August 3, 2012

Oceans, Islands, and Birds…


Written by Zoe Sorrell, a student of flute, English, and dance at the Oberlin College and Conservatory of Music.

The Mostly Mozart festival is fast approaching, and once again, ICE will be in residence--and performing some awesome music with some really cool guest artists! First up will be an August 5th performance at Rose Theatre, featuring guest conductor Susanna Malkki and pianist, Nicolas Hodges. They will be playing pieces that evoke various scenes from nature, including Francesconi's Islands, Tiensuu's nemo (based on Jules Vernes' 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea), Murail's La Barque mystique (which paints a seascape), and two pieces by Messiaen.

Malkki has made her mark as a woman in what some have called a man's world. Born in Helsinki, Finland, she began her career on the other side of the podium as an orchestral cellist but was interested in "being in charge of the whole picture, and putting all the pieces together; There are so many details to find and colors to produce" (read more). She began her conducting studies at the Sibelius Academy, under the tutelage of Jorma Panula, Eri Klas, and Leif Segerstam. Since school, she has conducted some of the finest ensembles of our age. Notably, she led the London Sinfonietta at the BBC Proms in July of 2007, securing her status as a name to watch. When asked what it's like to be a female conductor, Malkki explains: "the orchestra is a microcosm of society--very hierarchical; it would have been unthinkable for a woman to conduct orchestras when women could not even play in them. It's more important to look forward than to think in the mud, in the past" (read more). I certainly look forward to her work with ICE!

Nicolas Hodges is a British pianist and composer specializing in avant-garde music. Tempo magazine quotes Hodges as a "refreshing artist [who] plays the classics as if they were written yesterday, and what was written yesterday as if it were already a classic" (read more). Many notable composers have written works for Hodges, including Elliott Carter, Salvatore Sciarrino, James Clarke, Michael Finnissy, and Konrad Boehmer. With ICE, Hodges will be featured on pieces by Francesconi and Messiaen.

ICE musicians are excited to be working on two of Messiaen's pieces, his Piece for Piano and String Quartet and Oiseaux exotiques. Messiaen was a French composer, organist, and ornithologist, as exemplified by Oiseaux exotiques, a kaleidoscope of bird calls (check out ICE musicians sharing various bird calls here). It should certainly be an exciting way to end this fantastic collaborative concert!