Princeton Sound Kitchen
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The Composers Ensemble, initially directed by Robert Sadin, was formed in 1985. While in earlier years graduate students had heard their work in informal reading sessions in the context of departmental seminars, the Composers Ensemble offered the opportunity for public performances rehearsed and performed by musicians from New York and Philadelphia. In those early days, there were two performances per year, presented in the Music Department.
In 1988, the Composers Ensemble gained a new home, Taplin Auditorium, whose intimate setting and acoustic warmth created an ideal setting in which to perform graduate composers’ work, as well as to create excellent live concert recordings. Generous personal contributions from Princeton local Nat Burt and Professor Emeritus Ed Cone provided a modest endowment which supported a handful of concerts per year featuring local freelance musicians.
In 1991, Steven Mackey and Michael Pratt took over as Co-Directors of the Composers Ensemble. In the early 1990s the group now known as the New Millennium Ensemble made up the core of the Composers Ensemble. Later, Chair of the department, Paul Lansky, along with the Princeton University Development Office, sought to increase endowment funding, and in 1994, the Armour family of Chicago made a generous gift that secured the Ensemble’s future. The greater financial resources allowed the Composers Ensemble to increase its number of performances from a handful to its current range of 10 to 15 professionally performed concerts per year.
Currently co-directed by Barbara White and Michael Pratt, the Composers Ensemble presents two primary types of events. In the first, “freelance” concerts, the co-directors, responding to student requests, build programs around compositions of diverse instrumentation. This way a student may create a work for an established instrumental grouping, such as piano trio or string quartet, or invent an instrumentation, such as dancer and solo acoustic bass, or contrabassoon and accordion. The second type of concert entails hosting a pre-existing established ensemble, most often from the surrounding region, to present a full program of new works by Princeton composers. In recent years, Princeton graduate composers have had the opportunity to work with a number of extraordinary groups that have diverse and particular musical identities, such as So Percussion, eighth blackbird, Synergy Vocals, the Flux Quartet, Ethel, and Ensemble Klang. One of the priorities of the Composers Ensemble is to arrange ample rehearsal time with the ensembles, both to cultivate fine performances and also to encourage the most educationally rewarding interaction possible. Most often graduate composers travel into New York City to rehearse with performers, or in the case of a visiting ensemble, we typically schedule brief residencies where the performers set up shop on campus for a few days.
It is often the case that a graduate composer elects to perform his or her own work. This is not required but is enthusiastically supported. Students often initiate or propose events, ranging from hosting a given ensemble in Taplin Auditorium to creating an outdoor performance or a conference. In addition, many students work with technological elements, which are mounted in collaboration with the production staff of Taplin Auditorium.
The Composers Ensemble is devoted to providing a laboratory/workshop for Princeton Composers to find life for their musical vision on stage, not merely on their teachers’ desks. It has the flexibility to support the evolving interests of its constituent faculty and students including electro-acoustic, multi-media, and theatrical work. In concert quantity, quality and diversity the Composers Ensemble represents a commitment to student and faculty work that is unparalleled by any other graduate program in music.
Concerts (public cordially invited) are usually held at 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday evenings in Fine Hall's Taplin Auditorium. Those unable to attend are able to enjoy a web stream broadcast from the university's main page.
"Informal Black Box Performance"
Wilson College Black Box Theater
3-2-1 - Trios, Solos, and Duos
Works in Progress
Dither. et al
Works in Progress
Friday, March 30 and Saturday, March 31:
One-Act Opera Project
(Co-Sponsored by Music Dept., and others.
Berlind Theater, time TBA
So Percussion I
So Percussion II