BMOP to perform modern classical compositions tonight

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The Bowdoin Orient
Fiona Stavrou
December 10, 2010

Performing numerous modern compositions of the 20th century, the Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP), under the direction of Gil Rose, will make its first ever appearance on the Bowdoin campus today in Studzinski Recital Hall, where the orchestra will perform the first program of a three-part series.

Since 1996, BMOP has been producing and performing contemporary compositions, especially at Jordan Hall at the New England Conservatory.

Associate Professor of Music Vineet Shende, who helped organize BMOP's performance at Bowdoin, said that it is the "biggest and best-known musical ensemble in the country devoted exclusively to playing new music. They generally play music of living composers as opposed to most orchestras who rely on 19th-century works."

BMOP's performances at Bowdoin are part of an initiative the group is making to perform at colleges in the New England area. Tufts and Wellesley will also be hosting BMOP's concert series.

Friday's program, entitled "Luminous Noise," will present three recent compositions by celebrated women composers. The first piece, Living in Sin by Jennifer Johnson, will make its world premiere on the Studzinski stage.

The orchestra will also perform three of Grammy award-winning Chinese composer Chen Yi's works: Suite for Cello and Chamber Winds, Sparkle, and Wu Yu. Yi is a renowned musician, known for her contemporary classical compositions and her contribution to choral and chamber repertoires.

"The pieces that I know that they're doing on the program are just incredible gems. One of the pieces by Chen Yi is a piece called Sparkle that does exactly what the title suggests," said Shende. "It's some of the most exciting music that’s been written in the past quarter-century and we’re excited to see it performed here."

The Tiger under the Table by Scottish composer Judith Weir is the final piece of the program.

The final two parts of the three part series will be performed at Bowdoin in the spring. The second program, "Monsters of Modernism" will make its way to Studzinski on January 28. The third performance, which will feature the work of the "Bang on a Can" composers, is scheduled for April 17.

According to Shende, BMOP's work spans way beyond the context of "Luminous Voices."

"The concerts that I've seen with BMOP have been consistently some of the best concerts of any genre that I've seen, period. We're really lucky to have them up here for the series that they'll be doing," said Shende.

As one of the premiere orchestras of contemporary music, BMOP has been nominated for three 2010 Grammy awards. These nominations are in the categories of Best Classical Album, Best Orchestral performance, and Best Engineered Classical Album for their contribution to composer Stephen Mackey's album entitled Dreamhouse.

BMOP's initiative to bring their orchestrations of contemporary music to collegiate settings aims to expose students to current composers.

"When you live in a metropolitan area you have the opportunity to see great concerts all the time. What's great is that here [at Bowdoin] you have the opportunity to see this great group with this composer in attendance," said Shende. "I hope students take advantage of it."

The BMOP will perform in Studzinki Recital Hall tonight at 7:30 p.m.