Ensemble Pi Presents WHAT MUST BE SAID, 11/9 & 10
The socially conscious new music collective Ensemble Pi will present its 7th Annual Concert for Peace tonight, November 9 and the 10th at the cell theatre in New York City. The concert/performance takes its title from Günter Grass’ controversial poem on Israel, Iran and war, “What Must Be Said,” which stirred a heated debate when it was published in the Süddeutsche Zeitung last April. Inspired by the courage to talk, Ensemble Pi’s program will showcase three composers whose work – or life – addresses some of the “silences” enforced or suggested by governments or the media.
In “What Must Be Said,” Ensemble Pi joins forces with the NY-based theater collective Great Small Works to create an animated puppet show entitled Eisler on the Go, based on the life of composer Hanns Eisler. A student of Schoenberg who fled Germany before WWII, Eisler was placed on Hollywood blacklist during the McCarthy period and deported in 1948 due to his communist beliefs. Great Small Works creates a graphic narrative to the music of one of the great composers of the mid-20th century, using his politically engaged work to comment on the important issues of our time. Eisler on the Go includes Eisler/Brecht songs, “Supply and Demand,” “Song to the Little Radio,” and “The Times are Dark and Fearful”; the first movement of his Piano Sonata No. 3; and Klavierstücke Op 32 no V and VI, played live by Ensemble Pi.
The concert will also feature three excerpts from The Trials of Patricia Isasa, an opera by American/Norwegian composer Kristin Norderval, commissioned by Ensemble Pi with support from Det Norske Komponistfond. Featuring a libretto by Naomi Wallace, the work is based on the story of Patricia Isasa who at 16 years old was kidnapped by the Argentine police, tortured and held prisoner without trial for two and a half years. One of Patricia Isasa’s torturers was a graduate of the U.S-based School of the Americas, which trained numerous Latin American military officers, many of who were later connected to human rights abuses. These excerpts are set for three voices (sopranos and tenor) and 7 instruments (piano, violin, cello, bandoneon, electric guitar, percussion and electronics).
Opening the concert is Susan Botti’s Lament: The Fallen City, the first of three interconnected works entitled Gates of Silence. Inspired by Virgil’s Aeneid, this chamber piece for violin and piano reflects upon the fall of Troy as a metaphor for modern cities that have experienced natural or human-made disaster (i.e. Baghdad; New Orleans; Pisco, Peru; or Greensburg, Kansas). In it, the composer connects to the deep sorrow resulting from the loss of home, heart, and in many cases loved ones, as well as to a sense of hope, renewal and continuation.
“What Must Be Said” is presented as part of the Ensemble Pi’s Peace Project launched by the collective in 2005 and seeking to open a dialogue between ideas and music on some of the world’s current and critical issues. Performers will include Emily Donato, soprano; Kristin Norderval, soprano; Dan Pincus, tenor; Airi Yoshioka, violin; Isabel Castellvi cello; Cristian Amigo, electric guitar; Idith Meshulam, piano; Daniel Binelli, bandeon; Kevin Norton, percussion.
“What Must Be Said” is generously funded by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council and Det Norske Komponistfond.
Performances tonight, November 9 and Saturday, November 10 are at 8PM at the cell theatre, 333 West 23rd Street. Tickets are $15 ($10 for students and seniors.) For information, call 646-861-2253, or visit www.thecelltheatre.com and www.ensemble-pi.org.