Day 5: Thanks to You

The composers are busily getting final preparations ready for tonight’s concert – at 8pm at the Ethical Society in Rittenhouse Square! The Philly concert has been almost a year in the making. It’s taken countless hours of composing, grant-writing, logistical preparation, mailing of press kits, and countless other steps to the process  — all a coordinated effort between composers in three different time zones!

And yet, as hard as we’ve worked to make this a reality, we could never have done it alone. This week, and the concert tonight that it’s been leading to, are the product of not only our elbow grease, but the generosity, support, and efforts of countless friends and colleagues who helped us make this happen. As we get ready to do our part for new music in Philadelphia and in America, we need to say a few words of thanks:

– First of all, thanks to the wonderful performers at ensemble39, whose hours spent rehearsing, practicing and recording are the only reason this concert can happen at all.

– Thanks to the First Friday Philadelphia Series and its art galleries for giving us a chance to preview some of these works, and generate a buzz among people who may never have found us otherwise.

– A special thanks to the Curtis Institute of Music, for allowing us the generous use of their rehearsal spaces this week.

– Thanks to the American Composers Forum, the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, the UMKC Conservatory of Music, the Boyer College of Music at Temple University, and many others for their financial support in making this concert a reality.

– Thanks to Bob Aldridge, the School of Music at Rutgers University, and their wonderful composers for being so hospitable for our workshop yesterday.

– And, perhaps most importantly, thank you to all of the individuals who donated so generously to our Fractured Atlas Campaign. The individual donations aren’t just vital to the financial success of small projects like ours, they are the surest vote of confidence in our work, in the power and importance of new music, and in its ability to make an impact in communities. You are the reason, in so many ways, that we worked to make this concert a reality, and we are tremendously grateful.

And now, one final reminder: Tonight, 8pm, at the Ethical Society in Rittenhouse Square, in Philadelphia, PA. $15 GA, $10 students. Reception to follow. Come hear the wonderful performers of ensemble39 lend their talents and sensibilities to an up-and-coming generation of composers. We’ll look forward to seeing you there!


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Day 4: Rehearsals and Rutgers

Yesterday, the Curtis Institute of Music was afire with activity; in addition to the regular hustle and bustle of the last few days, Melosians Brian Penkrot and Corey Keating arrived in town (with Patrick Chan right behind them). And, of course, we wrapped rehearsals for tonight’s concert!

The Melosians carry with them a wealth of experience with rehearsal weeks like this. We know that they can be frustrating, exhausting, and extremely long days for all involved. And yet no matter how many times we go through this process, our reaction is always the same:


Exhaustion, with just a hint of smug satisfaction.

As if it wasn’t already obvious from the last three days, the talented musicians of ensemble39 are superhuman. They powered through the seven-hour rehearsal day like it was just a normal day at the office. And they even managed to retain their smiles – now that’s professionalism!


Gabe and Nigel laughing during rehearsal

Stas can almost keep a straight face during Jason's "Asymptotic Flux"

Stas can almost keep a straight face during Jason’s “Asymptotic Flux”

Alexandra von der Embse, oboe, and Jessica Chang work on Brian Penkrot's "Narcissus Chamber"

Alexandra von der Embse, oboe, and Jessica Chang work on Brian Penkrot’s “Narcissus Chamber”

Jason at the mixer board during recording

Jason at the mixer board for Asymptotic Flux

But that wasn’t all; yesterday Melos took their act on the road, visiting New Brunswick, NJ to pay a visit to Rutgers University. The newly-appointed Director of the School of Music at Rutgers was the mentor to many of us during our time at Brevard, and is coming off of his first Grammy win for Best Classical Composition: none other than Bob Aldridge! The Grammy-winning composer holds a very special place in the Melos pantheon; those of us that studied with him are all much better composers for it. And he’s just won a Grammy!

Did we mention that he's a Grammy winner?

Did we mention that he’s a Grammy winner?

Dr. Aldridge (a Grammy winner!) invited the Melos crew to visit Rutgers and give a talk to the composers at Rutgers. As is so often the case when composers congregate, there was a lot of music, a lot of questionably-working technology, and a fair amount of smarminess from Dan Temkin:

The workshop at Rutgers

The workshop at Rutgers


The workshop at Rutgers, with Grammy-winning composer Bob Aldridge

And as is our other composerly custom, the long, long day was summarily rounded out with… a round.


From left to right: Brian Penkrot, Jason Thorpe Buchanan, Bob Aldrige, Dan Temkin, and Ryan Olivier

And in the afterglow this morning, we turn our focus back to tonight’s concert! This evening, at 8pm at the Ethical Society in Rittenhouse Square, the musicians of ensemble39 will deliver eight premiere performances of works by young composers around the country. The ensemble is in top form, the composers are ready, and we’re expecting an evening to remember! If you’re in Philadelphia, this is one not to miss!

