Contemporary Classical Music
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      Recent Programs

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      The Art of Spoken Word

      It takes fine craftsmanship to achieve a perfect partnership between text and music in which neither element overshadows the other. This week, we’ll listen to a fascinating array of spoken word and music by composers striving to achieve this symmetry.

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      Image Credit: Alex Delfanne

      Image Credit: Alex Delfanne

      What is Wandelweiser?

      Originally a German musical creation, Wandelweiser is a kind of extreme minimalism that is fast becoming popular with composers around the world. We talk with two of its creators, Jürg Frey and Eva-Maria Houben, about the phenomenal growth of this movement. Jürg Frey: More or Less Normal a.pe.ri.od.ic 5:37 Frey: 60 Pieces of Sound (excerpt) […]

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      In the Field Estonia: Arvo Pärt Centre

      Mystical Minimalist Arvo Pärt is one of the most significant composers in the 20th and 21st centuries, and in this program we’ll travel across the Baltic to Estonia to visit his musical homeland and talk with the people curating his music.

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      Starting From Scratch

      This week’s Relevant Tones focuses on composers who have tried to step outside the box, redefine their definitions of music, and start over without limitations. We’ll be examining the works of Alvin Lucier, Chris Preissing, James Tenney, Lou Harrison, and more.

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      Modern Concerto

      The ultimate instrumental showcase, the concerto has inspired composers to torture performers for hundreds of years, relentlessly pushing their physical capabilities. Now that performers have virtually no limits on their technique, how are composers innovating this storied form?

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      Crossing Barriers

      A big trend in the 2000’s saw contemporary music ensembles commissioning composers not to write new pieces for them but to arrange music by pop artists. We’ll listen to music from two such collaborations: Alarm Will Sound performing arrangements of electronic musician Aphex Twin and Osso Quartet’s arrangements of indie pop superstar Sufjan Stevens.

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      In the Field: Finland, Part II

      Part II of our field trip to Finland features more interviews and performances of music by leading and emerging composers from this incredible musical hotbed.

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      In the Field: Finland, Part I

      The next installment of In the Field brings us to a country that has exported a dizzying list of big name composers and conductors in the last couple of decades: Finland. We’ll talk with established composers and rising stars about their music and the lasting influence of the Sibelius Academy.

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      Christopher Rouse

      Composer Spotlight: Christopher Rouse

      For many years the composer-in-residence with the NY Philharmonic, Christopher Rouse combines neoromanticism with hard driving, rock-inspired rhythms to create a fascinating musical style all his own.

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      Host Seth Boustead at the 2014 Thirsty Ear Festival.  Photo by Elliot Mandel.

      The Thirsty Ear Festival (syndicated release)

      The syndicated release of Relevant Tones’ annual live contemporary music festival, recorded July 12, 2014 at City Winery in Chicago. Performers include Fonema Consort, Gaudete Brass, and Graham Reynolds.

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      Foster the Music: Ireland

      The Contemporary Music Centre in Ireland is one of the world’s foremost models of government support for composers, with dozens of composers receiving financial support, commissions and travel grants. We plunge into the incredible wealth of music created by this program.

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      Foster the Music: Darmstadt

      One of the world’s most famous new music festivals has been held in Darmstadt since 1946. We’ll trace the festival from its beginnings through modern times and feature some of the seminal works that were premiered there.

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      Modern Virtuoso: Pianist Kathleen Supové

      One of America’s most acclaimed and versatile contemporary music pianists, performance artist and keyboardist Kathleen Supové is known for breaking boundaries between audience and performer and for her multimedia performances as the “Exploding Piano”.

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      Finding the Bridge

      Founded in 1981 by enterprising guitarist and tireless contemporary music promoter David Starobin, Bridge Records was one of the first-ever contemporary music labels and is still going strong today.

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      The 2014 Thirsty Ear Festival (live WFMT broadcast)

      Relevant Tones’ annual live broadcast returns with a live, 2-hour broadcast from City Winery. Performers include Fonema Consort, Gaudete Brass, and Graham Reynolds.

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