March 19, 2009

Outside the Box music festival opens March 25

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Outside the Box is back. The third annual Festival of New Music presented by the School of Music at Southern Illinois University Carbondale comes for an even longer stretch than before, giving community members more opportunities to catch some new and contemporary music -- some of it debuting right here in Carbondale.

Outside the Box runs from March 25 through April 11, with more than two dozen concerts and workshops. This year, the festival features two special guest composers, Bernard Rands and Olly Wilson.

“It is very exciting to have two such distinguished composers here,” said Kathleen Ginther, festival organizer and composer in the School of Music. “I’m very happy there are so many opportunities for the people of Carbondale to get to know them, and learn what it means to be a composer in the 21st Century. They took such different paths to get where they are, it should be very interesting to hear their stories.”

Rands is also the invited speaker for the Charles D. Tenney Distinguished Lecture Series. Ginther noted that musical venues all over the world are hosting birthday celebrations in honor of Rands’ 75th birthday. “I was delighted we could squeeze into his schedule,” she said.

Here is a schedule of events for the festival. Events are free unless otherwise noted. For more details, visit

March 25

• Charles D. Tenney Distinguished Lecture: A Composer’s Attitude Toward Texts with Bernard Rands, composer, 7:30 p.m. at Hiram H. Lesar Law Building Auditorium. A public reception and CD signing follows.

Rands has more than 100 published works and recordings to his credit. His musical work, “Canti del Sole,” won the 1984 Pulitzer Prize in Music, and his orchestral suites, “Le Tambourin,” won the 1986 Kennedy Center Friedheim Award. His work, “Canti D’Amor,” as recorded by “the orchestra of voices,” Chanticleer, won a Grammy in 2000. His residencies include Princeton University, York University in England and the University of Illinois, and he has taught at Yale University, the Juilliard School, University of California at San Diego, Boston University and Harvard University. The American Academy of Arts and Letters inducted him as a member in 2004. Upcoming projects include an opera based on the life and work of Impressionist artist Vincent Van Gogh and several new commissions.

March 26

• Composers Symposium: Bernard Rands, 10 a.m., Altgeld Hall, Room 110.

• Musings and Music: Olly Wilson, composer, 5 p.m. in the Varsity Theater at 418 S. Illinois Ave. This event begins with a reception, followed by a concert preview beginning at 5:45 p.m., featuring SIUC’s Eric Mandat, on clarinet. Carbondale Community Arts sponsors this event.

Olly Wilson is a St. Louis native and was, for a time, part of the jazz scene there, and later a member of the St. Louis Symphony and St. Louis Philharmonic. However, he discovered while studying music at Washington University that musical composition was his true love. His first compositions were chamber music. He added an interest in electronic music, a field in which he is a pioneer. In 1970, he joined the faculty at the University of California at Berkeley, where he became the Jerry and Evelyn Hemmings Chambers Professor of Music. He studied West African music in Ghana in the early 1970s through a Guggenheim Fellowship. His musical commissions include the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and New York Philharmonic. The American Academy of Arts and Letters inducted him as a member in 1995.

Eric Mandat is a professor and distinguished scholar at SIUC and a leading composer of clarinet music. His compositions and recordings are well reviewed, including his solo CD “The Extended Clarinet.” Mandat plays with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s MusicNOW Series. He is also a member of the experimental group the Tone Road Ramblers.

• Harawi -- Vocal Music of Olivier Messiaen, 7:30 p.m. concert in the Old Baptist Foundation Recital Hall.

Guest artists Julie Bentley, a mezzo-soprano, and Kuang-Hao Huang on piano join to bring alive the song cycle “Harawi,” the first part of the “Tristan Trilogy.” The song cycle focuses on the love between star-crossed Tristan and Isolde, which led to their deaths. The name “Harawi,” though, refers to a form of Peruvian love song.

