BMOP ensemble to premiere contemporary compositions

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The Bowdoin Orient
Amanda Minoff
January 28, 2011

Tonight, the Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP) will be performing its second program of a three-part series at the College.

BMOP, directed by Gil Rose, plays a diverse repertoire of contemporary music. This particular program, entitled "Monsters of Modernism" is comprised of pieces from the latter half of the 20th century.

"When we think about concert music, we have this image of powdered wigs and classical composers [such as] Beethoven and Mozart," said Associate Professor of Music Vineet Shende. "This program offers a completely different side to that common notion."

"BMOP's reputation precedes them. They are one of the top new music ensembles in the country composed of some of the top virtuoso players. They are nationally recognized, in fact they are nominated for three Grammys this year," said Shende. "To hear a modern, unfamiliar repertoire of music played by these world class musicians is incredible. And to hear it live is a real treat."

Shende was the original contact point between BMOP and the College. He has known of the orchestra for as long as he has lived in the Northeast—about 10 years. Shende was struck by the exciting nature of the orchestra's contemporary concert music and the prestige of its musicians.

BMOP's Bowdoin performance is part of a three-college tour, and offers the community a valuable opportunity to hear such a renowned ensemble.

"BMOP will play three different concerts at three different colleges—Bowdoin, Tufts and Wellesley," explained Shende.

The orchestra performed its first program, entitled "Luminous Noise" on December 10. "Monsters of Modernism" is the second installment in the series and the third will be performed on April 17.

"They play very different music each time they perform," said Shende. "So Friday's performance is bound to be different from their performance last month."

The diverse, modern repertoire of BMOP distinguishes the orchestra from classical music ensembles.

"It's the idea that you can do anything that makes contemporary orchestral music so interesting," said Shende. "You might have composers that incorporate indigenous sounds or a techno beat into their work... in modern concert composition you really have free range."

"It is also interesting to see composers today incorporating facets of the modern world into their work and creating narratives that might be more easily accessible," added Shende. "Using modern concepts and modern sounds in ensemble music is something that really appeals to me."

"Monsters of Modernism" will include pieces by world-renowned composers, most of whom wrote in the seventies and eighties.

"One of the pieces that they'll be performing will be a premiere. It is a piece entitled Touching Bottom composed by Martin Brody, who is a professor at Wellesley," said Shende. "So that is very exciting."

While BMOP plays with a full orchestra when performing in Boston, they will be scaling their ensemble back to 19 musicians to accommodate the smaller Studzinski Recital Hall.

"One interesting thing about BMOP is that it is a flexible kind of ensemble," said Shende. "It is great that the orchestra can modify itself to fit all kinds of venues."

Shende remarked on the invaluable opportunity offered by the performance series and encouraged students to attend.

"I think this performance will enable students to see classical music in a completely new light. I know when I used to think of classical music I thought of a 'dead' kind of music that existed 200 years ago—museum pieces," he said. "But I think that this contemporary ensemble music is some of the most exciting [music] being played on the planet today. The opportunity to hear this is one that students should definitely take advantage of."

The concert will take place tonight at 7:30 p.m. in Kanbar Auditorium, Studzinski Recital Hall.