Plain Dealer, December 11, 2004
Lewis, Special to The Plain Dealer
Institute of Music New Music Ensemble, Gilbert Galindo, Graduate Assistant
completely in black, Stephanie Nilles strode quickly on stage, sat down
at the piano, and began to play, her thick yellow hair tossing back
and forth as she unleashed a burst of angry, rumbling chords at the
low end of the keyboard.
thirty seconds later, the young pianist had stopped and was bowing to
applause. In that short time Thursday night, Nilles had vented all of
Christopher Rouse's "Little Gorgon."
brief performance might have seemed unusual had it not been part of
a concert by the New Music Ensemble at the Cleveland Institute of Music
on which fleeting musical moments were the norm. The hour-long program
was called "Contemporary Music From Around the World."
surprises came in the "Air" by contemporary American composer
Aaron Jay Kernis. Violinist Sarah Wood played the piece and traversed
several strange landscapes with Nilles as her companion.
began pleasantly with a calm, slow-moving melody resembling an old English
folk tune. The faintly dissonant piano part was almost expressive enough
to stand on its own.
Wood's line morphed into a tender dirge that might have been appropriate
to a funeral. But before returning to the familiar opening, "Air"
posed the violinist with a slew of rapid, stormy, and decidedly un-vocal
dashes up the scale, some of which proved troublesome to her at the
students were to perform Gyorgy Ligeti's early String Quartet No. 1
but "For an Actor: Monologue for Clarinet" by the Chicago-based
composer Shulamit Ran filled the slot instead.
Bill Kalinkos delivered a performance as dramatic as any verbal Shakespearean
soliloquy. He enunciated the opening four-note motif clearly and maintained
its basic profile as the core of widely undulating outbursts and sometimes
had an equally prominent role alongside contrabass and mallet instruments
in the program's first work, "Ding," by the contemporary composer
Zhou Long. His high trills interrupted low sighs and loudly plucked
strings on Wen-Ling Shih's bass while percussionist Brian Sweigart entered
the mix with chords and bended pitches on both xylophone and marimba.
The trio settled now and then on a unison note but textures were primarily
lean, evoking the traditional music of Long's native China.
the World" concluded by moving further East to Japan with a work
for chamber orchestra by Toru Takemitsu.
"Ding," "Rain Coming" accomplished much with spare
material. Woodwind and brass sounds and a sudden gong crash stood out
from shimmering, gently rocking string passages and the occasional silence.
Ably conducted by Gilbert Galindo, the piece suggested water-like waves.
out on a hint of tonality, it also contained the concert's final unexpected