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Student-Faculty Ensemble Plays Russia's "Sound Ways"

Written by 4/24/2009

One of many extraordinary photos IC students snapped while on tour in Russia

Kulmusik, the Ithaca College School of Music contemporary chamber ensemble, performed at the 20th International New Music Festival, "Sound Ways," in St. Petersburg, Russia, this past fall. The concert took place at Glinka Hall of the Philharmonic, one of St. Petersburg's most beautiful and prestigious halls.

The ensemble combines six faculty members and eight students under the artistic leadership of Sally Lamb and is conducted by Jeffery Meyer. Lamb teaches composition in the School of Music, while Meyer, who conducts the two Ithaca College orchestras, is also the music director of the St. Petersburg Chamber Philharmonic. That orchestra has been participating in the "Sound Ways" New Music Festival for the past four years; its director, composer Alexander Radvilovich, invited Kulmusik to perform this year.

"Sound Ways" was envisioned, developed and exists in its present form as an avant-garde festival, says artistic director Alexander Radvilovich. Every year it presents no less than 50 Russian and international premieres of the avant-garde classics, as well as performances by modern composers, who often create music specifically for the festival.

The view from the stage at Glinka Hall

The view from the stage at Glinka Hall

The festival, now 20 years old, has acquired recognition and has become a part of the international context as a laboratory of modern art.

"The Kulmusik Contemporary Ensemble is a unique ensemble comprised of both faculty and students dedicated to the study and performance of contemporary music and music of the 20th century,” says Adam Butalewicz, M.M. ’09. “The students learn and work alongside their teachers who foster an abiding interest in the composition and performance of new music. The ensemble performs a handful of concerts per year in the Hockett Family Recital Hall, providing new music to new listeners."

Richard Faria, associate professor of clarinet, says for him the "whole raison d’être for the group is to help students to realize the importance of continually supporting new music. Without the continual challenge of new voices entering our circle of music, we become only museum-keepers, content to polish off the same old but revered works to do again and again.”

 He adds, “In order for music to survive as a viable, living art form, it needs to continue to grow. I also feel that by presenting students with the mental and physical challenges of new music, it will open their minds to new ways of listening, new ways of thinking about music, and can only help to improve and broaden their performances of the old masters."

Sally Lamb, Kulmusik’s artistic director, says that "the reason for combining students with faculty is to bring a 'family' approach by learning challenging repertoire alongside experienced musicians in an environment that is both stimulating and supportive."

Commissioning and premiering new works is another important aspect of the ensemble's programming, along with performing works by composers who visit Ithaca College, which have included Jennifer Higdon, Joan Tower, and Karel Husa. Lamb also began the Kulmusik Composition Competition, which is open to all School of Music composition students.





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