New Music Raleigh's classical crossover in a rock club | Music Feature | Indy Week
Pin It

New Music Raleigh's classical crossover in a rock club 

When Shara Worden, the leader of the exquisite band My Brightest Diamond and a longtime collaborator with Sufjan Stevens, steps to the front of the stage Monday at Kings, she will be performing only the second full rendition of the album-length song cycle Penelope.

Composed by New York's Sarah Kirkland Snider, Penelope offers a brazen musical setting for a modernized take on Homer's Odyssey, where our traveler goes off to war. During "Home," Odysseus pines for home, a place he can't quite remember. Worden lifts the hero's words with perfect empathy, her classically trained, rock-tempered voice adding necessary grit to the traveler's endless quest. Slight electronics, an ambitious stack of strings and tickles of percussion guide the story along, pushing it through twists that seem infinite.

"It has a really special quality of being very topical and very beautiful. It's an interesting combination of minimalists like Philip Glass and rock bands like Radiohead," says Karen Strittmatter Galvin, one of the violinists who will join the 14-person ensemble playing Penelope at Kings. A member of the North Carolina Symphony, Galvin is also one of the leaders of New Music Raleigh, a component of a larger nonprofit arts organization. New Music Raleigh recruited Worden and Penelope to Raleigh in large part because the piece, like the group itself, blurs the lines between classical and rock music.

"Nobody does, in Raleigh, what the symphony does. And on the other side of the spectrum, with rock music, I can't believe what happens here. There are extraordinary musicians here who are just creating new, great sounds all the time," says Galvin. "For us to reside somewhere in the middle—I think it's necessary. I think it's a missing component to an already vibrant music scene."

New Music Raleigh's presentation of Penelope might not seem so remarkable in a region graced with considerable university arts programming. This year alone, Duke Performances presented world premieres by the jazz trio The Bad Plus and by modern composition deity Steve Reich, for arguably the world's leading crossover string ensemble, the Kronos Quartet; meanwhile, UNC has offered Chick Corea and Tony Allen, and N.C. State's pieced together performances by a half dozen bona fide virtuosos.

But New Music Raleigh elected to keep this performance out of traditional chamber music spaces, putting it instead in a functional rock club. It's an egalitarian and welcoming gesture that not only speaks to the music's broad stylistic reach and Worden's most notable gigs but also to the mission and position of New Music Raleigh—at a nexus of the region's abundant classical and rock folks, with the implicit ideal of making each group a bit more comfortable with the other. This move seems to argue that the usual stratification you might see at a genre-crossing show—indie rock kids at a Duke Performances presentation of The Dirty Projectors, with a decidedly older demographic at a show featuring Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche—is as false as it is unnecessary.

"New Music Raleigh is very much driven by the idea that our music should be without pretense," says Galvin. "We want to eliminate any kind of barriers that people have in their minds when they think about classical music. It's one of the things that drives me, because I'd like to see that barrier eliminated altogether. Good music is good music, no matter how it reaches you or where it reaches you."

And that, after all, is a sentiment Odysseus—at sea, as with Homer, or at war, as with Snider's Penelope—could understand.

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Music Feature



Twitter Activity

Most Recent Comments

That entire conversation only circulated among the beat community and a few others who chimed in. Then, it was deleted. …

by Eric Tullis on Oak City Slums and ZenSoFly Are Twin Engines Ramping Up Raleigh’s Bass Music (Music Feature)

Slums' comments on sexism in the industry are something of a dead horse at this point, not sure what the …

by Daniel Stark on Oak City Slums and ZenSoFly Are Twin Engines Ramping Up Raleigh’s Bass Music (Music Feature)

JCD: Duke Performances dedicated a significant portion of our 2015 summer season to celebrating Music Maker's 20th anniversary. We featured …

by Aaron Greenwald on Rhapsody in Blues: Jazz Phenom Gerald Clayton Celebrates One of Durham’s Finest Musical Exports at Duke (Music Feature)

caab's suggestion sounds exciting. It's a shame that the original musicians didn't fit into this particular performance, but I'd pay …

by jcd on Rhapsody in Blues: Jazz Phenom Gerald Clayton Celebrates One of Durham’s Finest Musical Exports at Duke (Music Feature)

Gerald & the team on 'Piedmont Blues' spent a great deal of time with living, though elderly, Piedmont blues musicians. …

by Aaron Greenwald on Rhapsody in Blues: Jazz Phenom Gerald Clayton Celebrates One of Durham’s Finest Musical Exports at Duke (Music Feature)

Comments

That entire conversation only circulated among the beat community and a few others who chimed in. Then, it was deleted. …

by Eric Tullis on Oak City Slums and ZenSoFly Are Twin Engines Ramping Up Raleigh’s Bass Music (Music Feature)

Slums' comments on sexism in the industry are something of a dead horse at this point, not sure what the …

by Daniel Stark on Oak City Slums and ZenSoFly Are Twin Engines Ramping Up Raleigh’s Bass Music (Music Feature)

© 2016 Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation