Karin Hendrickson, Ligetisplit Ensemble director, explained to the audience on Friday night (4/16/10) that her musicians have a few key goals. One is to be humanitarians. She said, “we play to make you feel good.” Another goal: to maintain culture. To not only continually praise the masters, but raise up the new and stretch the imagination.
Their New Music Exhibition was a testament to the talent of Baltimore’s young composers and musicians. Featuring the First and Second Place winners of the Ligetisplit Ensemble 2009 Composition Competition, the ensemble both delighted and inspired the audience.
“Songs of Li Po” by Roger Zare (based on Poems by Li Po [701-762AD]) took First Place in the competition that asked for compositions written for mezzo-soprano, flute, viola, guitar, and vibraphone/xylorimba. A very tricky combination of sonorities, to say the least. Due to Zare’s skilled hand, the instruments were woven together quite seamlessly throughout the five songs.
I would be remiss not to mention the Second Place composition “Delilah” written by Christopher Gainey. Although, no mezzo included here (Darn!) This piece is an inherently seductive glimpse into the story. The guitar’s sonorities hinting at exotic locales while the lyrical lines of the flute soar above. I was captivated immediately in my own “Calgon, take me away” moment.
The ensemble ended the concert with Luciano Berio’s “Folk Songs” (1964.) I am convinced that Hendrickson could herd cats the way she elicits inspired tones from her ensemble. “Folk Songs” was full of subtle nuances, like the perfect lingering cello note at the end of “Black is the color,” that speak to the group’s unity under direction.
The Ligetisplit Ensemble with help from Lauren Maxwell and Alana Kolb certainly fulfilled their goals with New Music Exhibition. I not only enjoyed the music but cannot wait to follow-up with the winning composers.