Underdog history comes to life through new music and old Irish songs in composer Donnacha Dennehy’s opera about the Great Famine of 1845-52. The story itself is rooted in Asenath Nicholson’s harrowing first-person account in Annals of the Famine in Ireland. Acclaimed ensemble Alarm Will Sound and celebrated Irish folk singer Iarla Ó Lionáird, imagines soprano Katherine Manley as Nicholson and Ó Lionáird as the voice of the voiceless, with instrumentalists integrated into the staging. Old recordings of traditional sean nós songs dovetail seamlessly with Dennehy’s score, while video clips of interviews with Noam Chomsky, Paul Krugman, and others underscore the political roots of this tragedy that brought a nation to its knees.
Catch Alarm Will Sound performing The Hunger September 30th or October 1st at BAM in New York City.
The Hunger is co-produced by Alarm Will Sound and Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and commissioned by Alarm Will Sound with additional funding from Arts Council of Ireland, MAP Fund, The Sinquefield Charitable Foundation, and New Music USA. Additional support by Jay Golan and Janet Gornick of CUNY Graduate Center; Bev Stolhl of MIT; New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; and Culture Ireland.
Join us September 30th for opening night of The Hunger at BAM and celebrate with us afterwards at a special post-performance party with the artists! Tickets are $150 and include one orchestra seat ticket and in invitation to the after-party. Purchase tickets here.
Terror is often the first response to unfamiliarity, and some of the boldest forays into the unfamiliar have launched under the banner of Modernism. Listening to new sounds can be akin to watching a horror movie—with ears covered rather than eyes—but given time, what was once disturbing can become intriguing.
Alarm Will Sound ventures into the outer reaches of propriety on Modernists. The album is bookended by tributes to two masterworks of modern recorded sound that have been arranged for the ensemble: “Revolution 9” by The Beatles (arranged by Matt Marks) and “Poème électronique” by Edgard Varèse (arranged by Evan Hause). Each piece is strange and otherworldly in its own way, with a provocative history of upsetting as many, if not more, listeners than they have won over.
The 23-piece band led by Alan Pierson, AWS Artistic Director, also performs work written for the ensemble by Wolfgang Rihm, Charles Wuorinen, AWS pianist John Orfe, and Augusta Read Thomas (whose “Final Soliloquy of the Interior Paramour” features vocal performances by Kirsten Sollek and Caleb Burhans).
As the Denver Post has noted, “Alarm Will Sound has grabbed the future of classical music and made it now—merging styles, erasing boundaries, championing experimentation and obviously having fun along the way.” This joyful and adventurous spirit fuels the beating heart of the Modernists album.
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Listen through to the end if you're feeling dazed and confused about why this brand new piece sounds familiar. Premiered at the Mizzou International Composers Festival in 2011.
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Caleb almost went to Indiana University for college but he decided on Eastman partly because he didn’t like that IU had the highest-paid basketball coach in the country. His life could have turned out pretty differently if Bobby Knight made a little less money back in the late 90s. But Eastman it was.
As a 17-year old, Caleb had a thing for Ligeti’s music so he emailed Alan before he got to Eastman to ask for an audition with Ossia to play on their Ligeti concert. He was late to the first rehearsal because he was getting his nose pierced, but he soon became a regular. Just before graduating, he terrified his conservative grandmother by telling her he wanted to move to NYC to live paycheck to paycheck as a freelance musician. Now he’s doing exactly that (although maybe not living quite paycheck to paycheck) as a freelance violinist, violist, countertenor, composer, and improviser.
Caleb started singing in a boys’ choir at age 9 then quickly picked up several instruments. At 10, he wrote his first piano piece in C major. The only early composition he’ll live up to now is a piece for 2 violins that he wrote on his first day back to school as a high school sophomore called What a Shame. It was quite a shame that summer was over.
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