No Exit new music ensemble plans trio of concerts
By Mike Telin
This week the new music ensemble No Exit begins their third season of bringing newly composed music to Cleveland neighborhoods in a program that features new compositions by Josh Musikantow, Kevin Eppich, Nicholas Underhill, Alex Schrock and a not so new work by Bohuslav Martinů. “Of the five pieces being performed on this program, four of them are world premieres which were written for the ensemble, and three of the works were created by local composers,” says Tim Beyer, No Exit's founder and artistic director. “We have always strived to be an impetus for the generation of new works so this series of concerts is especially rewarding for us. Hopefully it will be for our audience as well.”
“Clevelanders are fortunate that there are so many fine groups and outlets to experience ʻclassicalʼ music,” says No Exit associate director, James Praznik, “However, people often forget that classical music is not just something of history, but a living tradition.”
The concerts will take place on Friday, December 9 at 8:00 pm at Cleveland State University's Drinko Auditorium, on Saturday, December 10 at 8:00 pm at Arts Collinwood, and on Friday, December 16 at 9:00 pm at legation, a gallery on West 78th St. in Cleveland. All of the concerts are free and open to the public.
We spoke to Timothy Beyer by telephone and we began by asking him how he describes No Exit when people ask about the group.
Tim Beyer: Well ultimately what I get to is the primary motivation for us, and this may be a cliché, but there are not enough outlets for living composers to have their pieces performed. And many times the ones that do [get performed] are performed on one rehearsal. There is not the kind of time and care [the pieces deserve]. So we wanted to fully commit ourselves to presenting the music in the best possible way.
We also try to show the variety of contemporary music [that exists]. We are living in an 'anything goes' time, and we try to represent that. And this does mean that we choose to perform pieces we think are worthy of performance, even if personally they may not be all of our taste. So this is an opportunity for all of us to delve into pieces that are of interest to us.
Mike Telin: I love the group's name, No Exit, but how did you choose it?
TB: It’s always kind of weird to try to pick a name, and maybe it was a name chosen by exclusion. We didn’t want it to be the Cleveland this or Northeast Ohio that, you know, one of those names that would get lost in the crowd. Also we did want to evoke the avant-garde. And of all the names that were suggested, this is the one that stuck.
MT: The group has a strong connection to Cleveland State University.
TB: That’s right. We are in residence at CSU through the Cleveland Contemporary Players, and everyone either attended or teaches at CSU.
MT: How does the group go about making artistic decisions?
TB: We meet often, which is a luxury, and discuss what we want to do, and we do keep an eye out for younger composers who are doing interesting things. We often will receive recordings and scores from composers as well. [So together] we hash it out and put together a program that works as a program.
MT: Tell me about the program?
TB: There is a lot that excites me about this program! Although Martinů (Duo No. 2 for violin and cello) is not exactly a current composer, he is a unique and interesting person and composer. And the duo really reflects the spirit of what we like in a piece.
I’ve known Kevin Eppich for a long time, and have always been a fan of his, so it was a wonderful opportunity for him to write a piece for us, and he has done a wonderful job.
Nick Underhill’s piece, is something really wonderfully different for him. It’s great to see a guy who has written hundreds of pieces not be afraid to shed his skin and try new things.
Josh Musikantow takes an interesting approach to his piece, because it is made up of almost purely extended techniques, but not in the usual bells and whistles sort of way. He is a percussionist, so a lot of things he does are things that a percussionist would be used to doing, but not so much for a violinist.
Alex Schrock also has written a very interesting piece. It’s minimalism but he has his own take on it. It can be so exciting when you hear [a style of writing] that maybe isn’t new, but that the composer has managed to put their own point on it.
MT: No Exit is strongly committed to taking their concerts into the neighborhoods.
TB: That’s right. We also want to present this music to the public, and a big part of doing that is taking it out of the concert hall. People will show up to places like Arts Collinwood and legation gallery because they are in their own neighborhoods. The reaction from people has been really great, I can’t tell you how many people have said how taken they were by what we are doing. We have been lucky that all of the venues have been really gracious hosts.
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Published on ClevelandClassical.com December 5, 2011.
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