Ekmeles. Photo: Tear N Tan.
Tomorrow at Roulette in Brooklyn, the excellent Ekmeles vocal ensemble, directed by imaginative baritone and composer Jeff Gavett, is performing. Last year, I heard Ekmeles at Columbia University’s Italian Academy in a program that featured Elliott Carter’s Madrigales and several works by Gesualdo in Vicentino’s archicembalo tuning; the former a virtuosic display and the latter a jaw dropping revelation.
Their set at Roulette features one of my favorite pieces by Ken Ueno: Shiroi Ishi. With a text written in Japanese by the composer, this piece has been championed by no less than the Hilliard Ensemble. It shows a supple side to Ueno’s music-making, as well as affecting passages of overtone singing, that stand in marked contrast to some of his more vigorous works that feature deliberately strained vocalisms and electronics.
Louis Karchin is also being featured by Ekmeles. The group is presenting his To the Sun and To the Stars: post-tonalpieces that are translations by poet Apostolos Athanassakis of Orphic hymns.This is the first time that this conceptual pair of pieces has been performed together.
Aaron Cassidy’s I, purples, spat blood, laugh of beautiful lips isn’t just post-tonal; it is hyper-microtonal and just plain hyperactive. A terrific piece of showmanship that is hard as hell. Bryan Jacobs’s Do You Need, Do to Me, 18 Me, 18 Mean was featured on File Under ?’s December mix. For a preview, head over to Mixcloud and take a listen to this setting of computer-garbled text. Try to imagine the electronics being triggered by big game show buzzers, as they will be on Thursday night! Ben Johnston’s music is represented by a just intonation version of the folksong I’m Goin’ Away and a setting of his daughter’s poem Rose. Last but not least, Ekmeles tackles Evan Johnson’s Three in, ad abundantiam (solo e pensoso).
And that’s just the first half of this evening: there’s also a multimedia set featuring two pieces, Global Mantras and Tattva of Aquarius Age Reclamation, performed by the Pheeroan akLaff Ensemble: jazz instruments, vocalists, and visuals based on akLaff’s pan African and pan Asian travels.
Interpretations: Ekmeles sings Americans; Pheeroan akLaff Ensemble
7:30 preconcert talk; 8 PM performance
509 Atlantic Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11217