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International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) to present Soundlines at at NYU Skirball, Oct. 18 & 19

by Helene Davis
August 20, 2019
NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts
566 LaGuardia Place at Washington Square
New York, NY 10012
International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) returns to NYU Skirball following its critically acclaimed, sold-out run of the whisper opera in 2018, with Soundlines, two premieres by composer and MacArthur Fellow George Lewis, on October 18 and 19 at 7:30 pm at NYU Skirball. The program features the NYC premiere of "Soundlines: A Dreaming Track," a spoken-word musical journey; and the U.S. premiere of "P. Multitudinis," a sound environment featuring seven ensembles.

"Soundlines: A Dreaming Track is Lewis’s musical interpretation of percussionist and composer Steven Schick’s journal documenting his 700-mile walk from the US-Mexico border to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2006, directed by Jim Findlay. Schick’s diary, written during the several weeks of his trek, has been adapted by Lewis as the libretto for Schick, as speaker and percussionist, joined by a chamber ensemble featuring eight musicians from the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) and electronics. Reminiscent of Alexis de Tocqueville, and Henry David Thoreau, and the Great Migration, the libretto describes Schick’s inner moods, doubts, meditations, aesthetics, his personal musical practice, and social commentary, in a fashion that recalls the Australian aboriginal notion of the songline, or “dreaming track,” where repeating a song while navigating a landscape gains access to ancient stories related to the land. A surround-sound space will be created electronically, enabling text, music and field recordings related to the piece to be experienced more intensively.

"P. Multitudinis" (2018) is a situational-form work for seven ensembles: a trio with piano, percussion, and electronics; a string quartet; a woodwind quintet; a “mobile trio” of voice, saxophone, and trumpet that can play from any position in the performance space; one or more “mobile percussionists” who can play with any of the ensembles; a “mobile conductor” who can conduct any of the ensembles; and “The Multitude,” an open-instrumentation ensemble for any number of players. Performers are given both precisely notated passages and tasks laid out on a grid that suggest ways of relating to the sonic environment. The work's title, text, ethics, movement trajectories, and musical methodologies all derive from Spinoza’s notion of potentia multitudinis, presented in his 1677 Tractatus Politicus, published posthumously and later banned: “The right of a commonwealth is determined by the power of a people that is guided as though by a single mind. But this union of minds could in no way be conceived unless the chief aim of the commonwealth is identical with that which sound reason teaches us is for the good of all men.”

George Lewis is Case Professor of American Music at Columbia University, where he is Area Chair in Composition and member of the faculty in Historical Musicology. A Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy, Lewis’s other honors include a MacArthur Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, an Alpert Award in the Arts, a Doris Duke Artist Award, a United States Artists Fellowship, and honorary doctorates from the University of Edinburgh, New College of Florida, and Harvard University. A member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) since 1971, Lewis's work in experimental music and interactive media is documented on more than 150 recordings, and his AACM opera Afterword (2015) has been performed internationally. His 2008 book, A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music, received the American Book Award. Lewis’s music is published by Edition Peters. https://columbia.edu/bios/george-e-lewis

The International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) is an artist collective committed to transforming the way music is created and experienced. ICE explores how new music intersects with communities across the world. The Ensemble’s 36 members are featured as soloists, chamber musicians, commissioners and collaborators with the foremost musical artists of our time. Works by emerging composers have anchored the Ensemble’s programming since its founding in 2001, and the group’s recordings and digital platforms highlight the many voices that weave music’s present. iceorg.org.

Soundlines was commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association; the International Contemporary Ensemble, with the support of the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation; and in honor of the Taylor Family through ICE's First Page, with lead support from Billie and Tim Taylor.

NYU Skirball, located in the heart of Greenwich Village, is one of New York City’s major presenters of international work, and has been the premier venue for cultural and performing arts events in lower Manhattan since 2003. The 800-seat theater, led by Director Jay Wegman, provides a home for internationally renowned artists, innovators and thinkers. NYU Skirball hosts over 300 events annually, from re-inventions of the classics to cutting-edge premieres, in genres ranging from dance, theater and performance arts to comedy, music and film.

NYU Skirball’s unique partnership with New York University enables it to draw on the University’s intellectual riches and resources to enhance its programming with dialogues, public forums and conversations with artists, philosophers, scientists, Nobel Laureates and journalists.

Soundlines will play Friday, October 18 and Saturday, October 19 at 7:30 pm. Tickets begin at $35 and can be purchased online at www.nyuskirball.org, by phone at 212.998.4941, or in person at the Box Office, 566 LaGuardia Place at Washington Square: Tuesday-Saturday, 12:00–6:00 P.M., NYU Skirball is located at 566 LaGuardia Place at Washington Square, New York, New York 10012. www.nyuskirball.org
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