Led by Stephen Drury of the NEC faculty, Callithumpian Consort is a loose aggregation of NEC students, alumni, and new music enthusiasts that performs locally, on the East Coast, and in Europe. Throughout the year, the group visits NEC with performances of contemporary avant-garde music.
Two composers familiar to NEC audiences from their recent residencies here, Earle Brown and Alvin Lucier, are represented by their String Quartet and Braid, respectively.
Mexican composer Eduardo Caballero (in photo) brings the first performance of What is time, please? Convergencias III for piano and live electronics. Caballero has received an Ibermúsicas grant for the completion of Convergencias IV for percussion and live electronics.
Commissioned by Callithumpian Consort along with NEC's Summer Institute for Contemporary Performance Practice (SICPP), Marek Poliks's tress/burl was first performed last year.
Composer John Cage (1912–1992) paid attention to the 99% of sound that was not previously called "music." This even led him to explore what was previously thought of as "silence." Because he challenged existing notions of music in such a fundamental way, his ideas still provoke and inspire.
After a year in which John Cage's centennial brought performances of dozens of his works to NEC, there's still an appetite for more, including this encore performance of Cage's String Quartet in four parts (1950), which Callithumpian Consort performed at a SICPP concert last June.
"After reading the work of Ananda K. Coomaraswamy, I decided to attempt the expression in music of the 'permanent emotions' of Indian traditions: the heroic, the erotic, the wondrous, the mirthful, sorrow, fear, anger, the odious and their common tendency toward tranquility."
Written shortly after Sonatas and Interludes, String Quartet in four parts extends Cage's interest in the Indian notion of the nine permanent emotions, with a four-part structure that nods to the four seasons—but don't expect to hear Vivaldi. The simplicity of musical material and gestures reveals Eric Satie's continuing influence on Cage, so it's appropriate that the outer movements are "Summer in France" and "Fall in America."