CCCC: Yarn/Wire Program Book October 2018

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Yarn/Wire Sat, Oct 13, 2018 / 7:30pm Logan Center Performance Hall

CHICAGO CENTER FOR CONTEMPORARY COMPOSITION The Chicago Center for Contemporary Composition at the University of Chicago is a dynamic, collaborative, and interdisciplinary environment for the creation, performance and study of new music and for the advancement of the careers of emerging and established composers, performers, and scholars. Distinguished by its formation within an uncompromising, relentlessly searching, and ceaselessly innovative scholarly environment that celebrates excellence and presents new possibilities for intellectual dialogue, the Chicago Center for Contemporary Composition is comprised of ten integrated entities: an annual concert series with the resident Grossman Ensemble, CHIME (Chicago Integrated Media Experimental Studio), visiting ensembles, distinguished guest composers, performances, recordings, research, graduate student-led projects, workshops, and postdoctoral research positions.

FOUNDER AND DIRECTOR Augusta Read Thomas ADVISORY BOARD Seth Brodsky Anthony Cheung Jennifer Iverson Amy Iwano Travis Jackson Sam Pluta Barbara Schubert STAFF & PARTNERS Reba Cafarelli, Manager Claire Snarski, Graphic Designer Margo Strebig, Director of Communications Amy Iwano, Executive Director, UChicago Presents Landon Hegedus, Communications & Production Assistant, UChicago Presents Daniel Meyers, Marketing Coordinator, UChicago Presents Hugo Seda, Director of Production, UChicago Presents

For more information about the Chicago Center for Contemporary Composition and upcoming concerts and events, visit

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PROGRAM — YARN/WIRE Sat, Oct 13, 2018 / 7:30pm Logan Center Performance Hall

WILL MYERS (b. 1991)

From there (World Premiere)

ENNO POPPE (b. 1969)


Intermission DAVID “CLAY” METTENS (b. 1990)

Graft (World Premiere)


Le Monde des Ronds et des Carrés

YARN/WIRE Yarn/Wire is a quartet of two percussionists and two pianists. This instrumental combination allows the ensemble flexibility to slip effortlessly between classics of the repertoire and modern works that continue to forge new boundaries. Founded in 2005 while at Stony Brook University, Yarn/Wire is admired for the energy and precision they bring to performances of today’s most adventurous music. The results of their collaborative initiatives with genre-bending artists such as Two-Headed Calf, Pete Swanson, and Tristan Perich point towards the emergence of a new and lasting repertoire that is “spare and strange and very, very new.” (Time Out NY) Ian Antonio, percussion Laura Barger, piano Russell Greenberg, percussion Ning Yu, piano

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FROM THERE – WILL MYERS From there constructs, struggles with, and ultimately escapes from a musical world intended to evoke the multifariousness and pervasiveness of modern capitalism. By turns rigid, sleek, violent, and ingratiating, each new iteration offers false promise of a different world despite merely recombining the same musical material. Through their struggle, the performers ultimately succeed in breaking free to take ownership over the sounds they are producing — a fragile and hopeful vision of where the world might go from there. — Will Myers

.... Will Myers writes music that engages with themes of memory, causation, and subtle theatricality, while seeking to acknowledge the humanity, agency, and physicality of the performer(s). His work has been performed by Spektral Quartet, the [Switch~ Ensemble], members of Fifth House Ensemble, pianist John McDonald, and conductors Gil Rose, John Page, and Lio Kuokman. His first orchestral piece, Bright Shadows, won New England Conservatory’s inaugural orchestral composition competition in 2013 and was premiered in Jordan Hall. Will is pursuing a PhD at the University of Chicago, and holds Bachelor’s degrees from New England Conservatory and Tufts University in composition, theory, and cognitive science. He
has studied composition with Anthony Cheung, Augusta Read Thomas, Marta Ptaszyńska, Kati Agócs, John Heiss, John McDonald,

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Robert Beaser, and Efstratios Minakakis, and music cognition with Aniruddh Patel and Peter Cariani. Will is also a conductor, violist, and violinist. He served as assistant conductor and principal violist of the Tufts University orchestras from 2013 to 2015, and has premiered works by many composers as both a conductor and a performer. As a violist and arranger, he is half of the video game music cover duo Frog & Cid, whose debut album Boss Chamber Music was released in 2016.