Messiaen (1908-1992) was a French composer of chamber music, choral music, concerto, keyboard music, opera, orchestral music and vocal music. He studied at the Paris Conservatoire at a very young age and was the principal organist at La Trinité Cathedral in Paris beginning in his early 20s. His musical inspiration came from his deep Catholic faith as well as from Hindu rhythms and birdsong, to name a few influences. He wrote “Harawi” in 1945.

Julia Bentley apprenticed with the Santa Fe Opera and the Chicago Lyric Opera, and has since performed at venues nationwide, including as guest soprano with The Ensemble Sospeso in New York City. Her home base is Chicago, where she performs with several ensembles, including Mostly Music, CUBE, the Contemporary Chamber Players, Orion Ensemble, Pinotage, the Ensemble Noamnesia, Chicago Chamber Musicians and the Chicago Opera Theater.

Kuang-Hao Huang also spends time in Chicago, playing often with the Chicago Chamber Musicians and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. He has premiered new music by composers such as Louis Andriessen and Chen Yi at Carnegie Hall. He is adjunct faculty at the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, Concordia University-Chicago and the Merit School of Music. He also participates in a musical outreach program in Chicago public schools.

March 27

• Composers Symposium: Olly Wilson, 10 a.m., Altgeld Hall, Room 110.

Piano Workshop: Kuang-Hao Huang, 11:30 a.m., Altgeld Hall, Room 110

• Open Rehearsal: Olly Wilson, 1-4 p.m., Old Baptist Foundation Recital Hall

• Vocal Masterclass: Julia Bentley, 3:30 p.m., Altgeld Hall, Room 110

Pre-Concert Composers Conversation: 6:45 p.m. in the Old Baptist Foundation Recital Hall

Chamber Music of Olly Wilson and Friends Concert, 7:30 p.m. in the Old Baptist Foundation Recital Hall. Tickets for the concert are available at the door for $10 for general admission, $5 for students.

The Altgeld Chamber Players invite guest artists mezzo-soprano Julia Bentley, pianist Kuaang-Hao Huang and Claudia Lasareff-Mironoff on viola for this presentation of Olly Wilson’s chamber music side. The Altgeld Chamber Players is an SIUC ensemble of faculty and advanced graduate students including: Michael Barta, violin; Diane Coloton, soprano; Ron Coulter, percussion; Junghwa Lee, piano; Eric Lenz, cello; Eric Mandat, clarinet; and Douglas Worthen, flute. The group’s repertoire includes music from chamber music classics to new music.

SIUC’s award-winning Composer-in-Residence Frank Stemper premieres a new work during Music Outside the Box again this year. Other recent Stemper premieres include a piano piece, “Global Warning,” debuted by SIUC pianist Junghwa Lee at Carnegie Hall, and “Sinfonia Colibri” during a series of visits to Mexico. This year’s Outside the Box premiere is “1963,” a piece featuring lyrics by his son, also named Frank Stemper. Stemper recently received his 20th ASCAPlus Award from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.

Jacob Bancks, composer-in-residence for the Millennium Chamber Players, and a doctoral student at the University of Chicago where he studies with Outside the Box alumna Shulamit Ran, brings what he describes as an “Aztec apocalypse” to SIUC. Working under commission from Julia Bentley, Bancks turns to the “Florentine Codex,” accounts recording the decade before the overthrow of the Aztec capital Tenotichtlan, for inspiration. Some of the works are in the original Nahuatl language. Bancks is also the 2008 recipient of the Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

March 28

• Composers Symposium: Jacob Bancks, 11 a.m., Altgeld Hall, Room 110

• Open Rehearsal: Bernard Rands, 1-4 p.m. in the Old Baptist Foundation Recital Hall

• Pre-Concert Composers Conversation: 6:45 p.m. in the Old Baptist Foundation Recital Hall

• Concert: Happy Birthday Bernard! Chamber Music of Bernard Rands, 7:30 p.m. in the Old Baptist Foundation Recital Hall. Tickets for the concert are available at the door for $10 for general admission, $5 for students.

