When COVID-19 restrictions hit, we at yMusic found ourselves suddenly far apart from one another, flung across the country in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Long Island, Connecticut, and California. Faced with this new physical hurdle, we worked hard to maintain close creative contact, meeting weekly on Zoom and puzzling through ideas and modes of collaboration. We never would have chosen this past year apart, but we are super proud of finding our creative groove together, writing group compositions and recording our parts remotely.
This Cal Performances debut features six group compositions, written in three different ways: pieces completed together before the pandemic, pieces initiated together and completed remotely, and pieces generated entirely remotely during the pandemic. To showcase these works, we have teamed up with filmmaker Jeremy Robins. Jeremy worked with each member of the group to film us on our smart phones, creating visuals that showcase our remote process as well as themes from the music in incredibly creative and engaging ways. Being a collaborative ensemble, it’s been a joy to have yet another creative brain in the mix!
Our program starts with music by two longtime yMusic collaborators, Gabriella Smith and Andrew Norman. Both of these composers give so much of themselves to their work—the music is immediate, unexpected, physical, and a blast to play. We will present and then dive deep into these pieces in conversation with composer Andrew Norman.
About the Artist
yMusic, “six contemporary classical polymaths who playfully overstep the boundaries of musical genres” (The New Yorker), performs in concert halls, arenas, and clubs around the world. Founded in New York City in 2008, the ensemble believes in presenting excellent, emotionally communicative music, regardless of style or idiom. As “one of the groups that has really helped to shape the future of classical music,” (Fred Child, NPR’s Performance Today), its virtuosic execution and unique configuration (string trio, flute, clarinet, and trumpet) has attracted the attention of high profile collaborators—from Paul Simon to Bill T. Jones to Ben Folds—and inspired original works by some of today’s foremost composers, including Nico Muhly, Missy Mazzoli and Andrew Norman.
Last season, yMusic debuted a major new work, Difference, by Grawemayer- and Grammy-winning composer Andrew Norman, set out on a US tour with singer-songwriter Bruce Hornsby, and released Ecstatic Science, its fourth full-length album. The recording, one of Pitchfork’s “6 New Albums You Should Listen to Now,” features music by Missy Mazzoli, Gabriella Smith, Paul Wiancko, and Caroline Shaw. Pitchfork praised the group for its “excellent taste in collaborating with composers” and for creating an album of “fluidly engaging” work. Due to global pandemic restrictions, ensemble members took the 2020–21 season to work on their own collaborative compositions, which they recorded remotely. The ensemble plans to release an album of original work in late 2021.
Other recent highlights include a sold-out show at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall, a collaborative album release with The Staves on Nonesuch Records, a recording of “God Only Knows” with John Legend for the Grammy Awards, and summer appearances at the Sarasota Music Festival and Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts. yMusic is also featured on “You’ve Got Time” by Regina Spektor, the main title theme for the final season of Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black.
yMusic’s other recordings include 2017’s First, 2014’s Balance Problems, and 2011’s Beautiful Mechanical, selected by Time Out New York as the “#1 Classical Record of the Year.” In addition to performing its own repertoire, yMusic serves as a ready-made collaborative unit for bands and songwriters, and has lent its distinctive sound to dozens of albums, including In the Blue Light by Paul Simon, with whom the group appeared on Saturday Night Live. yMusic also toured arenas, amphitheaters, and outdoor festivals across the globe as featured guests on Paul Simon’s Homeward Bound: The Farewell Tour.
Multi-instrumentalist Hideaki Aomori has established a unique career as a freelance performer and educator. Equally comfortable in orchestral, new music, pop, and jazz settings, he enjoys a diverse range of performances in New York City and around the world. Aomori has collaborated with a variety of artists including Tito Puente, Sir Roland Hanna, Duncan Sheik, the Moscow Chamber Orchestra, Ron Carter, St. Vincent, Gabriel Kahane, Orchestre de Chambre Miniature, Sean Lennon, Spoon, Harper Simon and Holly Brook. His multifaceted performing career has taken him to many places around the globe, including Asia, Australia, and Europe.
“An intense player who connects to music naturally, without artifice, and brings a singing line to the cello” (The Oregonian), Gabriel Cabezas is one of America’s most sough-after young musicians. Combining a superb technique, intellectual curiosity, and a pioneering musical spirit, he is at home in front of an orchestra, performing with a singer-songwriter, or sharing the stage with a dance troupe.