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Philly Day 2-3: Putting it Together

Today and tomorrow, the rest of the Melos Philly crew will be arriving to lend a hand and put final preparations in place for the recording sessions and the Friday concert. For the last few days, though, our skeleton crew of Dan, David, Ryan and Jason has been running the show. Tuesday was another rehearsal day, getting the rest of the program in working order for the recording sessions, which begin today! Here are a few action shots of the rehearsals:


The quartet rehearses Dan’s “Spinning Wheels”

Becky Anderson, violin, trying to ignore our recording setup

Becky Anderson, violin, trying to ignore our recording setup

Wednesday was a free day, and the composers engaged in a composer’s favorite pastime:

Thanks for the hospitality, Fado Irish Pub!

Thanks for the hospitality, Fado Irish Pub!

Today we’re back to the grind, starting with a lecture/workshop by some of the composers at the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University, Dan’s alma mater! And in case you’ve forgotten (we haven’t), today is the first (and hopefully only!) day for recording our Melos 2012 CD. If you were one of our extremely generous Fractured Atlas donors, you may have chosen the CD as an incentive; we’ll have it on its way to you as soon as it’s ready! If not, never fear – it will be for sale shortly after it goes to press! Check back to the Melos blog often for more info.

We’re getting excited for tomorrow’s concert. Ensemble39 is sounding amazing, and with every composer that lands in Philly the anticipation gets a bit higher! We’ll have more stories of the Melos Philly preparations in the coming days; check the blog tomorrow morning for some highlights from today’s recording session, lecture, and more.

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Philly Day 1: It Begins!

Concert week – that emotional rollercoaster leading us into Friday’s recital – has officially begun! The out-of-town composers are heading into Philadelphia as fast as they can, but fortunately Melos already has boots on the ground. Dan, Ryan and David have been directing traffic, tying up loose ends, and – most importantly – leading rehearsals of the music with our friends at ensemble39.

A lot of our concert prep has stayed constant from our smashing San Francisco debut in 2011, but we are doing just a few things differently this year. For example, Philly marks the first time in Melos history that the concert will feature live technology! While there’s no live electronics processing or manipulation involved, Jason’s Asymptotic Flux features an amplification setup designed to make the quartet sound much, much larger. Check out just a taste of the hardware at play:

A look at the quartet, all wired up

A look at the quartet, all wired up

The amplification console for Asymptotic Flux

The amplification console for Asymptotic Flux

Jason, drunk with the power of electronic assistance

Jason, drunk with the power of electronic assistance

Some things never change, though. While we’re conducting rehearsals this year at the Curtis Institute of Music and not the San Francisco Conservatory, the luxury accommodations are about the same.

David rehearsing his Trio in a Curtis rehearsal room

David rehearsing his Trio in a Curtis rehearsal room

Naturally, our guest performers this year are just as incredible as ever.

Stas Chernyshev, clarinet

Stas Chernyshev, clarinet

Jessica Chang, viola

Jessica Chang, viola

…and of course, the exhaustion is just as overwhelming as last year.

David, it's not even Day 2 yet.

David, it’s not even Day 2 yet.

We’ll be keeping you updated all week with audio samples, photos, and stories from the city of Brotherly Love, all leading up to our 2012 3rd Annual Recital this Friday, December 7, at the Ethical Society. If you’re near Philadelphia, we hope to see you there; if you’re at large, check back here often – we’ll do our best to make you feel like you’re right here with us!

3rd Annual Recital… here we go!

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Philly New Music: What’s Happening

Philadelphia is an amazing city for culture and the arts. Consider the inspiring work taking place at the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Mural Arts Program, and the world-renowned Philadelphia Art Museum as a small sample. Moreover, Philadelphia’s reputation as a world-class destination for music is well-established, being home to the wonderful Philadelphia Chamber Music Series and the world-renowned Curtis Institute; but when it comes to contemporary music, the City of Brotherly Love isn’t usually mentioned among the elite centers like New York, L.A. and Toronto. 

However, that perception problem doesn’t mean exciting new music isn’t happening in Philadelphia; and Melos and other organizations are setting out to change Philly’s reputation for contemporary music on the national and world stages. Next weekend, December 7-8, will be an important one. On December 7th Melos will be hosting our third annual concert in Philadelphia, featuring premieres of 8 new works by emerging American composers from across the United States. We’ll be working in conjunction with the extremely talented ensemble39, a Philadelphia-based chamber group which is quickly gaining nationwide attention for their eclectic programming and supreme artistry. 

