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Classical Notes

Konvergence brings new music to Cambridge

Konvergence Ensemble, which will play in Cambridge on Sunday, is affiliated with Konvergence, a collective of young Czech composers formed in 2002.

ONDREJ MELECKY

Konvergence Ensemble, which will play in Cambridge on Sunday, is affiliated with Konvergence, a collective of young Czech composers formed in 2002.

There’s enough contemporary music activity in Boston that it can be hard to keep track of the home-grown ensembles. Even so, it’s worth taking note of a new-music group that will shortly slip into town.

The Lilypad, in Inman Square, will host the first full-length concert by Konvergence, a collective of young Czech composers. According to Tomáš Pálka, one of its cofounders, the group was formed in 2002 by composition students at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. Its aim was “to bring to Czech podiums new ideas of musical thinking, new pieces by Czech composers, or foreign composers who were never performed” in the Czech Republic, he wrote in an e-mail.

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“We wanted to bring new experiences after the eternal carousels of Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, and all the Romantic-era [composers] which were, and unfortunately still are, dominant on Czech podiums.” That directive included not only new compositions by its members but also works from mid-to-late-20th-century composers — Xenakis, Ligeti, Messiaen, among others — that were still unfamiliar there.

According to Pálka, Konvergence has no particular stylistic dictates for the music it presents. More important, he wrote, is that its concerts are “complex and dramaturgically interconnected, so that all the pieces played have their importance not only as separate pieces, but in a meaningful relation to the other compositions as well.”

Those interconnections are apparent on the concert that its affiliated group of performers, Konvergence Ensemble, will present at the Lilypad. The program, titled “Mountains — Silence — Fragile,” explores the relationships between sound and silence. There are works by three Konvergence composers, Pálka, Ondrej Štochl, and Michaela Plachká. Pálka’s own “Simple Silence” arose from a visit to Stalag VIII-A, the German prisoner-of-war camp where Messiaen was imprisoned during World War II.

Also on the program are works by two Boston composers, Hubert Ho and Chao-Jan Chang. Ho, who teaches at Northeastern University, said by e-mail that he first met the members of Konvergence during a Fulbright scholarship in Prague several years ago. Rounding out the bill is a pair of modern classics: Helmut Lachenmann’s “Dal Niente” for solo clarinet and a portion of Morton Feldman’s “The Viola in My Life,” for viola and piano.

The group planned its US trip around an appearance at APAP, a global performing arts conference in New York, at which it will play an abbreviated concert. It will also play a show at Spectrum, a music venue on the Lower East Side. Asked what he hoped the collective might achieve in its trip, Pálka mentioned “new possibilities for common work between European and American composers and ensembles. We have a lot of such experiences with ensembles in Europe. . . . Now we would like to make a ‘longer bridge,’ hoping that we find new inspirations for all of us.”

Levin concert rescheduled

Harvard University has rescheduled a recital by pianist Robert Levin for Jan. 26. The Sanders Theatre concert was originally scheduled for last March, intended to commemorate both the 20th anniversary of Levin’s appointment to the Harvard faculty and the final year of his teaching there. (He is currently on leave and will retire at the end of the academic year.) An authority in new music, he will perform a selection of works commissioned for or premiered by him, including Bernard Rands’s “12 Preludes,” John Harbison’s Second Piano Sonata, Hans Peter Türk’s “Träume,” and two pieces by Yehudi Wyner. Free tickets will be available at the Harvard Box Office beginning Jan. 12.

www.music.fas.harvard.edu/calendar.html#levin

Shifrin cancels

A Jan. 28 concert that was to have brought together clarinetist David Shifrin, mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke, and the piano quartet Opus 1 has been canceled. The Celebrity Series of Boston announced the cancellation, which was due to Shifrin’s shoulder injury and subsequent surgery. The concert was to have included the local premiere of a new work written for these forces by Lowell Liebermann.

David Weininger can be reached at globeclassicalnotes@gmail.com.
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