Thomas Bergeron, conductor
Matthew Gold, director
The Williams College Department of Music presents the Opus Zero Band and I/O Ensemble on Friday, May 13 at 8 p.m. in Chapin Hall on the Williams College campus. This free event is open to the public.
Ted Hearne's emotionally moving, genre-defying, award winning work Katrina Ballads will to be performed in its entirety by the Opus Zero Band. Featuring a chamber orchestra, a jazz/rock rhythm section, four vocal soloists, and a backup choir, the texts are taken from media personalities including George W. Bush, Kanye West, and Anderson Cooper in the days and weeks following the Hurricane Katrina disaster in New Orleans. Drawing eclectically from many American elements like blues, gospel, grunge, and electronic music, Hearne creates a rich New Orleans gumbo that challenges us to reflect upon and remember clearly not only the wrath of nature, but also the societal and political responses that ensued.
Thomas Bergeron directs the piece, realizing the plans of the ensembles late conductor, Steven Bodner, who was determined to present this work in its entirety after presenting selected movements last fall to great acclaim. The piece, as a response to great loss, is an appropriate and powerful tribute to Mr. Bodner, a great musician who left too soon.
I/O Ensemble will open the program with Bernhard Lang's DW 16: songbook I, in which the composer sets texts by Bob Dylan, Peter Hammill, Amon Düül 2, Dieter Sperl, and Robert Creeley over damaged beats, scratch loops, and scrambled rock and jazz grooves. These fragments of text act as splinters of a mirror, reflecting the original as a multiplicity. I/O Ensemble will feature the soprano Jennifer Ashe with Eric Hewitt, saxophones; Brian Simalchik '10, keyboards; Matthew Gold, percussion; and Orlando Cela, conductor.
The Opus Zero Band was formed four years ago (originally as Chamber Winds) to perform mostly new music for variable instrumentations, ranging from trios to chamber orchestra and everything in between. The late Music Director, Steven Dennis Bodner developed the ensemble’s identity as leading proponents of the performance of new music at Williams College. The ensemble has commissioned and premiered a number of works by contemporary composers, including Williams faculty and alumni. The Opus Zero Band performed at last spring's conference in West Chester, PA. Recently, Opus Zero Band has collaborated with MASS MoCA to present acclaimed work-in-progress performances of David Neumann's/Eve Beglarian's feedforward and Philip Miller's Hottentot Venus. The ensemble has been noted both for its adventurous and creative programming and for the quality of its performance, described as "astounding" by the Berkshire Advocate and "amazingly good" by composer Louis Andriessen.