Oberlin Conservatory enjoys a longstanding reputation as a hub for the creation and performance of new music—and the Oberlin Contemporary Music Ensemble, under the direction of Timothy Weiss, is the primary conduit through which this surge of artistry flows.
Norman | Trigos | Broening is the second release in a series showcasing the ensemble in collaboration with three dynamic composers of today: Andrew Norman, Juan Trigos, and Benjamin Broening. Released on the Oberlin Music label, it follows the April 2021 release of Hartke | Ogonek | Jones, which features the Contemporary Music Ensemble premiering works by Oberlin composition faculty Stephen Hartke, Elizabeth Ogonek, and Jesse Jones.
Written while he was a student, Norman’s Gran Turismo for eight violinists is the result of an unlikely convergence of the art of Italian Futurist Giacomo Balla, the virtuosity of Baroque string players, and the sight of Norman’s roommates playing the auto-racing video game Gran Turismo. Each facet is linked by its unyielding speed and over-the-top machismo—and so is the unapologetically frenetic composition that resulted, a juxataposition of the experimental and traditional that typifies much of Norman’s output. (The eight-minute work is featured in a 2016 video, filmed in Oberlin’s Clonick Hall recording studio and performed by the student musicians from this premiere recording.)
The cultural components deftly embedded in Juan Trigos’ musical language serve as integral points of reference for the listener. His Guitar Concerto No. 1, Ricercare de Cámara VI, features techniques associated with the flamenco style—including distinctive hand-clapping and guitar-strumming—but steers clear of Spanish guitar clichés by incorporating such elements in abstract and structural rather than coloristic ways. It features soloist Dieter Hennings, an acclaimed performer and winner of numerous international guitar competitions.
Written for CME, Benjamin Broening’s What the Light Was Like takes as its inspiration Amy Clampitt’s poem of the same name. It establishes an evocative New England setting and vividly captures the sights and sounds experienced by a lobsterman and the stark journey into darkness that follows a stroke suffered while working his traps off the coast of Maine.
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