Once again, Ossia will perform a program of invocative and highly challenging music on Feb. 24 at 8 p.m. in Kilbourn Hall. The program will include Matthias Pintscher’s “Choc,” David Plylar’s “The Artist’s Studio” and Elliot Carter’s “Double Concerto.”

Ossia is the Eastman School of Music’s student-run, new music ensemble. Taking its name from a score marking that indicates a musical alternative, the ensemble performs alternative music – that is, contemporary music, which might not otherwise be performed. Because student members learn important entrepreneurial skills by producing every aspect of the concert, the group is a part of the Institute for Music Leadership at Eastman.

Each year, the administrative board, made up of current and past ensemble members, goes through two screening processes to come up with music to fill about four concerts per semester. Proposals come from students, faculty and musicians around the world who propose single pieces, concert themes or whole concerts.

In choosing repertoire, the board looks for the music’s doability, quality, variety and diverse instrumentation.

“This concert is about all large ensemble music, and we have a string quartet concert coming up,” Ossia’s Public Relations Manager and senior Gretchen Snedeker said.

Next Thursday, Ossia will perform a large ensemble-based concert for the second year in a row. Though the pieces on the concert were picked for Ossia separately, their large-scale nature brought them together on this concert.

The first selection on the program, Pintscher’s “Choc,” was elected for Ossia because of its diverse exploration of sound. The piece is widely timbreal, and has an original sound that can’t be traced to other composers of similar styles. Instrumentation includes violins, violas, cellos, double basses, piccolo/flute/bass flute, oboe/English horn, clarinet/bass clarinet/contrabass clarinet, bassoon, two horns, two trumpets, two trombones and percussion. The piece will be a U.S. premiere. Martin Seggelke will conduct.

Second on the program is Plylar’s “The Artist’s Studio.” Beginning with a solo piano performed by Bobby Mitchell, the piece describes the compositional process from the first notes at the piano and evolves into the full-scale orchestral piece as the composition takes life. Clay Greenberg will conduct.

Each year, Ossia accepts one piece to perform that is a “work in progress,” in meaning that the piece is still its compositional stages, not finished. This year, Plylar submitted the beginnings of his piece as a way to secure its world premiere.

The final selection on the program will be Carter’s “Double Concerto.” Soloists are Daniel Pesca on harpsichord and Marcus Macauly on piano.

Calling this piece a large-scale work would be an understatement. The piece is written for two solo instruments and two orchestras with separate instrumentation.

The first orchestra includes viola, double bass, flute, horn, trumpet, trombone and two percussionists. The second orchestra is instrumentated with violins, cellos, clarinet, oboe, horn, bassoon and two percussionists.

The Carter piece has always been regarded as a great piece, but has existed with the stigma that it would be too difficult to produce due to both the unconventional instrumentation needs, the rhythmic intricacy – at one point, one orchestra is in a duple meter, and the other in a triple meter – and the technical difficulty that is inherent in much of Carter’s music.

Pesca and Macauly had been awaiting an opportunity to learn and play the piece. Both being composers, they highly regarded Carter’s compositional techniques and though the piece deserved a performance. The board members unanimously agreed that a piece known for being difficult to produce was a perfect choice for Ossia, and already had willing ensemble members, as well as Brad Lubman for a conductor.

Ossia has always been considered one of Eastman’s most advanced ensembles. Thursday night’s concert will be an exploration of sound, rhythm and instrumentation with a high level of musicianship that shouldn’t be missed.

Reguero can be reached at areguero@campustimes.org.

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