IonSound projectJen and I went to the IonSound Project's debut concert last night; IonSound is a five-person chamber ensemble that plays contemporary music. The highlight of the evening was Patrick Burke's "Three Allusions," particularly the third movement, in which the musicians played simultaneous major and minor threads, just melting between tones, creating a really pleasant melodic tension. The piece contained second-order allusions: Each movement alluded to a composer who himself made allusions in his music (e.g. "a Stravinskyan approach to the tango, filtered through [Burke's] aesthetic"). The result was a lush, layered piece with great piano texture—experimental, but in the delightful sense of the word.
Also captivating was Jeremy Sment's "Global Life," in which the musicians accompanied audio recordings of people speaking in dozens of languages. Few notes overshadowed the English, Spanish, and Portuguese speakers, making their words easy to discern. But the clarinetist and violinist began a complimentary sing-song over a woman speaking Hindi, and percussionist Eliseo Rael accompanied a speaker in an African language, emphasizing with drum beats the beauty of the speaker's cadence, without requiring that we understand the words themselves.