Monday, September 26, 2016
NO EXIT New Music Ensemble
Thu 9/29 @ 8PM - CSU Drinko Auditorium
Sat 10/1 @ 8PM - SPACES
Sat 10/8 @ 8PM - Heights Arts
For the better part of the last decade, Cleveland's NO EXIT New Music Ensemble has been pushing the boundaries of contemporary classical art music.
Now, NO EXIT returns with a new program of experimental music exploring the manner in which composers use sound to paint a picture. Free performances of compositions by Per Nørgård, Stephen Paulus and Jefferson Friedman, as well as new works by Hong-Da Chin, Greg D'Alessio and Yuan-Keng Ling are scheduled for Thu 9/29 @ 8pm at Cleveland State University's Drinko Auditorium, Sat 10/1 @ 8pm SPACES and Sat 10/8 @ 8pm at Heights Arts.
CoolCleveland talked to NO EXIT artistic director/composer Tim Beyer about the unique septet, which this year will be performing more than 20 shows.
What's the history behind NO EXIT?
Our first concert was in 2009. The original group was a piano quartet. These were all people I knew through my affiliation with Cleveland State. Since then, we've expanded the lineup to include a percussionist, a clarinetist and a flutist, as well as a supporting staff. The vision has always been focused on bringing this sort of avant-garde music to Cleveland and presenting a far wider plethora of what's out there. It's not a criticism, but we were all generally unsatisfied with what we were able to find in our area. A lot of the new music being played was the same sort of thing. And it's a big world out there. We also had a desire to promote the works of young and emerging composers, people who hadn't really had a lot of opportunities to get their music out there. So it was an opportunity to create our own opportunities as musicians, composers and also pass those opportunities on to other people. To date, we've commissioned over 70 pieces of music. That's a big part of what we do. We also do residencies and workshops to further that aim.
Can you elaborate on the type of music and compositions that define the NO EXIT sensibility?
There are so many extraordinary people out there who have a very unique and singular voice. They really are sort of their own compass in what they're doing, and a lot of that was not being represented. At least that's what we saw. What we were seeing was music that represented the middle, and there's a lot more taking place on either side.
It seems as though NO EXIT is attracted to esoteric or adventurous material.
It's a lot of things. Our concept is we are into things that at times may be esoteric but are avant-garde, on the vanguard in some way or another. A few years ago, we did a program of Raymond Scott's work. He was a very interesting, unique iconoclast of the jazz world. No one has done anything like him before or since. So we brought in a lot of other jazz musicians to supplement the group. And then on the other end of the spectrum, we may do a concert of people doing very interesting and vanguard things to multimedia or electronics work. And then we might do people who just write for a string quartet but they're working in new and different ways to use sound and write pieces. So it's not one thing we do. It's more of an overarching philosophy that we look for composers that we feel are avant-garde and are very much working off their own compass.
Who have you found enjoys a NO EXIT concert?
At the beginning, we felt if we were going to see any level of success here you need to help create a culture for it. A lot of people won't go to Severance Hall but they would go to SPACES. So what we found is a lot of different people. And there really isn't a type. Also, it depends on shows. Like when we did the Raymond Scott thing, we got a lot of jazz people who may not come to the rest of our concerts. Last year we did a tribute to Erik Satie, so there were people there who had an interest in Satie. But generally speaking, the audience has been growing and we found people in Cleveland have been amazingly receptive.
It seems as though it's safe to say if you're into classical music or more esoteric contemporary styles, at the very least NO EXIT provides an entertaining evening of music.
People don't walk away unhappy, regardless. And I think a lot of people really enjoy it. Usually when one goes to a see a concert, we put ourselves in a certain mode. We kind of understand what a concert-going experience is, whether it's a rock concert or going to the orchestra or whatever. But I think when people get into this space and hear what we're doing, it sort of challenges them to experience the music in a very different way. Most people find that very rewarding in one sense or another. And ironically, I think most of our audience is not the traditional sense classical people. In fact, I think classical people tend to stay away from things like this. They'd rather hear Beethoven or Mahler. Which is great. It's incredible music so there's not as much as a cross pollination as one might think.