Archive for the ‘News’ Category

re-blog: Alabama Review from ArtsBham 2/7/2015

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

http://www.artsbham.com/review-sybarite5-plays-samford-revamps-concert-experience/

With no pre-announced program, picture taking encouraged, the first violinist clad in jeans and a large portion of the audience well under 30, regular classical music attendees might have wonder if they had arrived at the right venue Friday night.

They did, if they came to Brock Recital Hall to hear Sybarite5, the cutting-edge New York-based string quintet that is turning the concertgoing experience upside down. Even if it was the heart of classical repertoire you came to hear, you might have come away believers in the future of music.

Sybarite5 in Brock Recital Hall, Feb. 6, 2015

Sybarite5 in Brock Recital Hall, Feb. 6, 2015

This talented and congenial group could easily be placed among established touring ensembles of classical music. Individually they are virtuosos; as a group they meld seamlessly. They could thrill listeners with Schubert or Dvorak, and no doubt they have. But they also engage listeners in unique ways, effectively bridging the old and the modern, the stuffy and the popular.

Launching into Piotr Szewczyk‘s “The Rebel,” with its driving offset rhythms and jazzy slides, the stage was set for what would be a wild ride through the last half century of modern music – of many stripes. With Dan Visconti‘s “Black Bend,” they breathed new life into 12-bar blues, the upper strings contributing frenetic improvs. Shawn Conley‘s “Flight” is a musical vision of Hawaii as seen from a hang glider, softly depicting airy space. Its musical language is reminiscent of Argentine composer Astor Piazzolla‘s tango-inspired music, which would follow with a wistfully romantic arrangement of “Milonga del Angel,” parts of which might have been mistaken for late 19th century chamber music. “La Muerte del Angel” was the energetic tango that showcased, more than any other work on the concert, the quintet’s virtuosity, lyricism and oneness.

No concert of this kind would be complete without Radiohead, the British rock group headed by Jonny Greenwood, many of whose tracks easily lend themselves to classical interpretations. “Weird Fishes,” “15 Step” and “No Surprises” surfaced here, each sounding fresh and vibrant and ranging from intensely rhythmic to inward and reflective. In between were Jessica Meyer‘s “Getting Home,” a musical account of the composer’s anxiety to meet her son; and sojourns to the folk music of Armenia and Romania.

Read the artsBHAM preview story

On Thursday, Sybarite5 held one of its “New Music Idol” competitions at a Samford coffee house. Entries were submitted by eight Samford music composition students, and the winning and runner-up (by one vote) compositions were premiered here. Given the two-minute limitation for entries, they were rather remarkable. Kyle McGucken’s “MQ-1\9” – named for predator drones, may be the only musical composition with a backslash in its title. It ominously depicts the sounds of aircraft in low, rumbling strings, and channels the emotions of people on the ground with Middle Eastern modes. Brianna Ware’s “Sorrow and Rage of a Demigod” portrays Achilles’ reaction to the death of Patroclus in Homer’s “The Iliad.” Though stylistically worlds apart, each succinctly dove into a complex narrative. More from these young composers would be most welcome.

The encore, Sybarite5’s arrangement of a-ha‘s mid-1980s hit “Take on Me,” managed to insert a few bars of “Flight of the Bumblebee,” as a reminder that this group can do just about anything it sets its collective mind to.

——————-

SYBARITE5

Sami Merdinian and Sarah Whitney, violinists
Angela Pickett, violist
Laura Metcalf, cello
Louis Levitt, bassist

Friday, Feb. 6, 2015
Brock Recital Hall, Samford University
Presented by Samford Wright Signature Series

Setlist: Birmingham 2/6/2015

Saturday, February 7th, 2015

Sybarite5 Alabama Debut
Brock Recital Hall 7:30pm
Samford University
Birmingham Alabama

The Rebel- Piotr Szewczyk
Black Bend- Dan Visconti
Yann’s Flight- Shawn Conley
Milonga Del Angel- Piazzolla (arr. Bragato/syb5)
La Muerte Del Angel-
Piazzolla (arr. Bragato/syb5)
-
———————————————————————————————————-

15 Step- Radiohead (arr. Kim)
Two Armenian Folk Songs- Komitas
MQ:1/9- Kyle McGucken- (New Music Idol Winner)
Brianna Ware- The Sorrow and Rage of a Demigod (New Music Idol runner up)
Weird Fishes-Radiohead (arr. Kim)
Getting Home- Jessica Meyer
No Surprises- Radiohead (arr. Syb5)
Turceasca- Taraf De Haidouks (arr. Matt Van Brink)

*Encore: “Take on My Bumble Bee” (A-ha/Korsakov arr. Kim)

…Roll over Beethoven, tell Tschaikovsky the news.

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

Concert Review: String Ensemble Sybarite5 Sell Out Subculture
Sybarite5 are a game-changer in the chamber music world. A cynic might say that the chamber music world needs a change: what appeared to be a sold-out, mostly twentysomething crowd Sunday night at Subculture might have agreed. Maybe it’s Sybarite5’s imaginative, genre-defying programming that pulls a younger demographic. Or maybe it’s their obsession with Radiohead: their 2013 album of new arrangements of songs by that band is a landmark in art-rock, a genre they also embrace. Whatever the case, they drew raucous applause and screams for an encore that might not have been out of place in another century when string quintets were more common, but aren’t exactly what you come to expect in the more sedate confines of, say, Carnegie Hall.

The group – violinists Sami Merdinian and Sarah Whitney, violist Angela Pickett, cellist Laura Metcalf and bassist Louis Levitt – opened with the first of the Radiohead covers, 15 Step, reinventing it as a kinetic, almost funky piece with hints of a canon but also a lively country dance, some of the members beating out a rhythm on the bodies of their instruments. They followed with a contemporary piece, Dan Visconti’s Black Bend, which slowly came together as a blues and then drifted from the center again.

Merdinian’s Armenian-Argentinian heritage came to the forefront with a couple of Armenian folk songs, a plaintive lament and then a bracing dance from the Komitas catalog. They offered a rapturously tender take of Astor Piazzolla’s Milonga del Angel, but then reveled in another Piazzolla piece, Esqualo, bringing its shark-fishing narrative to life with a sinewy intensity. It was here especially that Levitt’s role made itself clear, driving the music with the power of a rock bassist.

There was also more Radiohead (a surrealistically pulsing take of Weird Fishes and a broodingly anthemic remake of No Surprises); Shawn Conley’s Yann’s Flight, a cinematic depiction of Hawaiian hang gliding; a tensely circular, cinematically crescendoing Jessica Meyer premiere, and a romp through a Taraf de Haidoucks Romany number that was as feral as it was majestic. They encored with an irresistibly droll mashup of the old 80s cheese-pop hit Take on Me with Flight of the Bumblebee. Anyone who thinks that chamber music is strictly for greybeards wasn’t at this show. Roll over Beethoven, tell Tschaikovsky the news.