This performance is hosted by the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), one of National Sawdust’s 2017-2018 Artists-in-Residence. The residency program at National Sawdust is dedicated to incubating bold work and bold artists, devoting a pool of $450,000 of both in-kind and financial contributions among selected artists every year.
Icelandic composer Anna Thorvaldsdóttir’s music is immersive. Inspired by landscapes, nature, and flowing, sustained sounds, it transports a listener to the vast expanse of an unfamiliar, seductive place. The International Contemporary Ensemble’s collaboration with Anna has spanned many years, including an appearance at the Ojai Music Festival. Of that performance, Alex Ross of The New Yorker wrote, “Nothing I witnessed at opera houses this past season was as dramatic.” As the Kravis Emerging Composer at the New York Philharmonic, Anna’s orchestral piece Metacosmos was premiered in April 2018, conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen. The Philharmonic has presented chamber works by Anna at National Sawdust on their CONTACT! new-music series.
On Sunday, May 27 at 4 PM, National Sawdust features a selection of works played by ICE which center on her unorthodox use of the piano. ICE pianist Cory Smythe, a champion and commissioner of Anna’s solo music, is in the center of National Sawdust’s stage, circled by the audience, with the audience encircled by ICE musicians, immersed in Anna’s sounds. The conductor Steven Schick, a longtime ICE collaborator, leads the ensemble. This performance forms part of ICE’s presence at National Sawdust in the 2017-18 season as Artists-in-Residence.
The program features three solo works and one ensemble piece, all of which will be recorded for ICE’s second disc of Anna’s music on the award-winning Sono Luminus label. Trajectories (2014), for piano and video, opens the program, followed by [one] and Scape. Trajectories is a collaborative work between Anna Thorvaldsdottir and Sigurdur Gudjonsson, consisting of three-channel HD video and stereo sound. The piece was commissioned by The Reykjavik Center for Visual Music and premiered at the festival of RCVM in January 2014. The three piano works involve strums and resonant scraping inside the instrument which embellish Anna’s potent harmonies. Aequilibria is an ICE specialty last heard in New York at Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival. The piece highlights all eleven instruments as they emerge to shine from the work’s watery depths. Its glacial yet sure sense of growth is a hallmark of every piece on this varied program.
OpenICE is made possible by the generous support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Howard Gilman Foundation, Booth Ferris Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, A.N. and Pearl G. Barnett Family Foundation, Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, Aaron Copland Fund for Music, Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation, Francis Goelet Charitable Lead Trusts, Amphion Foundation, Pacific Harmony Foundation, Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation, Alice M. Ditson Fund of Columbia University, Casement Fund, BMI Foundation, as well as public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, the New York State Council for the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency. Portions of this project are supported by Nokia Bell Labs. Yamaha Artist Services New York is the exclusive piano provider for ICE.