This month the contemporary chamber ensemble Wild Rumpus will begin its sixth season with a program of three world premieres and two recent works.
Most important is that Wild Rumpus was one of twelve chamber ensembles in the United States to be selected by Chamber Music America to receive their prestigious Classical Commission Grant. The result of that grant will lead off the opening concert of the season. Entitled Mission: Ammonia, the piece is a 25-minute monodrama song cycle composed by one of the Wild Rumpus founders, Dan VanHassel.
The narrative around which this piece is structured concerns a salesperson on a mission to the planet “Ammonia” to sell a remarkably powerful cleaning solution. The primary text was written by Jesse Rimler, but the libretto also includes fragments extracted from television commercials aired during the Super Bowl and leaked memoranda from the presidential administrations of both George W. Bush and Barack Obama justifying the use of torture and assassination of American citizens living abroad. The vocalist will be Vanessa Langer, performing with an instrumental ensemble in which VanHassel will play electric guitar along with Bethanne Walker on flute, Weston Olencki on trombone, Mia Nardi-Huffman on violin, Margaret Halbig on piano, and Mckenzie Camp on percussion.
The other two world premieres are the results of the 2015 Wild Rumpus Commissioning Project. The first of these is “Phosphorescence” by Irish compose Finola Merivale, currently a Benjamin Franklin Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania. The piece is a memorial for a close family friend, who would swim every night in a lake famous for its twinkling bioluminescence. Nathaniel Berman will conduct an ensemble including Walker, Nardi-Huffman, Halbig, and Camp, as well as Giacomo Fiore on electric guitar, Joanne de Mars on cello, and Eugène Theriault on bass.
The second result of the Commissioning Project will be “Helmut and Teddy Coming Down After a Rave” by Dan Tramte. Tramte is currently a Teaching Fellow at Harvard University; and his research involves the intersection of technology, social media, and sounds. His piece was created for five musicians (Nardi-Huffman, de Mars, Olencki, Fiore, and Camp) and video. Sound-actuating sources will be projected in real time as the musicians perform corresponding linear gestures on their respective instruments.
In addition Halbig will perform Christopher Cerrone’s “Hoyt-Schermerhorn” for piano and electronics. The piece is named for a subway station in Brooklyn, and the music was conceived as a lullaby for New York at night. The program will then conclude with “Archive[s]” by Bay Area composed Sivan Eldar scored for violin (Nardi-Huffman), cello (de Mars), and video. The images are silent videos of the Finale of the music Igor Stravinsky composed for the ballet “The Firebird” conducted by the composer, Valery Gergiev, Simon Rattle, Michael Tilson Thomas, and Arthur Arnold. Eldar’s goal was to explore the symbiotic relationship between conductors and instrumentalists with particularly attention to the nature of musical expression.
This concert will begin at 7 p.m. on Saturday, September 24. The venue will be Knuth Hall in the Creative Arts Building on the San Francisco State University campus. This is a short walk down Holloway Avenue from the Muni stop at the southeast corner of the campus on 19th Avenue. General admission will be $15, but all students and faculty of the University will be admitted without charge. Tickets (including the free ones) may be reserved in advance through an event page created by the College of Liberal & Creative Arts.