“Frankenstein” by HK Gruber
A “pan-demonium” for chansonnier and orchestra.
“De Staat” by Louis Andriessen
An iconic and groundbreaking work for large mixed ensemble.
Monday, April 17, at the Sarasota Opera House
Forty musicians will perform a double bill of
contemporary classics, both composed in 1976.
(March 21, 2023) For the first time in its eight-year history, ensembleNewSRQ will take to the Sarasota Opera House stage to present its concluding concert of the season. “1976” features 40 musicians, who will perform a double bill of contemporary classics, both composed in 1976. “Frankenstein,” by HK Gruber is a “pan-demonium” that sets Viennese children’s rhymes in a setting with a “chansonnier” (or narrator), who pushes his delivery toward the realm of performance art and an orchestra that plays instruments outside their job descriptions. The world-renowned percussionist Mike Truesdell will serve as the chansonnier. The second piece, Louis Andriessen’s iconic and groundbreaking “De Staat” uses passages from Plato to illustrate the connection between music, politics, and social class. The concert is Monday, April 17, 7:30 p.m., at Sarasota Opera House, 61 North Pineapple Ave., Sarasota. Single tickets are $25. For more information on ticket packages and single tickets, including student ticket pricing, visit www.ensrq.org.
enSRQ’s artistic directors are violinist Samantha Bennett and percussionist George Nickson. “It’s been inspiring to see our little organization grow to a place where we can now present these deeply important, large-scale works on one of Sarasota’s iconic stages,” says Bennett. “We can’t wait to share this dynamic concert and performance art experience with our ever-growing audience.”
Nickson says that Mike Truesdell performing the role of chansonnier in “Frankenstein” “will captivate audiences beyond their expectations with wit, humor, satire, sarcasm, sincerity, profundity and a sprinkle of virtuosity. This is a live art experience not to be missed.” According to Nickson, the orchestra performs with a bevy of unusual objects, including toy clarinets, saxophones, and trumpets, popping paper bags, slide whistles, and flying whirligigs.
Nickson adds that both works explore the intersection of politics and music. “The works show that not everything shown on the surface is to be trusted and that we ignore who is hiding in the background or the shadows of the situation, frequently at our own peril. It is instructive to us all in noting that these issues are just as important today as they were in 1976 and all the way back to Plato.”
“Throughout history, composers have used musical expression as a way of rebelling against or surrendering to the political and societal constructs of their eras,” says Bennett. “’De Staat’ explores Andriessen’s personal debate about the relationship of music and politics, through his exploration of chaos and order and his own interpretation of Plato’s ‘Republic.’”
The New York Times called percussionist Mike Truesdell “A class act…a poet and the thinking musician’s percussionist—a maverick with grace and subtlety.” As a performer, Truesdell explores both the music of living composers as well as music steeped in past traditions. As a soloist, he is a second-prize winner of the TROMP International Percussion Competition in the Netherlands, and continues to maintain an active performing schedule around the world. Truesdell has also performed with numerous ensembles, including the New York City Ballet, International Contemporary Ensemble, Lucerne Festival Ensemble conducted by Pierre Boulez, and with members of the New York Philharmonic, Metropolitan Opera, Chamber Music Society (New York), and Alarm Will Sound, among others. He has recorded with Renée Fleming, Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Charles Wuorinen, Gil Evans Project, in addition to co-producing the Zeltsman Marimba Festival double-disc recording of the commissioned Intermediate Masterworks for Marimba. Visit www.MikeTruesdell.com.
As an internationally acclaimed composer, conductor and cabaret artist, HK Gruber (b. 1943) regularly performs the chansonnier role in “Frankenstein!” around the globe. His association with the Frankfurt-based Ensemble Modern has included a series of widely acclaimed concerts, opera performances and recordings, and he has worked closely with the BBC Philharmonic in Manchester, holding the post of composer/conductor from 2010 until 2015. Gruber continues to be much in demand as conductor with the world’s leading orchestras, ensembles and music festivals.
Louis Andriessen (1939-2021) is widely regarded as the leading Dutch composer of his generation, who played a pivotal role in the international new music scene. From a background of jazz and avant-garde composition, Andriessen evolved a style employing elemental harmonic, melodic and rhythmic materials, heard in totally distinctive instrumentation. Commissions in the last decade before his death in 2021 included “Mysteriën,” premiered by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and “Mariss Jansons; Agamemnon” for the New York Philharmonic, premiered in 2018; and “The only one” for Los Angeles Philharmonic, premiered in 2019. His final opera, “Theatre of the World,” received first performances in Los Angeles and Amsterdam in 2016, and was released on disc by Nonesuch in 2017. His last work was “May,” for choir and orchestra.
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.