North Texas Daily

International festival held for first time at UNT

International festival held for first time at UNT

International festival held for first time at UNT
October 06
23:27 2014

Samantha McDonald / Staff Writer

Experimental music performers from 14 countries around the world gathered Wednesday at UNT to celebrate the 2014 International Confederation of Electroacoustic Music concert and conference. The four-day festival, which was held in different music venues on campus, marked the first time UNT’s Center for Experimental Music and Intermedia hosted the event.

While the concerts presented performances of electroacoustic music and intermedia, the conference focused on the subject of acousmatic music in the Internet age, with both channels featuring non-traditional music practices.

Unlike standard music techniques, electroacoustic music involves acoustically played music mixed with experimental electronics using modern technology like computers. Acousmatic music is a branch of this practice and is composed for performance through speakers instead of a live show.

“There are some really interesting people here with interesting backgrounds, and we’re all a little bit crazy,” festival director and CEMI associate Jon Nelson said. “We’re very interested in sound worlds that are different from what most people are listening to.”

Proposed by ICEM board member and assistant professor of composition Panayiotis Kokoras, the festival’s presence at UNT brought excitement among members of CEMI, which was founded in 1963, making it one of the first electronic music centers in a U.S. university.

“We’re glad to host it,” Nelson said. “It’s always great to see people from other countries that have similar interests and are working similar kinds of projects.”

“Quasars” and other pieces

Founded in 1981 by Christian Clozier and Francoise Barriere, ICEM was established in France when no other international association existed at the time for the promotion and development of electroacoustic music. The festival was then created with the purpose of fostering collaboration and exchange between different music federations in various countries, which was shown in the festival’s activities that included panel discussions and a concert via Skype.

One of the pieces performed Thursday at Voertman Hall was entitled “Quasars.” Composed by Clozier, Barriere said that the seven-minute performance was dedicated to travel in a faraway world and in a different musical space.

“The piece is a historic piece that was composed in 1980, and for that time, it was very advanced,” Barriere said. “Sometimes we like to perform a piece from that time to compare with pieces now.”

This contrast of traditional instrumentation and computer-generated composition produces a piece that is unlike most music today. As a member organization of ICEM, CEMI is among the country’s representatives of experimental, particularly electroacoustic, music and continues to innovate technology in the musical field with surround sound systems and video projection screens that were used during the festival.

“The best thing about this is having a bunch of international people come to see UNT and share our love of electronic music,” Nelson said.

The Nova Ensemble

UNT’s new music ensemble, Nova, performed at the festival. Playing Marina Fridman’s “Plynie,” which is Polish for “Streams,” the ensemble was composed of violinists Karina Sim and Jesus Saenz Levano, violist Michael Capone and cellist Daniel Totan.

As graduate assistants, the quartet was required to perform as a part of its members’ degrees. Composers featured in the festival sent their electronic pieces to UNT. Instructors then assigned each piece to students to perform.

“The biggest challenge was that we listened to the electronics and we thought, ‘How does our part fit into this? What do we need to do to make this a unified whole?’” said Capone, a graduate student in viola performance.

After learning their notes, the students rehearsed together. Levano, a graduate student in violin performance, said that this stage in the musical process was uncomfortable at first because the type of music was different from the classical music he is more familiar with.

“This was probably the first time I performed a piece this late in the classical period,” Levano said. “It’s a new experience, and it’s very interesting.”

While members typically perform works from older musicians for their academics, Nova’s repertoire allows them to focus on younger and less familiar composers in the modern era.

“It’s a great group of people, and it’s a really flexible ensemble,” Capone said. “There are all these different cultures that come together and share ideas, and we’re able to create something out of that.”

Featured Image: UNT musicians use the internet and video technology to rehearse with live musicians in Argentina for the International Confederation of Electroacoustic Music conference and concerts. Photo courtesy of Erin Lancaster – UNT College of Music

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