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Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Music

Ensemble takes Opera House stage


Clarinetist Jennifer Dennison will be performing with AURA tonight in “Rituals," a piece composed by Moores director David Ashley White. | Catherine Lara/The Daily Cougar

Clarinetist Jennifer Dennison will be performing with AURA tonight in “Rituals," a piece composed by Moores director David Ashley White. | Catherine Lara/The Daily Cougar

We know it’s in the middle of a busy week — but if you have a chance, you should catch the AURA Contemporary Ensemble tonight at the Moores Opera House tonight at 7:30 p.m.

The program titled “Rituals” will include an evening of ritual-inspired chamber music written within the past 10 years.

Performers will include members of the AURA Contemporary Ensemble and the UH saxophone studio and will be directed by Rob Smith, Jung-Hwan Kwon and Dan Gelok.

The program includes the music from a number of contemporary composers, including UH’s own David Ashley White, Eric Stokes, Christian Lauba, Peteris Vasks, Zack Browning and Dan Becker.

The first piece on the list is by David Ashley White, director of the Moores School of Music at UH.

White is one of the composers at the forefront of secular and sacred music especially. His piece entitled “Rituals” includes the flute, cello, piano and two percussionists and is also the namesake for tonight’s program.

White’s “Rituals” is followed by Eric Stokes’ “The Pickpocket is Lyrical Two.” The work is inspired by a selection of folk music and offers expressive melodic content. Stokes is most renowned for his general accessibility and musical wit.

Christian Lauba’s “Jungle” uses a number of new and innovative extended techniques, including slap-tonguing, altissimo, multiphonics and circular breathing, to give the musical impression of primality suggested by its title.

Lauba’s ouvre often reveals a hybrid of North African juxtaposed with other cultural elements like jazz and Japanese music.

Kudos to Dan Gelok for attempting such a feat.

It was Sam Barber who was caught wanting “a good melody every once in a while.”

The next work by Peteris Vasks “Little Summer Music for Violin and Piano,” promises to offer exactly that kind of 180 contrast to the primality of Lauba’s “Jungle.”

Whereas Lauba’s work is more rhythmic, Vasks opens with an expansive violin melody. In a time where serialism, atonality and innovative techniques more often than not typify music, a beautiful melody can be a wonderful reprieve.

Browning’s “Howler Back” is a piece for saxophone quartet, and is characterized by its sprightliness and frequent changes of meter.

The final composer on the list is Dan Becker, who is the composer for “S.T.I.C.” Becker is considered in the vein of post-minimalist composers.

His music reveals influences of Louis Andriessen and Terry Riley, who was his teacher. Becker is a professor at the San Francisco Conservatory in California.

The AURA Contemporary Ensemble will return on Nov. 14, 2011, with another program titled “Voyages.”

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