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Ensemble Signal back for second week of CAI residency

Ensemble Signal will conclude its residency with the Creative Arts Initiative with an all-Steve Reich concert. Photo: Ryan Jenkins

By SUE WUETCHER

Published April 26, 2016

New music “dream team” Ensemble Signal will be back at UB next week — and how — taking on an ambitious slate of 20 performances and educational activities in five days throughout Western New York during a residency with UB’s new Creative Arts Initiative.

Next week’s visit — the second week of a two-week residency at UB — begins with two community concerts on May 1 and concludes with an all-Steve Reich concert on May 5.

The Reich concert, the centerpiece event of the residency, features a program that highlights more than 40 years of Reich’s pioneering work, ranging from “Clapping Music” (1972) to “Radio Rewrite” (2012), based on songs of Radiohead.

Another highlight of the residency is a series of popup concerts during the noon hour on May 2 on the North Campus. These concerts, taking place from 12:30-1 p.m., will feature a mini-flash mob of one or two musicians from Signal performing for between three and 15 minutes, depending on the musical selections.

Events are free and open to the public.

The first week of Ensemble Signal’s CIA residency took place in February. During that week, the musicians interacted with UB students in a variety of ways, and performed a public concert, “Performance in the Dark.” That concert featured Signal musicians in a unique performance of Georg Friedrich Haas’ “String Quartet no. 3” — performed entirely from memory in total darkness.

On-campus residencies by world-class performing artists like Ensemble Signal are a key element of the CAI, a pioneering initiative exploring creative expression in innovative ways that reach beyond studios and performance spaces and into all aspects of the university and Western New York community.

The aim of these residencies is to “increase opportunities for students to interact with working professionals in the field,” according to Cynthia Stewart, managing director of the CAI.

Ensemble Signal is the first artists-in-residence for the CAI. Often described as New York City’s new-music “supergroup,” Signal is a flexible group of gifted and innovative young musicians who combine the intimacy of chamber music with the power of a compact orchestra. Its size and instrumentation range from solo to large contemporary ensemble to meet the demands of its diverse repertoire. Signal performs under the musical direction of Brad Lubman, who founded the group along with co-artistic director Lauren Radnofsky.

The schedule for the second week of Ensemble Signal’s UB residency:

  • May 1: Community concert, 3 p.m., Concerned Ecumenical Ministry, 286 Lafayette Ave, Buffalo. Signal teams up with UB students and faculty to perform drumming of all kinds — on bongos, cellos and even flowerpots. The concert is co-presented by CAI and Buffalo String Works, a nonprofit, after-school music program serving refugee and immigrant families.

The program:

Steve Reich: “Clapping Music“ (1972).

Ken Thomson: “New work for Percussion“ (2015).

David Lang: “Stuttered Chant“ (2011).

Caroline Shaw: “Boris Kerner“ (2012).

Steve Reich: “Drumming: Part 1“ (1970-71).

  • May 1: Community concert, 7 p.m., Fox Run in Orchard Park, 5689 Big Tree Road, Orchard Park. This event is open to Fox Run residents only. Ensemble Signal performs a program of music by J.S. Bach, as well as contemporary pieces.

The program:

J.S. Bach: “Allemande, Double from violin Partita in b minor.“

Caleb Burhans: “Remembrance“ (2015).

Caroline Mallonée: “Crossings“ (2006).

J.S. Bach: “Selections from violin Partita in E Major.

Louis Andriessen: Selections from “Xenia (2005).

Bela Bartok: Selections from “Duets for 2 Violins.

  • May 2: Popup concerts, 12:30-1 p.m., various locations on the North Campus. Ensemble Signal musicians will perform 15 micro concerts. The schedule can be found by joining the CAI’s Twitter feed or Facebook page.
  • May 3: Workshop performance of Terry Riley’s “In C” (1964) in the UB Student Union lobby. Ensemble Signal and UB students will come together for a side-by-side workshop performance of Riley’s hour-long, minimal masterpiece that arguably marks the birth of minimalist music. Any UB community members who can read music and play an instrument or sing can join in, coming and going as they please.
  • May 4, Community workshop and performance for children at Buffalo String Works. This event is closed to the public. Signal will lead an interactive workshop performance of “In C” with students from Buffalo String Works, as well as offer some short, solo performances. Co-presented by CAI and Buffalo String Works.
  • May 5: Steve Reich Celebration, 7:30 p.m., Lippes Concert Hall in Slee Hall, North Campus. Tickets required and are available free of charge online. Ensemble Signal is renowned for its interpretations of Reich’s music; this concert features performances of “Clapping Music” (1972), “New York Counterpoint” (1985), “Quartet” (2013), “Triple Quartet” (1998) and “Radio Rewrite” (2012).