Guest artists Pinotage Ensemble join faculty musicians in this celebration of Rands’ music. Also on the program is a Kathleen Ginther work written specifically for Pinotage and a new work from Eric Mandat.

Kathleen Ginther’s music is well known in Chicago and gaining an international audience. Her Chicago-area venues include the Ravinia Festival, Art Institute of Chicago, Symphony Center, and Northwestern University, to name a few. In addition, she has been on numerous radio programs, including live radio at WFMT-Music in Chicago. Her music has made its way to both coasts as well as to England, Scotland, Holland, China, Japan, Italy and Brazil. The piece included in this festival is Chansons d’Apollinaire, taken from a series of poems by Apollinaire.

The Pinotage Ensemble specializes in music written after 1900, though they often perform music written much more recently. The ensemble includes mezzo-soprano Julia Bentley, harpist Alison Attat, flutist Janice MacDonald and violist Claudia Lasareff-Mironoff. The group often plays in collegiate settings, demonstrating their willingness to help young musicians and composers.

March 29

• Concert: SIUC Ensembles: Music of Bernard Rands and Olly Wilson, 2 p.m. at Shryock Auditorium. Tickets for the concert are available at the door for $10 for general admission, $5 for students.

SIUC School of Music students and faculty take the stage for this concert. Susan Davenport, choral studies director and assistant director of the School of Music, brings the Concert Choir and the Chamber Singers and Christopher Morehouse conducts the Wind Ensemble. The concert choir and the wind ensemble are China-bound in May, when they will be part of a concert tour and cultural exchange.

Also on tap for this concert are SIUC pianists Yuko Kato and Junghwa Lee. Kato’s performance venues, both as a soloist and a collaborative musician, include the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall, among other prestigious venues. She studied and performed in England at the Dartington International Summer Program on a full scholarship, and at the Aria International Music Academy in Canada.

Lee’s solo performances have taken her all over the world, including her native Korea as well as Holland, France, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and China, to name a few. She has also performed with the Korean Symphony Orchestra, Salina Symphony Orchestra, Greeley Philharmonic Orchestra and others. Lee recently debuted a Frank Stemper work at Carnegie Hall, where she also played a full program of music of her selection.

April 1

• Concert: Emerging Composers from SIUC, 7:30 p.m. in the Old Baptist Foundation Recital Hall.

This concert highlights advanced SIUC School of Music students. Featured are: Matt Blessing, Matt Clark, Ike Minton, Bill Shotton and Chris Mitchell.

April 2

• Concert: New Arts Jazztet, 7:30 p.m. in Shryock Auditorium. Tickets for the concert are available at the door for $10 for general admission, $5 for students.

The New Arts Jazztet is a premiere jazz group, presenting a mix of jazz classics and original music. Well-established in Southern Illinois, the SIUC faculty ensemble also brings Southern Illinois jazz to Chicago and other jazz and collegiate venues in the Midwest. The New Arts Jazztet is: Bob Allison, trumpet and flugelhorn; Phil Brown, bass; Mel Goot, piano; Dick Kelley, saxophone; and Tim Pitchford, trombone.

April 3

• Concert: SIUC Jazz Ensembles, 7:30 p.m. in Shryock Auditorium. Tickets for the concert are available at the door for $10 for general admission, $5 for students.

Timothy Pitchford and Phil Brown, School of Music faculty and members of the New Arts Jazztet, present SIUC jazz students in this concert. Pitchford directs the Studio Jazz Orchestra, the top jazz student ensemble. The group’s repertoire covers the classics as well as brand-new jazz. They back visiting artists, perform on their own and record on campus. Phil Brown directs the Jazz Combos, in which students learn the foundations of jazz improvisation.

April 4

• Concert: Southern Illinois Improvisation Series, 3 p.m. and 3:40 p.m. in Altgeld Hall, Room 009.

