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Wooden Cities to bring ‘new’ new music to Slee stage

Wooden Cities music ensemble

The novel music ensemble Wooden Cities will present the inaugural Muriel Wolf and Albert Steger Endowment Concert on Feb. 7 in Lippes Concert Hall. Photo: Megan Metté

By PATRICIA DONOVAN

Published January 16, 2014

You'll know it’s new music because it features the work of Lejaren Hiller, Lukas Foss, Allen Sapp and emerging young composers and performers whose innovative work refers to paradigm-changing music of their own time.

That’s what's on the program when the exciting and novel music ensemble Wooden Cities presents the inaugural Muriel Wolf and Albert Steger Endowment Concert, a free public event sponsored by the UB Music Library, at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 7 in Lippes Concert Hall in Slee Hall, North Campus.

The group also will present a “Brown Bag Preview” of the program at 12:05 p.m. Feb. 4 in Lippes Concert Hall. That also is free and open to the public.

Wooden Cities is a performance ensemble and collective with strong ties to the UB program in music composition. It is dedicated to increasing awareness of contemporary classical music in Western New York and to that end, the program will feature recently composed pieces and reconstructions of work representing Buffalo’s rich history in new music.

The Feb. 7 program will include work by composers Foss and Sapp, who directed the UB Center of the Creative and Performing Arts (1963-80); pioneering American composer Hiller, a member of the UB music faculty from 1968-89; flutist and composer Anton Wolf, a member of the music faculty at Buffalo State College for many years; and noted modernist composer Jeffrey Stadelman, associate professor of music composition and chair of the UB Department of Music.

The program also will include compositions by members of Wooden Cities: Esin Gunduz, Nathan Heidelberger and Zane Merritt, all PhD candidates in composition in the UB Department of Music; UB music alumnus Brendan Fitzgerald, who directs the collective; and pianist/composer Michael McNeill.

Wooden Cities is known for its unique performances of work by noted composers, new composers and what they consider to be neglected composers of the 20th century.

The band features guitarists, hornists, vocalists, pianists, a cellist, a violinist and a performer of electronic music, several of whom are composers as well. Members have said they considers the group’s true predecessors to be the DIY (literally “do it yourself”) communities of the profoundly influential No Wave scene of the 1970s and the fast, heavy, abrasive “hardcore music” of the 1980s, both of which represent the democratization of music-making and music-listening.

The performance will be sponsored by an endowment from the late Muriel Wolf, a member of the UB music faculty from 1965 to 1993 and director of the very successful UB Opera Studio, and her late husband, Albert Steger, a musician with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra for 31 years. The endowment was established to produce concerts of music by Buffalo composers.