March 27, 2017

School of Music hosts ‘Outside the Box’ April 4-8

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. – In order to score an invitation to perform at Outside the Box, the annual new music festival at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, you need to be more than a composer of “New Music.” 

“I want to invite composers, performers and multimedia artists who are innovative, engaging, and have a track record of world-class creative achievements,” Christopher Walczak, assistant professor of music theory and composition and the coordinator for the multi-day music festival, said. “But it doesn’t end there. I only invite artists who I am certain will engage with our community and the university, who will let us in to their creative worlds, and leave us with something that makes us better.” 

Outside the Box 2017 runs April 4-8. All events are free and most are on campus. A full schedule and information about the guest musicians and composers is online

“New Music” in this context doesn’t refer to music that was released yesterday, that you might hear on the radio for the next few weeks. It is a particular kind of music. New Music in this sense is contemporary classical music – music written by contemporary composers (or, to put some dates on it, since about 1945) that shares the aesthetic tradition of classical composers, the ones who wrote the first symphonies and operas and chamber music. 

New Music, like classical music, includes several distinguishable movements -- including modernist, post-modernist, neoromantic, minimalism, post-minimalism, and so on. Some consider art rock to be a part of New Music, and some forms of electronic music fall under the New Music heading too. 

“New Music can be very experimental and unlike you’re bound to hear -- unless you come to these concerts,” Walczak said. “Yet the works are masterful, composed and performed by people who are at the top of their respective fields. We encourage the community to open their ears and embrace this music as an adventure.” 

The guest composers present master classes during the festival. These are also open to the public. 

Here are some highlights on the festival schedule: 

April 4

7:30 p.m. – Shryock Auditorium – Opening night concert featuring the SIU Concert Choir, Wind Ensemble and Percussion Ensemble performing works by guest composers Paul Carey and Karl Blench, and music from Arvo Pärt. 

April 5

Back-to-back SIU performances. At 5:30 p.m. Eric Mandat, professor of clarinet and composition, and the SIUIU (SIU Improvisation Unit) present a performance of free improvisation in Altgeld Hall, Room 110. At 7:30 p.m., School of Music faculty members Diane Coloton, David Dillard and Yuko Kato present contemporary vocal music in the Old Baptist Foundation Recital Hall. 

April 6

7:30 p.m. – Carbondale Community Arts Corridor Gallery and Art Space 304 (304 W. Walnut St., Carbondale) – “Change Course” is a composition for tenor saxophone and computer paired with improvisatory music theater. Composer/ technologist Kurt Stallman and saxophonist Steve Duke are featured guests. 

April 7 

5:30 p.m. – Carbondale Community Arts Corridor Gallery and Art Space 304 – a concert of New Music by guest composer Shih-Hui Chen, followed by the film “Time Present,” featuring music by Kurt Stallman.

8 p.m. – Shryock Auditorium – The Little Giant Chinese Chamber Orchestra from Taipei, Taiwan, presents a New Music concert that blends western orchestral instruments with traditional Chinese and Taiwanese instruments. Compositions, including world premieres, by Shih-Hui Chen, Kurt Stallman, Christopher Walczak, Robert McClure and Shane Monds, with Chih-Sheng Chen, conductor. 

April 8

Back-to-back SIU performances. Eric Mandat presents his electroacoustic interactive music and improvisation at Altgeld Hall, Room 110, beginning at 5:30 p.m. The Altgeld Chamber Players take on a diverse and eclectic collection of contemporary music in Shryock Auditorium at 8 p.m.