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New Works for the OpenICE initiative

A volume of new collaborations launched in tandem with OpenICE — a far-reaching initiative to build diverse new audiences internationally.

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OpenICE Update, May 2016

Posted on May 24, 2016 by International Contemporary Ensemble

In 2015, ICE launched its OpenICE program, an ambitious initiative to develop, engage, and sustain diverse new 21st century listeners through an expansive offering of free programming. In its launch year, OpenICE yielded 45 live concert events, including 23 in our hometowns of New York City and Chicago, as well as 32 videos of full-length performances and 28 days of educational events. With the support of New Music USA, ICE has been able to commission a new body of work by nine composers to be presented on various OpenICE concerts during the current and coming season: Wojtek Blecharz, Anthony Cheung, Ashley Fure, Erin Gee, Eli Keszler, Morgan Krauss, Jaime Oliver, Craig Taborn, and Monte Weber.


Wojtek Blecharz

During the 2016 installment of the Mostly Mozart Festival, ICE will present 15 free micro-concerts as a part of Lincoln Center’s Out of Doors Festival, featuring a slew of world premieres. Wojtek Blecharz’s newly commissioned work—employing custom designed wind instruments—will receive it’s world premiere during this festival on August 7, 2016..


Anthony Cheung

Anthony Cheung’s new concerto, featuring ICE’s violist Maiya Papach will be premiered at Merkin Concert Hall on the Mostly Mozart Festival. After the world premiere, ICE will perform the piece on a number of OpenICE concerts across the US during the 2016-17 season.


Ashley Fure

ICE gave the world premiere of Ashley Fure’s Etudes from the Anthropocene during her Miller Theatre Composer Portrait Concert on February 4, 2016, the first retrospective concert of her music. Etudes from the Anthropocene transformed the proscenium stage of Miller Theatre into an immersive installation, seamlessly merging theatre, choreography, sonic objects, and western instruments. This ambitious new work, featuring sculptures by the composer’s brother, architect Adam Fure, is an excerpt of her expansive, kinetic sculpture opera called The Force of Things, which will be premiered at the legendary Darmstadt Courses for New Music in the summer of 2016.

Ashley Fure – Force of Things (Preview) | DigitICE

During the 2016-17 season, individual and extractable movements of The Force of Things will be performed on OpenICE concerts throughout the US. The first test of this extractable-movement model occurred at The Stone on March 13, 2016, when Ross Karre performed a solo movement for percussion and electronics.


Erin Gee

Throughout the 2015-16 OpenICE season, Ryan Muncy and Ross Karre have been advocating the work of Erin Gee to audiences around the country, performing her newly commissioned work for saxophone and percussion Mouthpiece XXIV. The piece takes the form of a delicately crafted dialogue between sustained and lyrical saxophone glissandi, and metallic pipes that are dipped in and out water to bend and distort their pitches. The work was premiered at the Abrons Arts Center—our New York OpenICE home—on April 22, 2015. It received further performances at the on January 7th, 2016 at the New Music Gathering at Peabody University, and on February 6th, 2016 at an OpenICE concert held at the Chopin Theater in Chicago. A studio version of the piece will be released on Muncy’s upcoming album by TUNDRA recordings.

Erin Gee – Mouthpiece XXIV (world premiere performance) | DigitICE


Eli Keszler

Eli Keszler’s Rake/Receiver—for two percussionists and electronics—received its premiere performance during our week-long residency at The Stone on March 11, 2016. Kessler’s fragile and tactile work will be performed again during the Mostly Mozart Festival at Lincoln Center on August 6th, 2016.

Eli Keszler – Rake/Receiver | DigitICE


Morgan Krauss

ICE is currently scheduling and planning collaborative workshops for Morgan Krauss’ new work, which will commence in late 2016.


Jaime Oliver

Jaime Oliver’s OpenICE commissioned work Flexura was premiered at Constellation in Chicago on February 8, 2015, featuring cellist Michael Nicholas and Jaime Oliver running electronics. Oliver sculpts a variegated sonic landscape, exploring the extremes of the cello and processing the resultant sound through through a MANO controller, Oliver’s custom built electronic instrument that uses video tracking of body movement to manipulate sound.

Jaime Oliver – Flexura I DigitICE


Craig Taborn

Jazz superstar Craig Taborn and ICE pianist Cory Smythe created a series of improvised works for two pianos. These works explored a fusion of jazz and experimental idioms, inflected by the microtonal colors of two pianos tuned a quarter-tone apart. The first iteration of this project was presented at JACK in Brooklyn on December 18, 2015 as part of the Four Pianos Festival. This project was revisited during ICE’s OpenICE Marathon in Chicago on April 30, 2016 at PianoForte, downtown Chicago’s premier piano store and concert space.


