Music Review: Contemporary music series lives up to its title
By Richard Storm
Sunday, January 22, 2017
The adventurous and challenging concert series directed by Stephen Miles and produced by Ron Silver at New College has never shied away from in-your-face programs, at times shaking up a willing and curious audience.
That mission was certainly evident Saturday evening, when the 15 musicians who make up the adventurous and challenging ensemble mise-en presented three examples of compositions created in the last 30 years.
The centerpiece of the program was the Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, completed in 1988 by Gyorgy Ligeti. This is a massive composition, using five movements to make its points about harmony and rhythm, aiming toward a complexity that makes customary evaluations of its contents almost irrelevant. read more
Videos of Pierrot Lunaire I Care If You Listen
Video of Da Capo Chamber Players and Lucy Shelton performing Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire at our November, 2016 concert in Club Sudakoff is now available at I Care If You Listen's video site.
Music Review: Da Capo ensemble leads fun adventure in new music
By Gayle Williams
Sunday, November 6, 2016
Sure, I enjoy classical music concerts, and even more so new classical music. Yet, rarely have I felt such much giddy elation as I had when leaving the New Music New College event featuring Arnold Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire.
The venerable new music advocates of the Da Capo Chamber Ensemble presented a neatly packaged theme program focused on the night and the moon with the ground-breaking 1912 Pierrot Lunaire for voice and small chamber ensemble. Setting aside all the reasons why this work was every bit as revolutionary as Rite of Spring, if not more so, we were there to simply absorb a delightfully fresh piece of chamber melodrama.
The chamber ensemble calls for flute (Patricia Spencer), clarinet (Meighan Stoops), violin (Curtis Macomber), cello (Chris Goss), piano (Steven Beck), and soprano (Lucy Shelton). The text, translated from the original poetry by Albert Giraud, is in German and centers on the moonstruck Commedia dell’ Arte character Pierrot. Shelton did not sing, as we might expect, but used Sprechstimme as noted in the score. The text is not so much sung as declaimed in an exaggerated speaking voice to set rhythms, shapes and percussive effects. The spoken word is not sustained on a pitch, but drops off and decays more naturally. It’s a unique effect that immediately evokes the early 20th century German cabaret scene. read more
Stephen Miles gives a presentation about NMNC practices
Director Stephen Miles gave a presentation at the Conference on Social Theory, Politics, and the Arts in Montreal in October, 2016 entitled "Hypermodernity and the Re-framing of Musical Performance." He discussed how NMNC has adopted a number of strategies that are intended to heighten the audience’s awareness of their contribution to a performance and promote an exchange with the performers.
Music Review: A welcome dose of the contemporary
By Richard Storm
Sunday, October 2, 2016
The frequently-heard laments about a dearth of contemporary music in our town may be coming to an end. In recent days we have been treated to programs in the Sarasota Orchestra's chamber music series that included challenging music of recent vintage, well played by the orchestra's leading musicians.
Now, New Music New College has initiated its new season with a concert that will not soon be forgotten, devoted to music composed during the past forty years, a fitting continuation of the commitment of the college to our future arts heritage.
Leading off with Lainie Fefferman's 2015 "Impostor Syndrome," the trio tackled a very demanding score with a strongly political recorded narration and background sound concerning our political climate, employing an impressive array of sound effects around and within the convoluted musical score. The result, as is often the case with music of our time, seemed focused more on the sound effects than musical texture and melodic development. read more
New Music New College adjusts approach to performance
By Dahlia Ghabour
Saturday, September 24, 2016
It’s a good indication that another New Music New College season is underway when the ugly, sterile Sudakoff Conference Center, usually used for student orientations, is transformed into a club.
In Club Sudakoff, harsh, fluorescent lights are turned off and replaced with colored spotlights that bounce off the ceiling. Round tables thrown with dark tablecloths and LED candles hug the stage. In the intimate atmosphere of the club, audiences can see fellow patrons across round tables. Conversation is easier, and so is opening ears to something new.
“There are conventions to the concert as an institution that are really worth examining,” said Stephen Miles, artistic director of New Music New College. “Sometimes a recital hall is exactly the type of place you want for a piece of music and other times it’s not. We locate performances in certain spaces and use that space to heighten the experience for the audience. This, to us, seems totally logical now.” read more
NMNC's largest grant ever!
