IU’s New Music Ensemble performs at IU Mexico Gateway

IU’s New Music Ensemble to perform in celebration of IU Mexico Gateway opening

By Marah Harbison
May 23, 2017

Opportunities provided by Indiana University and the Jacobs School of Music have taken composition doctoral students Christopher LaRosa and Felipe Tovar-Henao to places like Paris, Oregon, and South Korea. Now, thanks to another IU opportunity, the two composers and friends will add another stamp to their passports when they head to Mexico this month.

IU Jacobs School of Music’s New Music Ensemble will perform in Mexico City in celebration of the official opening of the IU Mexico Gateway. The opening is May 28, and the concert will take place May 29 at National Autonomous University of Mexico, featuring pieces written by LaRosa and Tovar-Henao.

Description of the video:

[Dzubay speaks] The New Music Ensemble is what we call a major ensemble here.

[Video: David Dzubay conducting the ensemble. A cellist practicing within the ensemble.] 

[Dzubay speaks] We have 18 members in the core ensemble, and we will be taking all of those to Mexico at the end of May.

[Video: Dzubay appears on camera.]

[Dzubay speaks] Each year, we have an internal competition that leads to two commissions for students to write pieces that they know will be well rehearsed, and performed, and recorded by the New Music Ensemble.

[Video: A harpist practicing within the ensemble. Dzubay conducting the ensemble. An ensemble member practicing the French horn. Several members of the ensemble playing wind instruments, such as clarinets. Two members of the ensemble playing drums and the piano. Dzubay appears on camera.]

[Dzubay speaks] Two of those works will be featured at our program in Mexico.

[Video: The ensemble appears, with several members playing instruments. Close-ups the drums and piano.]

[LaRosa speaks] The piece that the New Music Ensemble is going to be playing in Mexico of mine is called “Nights of 1998.”

[Video: Christopher LaRosa appears on camera.]

[LaRosa speaks] And the poem is basically about a ruckus night in New York filled with lots of partying, people, and music.

[Video: David Dzubay conducting the ensemble. A cellist practicing within the ensemble.]

[LaRosa speaks] That’s really what the piece is all about, it’s just a wild party, within the ensemble and the singer is just having a great time.

[Video: Christopher LaRosa appears on camera. David Dzubay conducting the ensemble.]

[Tovar-Henao speaks] The piece that I wrote is called “Danzas Encefálicas.”

[Video: Felipe Tovar-Henao appears on camera.]

[Tovar-Henao speaks] And the main premise of this work is that I used dreaming as a phenomenon and was able to shape different elements of the music, primarily the former structure.

[Video: An ensemble member playing the drums. A pianist rehearsing.]

[LaRosa speaks] For me, music is all about listening, and coming together, and I think that’s what these gateways are really about, is bringing people together to listen and learn from one another.

[Video: Christopher LaRosa appears on camera.]

[Dzubay speaks] It really enriches the opportunities for both students and faculty to have these tendrils out into the wider world and cultivate projects and collaborations with other institutions and cities.

[Video: A xylophonist rehearsing. David Dzubay conducting the ensemble.]

[Dzubay speaks] I think it really opens the door to many possibilities for the IU community.

[Video: Dzubay appears on camera.]

[Video: Closing outro appears on screen. The IU trident at the top. The words Indiana University and Fulfilling the Promise appear, with the URL iu.edu at the bottom of the screen.]

LaRosa’s piece, “Nights of 1998,” was commissioned by the Georgina Joshi Foundation for the New Music Ensemble, and Felipe Tovar-Henao’s “Danzas Encefálicas” was last year’s recipient of the Jacobs School of Music’s Dean’s Prize. The friends said it’s an amazing opportunity to have a piece well-rehearsed, recorded, and performed on an international stage by a large IU ensemble, and doing it together will make the trip all the more exciting.

“Taking this piece to Mexico is important to me in many ways,” Tovar-Henao said. “The obvious reason is that I’m taking a piece to a country I’ve never been to before, but another reason is that I’m sharing this program with one of my best friends.”

Tovar-Henao will also reconnect with friend and IU alumnus José Francisco Cortés Álvarez, whose piece “Canta y no llores” is part of the program. “Corporea,” by National Autonomous University of Mexico faculty member and former IU sabbatical replacement faculty Gabriela Ortiz, will round out the New Music Ensemble’s performance. Onix Ensamble, a premier Mexican new music ensemble, will perform during the concert as well.

In addition to interacting with Álvarez, Ortiz, and musicians from Onix, the 18 members of the New Music Ensemble will network with Mexican musicians during a rehearsal for the Mexican National Symphony and a reception following their own performance.

“Any time students can broaden their horizons and make contact with professionals around the world, it’s a wonderful thing,” said David Dzubay, director of the New Music Ensemble and chair of IU’s composition department. “The musical world is very small, so they’ll actually encounter the same people over and over throughout their lives, but it’s good to develop these connections early.”

Dzubay said the New Music Ensemble’s trip to Mexico was proposed by Javier F. León, director of IU’s Latin American Music Center. He has coordinated logistics for the trip and sought out IU connections in Mexico. Dzubay said Leon’s efforts could benefit IU beyond this trip, since some of the Mexican musicians that Jacobs representatives will be meeting with later this month may travel to Bloomington to take part in IU’s spring 2019 Global Arts and Humanities Festival, “Mexico Remixed.”

This trip is not the first time IU music students have used the IU Global Gateway Network. For the past two years, IU string quartet students studying at the Beethoven Haus in Bonn capped off their week with “house concerts” for local audiences hosted by the IU Europe Gateway at the residence of the U.S. ambassador in Germany. The opportunities IU’s global connections present to faculty, staff, and students are part of what make it a leading institution, according to LaRosa.

“For me, music is all about listening and coming together,” he said. “That’s what these gateways are all about: bringing people together to listen and learn from one another.”

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