Monte Weber

ICE commissioned two solo works from New York-based composer Monte Weber. The first piece— Visions— was written for ICE saxophonist Ryan Muncy. Scored for prepared tenor saxophone and live video, the work explores the extremes of the instrument: from fragile, soft saxophone multiphonics and reed noises, to violent and unrelenting outbursts of distorted sonorities. During the performance, small cameras inside the instrument project a live video feed of light flashing and darting around the saxophone’s cylindrical bell, and the fluctuating aperture of the instrument. The piece was given its premiere performance on April 22, 2015 at the Abrons Arts Center in New York on a free OpenICE program. Weber’s second commissioned piece—Portrait for solo cello—was premiered by ICE’s Katinka Kleijn during our OpenICE Marathon in Chicago at The Promontory on April 20, 2016.

Monte Weber  – Visions | DigitICE


During the next 18 months, ICE will commission and premiere a new body of repertoire from a diverse group of composers to be presented in free performances around the globe — in venues ranging from the world’s major concert halls to outdoor urban amphitheaters to small community centers and public libraries, in addition to being made available in the ensemble’s digital concert hall, DigitICE. 

Looking Back: ICELab

ICElab, our in-house commissioning project, will reach its conclusion in 2015. Through ICElab, we learned that composers and performers do their best work when given the creative space and resources to take risks on their own terms. We learned, through commissions ranging from full-evening multidisciplinary productions to miniatures, that the quality of a composer’s work doesn’t necessarily depend on the size of a project. As performers, we learned that it’s our responsibility to empower composers by providing adequate time for exploration, collaboration, and incubation.

As ICElab concludes, we ask ourselves: How can we commission an even greater number of new works in the collaborative spirit of ICElab? How can we enable today’s composers to continue advancing our art form while ICE expands the reach of their work?

Our answer is a new volume of commissions for ICE’s most recent initiative, OpenICE.

Looking Forward: OpenICE

In 2015, ICE will officially launch OpenICE, a new initiative to build audiences through free access to concerts. During the OpenICE launch year, ICE will present 35 concerts free and open to the public in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Brazil, and Greenland. By 2018, the initiative aims to reach one million listeners per year. 

At its core, OpenICE is inspired by the quintessentially American institution of the public library, with its enduring commitment to the social value of public access to knowledge. Similar to our libraries, which serve people of different backgrounds and levels of education, OpenICE programming will serve our current audience while providing multiple entry points for new listeners, fulfilling our belief that we are responsible to make our best work available to all.

New Works by Nine Composers

The new works will premiere on various OpenICE concerts in 2015-16 and represent the beginning of a new canon of chamber works for OpenICE, which will be further promoted via multiple performances and recordings on TUNDRA, ICE’s record label.

Wojtek Blecharz‘s  work will continue his exploration of the extreme physicality of extended techniques.

Anthony Cheung‘s new work will feature ICE’s violist Maiya Papach.

Ashley Fure will create a companion piece for a new large-scale puppet opera.

Erin Gee will compose a chamber piece for saxophone and percussion.

Eli Keszler will produce work that makes unique connections between kinetic sculpture, architecture, sound installation and improvisation.

Morgan Krauss will explore concepts of physical and tactile awareness.

Jaime Oliver will combine traditional and new computer-based instruments via motion tracking and robotic technologies.

Craig Taborn will collaborate with ICE pianist Cory Smythe on new work for two pianists incorporating improvisation.

Monte Weber will create a multimedia work in which small cameras are placed inside musical instruments.

Project Media

Olivier Messiaen/arr. Cliff Colnot: Chants de Terre et de Ciel
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Although 33 musician members occupy ICE’s roster, the ensemble has, from its earliest days, valued the communicative experience and musical depth of conductor-less chamber music. On August 21, 2014 at the Park Avenue Armory as part of the Lincoln Center’s 2014 Mostly Mozart Festival, the ensemble premiered Cliff Colnot’s arrangement of Messiaen’s “Chants de Terre et de Ciel” scored for eight instrumentalists and solo soprano without conductor.

Phyllis Chen: Hush (2011, ICElab commission)
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Phyllis Chen is an ICE composer, pianist, toy pianist and multimedia artist. ICE has performed multiple new works by Chen at the Lincoln Center and other NYC venues, in Chicago, on tour in three US states, and internationally in Darmstadt (Germany) and at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival (UK). Chen was the first ICElab composer to incorporate multimedia production elements into her commission, which has now become a regular feature of our composer collaborations.

Georges Aperghis: A Shot In The Dark (2011, ICE commission)
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Since its inception, ICE has premiered more than 650 new works, including Georges Aperghis’ “A Shot in the Dark”. Equally at home with internationally established and emerging composers, ICE’s collaborative process always values close interaction between performers and composers, and provides the resources and creative space to enable composers to take artistic risks on their own terms. In this example, Aperghis worked closely with soprano Tony Arnold for a new large-scale work which features the acclaimed soprano.

Start and End Dates



New York, New York

1 update
Last update on May 24, 2016

Project Created By

New York, New York
ICE is dedicated to reshaping the way music is created and experienced. With a flexible roster of 33 leading instrumentalists performing in forces ranging from solos to large ensembles, the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) functions as performer, presenter, and educator, advancing the music of our time by developing innovative new works and pursuing groundbreaking strategies…

In Collaboration With

New York, New York
Hudson, New York
Chicago, Illinois
San Diego, California


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