Chicago Composer's Consortium | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Chicago Composer's Consortium 


The Chicago Composers Consortium is one of only a handful of nonacademic groups in town to showcase new work by young local composers, yet its activities have been sporadic at best--most of its members have come and gone, bending to the demands of their studies or day jobs. Founded in 1989, it was last really busy in the mid-90s, but this weekend's recital at HotHouse could be the first step toward a second coming. Foremost among the rising stars involved is thirtysomething pianist Sebastian Huydts. Though he's finishing his dissertation at the University of Chicago and teaching at Columbia College, he's no ivory-tower doctrinaire: his eclectic tastes transcend modernism to embrace both Scriabin and free jazz, thanks in part to the influence of his father, Jan, a first-rate jazz pianist and arranger who's worked with Eric Dolphy and Dexter Gordon. Born in the Netherlands, Huydts attended that country's leading conservatory and in 1993 came to the U. of C., where he's studied with Shulamit Ran, John Eaton, and computer-music specialist Howard Sandroff. He's one of the two or three pianists local composers can count on to deliver meticulous performances of even the toughest contemporary pieces: in the ensemble for Eaton's two recent one-act operas, for example, he played with clarity and ardor, deftly handling violent percussive effects, navigating the torrents of quarter tones in the winds, and generally making the difficult scores easier on the ear. Huydts's own compositions--he's written about 30--are remarkably expressive and intricate, often displaying the rhythmic vitality and playful dissonance of Bartok or the sculpted textures of Gyorgy Ligeti and George Crumb. His contribution to the CCC program is "L'Ironie du Sort," for piano and oboe, a sly and ominous three-part piece he revised last year. Huydts's partner is oboist Patricia Morehead, with whom he also plans to play Chicagoan Elizabeth Start's "Ode." The evening's other works are by locals Andre Marquetti, Kurt Westerberg, and Timothy Edwards, as well as by British electronicist Michael Mullen. The large roster of performers includes pianist Amy Dissanyake, electric guitarists Dan Wallace and Mark Volker, and the composers themselves--who as musicians can be especially sensitive to the intentions of their peers. Sunday, 7 PM, HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo; 312-362-9707.

Ted Shen

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Kathy Richard.

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