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Apr 25, 2017 7:00 PM






APRIL 25, 7-10:30PM in the Ballroom

Czech composer Petr Bakla collaborates with American pianist Joseph Kubera and the Momenta String Quartet to present the world premiere of the original piece Major Thirds as a part of the S.E.M. Ensemble’s program. 

(PLEASE NOTE: There will be a preview concert for this world premiere at a different location.
PREVIEW CONCERT: THE ORCHESTRA OF THE S.E.M. ENSEMBLE WITH SPECIAL GUEST MOMENTA STRING QUARTET will be performed on APRIL 24 at 8:30PM at the Willow Place Auditorium, Brooklyn. Tickets for this event are on sale at www.eventbrite.com. Petr Kotik conducts the S.E.M. Ensemble, a distinguished collective for new music, in a program full of world premieres and a preview of Petr Bakla’s composition.)



Muhal Richard Abrams, piano

Thomas Buckner, voice

Claire Chase, flute

Dana Jessen, bassoon

Joseph Kubera, piano

George Lewis, trombone

Roscoe Mitchell, saxophone


The Orchestra of the S.E.M. Ensemble

Roberta Michel, flute

Bohdan Hilash, clarinet

Sara Schoenbeck, bassoon

Thomas Verchot, trumpet

Chris Nappi, percussion

Conrad Harris, violin

Pauline Kim Harris, violin

Jessica McJunkins, violin

Tom Chiu, violin

Liuh-Wen Ting, viola

William Hakim, viola

Caleb van der Swaagh, cello

Meaghan Burke, cello

James Ilgenfritz, bass

Momenta String Quartet

Emilie-Anne Gendron, violin

Alex Shiozaki, violin

Stephanie Griffin, viola

Michael Haas, cello

George Lewis                           
Emergent  (2014)                                                                                  
Flute solo & 4-channel sound              

 Muhal Richard Abrams             
Trio Things (2016)
Muhal Richard Abrams, Tom Chiu, Meaghan Burke

I n t e r m i s s i o n

Jackson Mac Low                    
Is That Wool Hat My Hat? (1980)
4 Narrators

Christian Wolff                         
5 Songs (2017)                                                                                                                        
For Baritone and Orchestra
World premiere

Petr Kotik                                
Music for 3 (1964)                                                                                                                                      
In Memoriam Jan Rychlík

Roscoe Mitchell                        
Distant Radio Transmission (2017)    
For Saxophone, Voice, and Orchestra
World premiere                                                                                             

I n t e r m i s s i o n

Petr Bakla                                 
Major Thirds (2017)                     
String Quartet with Piano 
World premiere                      

George Lewis                            
Seismologic  (2017)                                 
Bassoon solo & 4-channel sound
World premiere

Group improvisation:                   
Muhal Richard Abrams, Roscoe Mitchell, George Lewis, Thomas Buckner, Joseph Kubera, Sara Schoenbeck

This performance has been made possible with the support of The Czech Center New York; the New York State Council on the Arts; New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, Inc.; The Phaedrus Foundation; and individual contributors. This event is also supported by Spyder Institute Praha.

Petr Bakla - Composer
Born in 1980 in Prague, Petr Bakla often employs basic pitch-based material (typically the chromatic and the whole-tone scales) in his compositions. He is interested in constructing situations and structural contexts in which these frugal musical elements can acquire a unique expressiveness and energy. A frequent feature of Bakla's work is a simultaneous course of two musical/sound layers which, although usually markedly differing in dynamics to allow for a sense of "figure and background", are not mutually subordinating - they are of equal importance, their "friction" creating specific tension and ambiguity.

Bakla's music has been performed in Austria, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Switzerland, Armenia, Ukraine and the United States (NYC, Boston, San Diego ao), in many cases commissioned and/or performed by distinguished musicians. Of special importance has been the collaboration with the Ostrava Center for New Music.

Major Thirds (2016) for piano and string quartet by Petr Bakla was commissioned jointly by Czech Center New York and the festival Ostrava Days 2017. It will be premiered in New York by Momenta Quartet and Joseph Kubera (for whom the piece was composed) and who will also perform it in Ostrava in August. The composer will participate in the preparation of the performance.

