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Excelsior released on Cedille Records
Excelsior has been released as part of Fifth House Ensemble’s debut album on Cedille Records, with streaming excerpts and purchase information available here.
“The whole undertaking is marked by spirited music-making of the finest kind” – Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle
“The Fifth House Ensemble gives us a most fascinating, widely open window on the newer music being written today by the younger generation of composers.” – Grego Applegate Edwards, Classical Modern Music
“It’s clear from the level of performance in the four works on this album that Fifth House Ensemble was thoroughly dedicated to the success of this effort.” – David Abrams, CNY Café Momus
“Next time you’re thinking of trying your luck with a lottery ticket, go with a sure winner and order your copy of Excelsior.” – David Abrams, CNY Café Momus
“It makes sense that Fifth House Ensemble […] should have come up with a program as sophisticated and unexpected as the album “Excelsior.” – Daniel Stephen Johnson, WQXR “Q2”
In an attempt to test both technological advances and human limitations, the United States Air Force began experiments in 1958 to design parachute systems that would allow for high-altitude ejection from planes. The third and final test, Excelsior III, was made on August 16, 1960, when Joseph Kittinger began a free fall from 102,800 feet. After 4 minutes and 36 seconds of free fall, Kittinger’s main parachute opened at 17,500 feet, allowing him to land safely on the earth’s surface. Excelsior takes this important event in history and explores its impact on the human psyche. The story wwill be adapted as a libretto by writer John Coletti. Accomplished composer/performer Caleb Burhans will use this source material to craft the chamber opera. Martha Cluver, soprano, will be the solo singer, playing the role of Kittinger. Fifth House Ensemble (a large, mixed instrumentation chamber ensemble composed of flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn, violin, viola, cello, bass, and piano), and itsnotyouitsme (Burhans’s violin/electric guitar duo with Grey Mcmurray) will combine to provide the musical underscoring for the work. To bring the show to life, Fifth House Ensemble will work with New York playwright Stan Richardson. Richardson will provide a written through-line that connects Kittinger’s story to the additional stories presented in the concert presentation, as well as an introduction to the piece that will be projected as text on a screen leading into the piece, which provides a contextual connection for the audience. Videos from Kittenger’s 1960 free fall that were recorded by the United States Air Force, and that exist in the public domain, will be gathered, combined, and edited to provide stunning and immersive visuals of Kittingers’ fall for the audience.
Prologue from Act 1 of Black Violet, Fifth House Ensemble’s landmark collaboration with graphic novelist Ezra Claytan Daniels and featuring Walter Piston’s Divertimento for Nine Instruments, Movement 1: Allegro. Performed live at the Detroit Symphony’s Mix at the Max, October 2012.
Excerpts from March 2013 performances of Excelsior. Composed by Caleb Burhans Libretto by John Coletti Performed by members of Fifth House Ensemble, itsnotyouitsme, and Martha Cluver Script for the visuals written by Stan Richardson
Start and End Dates
10/01/2013 — 06/02/2013
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