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Contemporary Arts Week

Barry McNamara
03/28/2011
From April 1-10, Monmouth College will host several events as part of its first Contemporary Arts Week. Two concerts and two talks are free and open to the public.

Nonsemble 6, a professional contemporary music ensemble based in San Francisco, will present a concert on April 2 at 7:30 p.m. in the Kasch Performance Hall of the Dahl Chapel and Auditorium. The group includes cellist Anne Suda, daughter of MC faculty members David and Carolyn Suda.

The program will feature two masterworks of contemporary music: Messiaen’s “Quartet for the End of Time” and Schoenberg’s “Pierrot Lunaire.” Artwork created specifically for the concerts by assistant professor of art Tyler Hennings will be featured during the performance.

“This work is my painterly reaction to the meaning and context of Messiaen’s composition,” said Hennings. “I have not tried to illustrate the music; I have let the music influence the way I perceived light and color.”

“Quartet for the End of Time” was conceived and first performed in a German prison camp during World War II. The first performers were fellow prisoners with Messiaen at Stalag VII. A deeply devout Christian, Messiaen describes himself as a “theologian in music.”

“Pierrot Lunaire” is a dramatic, revolutionary atonal work that calls for a vocal soloist, the symbolist poetry of Albert Giraud and eight musical instruments orchestrated in various combinations. Composer Arnold Schoenberg led a vanguard to reconceive the basis of music and in so doing ushered onto the stage one of the most powerful and scandalous movements in 20th-century music.

Nonsemble 6 has most recently been invited to be ensemble-in-residence at the San Francisco New Music Collective. Last year, following concerts in Baltimore, a Kennedy Center debut and a West Coast tour, the group members served as artists-in-residence at the Astoria Music Festival in Oregon.

On April 3 at 2 p.m. in Dahl Chapel, Nonsemble 6 will be joined by composer-in-residence Dirk Stromberg and associate professor of music Ian Moschenross to present “The Tempest: Music Inspired by Shakespeare.”

In a concert juxtaposing old with new, Moschenross will perform Beethoven’s fiery piano sonata nicknamed “The Tempest.”

Is there a connection between the Beethoven sonata and Shakespeare’s play? Anton Schindler, Beethoven’s personal secretary and early biographer, wrote that when Beethoven was questioned about the meaning of the sonata, the composer replied, “Read ‘The Tempest.’”

Following the work, Nonsemble 6 will premiere “Deeper Than Ever Did Plummet Sound” by Stromberg, who is visiting Monmouth from his post at the School of the Arts (SOTA) in Singapore. He composed the work while creating the sound score for the college’s theatrical production of “The Tempest.”

An American improviser, composer and music technologist, Stromberg’s body of work explores dynamic interaction between performer, technology and performance practice, often questioning how performers interact and perceive technology in improvisation. Designing electronic instrument hardware and software is an integral part of the process and has led to the development of several instruments. His music has been performed in Europe, Asia and the U.S.

Nonsemble 6 and Stromberg will be on campus throughout Contemporary Arts Week, conducting a variety of master classes, workshops and classroom lectures for MC students from several departments.

Other events during Contemporary Arts Week will include two talks and the MC production of “The Tempest” on April 9-10 at Galesburg’s Orpheum Theatre. Ticket information for the Shakepeare play is available at www.theorpheum.org or by calling 309-342-2299.

MC faculty members David Suda and Tyler Hennings will present a faculty colloquium titled “Cultural Dissonances” on April 1 at 4 p.m. in the Barnes Electronic Classroom in Hewes Library.

Suda’s portion of the lecture outlines the revolutionary changes in style and thought occurring at the turn of the 20th century. That historical perspective provides a backdrop to the cultural clash that propelled Arnold Schoenberg’s music. Hennings will share aspects of the artistic process he used in creating the original paintings for “Quartet for the End of Time.”

Gary Phillips, dean of Wabash College and a professor in the school’s department of religion, will give a public lecture on April 4 at 7 p.m. in the Morgan Room in Poling Hall.

Titled “Icon of Loss: The Haunting of Child by Samuel Bak,” Phillips’ talk will focus on the iconic image of a child held at gunpoint, along with men, women and children cordoned by Nazi soldiers, and the paintings of holocaust survivor Samuel Bak.

Haunted by that photographic image and his personal experience of the Vilna cleansing, Bak has painted the Warsaw Ghetto boy more than 100 times. Painting after painting, in a visual stammering that seems incapable of resolving the loss, Bak’s rendering of the boy invites individuals to ask: Who is this child? What has he done? Who is responsible for him? What will become of him? What does he signify? What could we have done to save him?

Phillips has authored, co-authored and edited eight books, including “Bible and Ethics of Reading: The Postmodern Bible” and “The Holocaust and Other Genocides.” In addition, he has authored more than 60 articles, book chapters, exhibition catalogues, translations, dictionary and encyclopedias entries.

Contemporary Arts Week is sponsored by the departments of art, music, theatre, integrated studies, and philosophy and religious studies.