New Music hits stage

Anthony Viola

There is nothing traditional about the New Music Ensemble. The sheet music resembles something closer to modern art, circles filled with images connected by lines.

Even the program, which resembles an origami fortune teller, embodies what the concert is all about.

“The New Music Ensemble is an exploration into the avant-garde, into the experimental,” Carrie Biolo, contingent music instructor and director, said.

This semester’s concert will take place 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 7 at Reynolds Recital Hall. Admission is free.

The New Music Ensemble was started three years ago by Elda Tate, Ph.D., and now finds itself under new direction. Biolo has picked up the reins to continue the tradition started by Tate.

“Our compositions this semester are all based on graphic notation,” Biolo said. “There’s no traditional modern notation—everything is some sort of a graph. The Morton Feldman piece is graphed out in boxes, and numbers within a box represent what sounds the musician is to make.”

“Bubbles” is “written” with different images or words within circles and it is up to the musician to determine what those images mean or sound like.

During “Bubbles” a projector will shine the “music” onto the wall, while the audience is doused in black.

A dance piece will accompany Feldman’s “Ixion,” and like the original, Biolo hasn’t and won’t see the dance until the night of the performance. 

“Feldman did the music, [Merce] Cunningham did the choreography and someone else did the costumes,” Biolo said, “And not until the performance did it all come together. That’s how I’ve been doing ‘Ixion,’ as much as possible.”

Bassist and English master’s student Ben Van Howe took percussion lessons with Biolo in middle and high school and was recruited by her to play in the New Music Ensemble.

“I think after playing traditional music for so long, I got sick of people being in tune,” Van Howe said. “Or, I got sick of the same old thing, I got sick of the clichés in pop music or classical music.”

“I didn’t want just the normal ‘I’m going to a concert and I’m going to experience something,’” Biolo said. “This is coming in and opening your ears to a new idea, something outside of the norm. Perhaps breaking rules, breaking all of those rules you’ve learned over and over again.”