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September 2014

Ear Heart Music Series Opens with Richard Reed Parry, yMusic Ensemble, and Nico Muhly at Roulette

by Steven Pisano

1293-parry1Photo: Steven Pisano

If nights of the week have a music personality, and Friday and Saturday nights are the loud and rowdy party animals in the group, then Monday is the quiet and contemplative member of the family. Which made last night a perfect night for Ear Heart Music's season-opening presentation of music by Richard Reed Parry and Nico Muhly at Roulette.

Better known for his chart-topping rock band Arcade Fire, Parry for a number of years now has also been writing neoclassical music that is more personal in nature and less written for a mass audience. This makes Parry a perfect choice for Ear Heart Music, whose artistic/executive director Amelia Lukas has for the past five years been steadily building an audience for new music.

At last night's concert, Roulette had a warm, friendly atmosphere, as if the audience had just dropped by Parry's living room. Indeed, at the end of the night, the audience was invited to follow Parry and his fellow musicians across Atlantic Avenue to a drinking establishment called the Hollow Nickel, to imbibe some spirits and "to talk and get to know each other better."

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Eighth Blackbird Opens the Season at Miller Theatre

by Nick StubblefieldEighth blackbird miller theatre
Hiroyuki Ito for The New York Times

I've attended many great presentations of new music in New York City over the past couple of years, so when I stepped into Miller Theatre last week to hear Chicago's eighth blackbird perform, I thought I knew what to expect. Instead, what followed was a one-of-a-kind concert experience that defied performance conventions and reinvigorated my interest in this music. 

eighth blackbird, who describe themselves as, “combining the finesse of a string-quartet, the energy of a rock band, and the audacity of a storefront theater company,” kicked off their program with Duo for Heart and Breath (2012) by Richard Reed Parry, one of the members of of Arcade Fire. Just beforehand, audience members were informed that the tempo of the piece would be based solely on pianist Lisa Kaplan’s pulse, who wore a stethoscope for the performance. The piece had a delicate heartbeat-like groove on the piano, with swelling, breath-like long tones from violist Yvonne Lam gently resting on top. It was meditative and entrancing, and it effectively captured the essence of slow and gentle human breathing. 

Following were arrangements of Claudio Monteverdi’s Lamento della ninfa (1638), Carlo Gesualdo’s Moro, lasso al mio duolo (1611), and Bon Iver’s Babys (2009). The works featured some beautiful arrangements and textures, with room for extensive, intricate solos. 

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Söndörgő Captivates at Live@365

by Robert LeeperSondorgo

“We are Hungarian, but we also play…” and the list of musical influences on traditional Hungarian folk music—traditions of China, Turkey, parts of the Middle East, and, of course, Croat and Serbian music—flowed as Söndörgő took the Elebash Recital Hall Stage for the opening concert of the Live@365 Global Music Series. Surveying the room, the group, comprised of four brothers and a childhood friend, seemed genuinely thrilled to be finishing up their first US tour, and said they would be back for more soon.

Söndörgő hails from a small suburb of Budapest, and forsakes the more traditional fiddle led Hungarian groups for the perfervid rhythms made possible by the tambura, a mandolin like instrument with which they have become closely associated. Their wild blend of Eastern European dance music and a virtuosic handle on a variety of instruments, made for a party that could hardly be contained by the Recital Hall, which had people dancing in the aisles and shouting during the show.

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