FELD – ENNO POPPE Poppe’s music, which he summarizes as “dented nature,” grounds itself in compositional guidelines influenced by acoustics, biology, and mathematics. As his compositions unfold, he gradually disobeys his own rules, contorting material to create an unstable, constantly evolving, almost hallucinatory atmosphere of unexpected sounds. The notes, rhythms, and textures are purposefully wrong in relation to the natural order. Feld, for two pianos and two percussion, creates its harmonic complexity through shifting combinations of sound. Pure, unaltered piano tones blend with unspecified percussive sounds — metals, woods, skins — to create new timbres and texture at every turn. Each of the two movements takes its inspiration from one half of the ensemble. The first is traditionally pianistic in its flowing, almost cinematic evolution of musical line and melody, while the second transitions into percussive alternations

of noise and sound, highlighting the resonance and “space between” sound. Feld was commissioned by Yarn/Wire and is receiving its Chicago Premiere tonight. — Argeo Ascani

GRAFT – DAVID “CLAY” METTENS Graft borrows its title from a series of works with the same name by the artist Glenn Kaino, which I first encountered on a visit to the Cincinnati Contemporary Art Museum. Kaino’s striking, uncanny pieces feature animals taxidermied in the skins of their predators — an ostrich robed in the dappled patterns of a python or a salmon covered in matte grey shark skin. I saw dramatic visual parallels to my recent interest in layering highly contrasting, even seemingly incompatible, musical ideas. Familiar musical ideas or textures can be rendered unfamiliar or new through polyphonic simultaneities, just as Kaino’s jarring juxtapositions revivify staid conventions like taxidermy or snake skin patterns. The word “graft” refers to nature-defying medical or scientific interventions, and my work explores unnatural phenomena from several perspectives. I make use of a technological augmentation of the pianos to allow them to sustain notes indefinitely, subverting a cardinal rule of piano-playing — that every note struck must immediately decay. In fact, this intervention completely divorces certain aspects of the piano’s resonating capabilities from what is played on the keys, allowing for the kinds of polyphonic textures hinted at earlier.

This polyphonic grafting produces a dramatic contrast between stasis and motion throughout the middle of the piece. Dense, cloudy harmonies emerge and recede seemingly independent from the glittering, propulsive music played by the entire ensemble. Gradually these two strands merge and the hazy, sustained harmonies support a spacious ascending line that slowly transforms into a series of rising bell sonorities. Near the conclusion, a formal graft layers the glittering, propulsive music from the second section of the piece onto the bells, leading to a return to the piece’s opening. The first section of the piece is not replayed exactly, but rather with appendages and figures from the rest of the piece tacked on, like a series of vestigial limbs collected over the form’s evolution. A short coda reverses this process of accumulation, stripping the moto perpetuo music from the second section to its barest, skeletal outline. Graft was written for Yarn/Wire, for their performance at the University of Chicago in October 2018. — David “Clay” Mettens

.... The Chicago Tribune has praised the music of David “Clay” Mettens as “a thing of remarkable beauty,” displaying a “sensitive ear for instrumental color.” He reflects upon the experience of wonder in music that ranges from rich and sonorous to bright and crystalline, seeking expressive immediacy in lucid forms and dramatic shapes. His work Yarn/Wire | 4


has been recognized with 1st Prize in the Salvatore Martirano Composition Competition, a 2016 ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award, the 2015 SCI/ ASCAP graduate student commission, and a commission from the American Opera Initiative, premiered in December 2015 by the Washington National Opera at the Kennedy Center. His orchestra piece Sleeping I am carried... was selected for the 24th Annual Underwood New Music Readings with the American Composers Orchestra and the 2015 [‘tactus] Young Composers Forum with the Brussels Philharmonic. Subsequently the Brussels Philharmonic, led by Stéphane Denève, performed the piece in December 2016 at Flagey Studio 4.


