Thursday, November 17, 2005

Letter from Bright Sheng

It gives me great pleasure to write on behalf of Brave New Works, a terrific group of young musicians who devote their expertise, energy and passion to the music of our time.

I have known these musicians since the very founding days of the group, initially a pool of excellent students in performance at our school who were interested in performing new music. But most remarkably, these young talents stayed together and continued their commitment to new music performance, even years after they have all graduated and moved to various locations in the country. As a result, their performance level has progressed tremendously. Now, having worked with many of the best musicians in the world I can proudly say that Brave New Works has become on of the finest new music ensembles in this country.

However, the most touching aspect of the group lies not only in how well they perform, but also on how deep one can feel their dedication toward the music of living composers, whether as a composer or performer working with the group, or simply as an audience member of their concerts. To me, this is extremely rare and special to my heart.

Bright Sheng,The Leonard Bernstein Distinguished University Professor of Music, University of Michigan Winner of the MacArthur Award

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Quote from Leslie Bassett

"Performers who are deeply involved with their art and have discovered the excitement of new works are the hopes of music for the future. Music cannot rely solely on the great works of the past, any more than can any other art or endeavor. New works, new efforts growing from a culture, can bring heightened meaning, unexpected insights, new beauty. Such works must be heard, beautifully performed, become known, loved and cherished. Brave New Works is an ensemble committed to such a goal."
Leslie Bassett, Professor Emeritus, University of Michigan

Maria back stage

Maria Sampen, violin of BNW warming up back stage before the DIA concert.

Katri in motion

Katri Ervamaa our cellist in a blur of motion to fast for the camera during the rehearsal of Magnus Lindberg's piano quintet.

A question from an audience member

Sarah is explaining all the percussion material she has to play on the Schwantner to a curious audience member.

Bloody finger

Tim's finger after playing the demanding viola part of Dan Visconti's Black Bend. All in the name of new music.

Short history

Brave New Works is a vibrant performing ensemble of ten musicians dedicated to performing and promoting new music. The mission of Brave New Works is to engage, enrich and educate through contemporary music. A not-for-profit organization since 2003, Brave New Works was nurtured by the rich artistic landscape of Ann Arbor, Michigan, and formed in 1997 by three students at the University of Michigan: percussionists Chris Froh and Eli Shapiro, and conductor Chris Younghoon Kim. The concept was simple; to make great music, discover new sounds and ideas, and perform with kindred spirits.

The first concerts took place on the campus of the University of Michigan wherever space was available. The music was as diverse as the musicians who came together to perform it. Programs featured the gypsy duo Verderos, electronic music composer and trumpet player Mark Kirschenmann, and works by Cage, Berio, Stravinsky and Ginastera. The first season found its culmination in a performance of Terry Riley's "In C," for open instrumentation, which fittingly took place in the art gallery of the School of Engineering's Media Union, the university's newest building.

In its infancy, Brave New Works was as much a concept as it was an organization. Its three founders continually invented projects and, through the collaboration of a surprisingly large cast of characters, saw them to fruition. One such example was 1998's "By and For the Persecuted," a program of music composed entirely by prisoners interred at the Nazi concentration camp Terezin, in former Czechoslovakia. Chris Younghoon Kim conducted a chamber orchestra of student recruits in a program that included the music of Pavel Haas and Gideon Klein among others.

Whether chamber orchestra, massed cello choir -as in the January 2001 concert entitled, "Celloholics,"- or soloist, Brave New Works came to embody the spirit of adventure in music. No project seemed too intimate or too grand. February 1999 marked one of Brave New Works' major successes: the "Five Dances" project in conjunction with a residency by the Merce Cunningham Dance Company. The program featured George Crumb's "Madrigals: Books I-IV" and the premier of five original dance compositions. Five composers worked with five choreographers, and together with Brave New Works, presented five experimental pieces. The inspiration came from the legendary collaboration between composer John Cage and Merce Cunningham. Brave New Works worked with Cage specialist Laura Kuhn on this important project. With success around the university and greater Ann Arbor communities, Brave New Works found an identity, and a growing audience.

