“The cornerstone of the city’s new music groups.” – The Arts Fuse

Memories Without a Master
Saturday, September 24, 2016 | 8pm

Tsai Performance Center, Boston
General Admission: $30
Seniors: $25
Students / Children: $10


Tickets available at the door starting at 7pm

David Rakowski: Arabesques I Have Known   WORLD PREMIERE

Pierre Boulez: Le marteau sans maître (The hammer without a master)
Jennifer Ashe, soprano

Steven Stucky: Cantus

Yu-hui Chang: Binge Delirium
Robert Schulz, percussion


Earlier this year, the world lost two great voices of contemporary music with special significance to Boston Musica Viva: Pierre Boulez and Steven Stucky. We open our 48th Season of New Music with great works by these composers, and music by two local composers—a world premiere by David Rakowski, and a work by his Brandeis colleague Yu-Hui Chang—that showcase the continuing evolution of music.

Boulez, a pioneer both with his pen and his baton, married structure and spontaneity through a catalogue of innovative works, and mentored a generation of composers and conductors, including our own Richard Pittman. For this concert, we reprise Boulez’s Le marteau sans maître, a crowning masterpiece of unique instrumentation, glittering sonorities and bold harmonic language that is as fresh now as it was at its premiere in 1955. In addition to several guest musicians supplementing our core ensemble, the performance will feature the return of soprano Jennifer Ashe.

Just last season, we presented the East Coast Premiere of Cantus, a new work by Stucky we co-commissioned. A stunning exploration of melody, Cantus celebrates the composer’s return to the “Pierrot plus percussion” instrumentation that makes up BMV’s core ensemble. Boston Musica Viva has performed Stucky’s music since his days as a graduate student, and his unexpected passing just months after joining us for our performance of Cantus was a shock. We have chosen to add Cantus to this program in his honor as a truly great composer, and a truly great person.

In our first World Premiere of the season, Rakowski’s Arabesques I Have Known brings memories into focus with BMV’s percussionist and pianist doubling on melodica and an Andes Suzuki keyboard, a recorder keyboard with tonality reminiscent of a pan flute. In much the same way Boulez paints ethnic musical tones through percussion, Rakowski draws unique color through these specialized instruments.

The evolution of percussion in music today sparked by Boulez and his contemporaries reaches musical and technical highpoints in Yu-Hui’s Binge Delirium, a solo work featuring BMV’s own virtuoso percussionist Robert Schulz. Whereas Stucky explored melody, Yu-Hui delves into timbre through a set of non-pitched instruments, played in a variety of innovative ways with complex rhythms. While the title implies an acute confusional state, the execution of the work requires expert precision and grace.

“Cantus soars. The violin carries the melody from a shimmering and tender upper range to a warm middle register before passing it off to the cello, which manages to sing through evanescent clouds of pitches. ... (Steven) Stucky’s harmonic writing is colorful and complex.” —Aaron Keebaugh, Boston Classical Review