EMPAC Picks: Pianist Yegor Shevtsov Nov 13 and Cage/Gould Concert Nov. 17

First Up – November 13: Free concert of 20th century piano masterpieces

The Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute announces a free concert by renowned pianist Yegor Shevtsov. The performance will take place in the Concert Hall on Tuesday, November 13 at 7 PM.

As part of an artist-in-residence recording project, pianist Yegor Shevtsov presents an in-progress performance of solo works by two giants of twentieth-century music. Separated by almost a century, Debussy’s Etudes and Boulez’s Incises intersect in both their French heritage and their substantial demands on a pianist’s control and technique. Rounding out the recital is Boulez’s most recent work for solo piano, une page d’éphéméride.

Yegor Shevtsov is a Ukrainian-born pianist based in New York City. As a soloist and a collaborative pianist, he has performed at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, the Whitney Museum, Tanglewood, and the Kilkenny Arts Festival (Ireland), among others. This season, he has performed with Mark Morris Dance Group in Montpellier, France, and Tel Aviv, Israel, was a guest pianist at the Usinesonore Festival in Switzerland, performed the complete Chopin Etudes Op. 10 in New York, Alabama, and Finland, and conducted Yoav Gal’s opera Mosheh in New York City.

In 2010, The New York Times lauded the “Mozartean elegance” that Shevtsov brought to his performance of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 9. In a performance of Ralph Vaughn Williams’ On Wenlock Edge, Shevtsov was praised by the Miami Herald for his “superb musicianship and evocative piano playing.”

Shevtsov was a Tanglewood Fellow in the summers of 2007 and 2008, where he had the opportunity to be coached privately and in master classes by such artists as James Levine, Garrick Ohlsson, Martin Katz, Dawn Upshaw, Renée Fleming, Emanuel Ax, Claude Frank, Ursula Oppens, and Yo-Yo Ma. In 2003, he was selected to participate in a month long intensive workshop on Beethoven’s piano sonatas with Daniel Barenboim at Carnegie Hall.

Shevtsov teaches piano and chamber music at the Manhattan School of Music. He also maintains a private teaching studio in New York. He is the recipient of the Pablo Casals Award from the Manhattan School, from where he holds a doctor of musical arts degree.

This concert is free and open to the public.

Evelyn’s Café will open at 6 PM with a full menu of meals, snacks, and beverages as well as a selection of wines. Service continues after the performance. Parking is available in the Rensselaer parking lot on College Avenue.

More information can be found on the EMPAC website: empac.rpi.edu. Questions? Call the EMPAC Box Office: 518.276.3921.

Follow up – November 17 Concert Commemorates Centenary of John Cage and Legacy of Glenn Gould

The Rensselaer Contemporary Music Ensemble will host a concert Nov. 17 to commemorate the centenary of John Cage, godfather of America’s musical avant-garde, alongside the legacy of legendary Canadian pianist Glenn Gould.

“Cage/Gould” – which begins at 8 p.m. in the Theater of the Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) at Rensselaer – features compositions that span Cage’s career, interspersed with a partial re-enactment of Gould’s last performance, which he gave in 1964. Prior to the concert, philosopher Elie During will set the stage with a talk on “Cage/Gould: Several Silences,” at 5 p.m. in the EMPAC Theater.

“The world is abuzz with Cage centenary concerts, so we were happy to join in the celebration but with our own original twist, ” said Michael Century, professor of new media and music in the Arts Department at Rensselaer. “We even give the audience a chance to hear these two remarkable musical artists and thinkers converse with each other in a virtual dialogue.”

Century is serving as director of the concert in collaboration with Holland Hopson, a Rensselaer alumnus and former instructor. The performers include undergraduate and graduate students of the Institute, as well as Young Kim, head of piano at the College of Saint Rose, and veteran new music cellist David Gibson.

From Cage’s immense and varied oeuvre, Century has selected “Bacchanale,” the composer’s first piece for prepared piano (a piano altered by placing objects on the hammers or strings); “Inlets,” a sound piece produced by amplified water inside conch shells; “Litany for the Whale,” which Century described as an “elegiac vocal ritual;” and “Two(four),” a duo for piano and cello, and one of Cage’s final compositions,.

Century said that Gould famously quit the concert stage in 1964, predicting with some foresight that music in of the future would shift from live performance to new forms of recording and playback controlled by listeners themselves.

The Gould commemoration includes piano pieces by Gibbons, Bach, and Beethoven, and also Gould’s experimental broadcasts that weave together the spoken word in an original form dubbed “contrapuntal radio.”

“The program aims for a wide appeal, from the familiarity of the Western classics to Cage’s trademark sonic experimentation,” Century notes. “There’s something for all musical tastes in this evening, as well as a thought-provoking philosophical preamble.”

Elie During is a prolific and versatile French philosopher, with works spanning art, cinema, music, and the philosophy of science. Chair of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Paris-Nanterre, During will explore the convergences and divergences between Cage and Gould as iconoclastic figures of 20th century music, focusing on the meaning and role of silence – of “several silences” – in their respective work.

The unusual concert-lecture program is made possible by sponsorship from the Institute’s Volmer Fries Distinguished Lectureship, the Jaffe Fund for Experimental and Performing Arts, and the Rensselaer Union’s Classical Concert endowment.

The concert and lecture are free and open to the public. Refreshments and dinner will be served in Evelyn’s Cafe at EMPAC after the lecture and through the intermission of the concert.

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