By the fall of 2001, Brave New Works had outgrown the profile of a student ensemble. The group reorganized, and recruited a board of directors. Chris Younghoon Kim became sole music director, and Brave New Works for the first time defined its instrumentation as an ensemble of ten core musicians. With these changes came the potential for mobility; Brave New Works began the transition from a local phenomenon to a nationally recognized organization.

In addition to exploring and encouraging the growing modern repertoire, Brave New Works began to make contributions in the area of education. The ensemble developed its College Residency Program in which Brave New Works musicians work with student composers and instrumentalists conducting open rehearsals, instrumental master classes, and readings of student compositions. The first of these took place in the fall of 2002 at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon. Subsequent residencies have taken Brave New Works to Bowling Green, Ohio, and to an ongoing partnership with Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts.

Today, many of the musicians of Brave New Works hold teaching positions at prestigious colleges and universities around the country, and all maintain individual performing careers. Brave New Works strives to uphold the values out of which it was formed and remains true to its first simple concept: to make great music, discover new sounds and ideas, and perform with kindred spirits.

2005 call for score winner - Dan Visconti


Dan Visconti, whose Black Bend was picked to be performed throughout the 2005-2006 season.
Here is his website;
  • Dan Visconti's website
  • 2005 call for winner - SungJi Hong

    SungJi Hong's Impetuoso was chosen from a filed of 156 submissions from 22 countries.
    Here is a link to her website.
  • Sungji Hong's website
  • Sarah and Caroline running towards the DIA

    Our performance at the DIA [Detroit Institute of the Arts] featured Sarah Brady on flute and Caroline Helton who joined us for the performance of Joseph Schwantner's "Wild Angels of the Open Hills" for voice, flute, harp and mixed percussion.

    Kerrytown Concert House

    An Ann Arbor institution, has been the site of many of our concerts.
    October 2005's concert program featured works by Sung Ji Hong, Magnus Lindberg, DanVisconti and Joseph Schwanter.

    2006 call for score

    Here is info on our current call for score.
    Last year's winners; Sung Ji Hong's Impetuoso and Dan Visconti's Black Bend was performed during our October Festival.

    Call for Scores 2006. Receipt Deadline: December 1, 2005.
    Brave New Works announces its annual Composers Competition. Composers are encouraged to submit original works of any duration for the following instrumentation: flute/piccolo, clarinet/bass clarinet, piano, harp, string quartet and soprano. Works involving electronic media will also be considered. While priority will be given to works that adhere to Brave New Works' full instrumentation, pieces for smaller combinations, and even solo works, will be considered. Selected works will be performed during the 2006-2007 season with the possibility of multiple performances. The winner will be announced in February 2006. BNW reserves the right to perform any entries submitted.

    There is an entry fee of $15 for one score and $10 for each additional score. Please make check or money order payable to Brave New Works. Include anonymous score(s); anonymous recording(s) if available (MIDI realizations are acceptable); information sheet with the work's title, composer's name, address, telephone number, and email in sealed envelope; entry fee; SASE for return of materials (international submissions cannot be returned).

    To submit or for more information, please visit our website on the link for Brave New Works

    Brave New Works

    This photo is from during our October 2005 festival in Michigan. We had concerts in Detroit at the Art Institute. Dale, our board member took this picture. We also had concerts in Ann Arbor at the Kerrytown Concert house and also at University of Windsor in Canada.
    In the picture, from left to right
    going up the stairs; left row- Maria Sampen [violin], Chris Younghoon Kim[conductor] Tim Christie [viola].
    right row-Winston Choi[piano], Steve Miahky[violin], Sarah Brady[flute], Amy Ley[harp]
    sitting- Katri Ervamaa[cello]