January 16 at First Congregational Church
The Pulitzer Prize and Grammy Award-winning composer was a trailblazer who explored contrasting musical styles and challenged musicians to use new techniques.
(December 28, 2022) The composer George Crumb (1929-2022) has been celebrated as one of the 20th century’s most adventurous and exceptional composers. ensembleNewSRQ (enSRQ) pays tribute to him with “George Crumb Tribute: Remembering an American Icon and Those He Influenced,” a concert showcasing two works, “Black Angels” and “Madrigals,” by the trailblazing composer. The concert also features the emotionally powerful “Demeter Prelude” by Crumb’s protégé, Margaret Brouwer. Renowned soprano, Lucy Fitz Gibbon returns to sing Crumb’s evocative “Madrigals.” The concert is Sunday, January 16, 7:30 p.m., at First Congregational Church, 1031 S Euclid Ave, Sarasota. Single tickets are $25. Single tickets for streaming options are $10. For more information on ticket packages and single tickets, including student ticket pricing, visit www.ensrq.org.
enSRQ’s artistic directors, violinist Samantha Bennett and percussionist George Nickson, say that they feel indebted to Crumb’s transformative artistry. “George Crumb expanded the universe of modern music and created an entire new palette of sound and emotion for musicians to paint with” says Bennett.
“For percussionists, in particular, Crumb brought us to the fore and wrote in a way that is both virtuosic and poignant, bringing depth and power to the percussionist’s role within these chamber works,” says Nickson.
“’Black Angels’ is a heart-wrenching lament about our troubled contemporary world for electric string quartet and exists in dialogue with the past. Quotes from Schubert’s ‘Death and The Maiden’ create a striking backdrop for this exploration of Good vs. Evil,” says Nickson.
Bennett notes that Crumb’s “Madrigals,” is “an evocative ode to childhood’s end for soprano, flute and percussion and the perfect work for vocal star Lucy Fitz Gibbon to “show off her range, captivating stage presence and deep musical intellect.”
Artists performing this program include: Lucy Fitz Gibbon, soprano; Betsy Hudson Traba, flutes; Naoko Nakamura, harp; Samantha Bennett and Jennifer Best Takeda, violins; Rachel Halvorson, viola; Jaime Clark, cello; George Nickson, percussion, and John Miller double bass.
George Crumb was recognized the world over as one of the 20th century’s most adventurous and exceptional composers. Writing for orchestras and ensembles, Crumb won many awards, accolades and admirers. He was one of a select few to have been awarded both a Pulitzer Prize for Music and a Grammy Award. Crumb’s music often juxtaposes contrasting musical styles, ranging from music of the western art-music tradition, to hymns and folk music, to non-Western music. Many of Crumb’s works include programmatic, symbolic, mystical and theatrical elements, which are often reflected in his beautiful and meticulously notated scores.
Margaret Brouwer has earned critical accolades for her music’s lyricism, musical imagery and emotional power. Her music has been called “devoid of slickness…true to a vision” (New York Times), “inhabiting its own peculiarly bewitching harmonic world” (New York Times), and “a marvelous example of musical imagery.” (American Record Guide).
Noted for her “dazzling, virtuoso singing” (Boston Globe), soprano Lucy Fitz Gibbon is a dynamic musician whose repertoire spans the Renaissance to the present. She believes that creating new works and recreating those lost in centuries past makes room for the multiplicity and diversity of voices integral to classical music’s future.
enSRQ is celebrating its seventh season with contemporary masterworks, compelling new compositions, exciting collaborations, and world premieres. Bennett and Nickson curated a six-program season that shines a light on the evolution of contemporary music in the 21st century. This season concludes with a first-ever concert at the Sarasota Opera House featuring 40 musicians.
The 2023 Season at a Glance
- Crumb: January 16, 7:30 p.m. “Black Angels,” the epic lament for the troubled years of the Vietnam era climaxes a tribute to George Crumb (1929-2022), the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer whose works are among the most frequently performed compositions in today’s musical world. Renowned soprano and enSRQ favorite, Lucy Fitz Gibbon returns to sing Crumb’s evocative “Madrigals,” and the emotionally powerful “Demeter Prelude” by Crumb’s protégé, Margaret Brouwer will also be performed. First Congregational Church, 1031 S. Euclid Ave., Sarasota. Live streaming will also be available to viewers for this concert.
- Vespers For A New Dark Age: February 6, 7:30 p.m. The voices of the Dallas-based Verdigris Ensemble rise in collaboration with ensembleNEWSRQ to present the compelling choral works of two internationally acclaimed composers: “The Branch Will Not Break” by Christopher Cerrone—as inspired by the poetry of James Arlington Wright; and “Vespers for a New Dark Age” by Missy Mazzoli—set to the poetry of Matthew Zapruder. First Congregational Church, 1031 S. Euclid Ave., Sarasota. Live streaming will also be available to viewers for this concert.
- And The Hits Keep Coming: March 20, 7:30 p.m. The virtuosic versatility of the percussionist is celebrated in a program featuring Krizts Auznieks’s “Prelude and Ether” for marimbas, vibraphone, and piano; Emma O’Halloran’s “Shell” for marimba quartet; and the world premieres of newly commissioned works for percussion ensembles by the renowned British composer Mark-Anthony Turnage and the emerging American percussionist/composer Shaun Tilburg. First Congregational Church, 1031 S. Euclid Ave., Sarasota. Live streaming will also be available to viewers for this concert.
- 1976: April 17,7:30 p.m. Forty musicians ensemble to perform a double bill of contemporary classics, both composed in 1976. HK Gruber’s vastly entertaining “Frankenstein” (a “pandemonium for baritone chansonnier and ensemble”) opens the program, and Louis Andriessen’s iconic and groundbreaking “De Staat” concludes it. Sarasota Opera House, 61 North Pineapple Ave., Sarasota. Live streaming will also be available to viewers for this concert.
Founded in 2015 by violinist Samantha Bennett and percussionist George Nickson, ensembleNEWSRQ (enSRQ) is a versatile chamber music ensemble in Sarasota, FL, dedicated to playing and advocating for the music of contemporary composers. Through thoughtfully curated and innovative programs, enSRQ demonstrates how contemporary music is a reflection of our world and cultural experience. The ensemble strives to manifest the creativity of the current generation and inspire audiences to participate in musical culture in a profound way.