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CUBE

Headed by academics, the new-music consortium Cube can't shake the urge to educate us. Most of its concerts are eruditely organized around a theme; its latest, "The Rise of the American Music Identity," explores European influences on American art music in the first half of the century. It's hardly a new topic, but one that still merits investigation as we approach the millennium. Though Cube is susceptible to an establishment view of what constitutes a significant musical current, its choices for this program of chamber music are relatively open-minded. Schoenberg and Stravinsky, both pillars of modernism who emigrated from Europe, are represented, but so are Edgard Var�se and Kurt Weill, who were just as inventive and consequential working outside the mainstream. Each European is paired with an American-born counterpart. Roger Sessions, a neglected chameleon, sounds right next to Schoenberg, as does George Gershwin next to Weill. I can't find any solid connection between Stravinsky and Cube cofounder Patricia Morehead, or between Var�se and John Eaton, other than a knack for experimentation. Eaton has been a prolific pioneer in the use of microtones, producing eerie, piquant, and dramatic sounds that are especially effective in his operas and vocal scenas. And they're startlingly appropriate in Lettere, a setting of Italian poems mourning the loss of a parent that Eaton scored for mezzo-soprano, flute, harp, and string quartet shortly after his father died. Morehead's Triptych owes a debt to Schoenberg and to Chicago blues, tying together three favorite poems that depict states of mind. Various pieces on the program will feature Cube veterans Caroline Pittman and Janice Misurell-Mitchell on flutes and Philip Morehead on piano; the vocalists are Diane Ragains (Triptych) and Nelda Nelson (Lettere). An hour-long chat between Eaton and musicologist Berthold Hoeckner precedes the concert. Sunday, 4 PM, Goodspeed Recital Hall, University of Chicago, 1010 E. 59th; 773-667-1618. TED SHEN

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): uncredited photo.

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