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Phonochrome will offer two opportunities to listen to music by George Crumb

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Regular readers may recall that the new chamber ensemble Phonochrome made its debut this past Valentine’s Day with a program entitled Love at the End of the World. The founding members are pianist Allegra Chapman, cellist Laura Gaynon, and flutist Elizabeth Talbert. For the major work on their debut program, Chapman and Gaynon joined clarinetist Sophie Huet and violinist Cassandra Bequary for a performance of Olivier Messiaen’s “Quartet for the End of Time.”

Over the past few months, Phonochrome has turned its attention to an even more recent and equally ambitious composition, “Vox Balaenae” (voice of the whale) by George Crumb. This is a trio that will be performed by all of the founding members. However, Talbert will be performing on an electric flute, and Chapman will play an amplified piano with a variety of non-standard techniques. In addition, in the interest of achieving particular sonorities, Crumb has specified scordatura tuning for the cello.

The first opportunity to listen to Phonochrome perform “Vox Balaenae” will be in the Concerts at 405 Shrader series. Like all events in this series, the performance will begin at 7 p.m. (the aperitif hour), taking place on Friday, May 16. 405 Shrader is both the name and the address of the performance space, located at the corner of Shrader Street and Oak Street. Seating is extremely limited for these offerings. As a result, reservations are required following instructions on the 405 Shrader Web site. There is no charge, but donations are encouraged to show appreciation to the artists. A minimum of $10 per person is suggested.

This will be followed, at the end of the month, by a more extended program entitled Phonochromatism: A Sonic Journey through the Visible Light Spectrum. Phonochrome has joined the Guerilla Composers Guild (GCG) for this collaborative project. The program has been conceived as a study of the seven basic colors of the spectrum, with the blue color taken by “Vox Balaenae” as the conclusion. Each of the other six colors will be taken by a GCG composer as follows:

  • Red: Mark Ackerley, Infrared
  • Orange: Nick Benavides, “...none of us were overly concerned...” - an elegy for past and present victims of chemical warfare
  • Yellow: Nathan Campbell, Finch Kingdom
  • Indigo: Alex Christie, a 16.5 discrepancy
  • Violet: Matthias McIntire, Mackenzie Caverns
  • Green: Benjamin Pesetsky, An Illusory Image

(Yes, this is not the ordering of the spectrum; but adjustments had to be made to place Crumb at the conclusion.) For this concert the three Phonochrome musicians will be joined by violist Pei-Ling Lin and pianist Anne Rainwater.

This performance will take place at the Center for New Music (C4NM), 55 Taylor Street (about half a block north of the corner of Market Street). It will begin at 8 p.m. on Thursday, May 29. Tickets are $15 with a $10 rate for students and members of C4NM. Information about membership may be found on the Membership Web page of the C4NM Web site.

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