ensemble39 formed at the Curtis Institute of Music, and though Curtis is perhaps best known for its heritage in the more traditional classical music world, the conservatory is working to show just how important contemporary music is today’s sonic landscape.  Following Friday evening’s performance with ensemble39 and Melos Music, on Saturday December 8, Philly will see both Matthias Pintscher and eighth blackbird who are in residence at the Curtis Institute (sponsored by the Markow-Totevy Foundation and a three-year grant from the Andrew Mellon Foundation) for a showcase concert with the Curtis 20/21 ensemble.  If that weren’t enough, the very same weekend, the Curtis Opera Theatre will be workshopping the first act of Jennifer Higdon’s new opera “Cold Mountain,” scheduled for premiere in 2015 with the Santa Fe Opera Company

Looking further into the season shows us even more proof that contemporary music is thriving here in Philadelphia.  Earlier in 2012, the Argento Ensemble presented a major concert of contemporary French composers at the Rodin Museum, Network for New Music presented a concert entitled “Voice of this Generation”, featuring six rising Philadelphia Composers, and the Philadelphia Orchestra hosted premieres of new pieces by Gabriela Frank and Roberto Sierra.  And this is just the beginning; in 2013 Philadelphia will be home to even more thrilling new projects, including an ongoing exhibit at the Philadelphia Art Museum dealing with John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, and Marcel Duchamp. The PRISM Saxophone Quartet will give a composer-portrait concert of John Cage, titled “Beyond Silence”; and the Philadelphia Opera Company will present full-evening works by Thomas Ades and Kevin Puts. All of these musicians are working to contribute to the lifeblood of contemporary music in the U.S. and abroad, and it’s all happening right here in Philadelphia!

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We’re on LocalArtsLive; 3 days left to donate on FA!

Last weekend, Melos and ensemble39 delivered a smashingly-successful preview concert at downtown Philly’s First Friday gallery series, giving Philadelphians a taste of what’s to come at our December concert. In addition to delivering beautiful previews of pieces by Dan Temkin, Ryan Olivier and David Carptenter, ensemble39 enchanted listeners with pieces by Dvorak, Piazzolla and Edgar Meyer. Ryan, Dan and David, our resident Philadelphians, were on hand to help spread the word about our December concert. They were also able to capture some highlights of the evening on film:

The audience watches ensemble39’s performance

A bird’s-eye view of one performance

ensemble39 rehearses in the gallery before the show

Also in attendance last weekend was Sharon Torello, blogger for the fantastic Philadelphia arts-journal LocalArtsLive! Sharon has been working on a multi-part feature of Melos and ensemble39 for LAL, and in her first chapter shares her experiences of watching the preview concert unfold.

We encourage you to follow Sharon’s writings on LAL – we’ll share the next segments of her piece on Melos right here as soon as they’re off the press!

Have you donated?? We’re days away from the closing of our Fractured Atlas fundraising campaign. We’ve been blessed with generous and passionate supporters who have helped us, as of this writing, raise almost $1,000! But we’re still short of our goal, and we’re counting on you to help us get there! Melos presents our concerts, outreach events and recording projects without government assistance, funding our events exclusively through private donations and grants. This means that in order for us to bring you this music with this wonderful ensemble, we need you to get involved! A tax-deductible donation of as little as $1 (or 1/3 of a latte at Starbucks) goes a long way in helping us make this concert happen, and qualifies you for some wonderful thank-you gifts, like digital downloads, a free CD of the concert, and even a stylish Melos coffee mug. Don’t delay – we’re counting on your support! From ensemble39 and the entire Melos team to you: thank you for supporting new music!

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Fundraising Drive 2012: Support us on Fractured Atlas and Spread the Word!

Our Philadelphia concert is under two months away, and we’re calling on you to help us make it happen!
Like most young artists, Melos receives no money from the NEA or any government grant. Our support comes almost exclusively from private donations, and it’s easier to be a part of that than you might think! This year, we’re teaming up with arts advocate Fractured Atlas to help us reach our fundraising goal for the Philly recital.

Fractured Atlas, and other crowd-funding services like it, makes it easy for supporters to contribute to any artistic project at whatever financial level that they’re able. It puts money directly in the hands of the artists, and gives donors a direct connection with the artists they’re supporting. And it works – last year, crowd-funding raised more money for arts organizations than the NEA! Melos was a part of it, too – our wonderfully successful San Francisco recital last summer couldn’t have happened without so many generous friends who donated, or even just shared our project on Facebook!

If you want to be a part of our Philadelphia recital, it’s easy – just follow this link to our Fractured Atlas page:

Donating means you’re playing a vital part in supporting the next generation of artists in America. It also makes you eligible for some awesome thank-you gifts (including the Melos Music mascot, a coffee mug). Check out the project, watch the video and take a look at our incentives. Donate if you can, but most importantly, spread the word! By sharing on Facebook, Twitter, or via email, you never know who will see us and want to get involved!
We’re all getting very excited for Philadelphia; the venues are booked, Ensemble39 is sounding fantastic, and the Melosians are getting ready to descend on the City of Brotherly Love. We only need this last piece of the puzzle, and whether through donating or just telling your friends, we hope that you’ll help us get there!

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