Musiqa, two-time winner of the Chamber Music America/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming, kicks off its 2018-19 season at Rice University's Duncan Recital Hall with Origin Stories, a program which explores the mingling of North American cultures. In addition to four musical works, the concert also features a reading of a new work by acclaimed Houston poet Sarah Cortez.

Musiqa is proud to present the world premiere of Anthony Brandt's Songs from the "Source: Nine African Folk Songs" for soprano and ensemble, featuring artist-in-residence soprano Karol Bennett. Bennett, a favorite of Musiqa audiences, was most recently heard last season when she performed Brandt's "Maternity" for voice and chamber orchestra. Brandt's setting draws on source recordings and transcriptions from a variety of traditions, including the music of Aka, Banda-Linda, Ngbaka Ma'bo and Shona peoples.

The program also includes music by another Musiqa composer, Pierre Jalbert, who in "Crossings" imagines the cultural and emotional upheaval his French-Canadian ancestors faced as they migrated to the U.S. "Crossings," scored for Pierrot ensemble (flute, clarinet, violin, cello, and piano), "is not programmatic, but more reflective of states of mind, states of being." As with much of Jalbert's music, the composer balances potent lyricism (heard here with a quotation of a Canadian folk song) with bold, aggressive gestures.

The program also focuses on Cuba as Tania León's "A la par" retraces the composer's Havana roots. The 1986 piece, written for piano and percussion, is an "attempt to express the dichotomy between the folk-music traditions of [the composer's] native Cuba and the Classical European training [she] received at the Havana Conservatory." This dichotomy, says the composer, should resemble "the rails of a train. In the distance, they look like one. And as they come toward you, they are in sync; if they take a curve, they take it together."

Finally, Musiqa will present Barbara White's "Learning to See," a six-movement work scored for Pierrot ensemble and dating from 2001. The piece is inspired by pieces from visual artists Jean Tinguely, Constantin Brancusi, Eva Hesse, and Jasper Johns. "Learning to See," in its attempt to create a musical analogue of contemporary visual art, seems to evoke a sort of primal rawness which neatly compliments the concert's overall theme of mingled cultures and ideologies.

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