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Ensemble Moto Perpetuo at the DiMenna Center/Baryshnikov Arts Center

by Bonnie Wright ensemble moto perpetuo

As a San Diegan and UCSD Music graduate, I was thrilled to learn that the music of two UCSD faculty members - Anna Thorvaldsdottir and Philippe Manoury - was being performed Sunday night by Ensemble Moto Perpetuo: a new new music ensemble making their debut performance. As the audience entered the new DiMenna Center at the Baryshnikov Art Center, EMP musicians were spaced around the room playing “Collective Improvisation 1 for Chamber Orchestra and 4 Laptops,” created by Nicholas Nelson and Amir Shpilman with bits from each of the evening's compositions. A nice way to welcome the audience.

Following Jason Eckardt's “Trespass for Solo Piano and Chamber Ensemble”  (2006) was the NY Premiere of Anna Thorvaldsdottir’s “Hrim” (2011), which I've listened to many times on her debut album, “Rhízōma." According to Thorvaldsdottir’s liner notes: “The title refers to the gradual growth of crystals, a notion paralleled in the piece not only by the frosty shimmer of individual sounds, but also in the ways these sounds cling together as clusters of activity outlining moments of greater structural importance and as threads of memory echoing throughout the work’s duration.” I couldn’t have said it better myself!

(A fashion aside: Anna wore a stylish red and black dress which reminded me of the big hall at Harpa Music Center in Iceland - which is also red and black - intended to symbolize the island nation's many active volcanoes.)

I have long been an admirer of Philippe Manoury's music, but have only heard his compositions on two prior occasions. Sunday offered the U.S. Premiere of a larger ensemble piece, “Instants Pluriels” (2008), featuring two ensembles facing away from each other, each with their own conductor (Mahir Cetiz and Nicholas DeMaison.) The music each ensemble played was different yet deliciously synced up at various points; it was intricate without chaos.

Anna Thorvaldsdottir and composers