New Music New College was awarded over $51,000, the largest grant we have ever received, in a Sarasota County Tourist Development Cultural/Arts Grant. This program, a competitive grant funded by Tourist Development Tax Revenues, will support the visiting artists in our 2016–2017 season.
NMNC awarded yet another Florida state grant!
For the third year in a row, the Florida Department of State/Division of Cultural Affairs has awarded New Music New College a Specific Cultural Project Grant of $25,000. This was a competitive grant process, and the money will support NMNC’s 2016–2017 season of programming.
Stephen Miles joins the American Composers Forum
NMNC is proud to announce that Director Stephen Miles will become a member of the board of the American Composers Forum starting in July of 2016!
Music Review: Dazzling rhythm in percussion concert
By Gayle Williams
Sunday, May 1, 2016
Anyone who hesitates to attend concerts of “new music” fearing they’ll be an intellectual chore, have not attended a New Music New College event. Third Coast Percussion, a band of four seemingly fun-loving masters of the percussive musical arts (Sean Connors, Robert Dillon, Peter Martin, and David Skidmore), has been energizing audiences all over the globe. At Saturday night’s performance in the cabaret setting of Club Sudakoff and with John Corkill standing in, they dazzled and delighted.
The beauty of percussion is that music is made by tapping, rapping, or striking almost anything in any way. It is also something that is inherently playful. Who among us pounded on some sort of drum, bucket, or can sometime in our youth?
Right. Everyone. What fun it was to watch three artists using only their bare hands on a table with a contact microphone produce a mesmerizing display of sound and hand choreography. Tapping, snapping, rapping, and stroking, their fingers, palms, and knuckles created a wider range of sounds than one could imagine in the inventive “Table Music” (1987) by Thierry De Mey. read more
Interview with Stephen Miles and R. L. Silver at I Care If You Listen
Read an interview, complete with photos and a video, of NMNC's Director and Producer where they discuss several aspects of what makes New Music New College unique at the new-music blog I Care If You Listen.
REVIEW: The ancient selfie
By Carrie Seidman
Monday, February 15, 2016
In a commentary delivered by Stephen Miles prior to the performance of Eliza Ladd’s “Selfie of the Ancients,” the director of New Music New College described the work of Ladd, the dance/movement coach at the Asolo Conversatory, as “a sort of haiku of live theater” and “a contemporary theatrical form of Zen art practice.”
I’m not sure either label rang true for me. Ladd’s unusual combination of sound and movements created by the human body with or without the use of a variety of objects – a form she calls “Live Sound Action -- seemed neither as stark and compact as a haiku, nor as unattached and pacific as Zen. In fact, rather than looking to the East, I was sent to the past. Way back. Think “cave man.”
“Selfie of the Ancients” -- the title is a tongue-in-cheek poke at today’s obsession with shared cell phone photos – appeared to honor a primitive and unedited sense of tribal connection beyond language, technology or societal structure. Working with four New College students as part of their required January independent study project, Ladd used a variety of catalysts -- from American Sign Language, Shakespearean text and the echolocation of dolphins – to trigger fundamental responses in movement and sound. (Edward Cosla, the sound designer used microphones at the edge of the black box theater to amplify all the effects.) read more
Videos of NMNC concerts at I Care If You Listen
A number of videos of our concerts or portions of our concerts are now available at I Care If You Listen's video site. More will be added over time.
Video of entire Miya Masaoka concert on line!
For the first time an entire NMNC concert is available as a YouTube video: Composer and performer Miya Masaoka graciously gave us permission to upload the video of her entire November 14, 2015 concert. View it here!
CONCERT REVIEW: MIYA MASAOKA: A LINE BECOMES A CIRCLE
By Richard Storm
Sunday, November 15, 2015
Once again, the new music concert series at New College has challenged our long-held beliefs, both in what we consider to be music and how it is a part of our ever more complicated lives.
In her program heard Saturday evening, Miya Masaoka, a classically-trained and highly-respected musician, shared with us her astonishing exploration of the relationships which link the tonal resources of both our present civilization and the compelling traditions of Japanese music as expressed in the sound of the koto, a traditional mix of both string and percussion techniques, combined with the impressive electronic resources now available to someone of her talent.
