Terminus Ensemble at Whitespace Gallery on Sunday. (digitally transformed photo. credit: Mark Gresham)

Review: Terminus Ensemble plays mostly locally grown new music at Whitespace Gallery

Mark Gresham | 20 NOV 2019

There are fortuitous occasions when Atlanta’s November weather cooperates in a pleasant way, just clear enough and warm enough for a pleasant walk or even sitting for an hour outdoors. Such was the case on Sunday afternoon when the Terminus Ensemble of Contemporary Music performed at Whitespace Gallery in the Inman Park neighborhood. Fortuitous because while the performers were stationed inside a comfortable brick outbuilding gallery space, a portion of the audience was seated in an enclosed garden that it faced, with the garage door-sized opening allowing for a few rows indoors and yet good sound and sight lines for those in the garden who pulled their chairs close to the opening.

It’s not the first time that terminus Ensemble has performed in this manner at Whitespace, and it’s good to have them return to this small but accessible space under conditions of cool, but clear weather. Accessible, in that while there is street parking available, the gallery is only a nine-minute direct walk down Edgewood Avenue from the Inman Park-Reynoldstown MARTA station – and a pleasant walk it was on this particular afternoon.


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The intermissionless performance presented music by seven composers, moist but not all of them currently or previously connected to Georgia State University and its School of Music. The program itself was constructed in an arch-like manner, with a pretense of structural symmetry. As evidence, the entire was framed by four fixed media pieces by Brent Milam, co-artistic director of Terminus Ensemble and a Visiting Lecturer at GSU.

A pair of these, “Ambient Prelude” and “Ambient Postlude,” were on the “outside” of the program, abutting performances of “a prelude” – a five-minute work for flexible chamber ensemble (with optional fixed media) by by Adam Scott Neal, the only music performed by the whole Terminus Ensemble. The rest of the live performances were either solos or duos. An Atlanta native now based in Dallas, Texas, Neal was co-founder of Terminus Ensemble and GSU alumnus who got his PhD at Florida State University.

The other two fixed media pieces, “Interlude Concrete, Part I and Part II” were presented on either side of the work at the calculable middle of the program “Glass” by Joshua Nuñez, a solo piano piece that Milam performed (on electromic piano, given the context of the venue). He also had two love composition of his own on the docket: “Because I Have No Words” for solo flute (which was also the title of the concert) and “Lattice I – iii. Grid “ for bass clarinet. So Mr. Milam was rather well represented in the concert.


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Also well-represented was GSU professor of composition Nickitas Demos, represented by two live works: “Citizens of Nowhere,” a duo for saxophones clarinets, and “secret music,” for viola and vibraphone, which was the clear highlight of the concert, emphatically performed by Katie Taylor and Dominic Ryder.

The program was sounded out with three more works: “Restless Dreams” flute and saxophone by Jeffrey E. Young; “Spirals” for vibraphone by David Brighton; and “Aloiv” for solo viola by James Paul Sain – who had been one of Neal’s teachers at University of Florida during his doctoral studies there.

All in all, it was a fairly mixed bag of of works by a closely-connected group of composers, well-played by the sextet of performers: flutist Amy Caputo, clarinetist Lauren Murphy, saxophonist Brandyn Taylor, violist Katie Taylor, vibraphonist Dominic Ryder and pianist Brent Milam. It served well as a good afternoon’s survey of recently-composed music in an attractively casual alternative space. ■


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