Troy, NY: Neil Rolnick, professor of music at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, will present a concert of music for violin, piano, and computer at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 27, at the Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) at Rensselaer. The concert, which is free and open to the public, features a selection of his most recent compositions from 2003 to the present.
Rolnick said the program showcases solo and duo works (plus computer) he has written in the past decade, a departure from the works for large ensembles that have made up the bulk of his recent work.
“In the last few years, most of my efforts have been on larger works: two violin concerti, and extended monodrama with a large ensemble and three singers, and a full evening dramatic project which I hope to premiere by 2015,” Rolnick said. “In the midst of those projects, I find that working with musicians who have played my solo and duet works continues to provide me with a vehicle for bringing my music to different audiences.
Drawing on a personal experience of hearing loss, composer and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Professor Neil Rolnick will perform portions of his latest composition – titled “MONO” – an exploration of the nature and fragility of sensory perception, Dec. 1 at the Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) in nearby Troy, New York. For more information: http://events.rpi.edu/event/showEventMore.rdo.
Rolnick began work on MONO in 2008, in the wake of a sudden loss of hearing in his left ear. Tapping the Internet for stories similar to his own, Rolnick was “inundated” with reflections on the changes wrought by a sensory loss that was significant, but not definitively debilitating.
The film of an earlier iteration of the work is embedded above, and is already fascinating. Although it is still a work in progress there has been significant expansion and enrichment since that video was shot – Rolnick has completed and will perform seven of the 12 pieces in the series at the Dec. 1 concert. – The piece combines video, spoken text, four singers, and six instruments. It is a unique pieces since MONO explores the loss of perceptual ability and the subsequent changes in how we relate to the world in response to that loss.
Composer and laptop musician Neil Rolnick celebrated the release of his latest album “Extended Family” with a performance at Le Poisson Rouge in NYC last Tuesday, and music critic Allan Kozinn weighed in with a glowing review in The New York Times on Friday.
In addition to Rolnick (who teaches at RPI and is the founding director of the school’s iEAR Studio), the performance featured string players from ACME (the American Contemporary Music Ensemble), as well as UAlbany music professor and pianist Bob Gluck.
Kozinn noted that the performance was “energetic, optimistic, even joyful” despite the fact that the music touched on “potentially fraught subjects, including the partial loss of the composer’s hearing, his mother’s death and meditations on the nature of faith.”
The album “Extended Family” was recorded at EMPAC at RPI last year and released last week on the Innova label.
The New York Times named Neil Rolnick‘s latest album, “The Economic Engine,” as one of the best classical CDs of 2009.
Now the composer and director of RPI’s iEAR Studios is gearing up for his next album, and you can find out what it’s all about at 7:30pm on Tuesday at EMPAC @ RPI in Troy, when Rolnick performs “Extended Family.” Admission is free.
In this case, Rolnick’s extended family includes the avant garde string quartet Ethel – featuring Cornelius Dufallo (violin), Ralph Farris (viola), Dorothy Lawson (cello) and Mary Rowell (violin) – and pianist/UAlbany faculty member Bob Gluck, who will also be performing with Rolnick.
And the title “Extended Family” takes on a lot of different meanings. Not only is it the title of Rolnick’s concert at EMPAC, it is also the name of the new string quartet that he has written for Ethel. And it’s the title of his upcoming CD, which is scheduled to be recorded in the EMPAC Concert hall in the days following Tuesday’s concert.
In addition to the title track, both the concert and CD will also feature Bob Gluck performing a revised version of “Faith” (a piece for piano and computer, which Gluck commissioned from Rolnick in ’08) and Rolnick’s performance of a new work for solo laptop “Mono” (which explores the impact of his loss of hearing in one ear).
Following the performance there will be a reception with the composer and musicians.
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