As expressed in his introduction by Stephen Miles, director of New Music New College, the evolution of musical language is ongoing, and our modern repertoire is often radically different from what we have heard until now, bringing us both freedom and a challenging new truth in musical art. read more
NMNC in the New York Times!
New Projects pages
Check out our new Projects page to find out more about some of the long-term aspects of music we focus on. You'll find five more pages there devoted to the John Cage Song Books, Cornelius Cardew's The Great Learning, extended techniques and vocal music, our Crossroads concerts, and the concept of forming social spaces through composition and performance.
NMNC at New Music Gathering!
NMNC Director Stephen Miles and Producer R. L. Silver will be participating in a panel at the 2016 New Music Gathering at the Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University discussing Making New New Music Communities!
NMNC awarded another Florida state grant!
For the second year in a row, the Florida Department of State/Division of Cultural Affairs has awarded New Music New College a Specific Cultural Project Grant of $25,000. This will support NMNC’s 2015–2016 season of programming. This was a competitive grant process, and our application was scored worthy of funding back in September of 2014; once the state budget was signed and funding for the grant line approved our grant was made official.
NMNC awarded a grant from the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County!
New Music New College was awarded more than $19,000 by the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County to support our visiting artists for the upcoming 2015–2016 Season! These competitive Tourist Development Cultural/Arts Grants are scored by the ACA’s Grants Policy Committee which then makes recommendations to the Tourist Development Council and finally to the Board of County Commissioners. The program is paid for by Tourist Development Taxes.
CONCERT REVIEW: Another musical challenge from New College lands in Sarasota
By Richard Storm
Sunday, April 26, 2015
During the 15 years since it began, New Music New College has stuck assiduously to its mission: To bring the best and most challenging contemporary music to local audiences. Under the direction of its founder-director, Stephen Miles, the series has been impressive, challenging and, sometimes, irritating.
The final concert of the 2014-2015 season was mind-bending, to say the least, bringing the impressive talents of eight young singers based in New York to the stage of the Sainer Pavilion for a program of music written since 1958 in which the human voice is displayed as an immensely complex musical instrument.
Their ensemble, Ekmeles, takes its name from an ancient Greek music theory in which unusual tones were disallowed. Turning this edict on its head, the highly skilled vocalists employed both clashing tonalities and sound effects generated by their vocal skills. As Miles explained in his impressive and genial introduction, the composers responsible for this music often prepared detailed descriptions of the technical requirements involved, including precise instructions on the shape of the mouth and other aspects of their works. The results do not often sound like any vocals we may have heard in other examples of contemporary music. read more
Music Review: Pianist creates thrilling opening to New Music series
By Gayle Williams
Sunday, September 14, 2014
Unless you exist on a steady diet of contemporary and experimental new music, you’ve probably never heard piano quite the way Blair McMillan presented it Saturday night in the opening concert of the New Music New College season.
A pianist with a resume filled with serious credentials and phrases such as New York Philharmonic and Naumberg Award, McMillen brings a high level of polish and credibility to what the non-initiated still consider “that blasted new music.” read more
NMNC awarded its first Florida state grant!
For the first time, New Music New College was awarded a grant from the Florida Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs. NMNC received $25,000 as a Specific Cultural project Grant to support its 2014–2015 season.
CONCERT REVIEW: New Music showcase bursts with energy
By Richard Storm
Sunday, November 17, 2013
A full house rocked with enthusiasm Saturday evening when Sarasota-based composer Francis Schwartz and his musical colleagues presented a concert of music of our time, including several Sarasota firsts and one world premiere.
In his witty introductory remarks, Schwartz was careful to emphasize that we each should feel free to form opinions about the music, something that would ideally be true at every concert if it were not for persistent snobbery and societal pressure. Since almost everyone in the room was hearing this repertoire for the first time, there were no residual effects of “good taste” or educational pressure. Truth be told, some of the compositions were more successful than others. Also true: they were all worth listening to and, occasionally, participating in. read more
MUSIC REVIEW: New Music series continues to inspire thought
By Gayle Williams
Saturday, September 21, 2013
New Music New College continues to deepen the conversation about new music in our community. The program’s 15th season opened with the Brooklyn-based NOW Ensemble returning after its acclaimed performance in 2009.
