Mark Gresham | 11 MAR 2019
A modest but interested audience gathered at Kopleff Hall this past Friday to hear New York-based Unheard-of//Ensemble perform a half dozen contemporary works in a concert presented by Georgia State University’s neoPhonia New Music Ensemble.
Unheard-of//Ensemble made its Atlanta debut two years ago at Mammal Gallery where they joined forces with locally-based Chamber Cartel in a split billing, each performing one set. Friday’s concert was their first return visit to the city.
For Friday’s concert, clarinetist Ford Fourqurean, violinist Matheus Souza, cellist Issei Herr and pianist Daniel Anastasio performed five of the eight works recorded on their new debut album, Unheard-of//Dialogues, plus “Lumine” by Leah Asher to make the Kopleff show a complete six-pack. Herr is the newest member of the ensemble, having joined just this year, replacing cellist So Sugiyama who is heard on the recording.
As evidenced in both the Friday’s live concert at Kopleff Hall and on the Dialogues CD, Unheard-of//Ensemble performs contemporary music of an Uptown Manhattan aesthetic, challenging for both the performers and the ear of the listener. More often than not their music requires use of extended playing techniques in the course of playing these adventurous works, occasionally with fixed audio media included. And yet within that framework of repertoire there is a great variety of expression to be heard, all expertly played by this mixed quartet of musicians.
The selections from the CD performed at Kopleff were “Picnic 2008” by Erin Rogers, “Coalescence Cascade” by Michael Land, “Maple” by Chris Stark, “procession- process: peace (dona nobis pacem)” Reiko Futing and a work by Atlanta composer Nickitas Demos, entitled “Frontlash,” which the ensemble premiered at Carnegie Hall as part if the 2017 New Fusion Music Festival.
Listen to “Frontlash” in the embedded Bandcamp stream linked below.
If you’re wondering why Leah Asher’s “Lumine” isn’t on the Dialogues album, that’s because it’s newer than the CD. Unheard-of premiered the duo for clarinet and piano on January 19 of this year at the Tenri Cultural Institute on West 13th Street in New York – the occasion of the Unheard-of//Dialogues CD release party.
While a detailed, intellectual run-down of all of these works is somewhat tempting to include here, the better advice for listeners is to obtain the Unheard-of//Dialogues disc, digital downloads, or snag the stream on Bandcamp and assess the music first-hand – that is, if you can’t make it to the group’s final Southern tour stop tonight in Chattanooga, Tennessee, at Chattanooga State Community College – alhough for Asher’s “Lumine” you’ll just have to wait for a future album or track release if you want to hear it on CD. ■
(Photo courtesy of Unheard-of//Ensemble.)