This is a special event presented by SIUC percussion expert Ron Coulter and the SiiS student ensemble. Seating is very limited for this event. Here’s how it works. The two times listed are two concert times. Those who want to attend should email Coulter at to reserve a seat. Only 12 seats are available per concert. Room 009 is Coulter’s office, which doubles as a percussion collection.

• Concert: Altgeld Chamber Players, 7:30 p.m. in the Old Baptist Foundation Recital Hall. Tickets for the concert are available at the door for $10 for general admission, $5 for students.

The Altgeld Chamber Players visit the music of Messiaen, Takemitsy, Antas, Kelley and Ginther for this performance. The ensemble includes: Diane Coloton, soprano; Yuko Kato, piano; Dick Kelley, alto saxophone; Eric Mandat, clarinet; and Douglas Worthen, flute.

The Cavani String Quartet returns to SIUC for a reprise performance in Music Outside the Box. The quartet is known in Carbondale for its role in establishing a strings program at Thomas School, the attendance center for second and third graders in the Carbondale elementary school district -- and indeed musical education outreach is part of their mission. However, they are also comfortable at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, prime venues overseas and on major network television.

April 5

• Concert: World Woodwind Duo, 7:30 p.m. in the Old Baptist Foundation Recital Hall.

The World Woodwind Duo is Thomas Aber and Dwight Frizzell. Aber founded and Frizzell is a member of the newEar Contemporary Music Ensemble in Kansas City. newEar presents music that “explores acoustic space” and challenges musician and listener alike. One of Frizzell’s recent projects is Sonic Force, in which he uses A10 Warthog military airplanes as musical instruments. The World Woodwind Duo promises to be a musical experience worthy of an “outside the box” festival theme.

April 6

• Workshop: World Woodwind Duo, 10 a.m. in the Old Baptist Foundation Recital Hall.

April 8

• Concert: SIUC Percussion Ensemble, 7:30 p. m. in Altgeld Hall, Room 112.

Ron Coulter directs the student Percussion Ensemble at SIUC, where he is lecturer of percussion studies. He is also an active musician, performing with a wide variety of musicians, ensembles and solo performances. Particularly adept at using unusual percussion instruments, Coulter encourages a high level of improvisation in his students.

April 9

• Concert: Mazurka Mania 7:30 p.m. in the Old Baptist Foundation Recital Hall.

A mazurka is a lively folk dance with Polish roots. Mazurka Mania features Outside the Box guest Lawrence Axelrod on piano. Axelrod is a composer and conductor as well as a pianist. His commissions include fellow Outside the Box-ers Pinotage as well as The Lincoln Trio, the Verdi String Quartet, Berlin’s Ensemble JungeMusik and more. He is also a founder and past chairperson of the Chicago Composers’ Consortium. This is not his first Mazurka -- he presented an all-Mazurka program two years ago at Butler University in Indiana.

April 10

• Concert: Buckminster Fuller Event, 7:30 p.m. in Altgeld Hall, Room 112.

This multi-media event features works by Ron Coulter, School of Music; Wago Kreider, Department of Radio/Television; Jay Needham, Department of Radio/Television; and Craig Gingrich-Philbrook, Department of Speech Communication.

April 11

• Composers Symposium: Chicago Composers Consortium, 11 a.m. in Altgeld Hall, Room 110.

The Chicago Composers Consortium formed in 1989 with the mission of bringing modern art music in live performance to Chicago. Current members include Music Outside the Box guest Larry Axelrod and Outside the Box director Kathleen Ginther as well as several other composers.

• Chicago Composers Consortium: The Theremin Project, 7:30 p.m. at Fusion, 215 E. Main St. in Carbondale.

A Theremin is an early electronic musical instrument controlled without direct contact from the player. The instrument characteristically produces an eerie sound popular in avant-garde music as well as rock and in movie soundtracks. This concert features Ben Aldrich on Theremin. Aldrich is a pipe organ builder from Otsego, Mich., who branched out into the Theremin on a sort of whim during a road trip. This is the last concert of the series, and culminates with a post-concert party at Fusion.