The five musicians — Alexandra Sopp, flute; Agnes Marchione, clarinet; Logan Coale, double bass; Mark Dancigers, electric guitar; and Aaron Wunsch, piano — performed in all six works, revealing remarkable powers of concentration and endurance. read more
CONCERT REVIEW: Advance notice can't compete with live performance of Toby Twining Music
By Gayle Williams
Sunday, April 21, 2013
It didn’t matter that I had heard the buzz, read previous reviews and listened to YouTube videos, I was not ready for the emotional impact of hearing Toby Twining Music in a live performance. Thanks to New College New Music everyone in Sainer Pavilion experienced the extraordinary range of vocal capabilities that the innovative composer Toby Twining employs in his music.
The focal point of the program was the incidental music Twining created for the 2008 production of Sarah Ruhl’s critically acclaimed play, “Eurydice” at Philadelphia’s Wilma Theater. This is a fantastical take on the Greek myth of Orpheus told from Eurydice’s perspective. Twining’s score painted the aural set and scenery using sounds, vocal techniques, harmonies, but only a rare intelligible word. read more
Composer/pianist/therapist to improvise a concert
By Susan Rife
Friday, January 11, 2013
Canadian pianist Marilyn Lerner's bio reveals a number of intriguing details: Not only is she interested in 20th-century concert music, jazz, creative improvisation and klezmer, but she also is a practicing psychotherapist.
She'll be discussing the intersection of music and therapy, particularly object relations psychology, in an open-to-the-public Artist Discussion on Friday as part of New Music New College's 2012-2013 season, as well as a discussion of "Psychoanalysis, Gender, and Jazz" with the New College Gender Studies Program on Friday morning that is open only to New College students, faculty and staff. read more
NMNC presence at the Conference on Social Theory, Politics and the Arts
NMNC Director Stephen Miles and NMNC and NCF alumni Chrissy Martin, Caitlin McMullen, and Katelyn Bobek presented a panel, "Boundaries and Space: Experimental Music and the Framing of Social Experience," at the recent Conference on Social Theory, Politics and the Arts at Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge).
Miles led the panel and gave a paper that had been co-authored with Margaret Eginton, "The Potential Space of the Gettysburg Project." Martin (Muscle Memory Dance Troupe, Dallas) and McMullen (Fuzion Dance Artists) presented "Improvisation, Collaboration, Reflexivity: A New Model for Performance." Finally, Bobek presented "In Site Out: Making Room for the Spectator." The panel was presented on Saturday, October 20, and the conference was truly international in scope, with presenters from Australia, Hungary, Portugal, China, Singapore, Russia, and Canada.
REVIEW: Third Coast Percussion electrifies New Music New College
By Gayle Williams
Monday, September 24, 2012
One might be surprised to see a Sarasota audience give a standing ovation for a performance of music by John Cage and Steve Reich. However, since the birth of New Music New College under the leadership of Stephen Miles, this series of concerts and events has become a shining beacon for new and experimental music attracting an ever-growing audience.
Not that either Cage or Reich are new, really. In fact, for new music fans, they’re the Bach and Beethoven of their genre. The centenary of John Cage’s birth is being celebrated this year across the globe. In honor of this event, Third Coast Percussion featured three of Cage’s compositions from the years 1940–42.
This crew of four percussionists from Chicago—Owen Clayton Condon, Robert Dillon, Peter Martin, and David Skidmore—with a veritable candy store battery of percussion, sizzled with the rhythmic energy of innumerable provocative sounds. Cage composed his “Second Construction” and “Third Construction,” where the use of prepared piano seemed to throw the whole world of sound up for grabs, yet still set it all in a score. Cage was the first to “prepare” the piano strings, throw a screw in, add paper and use a mallet, in “Second Construction.” “Third Construction” adds tin cans, a conch shell and a modified drum. Today drumming on garbage cans, rails and whatnot is commonplace, but the mastery of the entire array of sound by both the composers and the percussionists on stage was simply astounding. read more
NMNC gets a TDC Grant—again!
For the second year in a row New Music New College was awarded a Sarasota County Tourist Development Cultural/Arts Grant. This year we got over $22,600, more than a 60% increase over the grant we were awarded last year! These grants are reviewed by the Sarasota Arts Council and approved by county commissioners.
