| Chicago Reader

Contemporary Chamber Players 

When it comes to "serious" music concerts, the new usually takes a backseat to the old and familiar. That's why the Contemporary Chamber Players' aggressive insistence on presenting the music of our time is always a welcome relief. The four works in its season opener--all receiving their first local performance--were each written by composers still active in their art, and the oldest piece dates back only to the early 60s (Events for tape by Mel Powell, an experimenter noted for his quasi-improvisational techniques and for allowing players to shape the contour, if not the content, of his music). The other three compositions are from the past decade and show the professed pluralism of the CCP's founder and guiding light, Ralph Shapey. They are: Sampler for violin and tape (1985) by the University of Illinois' Salvatore Martirano, the respected pioneer of electronic music and mixedmedia events; Elena Firsova's Earthly Life for soprano (1984); and The Crane, a brand-new piece for clarinet, conga drums, and an ensemble of nine other instruments by Michelle Ekizian. To be heard for the first time anywhere, The Crane is loosely based on a 16th-century Armenian folk song that movingly and hauntingly recalls an exile's journey. Shapey conducts, with superb new-music interpreters Elsa Charlston (soprano), Dorothy Martirano (violin), and John Bruce Yeh (clarinet) soloing. A discussion with Ekizian follows the concert. Tonight, 8 PM, Mandel Hall, University of Chicago, 5706 S. University; 702-8068.

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