such distinct personalities as composers Philip Glass and Christian Wolff, pianists Joseph Kubera and Daan Vandewalle, along with Jon Gibson, Alex Mincek, and Petr Kotik, perform their own music side by side. The event will include the world premiere of Wolff's Trio VI (flutist, 2 percussionists) as well as a 30-minute excerpt of Kotik's Many Many Women, one of Ostrava Days 2013's highlights, performed by the S.E.M. Ensemble.