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June in Buffalo at 40

Left to right: Augusta Read Thomas, David Felder, Harvey Sollberger
June in Buffalo at 40
The UB festival celebrates four decades of new music

This year marks a pair of significant milestones for the University at Buffalo’s June in Buffalo Festival. Not only will the Festival celebrate its 40th anniversary season, but UB professor of composition David Felder will also celebrate his 30th season as the Festival’s artistic director. The late Morton Feldman founded JIB not only as a festival of new music, but also, as even more importantly, as a festival where established composers of new music would interact with young, emerging composers. JIB has remained true to his vision, with dozens of young composers from all over the world submitting examples of their compositions as part of the application process. Each of the invited emerging composers then enjoys the opportunity to work with the internationally recognized musicians and ensembles at JIB, and to have one of their works performed by these groups. The senior composers at this year’s festival include Martin Bresnick, David Felder, Brian Ferneyhough, Bernard Rands, Augusta Read Thomas, Roger Reynolds, Harvey Sollberger, Steven Stucky and Charles Wuorinen.

June in Buffalo Institute

Two years ago, the Festival expanded its scope by creating the June in Buffalo Performance Institute, a biennial event with UB Department of Music assistant professor of piano Eric Huebner as director. Advanced performers with an interest in contemporary music are invited to take part in an intensive 10-day festival of concerts, master classes, lessons and seminars. The Performance Institute students will be coached by UB music faculty members Jonathan Golove, cello, Eric Huebner, piano, Tom Kolor, percussion, Jean Kopperud, clarinet, Jon Nelson, trumpet and Yuki Numata Resnick, violin.

Free Concerts

The JIB Performance Institute kicks off with two concerts at 7:30pm in Baird Recital Hall on the UB Amherst Campus, the first on Saturday May 30 in a concert that includes a world premiere of Andrew Greenwald’s new work for solo violin by Yuki Numata Resnick, as well as rarely performed works for solo instruments by Heinrich Sutermeister for clarinet, Alexina Louie, for piano, Karlheinz Stockhausen, for clarinet, Alejandro Viñao, for marimba, and Samuel Wells, for trumpet. Sunday afternoon’s concert includes Jeffrey Stadelman’s A Curtain Raiser, Elliott Carter’s Figment II, Jennifer Higdon’s Song, Morton Feldman’s ultra-quiet King of Denmark, John Adams’ American Berserk, and a pair of works by Charles Wuorinen: his Trombone Trio and also Praegustatum for James Levine for solo piano which will be performed by the talented recent UB graduate, Hangyu Bai.

The June in Buffalo Festival itself officially begins on Monday June 1 at 4pm, with a performance of works by emerging composers in the basement level of Slee Hall in room B1 by the Meridian Arts Ensemble and Talujon Percussion. The works of the JIB emerging composers will also be featured in subsequent free concerts at 4pm in Baird Recital Hall on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday, performed by the Meridian Arts Ensemble, Talujon Percussion, Slee Sinfonietta soloists, the New York New Music Ensemble, the JIB Performance Institute soloists and faculty members.

Ticketed Events

On Monday June 1 at 7:30pm in Slee Hall, the highly regarded New York New Music Ensemble will perform Martin Bresnick’s 2003 work Bird as Prophet, Lukas Foss’ 1963 Echoi, Harvey Sollberger’s The Advancing Moment from 1993 and Charles Wuorinen’s 1982 New York Notes.

Tuesday’s Slee Hall performance at 7:30pm features the Meridian Arts Ensemble and Talujon Percussion. Works to be performed include Bresnick’s A Message from the Emperor (2010), David Felder’s Canzone XXXI (1993), Brian Ferneyhough’s Bone Alphabet (1991), Steven Stucky’s Refrains (1979), Iannis Xenakis’ Okho (1989) and Wuorinen’s Brass Quintet.

The action moves to Baird Recital Hall for Wednesday’s 7:30pm concert by the Performance Institute’s faculty and students. Pianists Anna Whistler and Adam Scherkin will perform Philip Glass’s Four Movements for Two Pianos (2008), while Eric Huebner will perform Roger Reynolds’ Piano Études, Book I (2012). Huebner will join Mia Detwiler, violin, Yuki Numata Resnick, viola, and Jonathan Golove, cello, for Steven Stucky’s Piano Quartet (2005).

Always a welcome guest at JIB, violin virtuoso Irvine Arditti who has often appeared in the past with his cutting edge string quartet, will offer a solo recital in Baird Hall on Thursday at 7:30pm. Works to be performed include Elliott Carter’s Duo for Violin and Piano (1974), Morton Feldman’s For Aaron Copland (1981), John Cage’s Eight Whiskus (1985), Ferneyhough’s Unsichtbare Farben (1999) and Reynolds’ Kokoro (1992).

The audience members will be seated on the main stage of Kleinhans Music Hall for the Friday 6pm performance by the Performance Institute’s faculty and students. Daniel Bassin will conduct Wayla Chambo, flute, Christina Courtin, violin, Sarah Bish, cello, Michael Tumiel, clarinet and Anna Whistler, piano, in Scat (2007) by Augusta Read Thomas. Bassin will also conduct her Passion Prayers (1999), featuring Veronica Nettles, cello, Max Fahland, percussion, with Courtin, violin, Chambo, flute and Tumiel, clarinet. Mezzo-soprano Julia Bentley, who delivered a truly memorable performance in the season final ‘A Musical Feast’ concert at the Burchfield Penny last month, returns to town to perform Rands’ Walcott Songs (2004) with cellist Nettles. Cellist Sarah Bish and pianist Cynthia Bryndis Schilling will team up for Capriccio (1948) by Lukas Foss and Emlyn Johnson will perform Bernard Rands’ Memo 4 (1997) for solo flute. Matthew Chamberlain will conduct Pei-Lun Tsai, clarinet, Mia Detwiler, violin, T.J. Borden, cello, Adam Scherkin, piano, Joe Desotelle, percussion and Chambo, flute in Jacob Druckman’s Come Round (1992).

Immediately after the Kleinhans event, the action shifts a few blocks away to the Pausa Art House on Wadsworth. Longtime JIB Festival participant Harvey Sollberger will present a unique performance of contemporary music for flute, as well as Neapolitan songs for accordion and voice. The Neapolitan project is Harvey’s latest artistic venture, and this Pausa performance will be its Buffalo debut. Besides being a professor of trumpet at UB, Jon Nelson, the owner of Pausa, is also a member of the Meridian Arts Ensemble, and he has invited his group to perform music from its repertoire of Renaissance to Modern, including new works written by JIB participant composers.

June in Buffalo returns to Slee Hall for its final two concerts. On Saturday at 7:30pm, the Slee Sinfonietta and SIGNAL Ensemble join forces to perform one massive work, Les Quatre Temps Cardinaux by JIB Festival artistic director David Felder. Brad Lubman will conduct the work which features Heather Buck, soprano and Ethan Hirschenfeld, bass.

The festival winds up on Sunday at 2:30pm in Slee Hall when the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra takes the stage to perform works celebrating both Morton Feldman, the founder of June in Buffalo, and David Felder, his long-serving successor. Stefan Sanders, who is wrapping up his first season as the BPO’s new associate conductor, will lead the orchestra in Feldman’s 1969 work On Time and the Instrumental Factor, and Felder’s Six Poems from Neruda’s “Alturas” (1992, revised 1998, 2014).

Tickets: $15/10; free for UB students. Information:

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