The Elon Contemporary Chamber Ensemble will perform "Unrelent" at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 20 in Whitley Auditorium. A pre-concert discussion of the pieces by Elon faculty and community members begins at 6:30 p.m.
A new Elon music ensemble will illuminate and enliven the world of contemporary classical music through a series of concerts and panel discussions throughout the academic year.
In its debut year, the Elon Contemporary Chamber Ensemble (ECCE) will hold four concerts and accompanying discussions. Some will feature guest artists and the final spring show will include the U.S. premiere of acclaimed British composer Adam Gorb’s Kol Simcha Suite arranged for Pierrot ensemble.
The Elon Contemporary Chamber Ensemble will perform its first concert, “Unrelent,” at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 20, in Whitley Auditorium. A pre-concert panel discussion about the music begins at 6:30 p.m. in the auditorium.
ECCE has several missions, among them to bring contemporary music to Elon and central North Carolina, to champion and commission works by composers from marginalized groups and to offer an entry point into challenging music. Before each concert, faculty and guests will engage in conversation about the music, including the composer’s inspiration and intent, compositional techniques and how the piece embodies certain ideas.
“Often when we don’t like something or we’re quick to pass a dismissive judgment, it’s because we don’t understand it,” said Jonathan Poquette, Elon’s director of bands and ECCE’s founder and musical director. “We hope this will help audience members know what to listen for and to connect more dots so they can understand what a composer was thinking about. So, even if you don’t like the music, maybe you’re intrigued to learn more. Maybe you find out you really like it but didn’t know it existed.”
The six-piece ensemble is made up of Elon faculty and area professional musicians: Janet Orenstein on violin, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Music Meaghan Skogen on cello; Adjunct Instructor of Music Lynda Cykert on flute; Andy Hudson on clarinet; Annie Jeng on piano; and Brandon West, percussion director for the Fire of the Carolinas Marching band, on percussion.
Their first concert will consist of three pieces: “By-By Huey” by Ted Hearne, “Noon Dance” by Joan Tower and “Unrelent” by Harry Stafylakis. Stafylakis composed “Unrelent” about the political turmoil of the 2016 presidential election. Hearne wrote “By-By Huey” after being inspired by a portrait of Tyrone “Double R” Robinson, an activist who killed Black Panther Party co-founder Huey P. Newton. “Noon Dance” is a piece about how individual parts form a whole.
Those works were chosen because they speak to the current political and social climate and our need to be more inclusive of each other, Poquette said.
Included in the pre-concert panel will be Associate Professor of Political Science Damion Blake, Elon’s faculty fellow for diversity, equity and inclusion; Professor of Astrophysics Tony Crider, a regular attendee and documentarian of area protests; and African American Cultural Arts and History Center Vice President Shineece LaDawn Sellars, whose organization preserves local Black history. They will share their views on the pieces and describe their knowledge and experiences in relation to the music.
Future Elon Contemporary Chamber Ensemble concerts will be:
- “Histoire du Soldat,” Nov. 3;
- “Pierrot Lunaire,” Feb. 7;
- “You are not Alone,” May 2.