Saturday, April 11, 2015

Four accomplished pianists, four acoustically distinct venues, five grand pianos.

This evening of piano performances brings together some of the leading soloists working today in new music to explore their instrument’s full color spectrum in EMPAC’s complete range of acoustic environments. Performing on grand pianos of varying sizes and manufactures, Pianoply will examine virtuosity through the lens of situation and setting.

Pianoply will feature soloists Vicky Chow, Stephen Drury, Mabel Kwan, and Marilyn Nonken, performing on a selection of pianos: a 9' Hamburg Steinway, 9' New York Steinway, 7' Fazioli, 6' 7" Bösendorfer, and 7' 6" Yamaha pianos.

The audience will be guided through all of EMPAC’s venues—the reverberant warmth of the Concert Hall, the intimacy of the Theater, the detailed crispness of Studio 1 and the enveloping diffusion of Studio 2—to explore the sonic properties of contemporary repertoire performed through particular instruments placed in particular spaces.


Vicky Chow - Studio 2
Michael Gordon - Sonatra (2004)

Stephen Drury - Studio 1
John Cage - Etudes Australes, Book I (1974-75)

Marilyn Nonken - Theater
Joshua Fineberg - Tremors (1996)
Tristan Murail - La mandragore (1993)
Claude Vivier - Shiraz (1977)

Mabel Kwan - Concert Hall
Evan Johnson - three reversed movements, to bring destroyed objects back to life (2014)
Eliza Brown - Between Clouds (2012)
Rebecca Saunders - Shadow (2013)
Gerardo Gandini - Eusebius, Four Nocturnes for One Piano (1984)

Argeo Ascani

Pianist Mabel Kwan champions the music of living composers and performs a diverse range of repertoire for piano and clavichord. She has been a featured soloist at the MATA Interval 7.1 in Brooklyn, Experimental Piano Series at PianoForte in Chicago, Boston New Music Initiative's inaugural concert, and Sonic Fusion Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland. As a member of Ensemble Dal Niente, she has performed at Ravinia, Ecstatic Music Festival, UNRULY Music Festival, MusicArte Panama, SALT Festival, UNBOUND Festival, Fromm Concert Series, and the International Summer Courses for New Music in Darmstadt, Germany. Born and raised in Austin, Texas, she received performance degrees from Rice University and Northern Illinois University.

Marilyn Nonken is one of the most celebrated champions of the modern repertoire of her generation, known for performances that explore transcendent virtuosity and extremes of musical expression. Upon her 1993 New York debut, she was heralded as “a determined protector of important music” (New York Times). Recognized a “one of the greatest interpreters of new music” (American Record Guide), her performances have been presented at such venues as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Miller Theatre, the Guggenheim Museum, (Le) Poisson Rouge, IRCAM and the Théâtre Bouffe du Nord (Paris), as well as conservatories and universities around the world. Composers who have written for her include Milton Babbitt, Drew Baker, Pascal Dusapin, Jason Eckardt, Michael Finnissy, Joshua Fineberg, Liza Lim, and Tristan Murail. She has recorded for New World Records, Mode, Lovely Music, Albany, Metier, Divine Art, Innova, CRI, BMOP Sound, New Focus, Cairos, Tzadik, and Bridge. Nonken received a Ph.D. in musicology from Columbia University and is director of piano studies at New York University's Steinhardt School.

Pianist and conductor Stephen Drury has performed throughout the world with a repertoire that stretches from Bach to Liszt to the music of today. He has appeared at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, the Barbican Centre and Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, the Cité de la Musique in Paris, and the Leipzig Gewandhaus, and from Arkansas to Seoul. A champion of contemporary music, he has taken the sound of dissonance into remote corners of Pakistan, Greenland, and Montana. His performances of music written in the last hundred years, ranging from the piano sonatas of Charles Ives to works by György Ligeti, Frederic Rzewski, and John Cage have received the highest critical acclaim. Drury has worked closely with many of the leading composers of our time, including Cage, Ligeti, Rzewski, Steve Reich, Olivier Messiaen, John Zorn, Luciano Berio, Helmut Lachenmann, Christian Wolff, Jonathan Harvey, Michael Finnissy, Lee Hyla, and John Luther Adams. He teaches at New England Conservatory, where he has directed festivals of the music of Cage, Reich, and Wolff.

Canadian pianist Vicky Chow has been described as “brilliant” (New York Times), and “one of the new stars of new music” (Los Angeles Times). She is the pianist for the Bang on a Can All-Stars, Grand Band, The Virgil Moorefield Pocket Orchestra, and New Music Detroit, and has collaborated with other ensembles such as ICE, Wet Ink Ensemble, and the Wordless Music Orchestra. Most recently she gave the North American premiere of Steve Reich’s work "Piano Counterpoint" and the world premiere of John Zorn’s new piano trio titled “The Aristos.” She also recently performed Michael Gordon’s "Ode to La Bruja, Hanon, Czerny, Van Cliburn and little gold stars," written for Grand Band, and an evening-length work by artist/composer Tristan Perich for solo piano and 40-channel 1-bit electronics titled "Surface Image," and written for her. The piece was also released in the fall of 2014 on the New Amsterdam label to much success and was included in the top albums of the year lists from Rolling Stone and Rhapsody. Her other recorded work can be found on the Tzadik, Cantaloupe, Innova, Hinterzimmer, and AltaVoz labels. In addition to performing, Ms. Chow produces and curates “Contagious Sounds,” a new music series focusing on adventurous contemporary artists and composers in New York City. Originally from Vancouver, Canada, she studied at the Juilliard School with Yoheved Kaplinsky and Julian Martin before continuing studies at Manhattan School of Music with Christopher Oldfather. She made her orchestral debut at the age of 10 with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and made her New York orchestral debut appearance at Alice Tully Hall with the Juilliard Symphony performing Bartok’s Piano Concerto No. 1.

Multiple Venues
April 11, 2015, 7:30PM
In Depth

EMPAC 2014-2015 presentations, residencies, and commissions are supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and The MAP Fund, a program of Creative Capital, primarily supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation; additional funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Community Connections Fund of the MetLife Foundation, the Boeing Company Charitable Trust, and the New York State Council for the Arts. Special thanks extended to the Jaffe Fund for Experimental Media and Performing Arts for continued support of artist commissions.

National Endowment for the Arts
State of the Arts - NYSCA