||The New Music Ensemble launches its 34th season with a concert featuring two works of intense chamber music, a world premiere of a tone poem about the geography of Mars, and a splashy concertino for clarinet and chamber orchestra that is quite literally "from hell".
Beginning with UT doctoral student Alex Heppelmann's colorful and emotional PROMETHEI TERRA, the concert then moves to two works by our Visiting Composer, Sean Shepherd. Shepherd, only 34 years old, is the Composer in Residence with the Cleveland Orchestra, which has already commissioned and performed two works of his---along with such ensembles as the New York Philharmonic and a host of other world-class ensembles. His two works featured here are OCTET, for the same instrumentation as the Schubert Octet (clarinet, bassoon, horn, and string quintet) and LUMENS, for a Pierrot Lunaire-plus-percussion ensemble. Both pieces are vehicles for virtuoso performers, and the UT NME players are completely up to the challenge. Finally, faculty clarinetist Nathan Williams steps up to the Gates of Hell with Dan Welcher's DANTE DANCES. This is a serio-comic series of dances (all variations on the same theme) that follow Dante and Virgil into the ever-murkier circles of hell, where they meet now-familiar characters. Each dance features a denizen of that circle of hell, such as Cerberus, the three-headed dog (the Polka), and Gianni Schicchi (whose dance is, of course, a tarantella). 7:30 in Bates Recital Hall (free).