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Ken Ueno: Throat-singing, orchestra, and a new work

A residency featuring Ken Ueno's concerto for overtone singer, and the premiere of a new work

The Latest Update

Ken’s new piece is ready!

Posted on May 4, 2016 by Alia Musica Pittsburgh

Ken just finished his new piece for Alia Musica!

Sawdust on Ararat is scored for flute, oboe, clarinet, 2 cellos, and 2 percussionists. The oboist plays on, over, and around a snare-drum, creating some really cool resonances…

Alia Musica will premiere the piece on May 26, as part of the Pittsburgh Festival of New Music 2016 (pghnewmusic.com)—in a concert that also features Tony Arnold in works by Augusta Read Thomas, Artistic Director Federico Garcia-De Castro, and Curtis Rumrill. Can’t wait!


In May of 2015 Alia Musica Pittsburgh received a grant from The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments to launch a year-long residency with California composer and vocalist Ken Ueno. The two main components of the residence are the Pittsburgh premiere of Ueno’s On a Sufficient Condition (concerto for overtone singer and orchestra), and the commission of a new work, which Ken will write in Pittsburgh for Alia Musica’s chamber ensemble.

Alia Musica continues to champion new music as a leading form of contemporary expression. The grant is one of only three such awards in the Western Pennsylvania region, the other two going to the Pittsburgh Filmmakers and the writer program City of Asylum.

By bringing Ken’s music to Pittsburgh, the organization continues its recent history of producing epic, landmark works by living composers. In 2014, as part of the Pittsburgh Festival of New Music, Alia Musica presented John Luther Adams’ Inuksuit (for 99 percussionists at a park) and Robert Ashley’s Perfect Lives (adapted for live performance by Collective Varispeed). In 2015, Frederic Rzewski performed his own The People United for the first time in the city.

With the commission and performance of a new work from Ken, Alia Musica continues to have an active role in creation of new music as well. Ken’s name adds itself to a growing list of composers whose music Alia Musica premieres: George Tsontakis, Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon, Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez.

In addition to these performances, the residency with Ken involves lectures and workshops at the city’s music schools, from the high school to the graduate levels. The two performances are scheduled for November 12, 2015 (the vocal concerto) and May 20, 2016 (the premiere of the new work, headlining the ensemble’s Spring 2016 concert). The latter will also include the premiere of GPS, written for Alia Musica by Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez. A first movement of the work was premiered in June 2015 at the MusicArte Festival in Panama.

We seek support to further fund the activities of the Ken Ueno residency. The funds will ensure documentation of the residency, fully adequate rehearsal time, and a marketing campaign that mirrors the potential audience impact of such an epic production as the vocal concerto.


Project Media

Alia Musica performs G.F. Haas’s “Nach-Ruf… ent-gleitend…”
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Performance by Alia Musica at the “Beyond: Microtonal Music Festival”, coproduced by the Andy Warhol Museum and Music on the Edge. March 1, 2015.

The video is the complete piece (19′). The link above starts at 6:06, a good starting point leading to mesmerizing passages that also showcase the performance quality achieved by the ensemble.

Dawn Posey, violin
Katie Kroko, viola
Simon Cummings, cello
Sarah Steranka, flutes
Lenny Young, oboe
Emily Cook, clarinets
Federico Garcia-De Castro, conducting

Ken Ueno: concerto for overtone singer and orchestra (excerpt)

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Features: Ken Ueno

An sample of Ken Ueno’s music, from his landmark piece “On a Sufficient Condition for the Existence of Most Specific Hypothesis.”

Recorded by Ken Ueno and the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, 2008.

The piece will be given its Pittsburgh premiere as part of the Ken Ueno residency with Alia Musica.

Start and End Dates



Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

1 update
Last update on May 4, 2016

Project Created By

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Founded in 2006 as a composer membership organization, Alia Musica Pittsburgh approaches its 10-year anniversary as an established actor in the local and regional new music scene with a recognized capacity to impact positively on the careers of young composers and performers. Particularly in the last four years Alia Musica has seen significant growth in…

In Collaboration With

Berkeley, California


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