As a trumpet player, French hornist, arranger, and keyboard player, C.J. Camerieri has enjoyed an active, diverse, and exciting career since completing his classical trumpet training at Juilliard in 2004. An indispensable collaborator for numerous indie rock groups as a performer, arranger, improviser, and soloist, Camerieri has won two Grammys as a member of Bon Iver for the band’s sophomore record, which reached gold status. He is a co-founder of yMusic.
In the last decade, Rob Moose has emerged as one of the most sought-after instrumentalists and arrangers of his generation. As violinist and guitarist, he has toured with Antony & the Johnsons, Sufjan Stevens, Glen Hansard, Blake Mills, and Beth Orton. In 2011, Moose joined Bon Iver, writing arrangements and recording strings for the group’s sophomore album. Highlights of that experience include four sold-out concerts at Radio City Music Hall, an appearance on Saturday Night Live, a Gold record, and two Grammy wins, for “Best New Artist” and “Best Alternative Album.”
Violist Nadia Sirota’s varied career spans solo performances, chamber music, curation, and broadcasting. In all branches of her artistic life, she aims to open classical music up to a broader audience. Sirota’s singular sound and expressive execution have served as muse to dozens of composers, including Nico Muhly, Bryce Dessner, Missy Mazzoli, Daníel Bjarnason, Judd Greenstein, Marcos Balter, and David Lang. Sirota’ won a 2015 Peabody Award, broadcasting’s highest honor, for her podcast Meet the Composer, “the world’s best contemporary classical music podcast” (Pitchfork), which deftly profiles some of the most interesting musical thinkers living today.
Alex Sopp is a musician and artist living in Brooklyn. The flutist of yMusic, The Knights, and NOW Ensemble, her playing has been praised as “exquisite” and “beautifully nuanced” by the New York Times. Comfortable in many genres, Sopp has commissioned, premiered, and recorded with some of the most exciting composers and songwriters of our time.
Andrew Norman (b. 1979) is a composer, educator, and advocate for the music of others. Recently praised as “the leading American composer of his generation” by the Los Angeles Times, and “one of the most gifted and respected composers of his generation” by the New York Times, he has established himself as a significant voice in American classical music.
Norman’s work draws on an eclectic mix of sounds and performance practices. By turns experimental and traditional, lyrical and thorny, intimate and epic, rigorously structured and freely intuitive, his music casts a wide sonic and conceptual net in order to explore, reflect, challenge, and address the experiences of our own time. Norman believes in the transformative energy of live performance, and he is often drawn to performative acts that harness the beauty, power, and fragility of risk.
Norman has collaborated with leading ensembles worldwide, including the Berlin, Los Angeles, and New York Philharmonics and the Philadelphia and Minnesota Orchestras; and his music has been championed by some of classical music’s eminent conductors, including John Adams, Marin Alsop, Gustavo Dudamel, Simon Rattle, and David Robertson.
Norman is the recipient of numerous honors and accolades. He has twice been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; he was Musical America’s 2017 Composer of the Year; and he won the 2017 Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition. Norman has served as Composer-in-Residence with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Opera Philadelphia, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and the Utah Symphony. His large-scale orchestral work Play was described in the New York Times as a “breathtaking masterpiece,” and “a revolution in music.” Norman’s recent orchestral work, Sustain, was lauded as “a new American masterpiece” by the New Yorker and earned Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic a Grammy for their Deutsche Grammophon recording.
Gabriella Smith is a composer and environmentalist. She grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, playing and writing music, hiking, backpacking, and volunteering on a songbird research project. Whether for orchestras, chamber ensembles, voices, or electronics, her music comes from a love of play, exploring new sounds on instruments, building compelling musical arcs, and connecting listeners with the natural world. Recent highlights include the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s performances of Tumblebird Contrails, conducted by John Adams; and the Aizuri Quartet’s recording of Carrot Revolution on its Grammy-nominated debut album Blueprinting. She recently recorded her first full-length album, Lost Coast, with cellist Gabriel Cabezas at Greenhouse Studios in Iceland, to be released later this year on Bedroom Community.
