Somei Satoh3The S.E.M. Ensemble, founded and directed by Petr Kotik and celebrating its 40th anniversary season this year, is pleased to present the world premiere of Tokyo-based composer Somei Satoh’s innovative setting of The Passion (2009). The concert will take place at Paula Cooper Gallery on Tuesday, March 16, 2010 at 7:30 p.m., and will feature soloist Thomas Buckner (baritone), a male chorus and an ensemble led by Kotik and including woodwinds, brass, percussion, two harps and strings. The program will also include Kotik’s There is Singularly Nothing (1971-73) for voices and instruments with text by Getrude Stein, as well as Iannis Xenakis’s Mikka “S” for solo violin. The evening is a co-production of SEM and Mutable Music Interpretations 21 series.

Somei Satoh is considered one of Japan’s most internationally celebrated composers. Iconic, deeply moving and unabashedly gorgeous, his music embraces a kind of sculptural minimalism infused with the lyrical sense of Romanticism. Largely self-taught, Satoh came to the technical elements of music from a deep understanding of the philosophies of Shinto and Zen Buddhist beliefs, and this background reveals a music that is striking in its clarity and sense of suspended time. Satoh’s reduced setting of The Passion of Christ (circa 30 min.) features three roles divided between the soloist (Thomas Buckner) and a group of 3 male singers, with each character represented by a different vocal style, including Syomyo and Biwa song, Nagauta from Japan, traditional Western singing and Gregorian chant style singing.

Iannis Xenakis’ Mikka “S” (1976) is a short solo violin piece, exploring the use of fast passages and glissandos. It was commissioned by Xenakis’s publisher Mme. Francis Salabert for her son Mika. The work will be performed by violinist Conrad Harris.

In 1971 — shortly after arriving in the U.S. from his native Prague (Czech Republic) — Petr Kotik started to compose series of works, based on medical graphs, which he obtained from Dr. Jan Kucera of SUNY at Buffalo. There is Singularly Nothing is the first composition in this series (the most well known being Many Many Women). All the works use voices on texts by Getrude Stein and later by R. Buckminster Fuller and are based on the concept of Open Form (no distinct beginning or ending) and the absence of a general score. They exist as individual parts that can be combined into various solos and ensembles and are unified into a cohesive ensemble by a common pulse. On March 16, Kotik will, for the first time, create a set of directives regarding entrances, silences, and ensemble overlappings. There is Singularly Nothing contains 22 parts, 11 instrumental and 10 for voice, and the vocal parts are divided among 3 singers, who will sing them as solos, duos and trios.

$15, Students and Seniors $10
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