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by Mike Telin

Oliver-BennickIn an interview with this publication prior to her performance with legendary drummer Han Bennink, violinist Mary Oliver said that she was certain about one thing: “[the audience] will have a good time, I’m fairly confident about that.” And on Wednesday, January 22 as part of CMA Concerts at Transformer Station, Oliver and Bennink, delivered on that promise.

Oliver and Bennink, who performed under the name duo ICP (Instant Composers Project) are two of the leading performers in the worlds of new music, free improvisation and avant-garde jazz. Born in Zaandam, Netherlands in 1942, Han Bennink is universally admired for his musical abilities that span the entire spectrum of jazz. In 1967 Bennink co-founded ICP along with Dutch pianist Misha Mengelberg. La Jolla, California native Mary Oliver has received acclaim for her premieres of works by composers such as John Cage, Richard Barrett, Brian Ferneyhough, and Iannis Xenakis. Read the rest of this entry »


by Daniel Hautzinger

Third-Coast-PercussionRhythm. It’s the first thing that pops into someone’s head when they hear the word “percussion.” But percussion is such a broad term that it can stretch far beyond just playing beats. Third Coast Percussion’s packed CMA concert at Transformer Station on January 19 provided many such examples of percussion’s fantastic versatility.

Surrounded by paintings in Transformer Station’s gallery space, Sean Connors, Robert Dillon, Peter Martin, David Skidmore, and their setup of bells, marimbas, drums, bottles, and wood planks could have been an art exhibit themselves. The evening began in a more “traditional” percussion vein (whatever that means when a percussionist can be called on to play everything from a snare drum to a train whistle) with former Third Coast member Owen Clayton Condon’s Fractalia (2012). Numbering Steve Reich, electronica, and Taiko drumming among its influences, the piece is thrilling with oscillating marimba lines and bombastic drum solos, sounding almost like a song the progressive rock band Rush might have played in the 80s. Read the rest of this entry »

by Mike Telin

Oliver-BennickHow does an artist describe what audiences can expect to hear during a concert of free improvisations? “They will have a good time, I’m fairly confident about that,” Mary Oliver told us by telephone. On Wednesday, January 22 beginning at 7:30 pm CMA Concerts at Transformer Station presents two leading performers in the worlds of new music, free improvisation and avant-garde jazz: violinist/violist Mary Oliver and drummer/percussionist, Han Bennink.

Born in Zaandam, Netherlands in 1942, Han Bennink is a pioneer in the world of free jazz and free improvisation and is universally admired for his musical abilities that span the entire spectrum of jazz. In 1967 Bennink co-founded the Instant Composers Pool Orchestra (ICP) along with Dutch pianist Misha Mengelberg.

Born in La Jolla, California, Mary Oliver has received acclaim for her premieres of works by composers such as John Cage, Richard Barrett, Brian Ferneyhough, and Iannis Xenakis. A gifted improviser, Oliver has been described as “a rarity in the ranks of first-rate classical interpreters.”

“Han and I come from very different worlds. He never learned how to read music but he can swing like the best of jazz drummers. And I come from a tradition that is based on interpreting scores. So there will be a confluence of these different things. Read the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hautzinger

Third-Coast-PercussionLooking for an unusual evening? How about “beautiful marimba chorales, exciting marimba and drum music, a piece for chopsticks bouncing on whiskey bottles and grill grates” and “one of the early masterpieces” for percussion in an old electrical station? This is how David Skidmore described Third Coast Percussion’s CMA concert at Transformer Station on January 19.

Skidmore, along with Robert Dillon, Peter Martin, and Sean Connors makes up Third Coast. Many groups would be daunted by playing in an alternative space such as Transformer Station, but not Third Coast, who have performed at Chicago’s Adler Planetarium and in Frank Lloyd Wright-designed houses across the country, among other unique venues.

We really like trying new things, playing new places, and finding cool connections that our music has with other disciplines,” Skidmore said in a phone conversation. Hence the quartet’s collaboration with engineers at the University of Notre Dame’s DeBartolo Performing Arts Center, where Third Coast is Ensemble-in-Residence. “There’s a common misconception that scientists are analytical and musicians or artists are creative. Both of those things are true. But it’s equally true that musicians are very analytical. Read the rest of this entry »

by Mike Telin

NORMENT-CamilleIn last week’s ClevelandClassical concert preview, multi-media artist Camille Norment said that her artistic goal is to push limits and to create something new. On Sunday, December 15 during her concert on the CMA at Transformer Station series, she and her trio colleagues did exactly that during their fifty minute set of four hauntingly beautiful sound installations that live in the blurred area between composition and improvisation.

