The Tavel Arts Research Center recently completed a joint project to commission, premiere, and tour a new work by renown composer Christian Wolff. Moderate: After Stephan Wolpe (2015), a quartet of two pianos and two percussionists, was composed for and premiered by the Boston-based Calithumpian Consort in March 2015, at Boston’s famed Jordan Hall. This was followed in March-April with a four-city tour by the Consort to perform the work, in Atlanta GA, Chattanooga and Knoxville TN, and Indianapolis. Wolff, who turned 81 in 2015, was onhand at the Indianapolis concert, which performed in the Basile Theater at the Indiana Historical Society. The Calithumpian Consort also performed works by Bela Bartok and Lee Weisert during the tour. Consort members for the project included pianist and Consort Artistic Director Stephen Drury, pianist Yukiko Takagi, and percussionists Stuart Gerber and Scott Deal. Funding for the Callithumpian Consort-Christian Wolff tour project provided by the Institute for Arts and Humanities (IAHI) at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), the Donald Tavel Arts and Technology Research Center at IUPUI, New England Conservatory, Georgia State University, and the Yamaha Musical Instrument Corporation.
American composer Christian Wolff, who recently turned 80, was a primary force in a musical movement historically known as the New York School, consisting of composers who revolutionized music in the 20th century. Along with John Cage, Morton Feldman, and Earle Brown, Wolff helped to change the way musicians across a broad spectrum of genres think about composition and performance. Most profoundly, Wolff has impacted how classical musicians interpret their own craft. A particular feature of his music is the various freedoms it allows performers at the time of performance as well as the variable results possible for any one particular piece, for which various new notations have been invented. He has received awards and grants from the American Academy and National Institute of Arts and Letters, the Ford Foundation, DAAD Berlin, the Asian Cultural Council, the Fromm Foundation, the Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts (the John Cage Award for music) and the Mellon Foundation. He is a member of the Akademie der Kuenste in Berlin and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2004 he received an honorary Doctor of Arts degree from the California Institute of the Arts. Academically trained as a classicist, Wolff was professor of classics and music at Dartmouth College from 1971 to 1999.
Founded by pianist and conductor Stephen Drury in the 1980s, the Calithumpian Consort is a professional ensemble producing concerts of contemporary music at the highest standard. Flexible in size and makeup, its repertoire includes the classics of the last 100 years and new works in the avant-garde and experimental traditions. It is grounded in the musical discoveries of John Cage, Karlheinz Stockhausen, John Zorn, Giacinto Scelsi, Morton Feldman, and Iannis Xenakis. With grants from the Fromm Foundation, Meet the Composer, the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation and the French American Cultural Exchange, the Callithumpian Consort has commissioned new works from Christian Wolff, Tristan Murail, Chaya Czernowin Lee Hyla, Alvin Lucier and Lei Liang as well as a substantial number of younger composers. The Consort has also worked closely with John Cage, Steve Reich, Frederic Rzewski, Helmut Lachenmann, Michael Finnissy, Jonathan Harvey, John Zorn, John Luther Adams, Brian Ferneyhough, Jo Kondo, and many others.The Callithumpian Consort is primarily based at New England Conservatory in Boston. The Consort’s spring 2015 tour will see them premiering a new Christian Wolff work in Boston with subsequent performances in Atlanta, Chatanooga, Knoxville and Indianapolis. Indianapolis-based percussionist Scott Deal, who is a professor of music at IUPUI, will be performing with the Consort throughout the spring.