From Hindemith to Radiohead, Nu Deco Ensemble serves up a varied musical feast

By Lawrence Budmen

Jacomo Batros conducted the Nu Deco Ensemble Friday night at The Light Box in Wynwood.

Jacomo Bairos conducted the Nu-Deco Ensemble Friday night at The Light Box in Wynwood.

A worthy revival of an important score by a major 20th-century composer, a fascinating surround-sound experiment and a cross-genre trio highlighted Friday night’s concert in Miami’s Wynwood by the Nu Deco Ensemble. Marking nearly a year since the contemporary chamber orchestra’s debut, the program was the ensemble’s best offering yet.

During much of the 20th century, Paul Hindemith was one of the most frequently played contemporary composers. In recent years, his music has fallen off the radar with the exception of the orchestral showpiece Symphonic Metamorphoses on Themes of Weber. Concert programming is the poorer for it.

Stylistically Hindemith was a chameleon. While some of his works are highly conservative with strong ties to the musical language of Bach and Brahms, the German composer also composed scores that were considered radical in their time.

His Kammermusik No. 1 was greeted by catcalls and a riot at its 1922 premiere. The score is a modern concerto grosso that takes inspiration from such diverse influences as American jazz (all the rage in Germany during that era), Weimar cabaret and the opposing  modernist aesthetics of Schoenberg and Stravinsky.

Hindemith’s orchestration includes an accordion, a large role for mallet percussion and solo piano. The resulting musical stew crosses neo-Baroque string figures with a sardonic march, foxtrot and even an elongated lyrical movement for winds.

Kudos to conductor Jacomo Bairos for programming this unique work and leading an energetic performance. Some of South Florida’s best freelance musicians comprise the ensemble and they shone impressively in Hindemith’s challenging instrumental writing. Concertmaster Alexander Zhuk, clarinetist Annabelle Inhyung Hwang, flutist Daniel Valesco, pianist Milana Strezeva and the busy mallet player Elizabeth Galvan were all standouts in a high-octane performance.

The Hindemith score was followed by Ricardo Romaneiro’s Strata. A creative mix of pop and contemporary classical elements, Romaneiro’s genre-bending work seemed tailormade for the Light Box at Wynwood’s Goldman Warehouse, the ensemble’s home base. With speakers surrounding the intimate space’s three-sided seating, Romaneiro electronically moved the sound of individual instruments around the room.

Call it New Age antiphony. Latin dance, rock, funk and lush romantic string textures all find their way into Romaneiro’s musical panorama. Strata is an engrossing cross-pollination of propulsive instrumental writing and technology. Bairos and the orchestra, with assistance from the composer at the control deck, gave equal attention to the score’s subtle details and driving rhythm with Dale Posey’s electric bass scoring real impact.

The program opened with Nicolas Omiciolli’s fuse which could have been called “thrust,” so busy and relentless was the vignette’s musical discourse.

Following intermission, Project Trio took the stage. The Brooklyn based composer-performer collective of  Peter Seymour, Eric Stephenson and Greg Pattillo are conservatory trained musicians whose compositions swerve from salsa beats to the drone of Indian ragas, Middle Eastern influences, John Corigliano style classical modes and hip-hop.

Of the five pieces they assayed, Winter in June and Raga Raja were the most rewarding, replete with distinctive character and catchy tunes and sonorities. Pattillo’s agile flute, Stephenson’s deep cello tone and Seymour’s wild bass strokes demonstrated the players’ flexibility.

The concert concluded with co-director Sam Hyken’s Radiohead Symphonic Suite, one of Hyken’s fusions of contemporary rock with allusion to classical genres past and present.

The Nu Deco Ensemble season concludes 8 p.m. April 29 and 30 with Jacomo Bairos conducting Paul Dooley’s Velocity Festival, Sam Hyken’s Jamiroquai Suite and music by steel pan soloist Andy Akiho.

Posted in Performances

One Response to “From Hindemith to Radiohead, Nu Deco Ensemble serves up a varied musical feast”

  1. Posted Mar 06, 2016 at 2:11 pm by FS

    Good article, Lawrence.

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Sat Mar 5, 2016
at 1:11 pm
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