Additionally, Mettens’ works have been performed by L’orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, the New York Virtuoso Singers, Contempo at the University of Chicago, Ensemble Dal Niente at the 2017 SCI National Conference, the Civitas Ensemble on the Chicago Ear Taxi Festival, and the [Switch~ Ensemble] at the Queens New Music Festival. He is currently a student in the PhD composition program at the University of Chicago, where he has studied with Anthony Cheung, Sam Pluta, and Augusta Read Thomas. He earned his master’s degree at the Eastman School of Music and completed undergraduate studies at the University of South Carolina, with a degree in music composition and a clarinet performance certificate. Website:

One of Mochizuki’s circular images of union — and, presumably, of peace — is paced out by the percussionists as they begin the performance walking around the two pianos with hand-held instruments: crotales and Japanese cup bells (rin). What they play — B natural in treble-register octaves — also speaks of wholeness, and when the pianos begin to play, they do so in agreement. Union comes with a changeless, ritual aspect. The set-up gains more the geometry of a square when the percussionists arrive at stations defined by a glockenspiel and a vibraphone, and, at the same time, the concurrence begins to break down. A long accelerando also gets going, building through several minutes to a climax. This is not, however, the end, for out of it comes a different oneness and a different breakdown.

Commissioned by tonight’s musicians for a concert at the 2015 Lincoln Center Festival, this thirteen-minute piece “attempts,” in the composer’s words, “to install, in space and in music, geometric combinations arising from the shapes mentioned in the title — circles and squares — in exploring the relationships possible among the musicians, whether opposed to one another (square) or united (circle).” “I wrote the piece,” she adds, “having in mind the seventieth anniversary of the end of World War II and asking myself what leads people to slaughter one another.”

In creating a work so theatrical, Mochizuki surely was guided, not least at the end, by 5 | Chicago Center for Contemporary Composition

how Yarn/Wire, in its personnel, embodies old relationships of cohesion and conflict, antagonism and reciprocity. — Paul Griffiths

The Chicago Center for Contemporary Composition is proud to partner with UChicago Presents for tonight’s performance by Yarn/Wire, presented as part of UCP’s 2018/19 Contemporary Series. This season, UChicago Presents celebrates 75 years of bringing the world’s greatest artists of classical, jazz, early, and contemporary music to Chicago with 26 concerts across five series, including a new world music series. More information including a full concert listing can be found at

UPCOMING EVENTS Tyshawn Sorey Trio Thu, Nov 8, 2018 / 7pm Logan Center Penthouse A performance by experimental jazz musician Tyshawn Sorey with Chris Tordini and Cory Smythe. Free admission.

Tyshawn Sorey Trio

Grossman Ensemble

Grossman Ensemble Open Rehearsal Sat, Nov 10, 2018 / 9am-4pm Logan Center Performance Hall The Grossman Ensemble rehearses and workshops music by Sam Pluta, David Rakowski, Shulamit Ran, and Tonia Ko in an interactive open rehearsal offering unique access to the creative process. Free admission. Grossman Ensemble with Ben Bolter, conductor Fri, Dec 7, 2018 / 7:30pm Logan Center Performance Hall The debut performance of the Grossman Ensemble with a program of world premiere works by Sam Pluta, David Rakowski, Shulamit Ran, and Tonia Ko. Tickets: $15, students free with ID or call 773.702.ARTS (2787)

Yarn/Wire | 6 The Chicago Center for Contemporary Composition relies on the financial support of its patrons and friends to present world-class contemporary music programs. You, and other supporters like you, are at the core of the CCCC. Please consider sharing your love of contemporary music by making a contribution.

CCCC COMMISSION CLUB The Chicago Center for Contemporary Composition is committed to creating new works by a variety of composers, from senior luminaries in the field of new music to exceptional junior composers. You can help create new music and support a composer by joining the CCCC’s Commission Club. Leave a legacy in the form of music or honor a special person or event in your life. Partner with us today!

SPECIAL THANKS TO OUR SUPPORTERS The Chicago Center for Contemporary Composition is sponsored in part by generous gifts from Carolyn (Kay) Bucksbaum, Gay Stanek, and the Grossman Charitable Trust.

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