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