Acclaimed composer Evan Chambers will headline Indiana State University’s 47th annual Contemporary Music Festival, which will run Wednesday through Oct. 25.
A notable event of its kind in the United States, the festival is constructed to be an educational event, combining outreach to public schools, educational sessions and performances. All events are free.
Other guests of this year’s festival include soprano Mary Bonhag, double bassist Evan Premo and the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra.
“School children, university students and community members all have an opportunity to learn about a prominent, living, professional composer and to explore music being written today,” said Kurt Fowler, artistic director for the festival. “They explore the process of creating great works of music, discuss the importance of new music, and hear new music come alive in performance.”
Chambers writes music informed by the energy and physicality of folk performance, and by an increasing concern for environmental issues.
His compositions bear the stamp of his family’s participation in the American folk revival and an early exposure to the edginess and immediacy of community music-making. The result honors traditional roots as diverse as Albanian polyphony, Sufi Qawwali music, sacred Harp singing, Irish dance tunes, and American polkas.
He has performed as a vocalist in his own works, and is also an avid traditional-Irish fiddler, appearing as a soloist in Carnegie Hall with the American Composers Orchestra in 2008. His works have been performed by the Cincinnati, Kansas City, Spokane, Memphis, New Hampshire, and Albany Symphonies, among others. He is a member of the Lindisfarne Fellowship, and serves as chair of composition at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
Out of a total of 12 events, six concerts will be presented. Ten works by Chambers will be performed throughout the festival, including the world premiere of his new chamber orchestra version of “The Old Burying Ground,” featuring the composer, Bonhag, and the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra.
Premo is a member of New York City based chamber music collective, DeCoda, with whom he performs in residencies around the world.
Along with the Pittsburgh Symphony Chamber Orchestra, Premo premiered his own double concerto for violin and bass, “Simple Mysteries” inspired by the nature poetry of Mary Oliver. He has performed at summer chamber music festivals throughout the country and has been featured as a soloist and chamber musician on National Public Radio’s Performance Today.
He and his wife, soprano Mary Bonhag, are the founders and artistic directors of Scrag Mountain Music, dedicated to presenting innovative, interactive, and affordable performances of chamber music.
Bonhag made her Carnegie Hall solo debut in 2009 singing scenes from David T. Little’s new chamber opera Dog Days. Passionate about chamber and orchestral music, she has also been featured on the NPR shows Performance Today and From the Top. After studying at the University of Michigan, she earned her master’s degree at Dawn Upshaw’s graduate vocal program at Bard College, winning concerto competitions at both institutions.
The Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, the festival orchestra-in-resident since 2007, will return to perform at this year's festival. The orchestra, comprised of 34 professional musicians, will be featured on Thursday evening, Oct. 24. Their involvement with the festival is part of their mission to promote music composed for small orchestra through professional concert performances and educational programs.
Since its inception in 1967, the Contemporary Music Festival has hosted some of the most important composers of contemporary classical music including 18 Pulitzer Prize winners.
It is one of the longest running contemporary music festivals in the nation.
This year’s festival is made possible by the support provided from Arts Illiana, the Indiana Arts Commission, the National Endowment for the Arts, Sigma Alpha Iota Philanthropies, Inc., the Office of Community Engagement and WFIU.
To see a complete schedule of events, visit www.
Admission to all events is free and open to the public. For more information, contact the School of Music at 812-237-2771.