Idyllwild Arts Music Director and Composer-in-Residence Peter Askim returns to the Idyllwild Community Recreation Council’s Speaker Series to discuss new music, the broad diversity within it, and specifically the many premieres that are part of the upcoming Idyllwild Arts Academy spring orchestra concert. “It’s a new music stew,” said Askim, “bringing together all kinds of different strands, ideologies and philosophies.” His talk is called, “What’s New? The Latest, Greatest, Up-to Date-est in Contemporary Classical Music.”
Askim, a world-recognized new music composer and bassist, is one of the most popular of presenters at the ICRC series because of the new information he brings to understanding classical music. This is especially true when he talks about “new” classical music, a highly diverse and sometimes perplexing genre, characterized by many different moments and movements (modernism, electronic music, spectral, post-modernism, new simplicity, new complexity, polystylism, world music, and on and on) since it began to emerge in the mid-1940s.
A look at the program for the Idyllwild Arts Orchestra April concert confirms the diverse, and even humorous mix of elements that go into the new music stew about which Askim will speak. On the program are four world premieres, and one West Coast premiere. Part of that mix is “Music for Pieces of Wood,” performed by So Percussion (“One of the hottest new music groups today,” said Askim), and the premiere of an orchestral version of John Cage’s, “Credo in US.” Cage wrote the piece for pianist and two percussionists using sound samples from recordings of other works, fragments of radio broadcasts, popular music, and tin cans and tom-toms. In this new version, the IA orchestra replaces the radio broadcasts and sampling.
Also on the program, Richard Thompson returns with his suite “Interviews with Ghosts.” Singer, songwriter Thompson, dubbed by Rolling Stone one of the top 20 guitarists of all time for his acoustic and electric virtuosity, previously featured his “Cabaret of Souls” with the IA orchestra. “The Thompson piece is psychologically probing and eerie,” said Askim.
Askim was also enthusiastic about the innovations So Percussion brings to the new music scene. “They have 12 albums, all percussion, and they’re really amazing,” he noted. “They play anything they can hit, including drum sets, gongs, tearing paper; highly eclectic.
“New music brings together many different strands and influences,” said Askim, and its that eclecticism and tying together those diverse elements that he will be discussing in the speaker series, at the Quiet Creek Gallery on Wednesday, April 18, at 6 p.m.
A wine and cheese reception precedes Askim’s talk. Both are free to the public.