Bates celebrates millennium with concert

The Bates College Orchestra, led by William Matthews, the Alice Swanson Esty Professor of Music, will be joined by computer music composer Eric Chasalow, Bates class of 1977, in a concert featuring works commissioned by the college as part of its millennial celebration at 9 p.m. Friday, April 7, in the Olin Arts Center Concert Hall. The public is invited to attend free of charge.

“The music is meant to celebrate all the new technologies available to musicians as we begin the new era,” said Matthews, whose commissioned work “Four Easy Pieces” will be performed by Amy Beal, assistant professor of music, on the college’s new computer-conversant piano. The music includes various types of interaction between a human pianist and the computer “that both ‘listens’ to what the pianist does at the keyboard and plays back its own responses,” Matthews said.

Chasalow, chairperson of the Brandeis University music department, will present “Crossing Boundaries,” commissioned by Bates in celebration of the millennium. Offering Chasalow freedom to compose whatever he wished, the college asked for a piece that would “engage some aspect of the meaning of passing through this time,” said Chasalow, who responded with a work that employs bits of personal reminiscences and aphorisms removed from context and recombined to make a counterpoint of different spaces, places and events and to give different senses of the passage of historical and musical time.”

Consisting of three large sections plus a coda, “Crossing Boundaries” uses a variety of musical sources, including a Hebrew chant, Beethoven piano music, improvised jazz, analog synthesized electronic music and distorted electric guitar. “Music is fundamentally about our experience in time passing, with all the elements that we think of as comprising music ­ pitch, rhythm and timbre ­ interacting to create a sense of moving through time,” said Chasalow, who composed the work in the Brandeis electro-acoustic music studio.

Chasalow also will perform an older work “Over the Edge” that explores the possibilities of the flute. The work, consisting of extremely fast, articulated sections, derives its character from both be-bop and bluegrass music, according to the composer.

Also on the program are excerpts from music by Matthews’ computer music students, featuring sounds of the Bates campus soundscape, including the squash courts, dormitory laundry rooms, party sounds, video games, football action and the gentle noises of the season’s first snowstorm.

For additional information about the concert, call the Olin Arts Center at 207-786-6135.

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