Opus 3 Artists
348 West 57th Street, Suite 282
New York, NY 10019
Video Credits for Gabriella Smith’s Maré
Jesse Johnson, Director
Brian Joseph, Sound Engineer
Mack Hastings and Ben Kreibich, Camera Operator
Filmed on location at Hive Studio, Eau Claire, WI
Video Credits for Andrew Norman’s Caught
Caught in the Chamber
Nathan Johnson, Director
Choreography by Jennifer McQuiston Lott, with contributions by the dancers: Alyssa Allen, Trevor Daw, Beau Foley, Mary Mallaney, Brianna Mims, Jessica Muszynski, Eleanor Pincus, Evan Sagadencky, Kaylin Sturtevant, Jake Tribus, Adam Vesperman, Madison Vomastek, Megan Yamashita
Special thanks to USC Kaufman School of Dance and Cathy Buchan, Ruth Eliel, Jud & Laura Crane, Jeffrey de Caen, Carole King, Jerry Kohl, Kevin Korn, Fred & Lynda Lott, Ryan Lott, Bob & Susie McQuiston, Alvaro Montelongo, Kathy & Jim Policaro, Kathryn Shirley, Ed & Tamara Vomastek, Brent Whitney
For Cal Performances at Home
Tiffani Snow, Producer
Jeremy Little, Technical Director
Jeremy Robins, Executive Video Producer
For Future Tense Media
Jesse Yang, Creative Director
For Cal Performances
Jeremy Geffen, Executive and Artistic Director
Kelly Brown, Executive Assistant to the Director
Andy Kraus, Director of Strategy and Administration
Calvin Eng, Chief Financial Officer
Rafael Soto, Finance Specialist
Marilyn Stanley, Finance Specialist
Gawain Lavers, Applications Programmer
Ingrid Williams, IT Support Analyst
Sean Nittner, Systems Administrator
Katy Tucker, Director of Artistic Planning
Robin Pomerance, Artistic Administrator
Taun Miller Wright, Chief Development Officer
Elizabeth Meyer, Director of Institutional Giving
Jennifer Sime, Associate Director of Development, Individual Giving
Jamie McClave, Individual Giving and Special Events Officer
Jocelyn Aptowitz, Major Gifts Associate
EDUCATION AND COMMUNITY PROGRAMS
Rica Anderson, Interim Director, Artistic Literacy
Judy Hatch, Human Resources Director
Shan Whitney, Human Resources Generalist
MARKETING AND COMMUNICATIONS
Jenny Reik, Director of Marketing and Communications
Ron Foster-Smith, Associate Director of Marketing
Mark Van Oss, Communications Editor
Louisa Spier, Public Relations Manager
Cheryl Games, Web and Digital Marketing Manager
Jeanette Peach, Public Relations Senior Associate
Elise Chen, Email Production Associate
Lynn Zummo, New Technology Coordinator
Terri Washington, Social Media and Digital Content Specialist
Jeremy Little, Production Manager
Alan Herro, Production Admin Manager
Kevin Riggall, Head Carpenter
Matt Norman, Head Electrician
Tom Craft, Audio/Video Department Head
Jo Parks, Video Engineer
Tiffani Snow, Event Manager
Ginarose Perino, Rental Business Manager
Rob Bean, Event Operations Manager
Charles Clear, Senior Scene Technician
David Ambrose, Senior Scene Technician
Jacob Heule, Senior Scene Technician
Jorg Peter “Winter” Sichelschmidt, Senior Scene Technician
Joseph Swails, Senior Scene Technician
Mark Mensch, Senior Scene Technician
Mathison Ott, Senior Scene Technician
Mike Bragg, Senior Scene Technician
Ricky Artis, Senior Scene Technician
Robert Haycock, Senior Scene Technician
STUDENT MUSICAL ACTIVITIES
Mark Sumner, Director, UC Choral Ensembles
Bill Ganz, Associate Director, UC Choral Ensembles
Matthew Sadowski, Director of Bands/Interim Department Manager
Ted Moore, Director, UC Jazz Ensembles
Brittney Nguyen, SMA Coordinator
Liz Baqir, Ticket Services Manager
Gordon Young, Assistant Ticket Office Manager
Sherice Jones, Assistant Ticket Office Manager
Jeffrey Mason, Patron Services Associate
Opening fanfare used by permission from Jordi Savall from his 2015 recording of Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo on Alia Vox.
Major support for the Cal Performances Digital Classroom is provided by Wells Fargo.
Major support for Beyond the Stage is provided by Bank of America.
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