Ensemble for Contemporary Music: "We miss you, Max!"

Event Date: 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016 - 4:00pm

Event Location: 

  • Lotte Lehmann Concert Hall (UCSB)

Event Price: 

Tickets: general ($10), non-UCSB students with ID ($5), UCSB students with ID (FREE), children under 12 (FREE). Tickets may be purchased at the door, at the AS Ticket Office window (UCEN Room 1535, across from Corwin Pavilion), online at  www.music.ucsb.edu, or by calling the AS Ticket Office at (805) 893-2064.

Event Contact: 

Adriane Hill
Marketing and Communications Manager
UC Santa Barbara Department of Music
(805) 893-3230

If you want to be a part of international Reger year 2016, there’s only one place in all of America to do it: at Lotte Lehmann Hall with UCSB’s Ensemble for Contemporary Music (or ECM). There, on May 11th, this versatile  ensemble offers a program well dosed in the music of Max Reger on the exact calendar day he died 100 years ago.   In a special concert, dubbed, “We Miss You Max!,” the young musicians of ECM get to express their newfound love for a musical renegade, while, on the very same day, Germany is all a-buzz with special concerts in his honor. But here in the U.S., ECM will have a rare “exclusive.”

ECM, the repertory new music ensemble on the campus, occasionally looks back to recent musical history in order to better understand today’s musical brief. On Wednesday May 11th, at 4pm, Lehmann Hall will be the locus for a generous sampling of music by this important early modernist, who had brusquely dropped in his lap the difficult job of bridging German music over from Romanticism to Modernism. In 43 short years on the planet, Max Reger fought the good fight for what was “new” in music, pitting his genius against occasionally furious and petty criticism. In spite of that, he had his firm supporters, such as Hindemith, Bartók, and most notably Schoenberg, who said: “I consider him a genius.”

Another supporter is ECM director Jeremy Haladyna, a lifelong Regerite. “We organists all come to know him,” says Haladyna, “but he is a very rich and complex personality. He is, for example, one of music’s finest comedians, as we’ll show the audience when Christina Esser returns to UCSB to sing some of the Schlichte Weisen [Simple Tales].” The harmonic adventurism of his later periods is fully on display, too, in both the Clarinet Sonata, op. 107 and his last published work, the Clarinet Quintet, op. 146. Both will feature ECM’s gifted and painstaking clarinetist, Hiroko Sugawara, who is faculty in East Asian Languages at UCSB. “The quintet, an acknowledged masterwork, is like a many-sided crystal,” says Haladyna, “which at one moment has us on the highest spiritual plane and at the next, communing with goblins.” Violist Dana Anex will offer a movement from Reger’s oft-played solo suites, here on viola (op. 131d). These show Reger as an early exponent of neoclassicism, an artistic position for which he receives too little credit. ECM cellist Kathryn Carlson will join Haladyna in a performance from another late work, the Cello Sonata in a minor, op. 116. “There is no other piece of music I know that so resembles relishing a well aged wine or sherry. I love playing it!” says Haladyna.

Reger is not the only focus of this final seasonal effort by ECM. Its talented student performers have been busy for months mastering other repertoire designed to pay honor to 2 other of music’s “fallen composer heroes” - this time, men all-too-recently departed: the Australian giant Peter Sculthorpe, who passed in August, 2014, and Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, the Briton of colossal importance who died only months ago in March, 2016.  

Appropriately, cellist Kathryn Carlson offers Schulthorpe’s Requiem, for solo cello, a moving and wide-ranging statement on just that instrument’s four strings. Sara Bashore, meanwhile, plays something we think Maxwell Davies (a second “Max” whom we miss!) would approve: Two Fiddlers, his personal treatment of dances from his beloved Orkney, the Scottish chain of islands where he died.

Violinists Zach Olea and Danica Neuhaus will play in two works by the Estonian minimalist giant Arvo Pärt, his Für Alina  and Fratres. The gravity and serenity of the latter are striking when one considers the formidable virtuosity required of the player (Olea), while the first is all simplicity itself.

Both will serve to reflect deep emotions stirred by those we will remember on May 11th. Doctoral piano student Petra Persolja is featured in several key accompaniments to Pärt and Maxwell Davies.   

There will be extracts from a Serenade by Vincent Persichetti, too, admitting ECM’s fine young trombonist Nick Mazuk into the concert equation, aided and abetted by violist Anex and cellist Carson.

There would be no better way to meet newer composers, including three fallen giants, than to put ECM’s “We Miss You Max!” squarely on your calendar for Wednesday May 11th at 4pm. The concert is free to UCSB students with a student ID; the departmental website, www.music.ucsb.edu, has full information on ticket acquisition along with campus directions.