The composer states: “The tonal component of the piece exclusively consists of major thirds that establish a continuous sound surface undulating in chromatic shifts. Each section of the piece examines the constant tonal material at a different speed, a different density of texture, and with differing degree of blurring of the interval of major third. The piece is scored for string quartet and piano. While I sincerely like all instruments, I couldn’t deny that the piano and the strings have some kind of "puristic" quality for me, that I find very suitable for the explorations undertaken in the piece.”

Seismologic (2017), for bassoon and electronics, written for Dana Jessen, is the third in a series of works for solo instrument and computer sound processing. The first work in the series, Emergent (2014), for flute and electronics, written for Claire Chase, is also being performed this evening (Not Alone (2014), for cello and electronics, written for Seth Parker Woods, is the second in the series, and was performed at the S.E.M. Ensemble concert at the Bohemian National Hall in May 2016). Both works have been performed around the world to great acclaim. Seismologic was written with inspiration from Dr. Ben Holtzman, the musically oriented research seismologist at Columbia University.

All three works (EmergentNot AloneSeismologic) explore a recombinant sensibility, using interactive digital delays, spatialization, and timbre transformation to create a musical dance of agency among multiple instrumentalists following diverse yet intersecting spatial trajectories. The electronics and the instrument blend, intersect, and ultimately diverge into multiple digital personalities that can suddenly converge into unified ensembles. The software for all three works was written by Damon Holzborn.  – George Lewis

About Trio Thing, Muhal Richard Abrams states: “I view the trio as a new performance horizon. It was first performed last year during the AACM seasonal concert series on October 28, 2016. I organized the trio for that purpose. The artistic cohesion that took place inspired me to go further with the trio.”

Often described as the “father of the avant-garde jazz piano,” Muhal Richard Abrams (1930) co-founded the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM). Richard Abrams played an important role in the development of new concepts in jazz and its shift towards identification as “classical music.” He inspired and encouraged groups and musicians such as the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Anthony Braxton, Eddie Harris, Clifford Jordan, George Lewis, and many others.

Is That Wool Hat My Hat? by Jackson Mac Low (1922-2004) is a sound poem for four performers composed in April, 1980, inspired by an incident which Mac Low had with Richard Kostelanetz at the Sound Poetry Festival at Washington Square Church in New York. They both attended the event wearing similar wool hats. Kostelanetz lost his hat and Mac Low ended up holding it. When Kostelanetz saw his hat, he asked Mac Low, “Is that wool hat my hat?” The rhythm and delivery of the question inspired Mac Low to compose the piece later that night in a manner that he often described as controlled chance. Jackson Mac Low was a sound poet and composer who participated in the avant-garde downtown New York scene from its start in the 1960s. Starting in the late 70s, Mac Low frequently performed his works with the S.E.M. Ensemble.

Music for 3 (In Memoriam Jan Rychlík) was composed in early 1964 in Vienna, where Kotik was studying composition at the Music Academy. It was premiered by Kotik’s own group, the Musica viva pragensis, at the Warsaw Autumn festival in September ’64, where it caused an immense scandal. During the performance of Music for 3, a large part of the audience left the auditorium in protest while some others tried to disrupt the performance. The basic compositional concept combines consciously driven steps with chance that remain in Kotik’s focus today, although with many changes and refinements.

About Distant Radio Transmission (2017), Roscoe Mitchell writes: “the piece is in fact a transcription of improvisations by Craig Taborn, Kikanju Baku and myself from the two trio CD’s, Conversations I and II. I have orchestrated these transcriptions for orchestra, chamber orchestra, string quartet, woodwind quintet, brass quintet, etc. Some of these compositions are standalone pieces and others include an improvisational element along with the notated music. Distant Radio Transmission for orchestra is a work that features Thomas Buckner and myself as improvisers with the orchestra.


Please arrive at least five minutes prior to showtime. Empty seats will be released to standby patrons at that time.
To RSVP for other events please visit www.czechcenter.com.



Bohemian National Hall, 321 East 73rd Street
NY 10021 New York
United States


Apr 25, 2017 7:00 PM


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