Classical Notes | David Weininger

BU Center for New Music hosts IRCAM, Beat Furrer residencies

Henrik Olund

A residency by IRCAM, one of the most important institutions in the European avant-garde, highlights the fourth season of Boston University’s Center for New Music. Founded by Pierre Boulez in 1977, IRCAM, the Institute for Research and Coordination in Acoustics/Music, was a pioneering site for electronic and electroacoustic music, and is still a major hub for the intersection of music and technology.

IRCAM is sending what the school described as “a team of scientific, pedagogical, and production staff to Boston” for its weeklong engagement, which includes lectures and demonstrations, a scientific conference on audio research, and a two-concert mini-festival at the Institute of Contemporary Art, featuring music by Boulez, Tristan Murail, Jonathan Harvey, and Harvard’s Chaya Czernowin (April 28 and 29).

Also on the ICA programs is the Swiss-born Austrian composer Beat Furrer — himself the subject of a three-week Center residency that will overlap with IRCAM’s. A highly regarded creator of works of intense and theatrical gestures, Furrer is also the founder of one of Europe’s most important new-music ensembles, Klangforum Wien. His residency will include a concert devoted to his works by New York’s Argento Chamber Ensemble (April 16) and the US premiere of “Zwei Studien” for chamber orchestra, in a performance by the Boston University Symphony Orchestra at Symphony Hall (April 26).


“For me personally, being able to bring IRCAM, where I spent so much of my time as an artist, to Boston for the first time in 30 years is really important,” said Joshua Fineberg, the Center’s director, in a statement from the university. “Beat Furrer also represents exactly the kind of visiting artist we want to host: someone who is both an extraordinary artist and teacher and someone who would not normally be available to students at an American university.”

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Other noteworthy events in the Center’s season include return visits by the JACK Quartet (Nov. 16-18, April 28-29) and Boston’s own Sound Icon, which performs a program of works by American composers on Nov. 12. Chicago’s Ensemble Dal Niente ensemble brings recent works from Austria and Germany on Dec. 9. And though the Center’s activity usually centers on contemporary European traditions, it will also host short residencies by two composers outside that tradition: Nico Muhly (March 17-18) and Philip Grange (Feb. 9 and 23).

A season in memory

The Newton-based New Philharmonia Orchestra has announced new leadership as well as its new season. It has appointed Venezuelan conductor Francisco Noya as artistic adviser; Noya succeeds Ronald Knudsen, the former Boston Symphony Orchestra violinist who led the New Philharmonia since its formation in 1995. Knudsen died in March at 83, and the NPO’s season, its 21st, is dedicated to his memory. BSO cellist Sato Knudsen, the conductor’s son, will be soloist with the orchestra at its performances of Schumann’s Cello Concerto Feb. 27 and 28.

And more . . .

Several other local ensembles have recently announced their offerings for the coming season:

Chameleon Arts Ensemble opens its 18th season Oct. 10 and 11 with a program focusing on modern appropriations of Baroque styles and devices, including Elliott Carter’s landmark Sonata for Flute, Oboe, Cello, and Harpsichord alongside works by Shostakovich, Stravinsky, Saint-Saens, and Per Norgard. The Baroque era is a touchstone for much of the rest of the season, and Dec. 5 and 6 the ensemble presents all six of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos, with the noted Bach pianist Sergey Schepkin playing harpsichord.


Grand Harmonie is a period wind ensemble based in Boston and Princeton, N.J. Among the notable concerts in its fourth season are a performance of Mozart’s Requiem in the completion by Robert Levin (Nov. 1 at Harvard’s Memorial Church) and what the ensemble claims is the first period-instrument semi-staged performance of Beethoven’s opera “Fidelio” in the United States. (Jan. 23 in Princeton)

Not content with just a theme, the early-music group Musicians of the Old Post Road is adopting a color as the guiding thread of its four-concert season: green, to be precise. The hue’s connotations range from the evergreen that marks a holiday concert (Dec. 5 and 6) to youthful works (March 11 and 12) to envy, the last a program of tempestuous cantatas by Hasse and Ristori, with the soprano Lianne Coble (April 22 and 24).

Finally, the Boston Camerata’s first 2015-16 offering is its “Nueva Espana” program, focusing on the commingling of Spanish music with African and American cultures (Oct. 3 and 4). The season’s final concert, “The American Vocalist,” continues the early-music ensemble’s explorations of early American hymnody (May 22).

David Weininger can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @davidgweininger.