by Mike Telin

NoExitOn Friday, April 11 in SPACES, the contemporary music ensemble No Exit begins their spring concert series, three extraordinary evenings of music. In addition to SPACES, concerts will take place at Heights Arts on Saturday, April 12, and in Cleveland State University’s Drinko Hall on Monday, April 14. All performances begin at 8:00 PM. Performances include two world premieres performed by Cara Tweed, violin, James Rhodes, viola, Nicholas Diodore, cello, Sean Gabriel, flute, Nicholas Underhill, piano, and Luke Rinderknecht, percussion.

Artistic director Timothy Beyer said, “Music is perhaps inherently the most abstract medium amongst the arts. And yet, it has the ability to evoke and convey a very real visual world. There is this remarkable synergy between organized sound and what our minds do with it. It’s profound, really. A composer such as Morton Feldman has been able to sonically represent what a painter like Mark Rothko accomplished visually. So in this respect, there is, or at least can be, a very iconographical element to certain music. This is the very thing that the ensemble will be focusing on in this series of concerts.”

The program features Morton Feldman’s The Viola in My Life, Nicholas Underhill’s Jovian Clouds, Kaija Saariaho’s Serentas and Elliot Cole’s mesmerizing Postludes. Beyer noted, “ Cole’s Postludes are unique and wonderful pieces. The work consists of eight movements, four of which we’ll be performing interspersed throughout the program. He’s written these pieces for one vibraphone with four players simultaneously performing on it using bows rather than mallets. Really a very interesting piece.”

Beyer thinks that interspersing the movements throughout the concert makes perfect sense. “They really are these wonderful little kind of sonic vignettes almost like walking through a gallery and seeing different paintings. Not that we’re trying to be literal with the connection to the visual arts, I mean it in a more abstract way. But it does have that sense.”

In his program notes Cole says that Postludes grew out of a year-long collaboration with So Percussion. “This slow development was essential: although approaching a vibraphone with a bow is not uncommon in contemporary music, it always appears as a special effect, an exotic color; it has never been thoroughly explored as a site for a chamber music all its own. “First, it took several drafts to understand the many mechanical challenges (which boil down to, basically, how not to stab each other.)

“Then we arrived at the musical ones: how to play a line that passes between several people smoothly, how to differentiate foreground from background, how to manage time with these awkward, fragile and unpredictable tools. It challenged us to develop slower, subtler virtuosities, and it was thrilling to discover the effortless choreography that emerged from these new physical and musical relationships.”

No Exit’s upcoming performances will also give voice to two world premiere compositions, both by members of the group: Timothy Beyerʼs Amputate IV for violin and electronics and Eric M. C. Gonzalezʼs Pills for solo piano. Beyer said that he actually wrote Amputate IV about two years ago. “It will be played again this summer, but for the premiere I wanted it to be the right kind of situation and this concert presented itself to be the ideal occasion.”

Beyer adds that he thinks Gonzalezʼs Pills is “a really cool piece. Eric epitomizes what we look for in the composers that we work with: he has an individual and unique approach. We try not to be different just for the sake of being different — a piece has to be worthwhile and meaningful. But we do seek out composers who are marching to the beat of their own drum.”

The ensemble’s April concerts also mark their return to many of their favorite places. Beyer said, “We’ve been very fortunate to have developed such great relationships with some of these amazing venues in town — SPACES, Heights Arts and Cleveland State. I feel like we have a real partnership with these institutions which has made it possible for No Exit to bring what we do to the public, and to do so in a meaningful way — which is always free of charge and open to all comers. This is such an important part of what we do!”

Published on April 7, 2014

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