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Photograph by Justin Bernhaut
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If you missed SLSO's performance of John Cage's "Thirty Pieces for Five Orchestras," at the Puiitzer Arts Foundation earlier this year, take note: as part of the Chess Hall of Fame's excellent new monthly music series, New York-based new music ensemble Alarm Will Sound will perform Cage's music tonight in conjuction with CHOF's current exhibit, "Cage & Kaino: Pieces and Performances." More information here, including a link to the webstore where you can buy a ticket, priced at a quite reasonable $10.
It's a busy week for the band: AWS is also playing the last show of its St. Louis Season this Friday at The Sheldon. Last month, when we previewed AWS's show at The Pageant (where the musicians played electronica with acoustic instruments), we touched on that Sheldon show a bit, but it merits some further description. For the past year or so, band members have been flying into St. Louis to work with elementary, middle-school and high school students attending Webster University’s Community Music School and Kindermusik. On May 30, those kids will perform on stage with AWS.
"We have a vision that in about two years' time, there wll be a band, you might want to call it Alarm Will Sound Jr.," says Managing Director, Gavin Chuck. "We're motivated by a strong sense of mission about contemporary music, and if it's going to have any traction and growth, we've got to share this with young people. Having them perform it, there's no better way than making it part of their lives; that's the best way to make new music a vital part of our culture. So the vision is to establish that as an independent group that we would coach and conduct and help faciliate and partnership with Community Music School and others."
Artistic Director Alan Pierson adds that some of the musicians will be as young as 5, and that the kids will perform works by Steve Reich and John Adams, among others. "They’ll be doing different kind of things. It’s all like side-by-side stuff, but there will be different kinds of configurations," Pierson says. "At one point in the show, there will be a piece from our repertoire that will be CMS musicians with AWS players, playng along with them on the same parts. At another point in the show, there will be a piece that is mostly CMS players with a few AWS people thrown in. There will be some chamber music, which will also be a few CMS players and a few AWS players." Also on the program, Chuck says, are some pieces from the Mizzou International Composers Festival, of which Alarm Will Sound is an integral part—every year, MU-Columbia music students and visiting composers craft music for them to play as part of the festival programming. (The fifth MICF happens this July; you can find info on that here.) It's also worth mentioning, as the band does on its Facebook page, that it'll be celebrating its 13th birthday by playing on stage with musicians, some of whom are 13 years old (or were recently, or will be soon). AWS members have been posting photos of their 13-year-old selves to celebrate not just the band's birthday, but the collaboration with their younger colleagues.
"The goal with Alarm Will Sound, Jr., idea is that eventually if you've got a string quartet of 16-year-olds, to have them play the music of a 16-year-old composer. How cool is that?" Chuch says. "So the idea is to get the grownups out of the room and see what happens when you unleash the creativitity of really young and flexible minds."
For hints of things to come in that department, watch the video below, where students work with a section of Vinko Globokar's Laboratorium that calls for instruments to be submerged underwater:
Alarm Will Sound (accompanied by Alarm Will Sound, Jr.) performs at the Sheldon Concert Hall Friday, May 30 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for students, and are available through Metrotix (314-534-111, metrotix.com), online at TheSheldon.org; and at The Sheldon box office. The Sheldon is located at 3648 Washington. And of course, for more info on Alarm Will Sound, including performances at MICF and the ensemble's 2014-15 season, jump over to alarmwillsound.com.