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BGSU will be center of contemporary music world next week PDF Print E-mail
Written by DAVID DUPONT Sentinel Arts & Entertainment Editor   
Friday, 11 October 2013 10:21
Someone would have to be very erudite to recognize all the names on even a short list of the all the people composer George Lewis has collaborated with.
He first gained fame, coming out of the Chicago free jazz scene as a trombonist and a member of the pioneering music collective AACM.
He expanded his role from a trombonist with some of the top names in jazz, to an electronic music explorer, to a composer, professor and philosopher. Lewis doesn't so much span styles and genres, but stands astride them.
Lewis will visit Bowling Green State University as the featured guest composer of the New Music Festival Oct. 16-19.
His compositions will be performed during the four-day festival. Among those performing his work will be special guests Ensemble Dal Niente. The ensemble will premier a work by Lewis at a concert Oct. 18 at 8 p.m. in Kobacker Hall, one of about a dozen events connected with the festival.
For Ryan Muncy, a saxophonist with the group as well as its executive director, the trip to Bowling Green brings him back to familiar ground. He received his masters in performance from BGSU in 2006.
Muncy described Lewis as an important jazz trombonist, composer and philosopher and composer.
"He's one of the greatest musical minds of the last 50 years," he said, and having the chance to collaborate with him is "almost too good to be true."
"He is a person who has such an amazing spirit of generosity," Muncy said.
Individual members of the ensemble have worked on the piece with the composer in person and over Skype, next best thing to being in the room with him, Muncy said.
It is scored for an unusual combination - flute, clarinet, soprano saxophone, percussion, harp, piano, violin, viola and cello.
Lewis' roots in jazz are evident in his compositions, though they don't sound like jazz, Muncy said. Some pieces have elements of improvisation "which can't be disassociated from his work in jazz." Lewis will discuss his work Oct. 17 at 1 p.m. in Bryan Recital Hall on campus.
On the Oct. 18 concert Ensemble Dal Niente will also premiere a composition by BGSU faculty member Mikel Kuehn. The piece for chamber orchestra uses almost the full complement of instruments available to the ensemble.
Muncy, who performed once at the festival while a student, said he remembers the event as being "overwhelming."
For those few days, he said, "Bowling Green becomes the most  important place for new music. It's a pretty intense experience. ... The work being done at Bowling Green is incredible, especially the festival. It really is quite an honor to be invited to come back."
Muncy's been a member of Ensemble Dal Neinte since 2008, he said. It'd already been around for a few years, having started in 2004 as "a bunch of kids putting on new music shows whenever they could find an audience."
The ensemble has grown since then. It became a non-profit in 2007, and in 2010 five members performed at the  Summer Course for New Music in Darmstadt, Germany. The ensemble won an honorable mention award, the first time an ensemble has been so honored.
In 2012  a larger contingent returned and won the top prize, Muncy said, again a first for an ensemble. That "really bolstered" Dal Niente's reputation.

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