At Williams College, winter study is a time to make new music in unconventional spaces | Berkshirelandscapes

Williamstown — For the past 12 years, artist-in-residence and percussionist Matthew Gold at Williams College has ushered in the new year with I/O Fest, a celebration of adventurous new music for Williams students and the entire community. .

Held January 13-15, I/O Fest features concerts and events at Williamstown’s Clark Art Institute, Williams College Museum of Art, and the college’s ’62 Theater & Dance Center. Music is performed by Williams students and faculty, as well as notable guest artists.

“The overall theme of I/O Fest is the opportunity to make music, to bring music into unconventional spaces that respond to what is around us, to give participants and audiences a different immersion than usual. It’s an opportunity to provide a type experience,” said Gold. The festival’s director said in his phone interview: [a month-long period each January when Williams students choose a single subject area to explore], when we are outside the usual context of things, we have time to really focus and listen to new things. ”

The festival kicks off at WCMA on Friday, January 13, beginning with a group Sonic Meditation open to the public in the gallery, followed by performances, pop-ups, sound art and “everything,” Gold said. during the afternoon.

“There’s student work and there’s work by Pulitzer Prize winner Raven Chacon, a really fascinating composer. I will do Miriam El-Hayk’s work for toy piano, transforming with musical and acoustic interventions throughout the gallery [WCMA] into the music space. ”

The I/O Ensemble’s evening concert at the ’62 Center CenterStage will feature works by composers Sarah Henney and Katherine Balch, as well as students.

Also on Saturday, January 14, at the ’62 Center, student group New Music Williams will perform “Penelope,” an evocative 60-minute song cycle based on Sarah Kirkland Snyder’s “The Odyssey,” as a solo performance. Performed for female voices and chamber music. Orchestra featuring Sarah Stebbins.

“This is a big project for them, semi-staging with lights,” says Gold. “It’s going to be a really dramatic event. It’s a very powerful piece.”

The festival features a different visiting group each year. The guest ensemble for 2023 is GEORGE, the quartet founded by his six-time Grammy-nominated percussionist and composer John Hollenbeck.

In addition to Hollenbeck on percussion, the ensemble consists of Anna Webber on tenor saxophone and flute. Aurora Kneeland voice, sax and keyboards. Chiquita Magic playing the keyboard and singing. “It’s her two wind instruments, keyboards and drums, that really have a unique sound,” Gold said.

“It’s a completely new group. They performed for the first time this past March and people were raving about it,” he added. “This new project of his is really exciting.”

“They have an album called Letters to George. [where] Each song is dedicated to a different George,” explained Gold. “It started with George Floyd, and not only the strong emotional reaction John had to it, but the whole range of George Washington Carver, Georgia O’Keeffe, and George.

Taking place on Sunday, January 15th at 4pm in Clark, this premier concert is the festival’s only ticketed event.

Earlier in the day at 1pm in Clarke, George attends the annual festival highlight, the I/Out Loud Interactive Family Concert.

“My students and I will participate in one of them. [Hollenbeck’s] It’s called ‘Flock,’ and it’s an open instrumental piece based on the movement of birds,” Gold said. “And then we use it to teach kids to exercise, too.”

For the first time, the festival will feature a film screening of the 2018 documentary Full Mantis about Milford Graves, which will be screened in Clark on the afternoon of January 15th.

“Milford was a great percussionist, composer and musical innovator who taught for many years at Bennington College.

“This film presents the world, process and vocabulary of music. [of] An extraordinary foundational artist that we should know more about. Director Jake Meginski joins the discussion about the film and his life and work. ”

In 2010, Gold launched a multi-day music festival with late faculty member Stephen Bodner and then-Chairman of the Music Department, David Kekley. The university’s landmark ’62 Center had just opened when Kekley approached Gold and Bodner.

“He said, ‘I want to do something different in the black box theater than what we do in our space,'” recalls Gold. “That’s pretty much all we needed to hear. Using unconventional space has always been very important to me. And we ran with it.”

“The ’62 Center is a great place to work, but being able to go out to WCMA and Clark is a way to connect with the general public in a variety of places and places they might not expect to hear music. You don’t just see the museum, you hear it and you interact with it in a different way.”

The title, I/O Fest, brings to mind both one of Jupiter’s moons and the idea of ​​input/output, says Gold.

“It’s the first two weeks of the year when we immerse ourselves in this music and plan different kinds of events in different places. and the music is born at the end of the process.”

According to Gold, the festival aims to provide audiences and musicians with an “immersive, participatory, thoughtful, engaging, often challenging and unconventional experience of live music. That’s really what it is, bringing people together to share this experience.”

if you go

what: I/O Fest 2023 — Three Days and Nights of Music Now

Who: Williams College Music Department

when: January 13-15

venue: ’62 Center for Theater & Dance, 1000 Main Street, Williamstown. Williams College Art Museum, 15 Lawrence Drive, Williamstown. Clark Art Institute, 225 South St., Williamstown

COVID-19 Policy: Mask required.

For more information:

I/O FEST 2023 Schedule

Admission fee: Free unless otherwise noted. Mask required.

Full list:

Friday, January 13

Noon to 4pm, WCMA I/O Ensemble: I/O pop-ups and interventions will run throughout the afternoon at the gallery. Music by Raven Chacon, Miriam El-Hayke, Kazuo Fukushima and Williams students.

7:30 PM, Friday center stage: The I/O Ensemble will be playing adventurous new music from tomorrow at the ’62 Center.

Saturday, January. 14

4:30 PM, Film Screening in Clark: “Milford Graves Full Mantis” is a 90-minute documentary about the avant-garde jazz percussionist.An interview with director Jake Meginsky

8 p.m., “Penelope” on CenterStage: New Music Williams presents “Penelope,” a 60-minute song cycle by Sarah Kirkland Snider featuring Sara Stebbins and a chamber orchestra at the ’62 Center’s CenterStage Theater.

Sunday, January. 15

1:00 p.m. I/Out Loud Family Concert featuring George: New Music presents a family concert with I/Out Loud, Kids 4 Harmony and special guest GEORGE. The concert will take place at The Clark’s Michael Comforti Pavilion. Gallery admission is free.

George in concert at The Clark at 4pm: GEORGE, a cross-genre jazz and new music ensemble featuring composer and percussionist John Hollenbeck, will perform music from their upcoming album Letters to George. I need a ticket. $5, general admission. $3, members of Clark. $2 for students and under 21s.

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