AURA Ensemble takes stage
A good way to start off the week is to hear “In Motion” by the AURA Contemporary Ensemble. On Monday evening, the ensemble offered this option by presenting a concert at the Moores Opera House.
“(The program) features the ensemble in performance with the innovative and genre-bending violinist and composer Todd Reynolds and performing works by composer Bill Ryan,” Director of the AURA Ensemble Rob Smith said.
The program also included the UH Saxophone Studio under the direction of Dan Gelok.
Thematically, the works that comprised the concert all bore a common thread — being in motion. Part of the groundbreaking work of the AURA ensemble includes giving world premieres. This concert was no exception.
The evening’s premiere performances included “RPM” by Robin Cox and “New Work” by guest composer Bill Ryan. The other work by Ryan was titled “Blurred.”
“Bill Ryan directs a highly influential new music ensemble at Grand Valley State University,” Smith said. “(They have) several critically acclaimed commercial recordings to their credit, including one of Steve Reich’s ‘Music for 18 Musicians.’”
Guest violinist Todd Reynolds also contributed compositionally with a string quartet titled “Uh … It All Happened So Fast,” keeping with the program’s theme of motion.
“Todd has performed professionally in a wide range of genres,” Smith said. “From orchestral to jazz, pop and folk — (he) brings all of these influences to his playing.”
Other composers whose works were featured include Derek Bermel, Michael Gordon, Krystof Penderecki and Michael Steinberg.
One thing unique about the AURA Ensemble is that they’re savvy in selecting repertoire. AURA is very aware of the trends within the past twenty or so years.
Noticeably, all of the composers having works performed are living people, which is different from the many classical programs — orchestral concerts, operas, recitals — that currently dominate the musical landscape.
Also, the willingness to bring a widely respected “cross-over” artist like Todd Reynolds — who has worked with the likes of Yo-Yo Ma, David Lang and Julie Wolf, as well as in the pop, folk and jazz fields — helps to promote classical music and new music to a wider audience.
The AURA Contemporary Ensemble will return on April 15 with another program titled “Between the Lines.”
This will include collaboration with the UH Dance Ensemble, UH Saxophone Studio and guest choreographers.