Performing on the exotic glass armonic and singing bowls, Camille Norment’s trio includes Håvard Skaset, electric guitar, and Vegar Vårdal, hardanger (Norwegian fiddle). Individually they are fine musicians — Vegar Vårdal possesses a great bow arm. But it is in the collective that the group shines brightest. Founded in 2010 in Norway to “explore the instruments’ paradoxical relationships to notions of beauty, noise, tension and harmony as a musical experience.” The trio gave their debut performance at the Ultima New Music Festival in Oslo on September 11, 2011. Read the rest of this entry »

by Mike Telin

NORMENT-CamilleHow does multimedia artist Camille Norment define her music?It ranges from being inspired by improvisation, Norwegian Black Metal, folk music and certainly classical references. And absolutely contemporary electronic music as well, so in that sense it’s situated very much within the realm of indefinable contemporary experimental music,” the soft spoken Norment said by telephone from her studio in Norway.

On Sunday, December 15 beginning at 7:30 pm, CMA Concerts at Transformer Station presents Camille Norment, glass armonica, who will be joined by her Trio colleagues Håvard Skaset, electric guitar and Vegar Vårdal, hardingfele (Norwegian fiddle).

Originally from the Washington D.C. area of Maryland, Norment says her expansive list of artistic interests began to be formed at the University of Michigan where she earned her bachelor”s in comparative literature and art history. Her website lists Objects/Installations, Photo/Video, Sonic/Performance and Text as areas of interest. Read the rest of this entry »

by Mike Telin

KNOX-GarthLets face it, not all music is best heard from a soft seat inside a recital hall with 500 to 1,000 of your closest friends. In fact, some music cries out to be heard in an intimate space where the audience and the performer are only a few feet if not inches from one another – we want to see the performer’s fingers navigate up and down the finger board of their instrument, their facial expressions that accent the comedy and seriousness in their music.

Thanks to a new series presented by the Cleveland Museum of Art at the Transformer Station, both new music lovers and the new music curious have a place to go to enjoy performances that feature composed and improvised music by some of the most accomplished artists working in contemporary music. I recently attended three CMA performers at the Transformer Station.

Irish-born violist Garth Knox began his October 27 concert with the very fun 16 Sneakers (2012) by Frederic Rzewski. A short work that includes spoken word – no these sneakers are not the kind one wears but rather someone who, like Rzewski’s piece, sneaks in — does what it came to do and gets out before anyone notices. Read the rest of this entry »

by Mike Telin

KNOX-GarthThe Cleveland Museum of Art’s new series, Concerts at the Transformer Station (1460 West 29th Street) was launched on October 5th with a captivating performance by tabla player Salar Nader. Never has an hour gone by so quickly as Nader engagingly discussed and displayed his masterful musicality as he guided the audience on a rhythmic journey across India, Pakistan and his native Afghanistan.

The Transformer Station is the perfect venue for showcasing solo artists: it’s hard to imagine being able to get any closer to the music. Refreshments and conversation following the performance was a delightful way to mingle with your fellow audience mates and say hello to the evening’s guest performer.

Transformer Station concerts continue on Sunday, October 27 at 7:30 with a performance by the twenty-first century troubadour, violist Garth Knox. “Troubadour” is the word Knox used to describe himself during a lively telephone conversation. “I’m a player/performer kind of a troubadour who goes around the world playing his music and other peoples and bringing news from one part to the other.” Read the rest of this entry »

Transformer-StationBeginning this weekend, the Cleveland Museum of Art will present its first set of concerts at The Transformer Station in Ohio City. The concerts of “adventurous music” both composed and improvised, will feature remarkable contemporary artists in solo performances. All concerts are one hour long and are presented without intermission with an emphasis on intimacy and spontaneity. All tickets are $20.

The series begins on Saturday, October 5 at 7:30 pm with the rhythms of South Asia and Afghanistan as realized by tabla player Salar Nader, who plays regularly with Amjad Ali Khan and with the Kronos Quartet.

On Sunday, October 27 at 7:30 pm, violist Garth Knox will play early, contemporary and traditional music including works by Kurtag, Ligeti, Sciarrino, Rzewski, Knox and others with the assistance of Cleveland Orchestra bassist Scott Dixon. Read the rest of this entry »

by Timothy Robson

Transformer-Station-062113In only its second season, ChamberFest Cleveland is already a summer musical force to be reckoned with. The brainchild of Cleveland Orchestra clarinet principal Franklin Cohen and his daughter, violinist Diana Cohen, the festival is akin to such notable gatherings as Rudolf Serkin’s Marlboro or Benjamin Britten’s Aldeburgh, where the founders invite a “family” of musical guests — in this case, mostly rising artists — attuned to their own artistic goals, with a variety of programming in interesting venues.

The second concert of the 2013 season took place on Friday, June 21, at 9:00 pm (the better to enjoy the Summer Solstice sunlight?) at the Transformer Station, a new Ohio City gallery on W. 29th Street a block south of Detroit Avenue, developed by art collectors Laura and Fred Bidwell in collaboration with the Cleveland Museum of Art. Read the rest of this entry »

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Mike Telin
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J.D. Goddard
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Timothy Robson
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