The stewardship of Northwestern University’s annual NU Music Marathon has passed to faculty composers Jay Alan Yim and Amy Williams, whose interests differ slightly from those of founder Amnon Wolman, who left the university last fall. Yim has roots in east-coast academia and lives in the Netherlands part of the year, while Williams has a doctorate from the State University of New York at Buffalo, where the improv tradition developed by Morton Feldman still flourishes. All this helps explain why John Zorn and Louis Andriessen are among the featured composers in this year’s ten events (each lasting about an hour). Cellist Frances-Marie Uitti, pianist Winston Choi, and the NU Contemporary Band will perform a sampler of Zorn’s “classical” compositions at 6 PM; afterward, Zorn himself will guide the same musicians in Cobra, a game he devised that uses cards and visual cues to determine style, tempo, and other facets of an improvisation. Dutch composer Andriessen, more appreciated in Europe than here, shuttles easily between jazz and classical avant-garde; he’s fashioned a style that’s economical, colorful, and propulsive. Two of his works–La Voce and the score for Peter Greenaway’s film M Is for Man, Music, Mozart–constitute the day’s final concert at 9 PM. In La Voce, the soloist (Uitti, for whom the piece was written) plays cello while reciting verse by Italian poet Cesare Pavese. M, which puts Andriessen the postmodernist on display, is a piece for jazz band that quotes from pop and Mozart; this performance casts talented local soprano Tony Arnold as a second-rate music-hall chanteuse. Other highlights of the evening include composer Stephen Syverud banging out La Monte Young’s 42 for Henry Flynt on a gong and members of the instrumental sextet Eighth Blackbird performing pieces by Steve Reich, Toru Takemitsu, and George Crumb. Sunday, May 11, 3:30 PM, Block Museum of Art, 40 Arts Circle Dr., Evanston, and Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, 50 Arts Circle Dr., Evanston; 847-491-5441 or 847-467-4000.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photos/Jennifer Girard.