MUSIC REVIEW: ‘Timber’ is a percussive surprise
By Richard Storm
Sunday, April 22, 2012
Stephen Miles, Director of NewMusicNewCollege, has never promised less than an adventure to those who attend this fascinating series. The audience in the candle-lit shadows of “Club Sudakoff” Saturday evening was taken on a remarkable journey to previously unfamiliar musical territory, more than fulfilling Miles’ promise.
Mantra Percussion, a New York based ensemble made up of six highly talented and highly disciplined percussionists (Michael McCurdy, Joe Bergen, Al Cerulo, Chris Graham, Jude Traxler and Nick Woodbury) performed a lengthy (perhaps somewhat too long) work by Michael Gordon that was more an experience than a concert.
We found ourselves moving in space and time in extraordinary ways, hearing highly unusual timbres and seeing explosions of light that seemed to come from another world as the musicians, listening on ear-buds and following the complex score on computer screens, manipulated amplifiers to create differing pitches and overtones to match an underlying rhythmic and tonal base. read more
Wooden you like to hear some music?
By Walker Meade
Friday, April 13, 2012
Perhaps the best way to tell you about music unlike anything you’ve ever heard is to talk with a man who plays it. The piece he and five other Mantra Percussionists will play here Saturday night is called “Timber” and its composer is the innovative, renowned Michael Gordon.
Gordon’s music has been presented at Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, the Royal Albert Hall and many other edgy European venues. He has often worked with dance companies including the Royal Ballet and has written for the Kronos Quartet as well. So he’s got game. The piece is being presented in Sarasota as the culmination of the 2011-2012 New Music New College season. read more
NMNC DVDs now available in the New College Library
Breaking news: New College’s Jane Bancroft Cook Library has DVDs of several NMNC concerts—Miranda Cuckson, the Borup-Ernst Duo, Crossroads 3, Andrew McKenna Lee/Michael McCurdy, Darrett Adkins, Crossroads 2, and a sampler with excerpts from nine programs—you can borrow. They are in the Popular Media circulating collection (ask a helpful member of the Library staff where this is). Catch a concert you missed, or re-experience one you enjoyed!
Experience the creative process
By Carrie Seidman
Sunday, November 6, 2011
Composer Stephen Miles and choreographer Margaret Eginton are careful not to describe the “New Experimental Works” they will present at New Music New College this week as a “performance.”
“It’s really a sharing of research, not even a presentation,” says Eginton, an adjunct professor who has taught dance, theater arts and theater composition at the school for the past decade. “It’s research that uses sound and movement to explore relationship.”
This most recent collaboration between Eginton and Miles, a New College music professor and vice-president for academic affairs, is an outgrowth of a piece their students presented in 2009, called “Living and Dead: The Gettysburg Project.” read more
Violinist champions ‘new music’
By Susan Rife
Sunday, September 18, 2011
Audiences for modern classical music are likely self-selecting in appreciating the experience over the entertainment value. Violinist Miranda Cuckson supports and encourages that point of view.
“I’m presenting people with something to think about, to experience things that are new,” she said. “It’s about more than just entertainment. It’s about an experience and about thinking new.”
Cuckson will open New College of Florida’s 13th season of cutting-edge music, New Music New College, with a performance titled “Past, Present, Future” on Sept. 24. read more
CULTURE CITY: Avant Music
By Ashton Goggans
Monday, September 12, 2011
For the past 13 years, New College of Florida Professor Stephen Miles has been pushing the limits of what it means to experience live, classical music with New Music New College. A main concern for Miles and New Music New College has been to reconsider how contemporary classical music is presented to audiences, what environment would serve certain compositions better than traditional ones and how to remove the distance between audiences and the music with which they engage.
“One of the problems contemporary music has faced,” says Miles, “is that it’s performed in the same spaces that were designed for the performance of Beethoven. And that’s great, if you want some distance between the audience and the work. But if you put John Cage on a stage, people might feel alienated. They might not understand it.”
One of New Music New College’s first productions was of Cage’s work, performed by New College students inside The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art’s galleries. Audience members as well as performers moved through the rooms, free to, as Miles says, “shape their own experience.” By providing the audience with a sense of agency, they are liberated from the constraints of traditional classical performances, free to follow a performer or drift from piece to piece. read more