For Immediate Release
May 11th, 12th, and 13th | N.E.W. Expressive Works | 810 SE Belmont | Portland, OR _____________________________________________________________________________________________________
Compose (v). To create a work of art.
In a rare opportunity for both dancers and musicians, PDX Contemporary Ballet and Northwest Piano Trio take the stage to present Compose – an exciting program featuring the world premiere of Clarice Assad’s “Iara” with choreography by Briley Neugebauer. In addition, the groups continue their first collaboration: “Swing Shift” by Portland composer Kenji Bunch. Rounding out the trifecta is “Frolic” – another premiere by Oregon composer Zach Gulaboff Davis – performed by the Trio.
Clarice Assad is a Grammy-nominated musician, singer, and composer. Her featured composition – “Iara” – was commissioned by PDX Contemporary Ballet and Northwest Piano Trio. Inspiration for the work comes from the legend of Iara – a mixture of folklore, monster stories, and goddess worship. Also known as Mãe das Águas ("Mother of the Waters"), she was the pride of her Amazon tribe and the daughter of their Pajé (spiritual leader). She became such a great warrior that her two brothers tried to kill her in a rampage of jealousy – but Iara fought back and killed them instead. Unaware that she acted in self-defense, her father led the tribe to hunt down Iara and throw her into the river. Iara does not meet her actual death, however, and is transformed into a half-human, half-fish.
To represent the tale’s origin in the Amazon – along with Iara’s intertwined fate with the river – Assad chooses to interpolate sounds of an ocean drum with episodic appearances of a water drum. Choreography by PDX Contemporary Ballet’s Artistic Director Briley Neugebauer reflects the mythical mood of the piece by integrating the water drum into the choreography itself. In an extension of Assad’s symbolism, Neugebauer pursues the duality of Iara’s fate – her life being spared, but at the cost of eternal imprisonment in the water.
Also included in the program is a performance of Kenji Bunch’s “Swing Shift,” which revisits the first collaboration between the Trio and the Ballet -- where dancers joined the Trio on stage for the final section of the piece: “Grooveboxes”. This time, dancers and musicians perform the entirety of the work, again with Neugebauer’s choreography. This fun-loving, Balanchine-inspired piece will have the audience tapping their feet and smiling all the way through. With music inspired by New York City night life, the story begins as impatient workers anticipate 5 o’clock. Bunch’s music takes us from the end of the work day into the early evening and finally the night life, as New Yorkers take to the streets in search of best place to dance the night away. With its engaging tempo, it’s no surprise to learn that “Swing Shift” was originally commissioned for dance.
The Trio alone will perform yet another premiere: “Frolic” by Oregon composer Zach Gulaboff Davis. This playful work features each of its three instruments—piano, violin, and cello— extensively in many roles. Beginning boldly, the work gradually builds in intensity until it reaches a breaking point, yielding to a lyrical section contrasting all that came before. As this section unfolds, listen for the return of the opening material, this time presented in different configurations as the work comes to a crashing close.
Compose opens Friday, May 11th and runs through Sunday, May 13th in the acoustic perfection of Studio Two at N.E.W. Expressive Works, 810 SE Belmont, Portland, Oregon.
Composer and choreographer biographies for Compose are included below.
Tickets for “COMPOSE” now available online at www.PDXCB.com
WHERE: N.E.W. Expressive Works, 810 SE Belmont, Portland, OR
WHEN: Friday, May 11th at 7:30pm – Opening Night and $15 Friday!
$15 tickets can be purchased online while they last!
Saturday matinee, May 12th at 2:30 pm
Saturday evening, May 12th at 7:30pm
Sunday matinee, May 13th at 2:30pm
COST: $15 - $30 online at www.pdxcb.com
$20 - $35 at the door
Brazilian-American Clarice Assad is a Grammy nominated composer, pianist, vocalist and educator of musical depth and versatility. Described by the San Francisco Chronicle as "a serious triple threat", Assad is a highly prolific and commissioned composer. Her music has been commissioned by Carnegie Hall, the Orquestra Sinfônica de São Paulo, the Chicago Sinfonietta, General Electric, Sybarite5, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center's ensemble Opus One, the Ocean Reef Music Festival, the Concordia Chamber Players, the Vail Music Festival and the La Jolla Music Festival, to name a few. Her works have been performed and recorded by some of the most prominent names in the classical contemporary music scene today, including Dame Evelyn Glennie, Yo-Yo Ma, violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg and Ida Kavafian; pianist Anne-Marie McDermott flutist Eugenia Zuckerman and oboist Liang Wang. Assad’s orchestral music has also been represented by the Tokyo Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra and the American Composers Orchestra and she has served as composer-in- residence for the Albany Symphony, the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music and the Boston Landmarks Orchestra. She has also written extensively for active members of the new music scene such as the Cavatina Duo, SOLI ensemble and the all male choir Chanticleer. As an arranger, she has served as the New Century Chamber Orchestra's primary arranger from 2007-2017, orchestrating hefty works such as Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition, Richard Strauss' Dance of the Seven Veils and the suite An American in Paris, by G. Gershwin.
Ms. Assad is the recipient of such awards as the Aaron Copland Award, several ASCAP awards in composition, Meet The Composer's Van Lier Fellowship, League of American Orchestras, New Music USA, NPR’s All Songs Considered, the Mcknight Visiting Composer Fellowship, the Jerome Foundation, The American Composers Forum National Composition Competition, the Franklin Honor Society, as well as a nomination from the Grammy Foundation for best contemporary composition. Ms. Assad has been an artist in residence at the MacDowell Colony, the Harrison House, the American Lyric Theater and the Yaddo Colony.
She holds a Bachelor of Music degree with honors from the Roosevelt University and a Master of Music degree from The University of Michigan School of Music, where she studied with Michael Daugherty, Susan Botti and Evan Chambers. Her works are published in France (Editions Lemoine), Germany (Trekel), Criadores do Brasil (Brazil) and independently by Virtual Artists Collective Publishing, (VACP) a publishing company co-founded with poet and philosopher Steve Schroeder. On its Ten Year anniversary, VACP has published 55 volumes of poetry and music.
Composer/performer Kenji Bunch has received acclaim from audiences, performers, and critics alike for his work combining vernacular American influences with techniques from his classical training to create a unique vocabulary of New American music. His compositions have been performed by over fifty American orchestras, and in premiere venues on six continents. Recordings of his music are regularly broadcast on radio worldwide and are available on 18 different record labels.
Mr. Bunch maintains an active performing career and is recognized for his own groundbreaking works for viola. Deeply committed to exploring connections with musicians from other backgrounds as well as artists of other disciplines, Mr. Bunch has collaborated with choreographers, film directors, actors, and prominent rock, jazz, folk, and experimental musicians.
Upcoming projects include commissions by the Eugene Ballet, the Seattle Symphony, the Oregon Symphony, the Britt Festival, the Lark Quartet, and the Music at Angel Fire Festival, at which Mr. Bunch will appear as Composer in Residence next summer. Currently serving as Composer in Residence for 45thParallel in Portland, his past residencies include the Spoleto USA Festival, the Bravo! Vail Festival, the Mobile Symphony, Sound Encounters (Boston), the Craftsbury Chamber Players, and Young Concert Artists, Inc.
A graduate of the Juilliard School in both viola and composition and a 20-year veteran of the New York City musical world, he returned in 2013 to his native Portland, Oregon, where he has served as Artistic Director of Fear No Music since 2014. He lives with his wife, concert pianist Monica Ohuchi, their two children, and their dog, Coffee.
A dedicated teacher who taught viola, composition and chamber music for 12 years at The Juilliard School Pre-College, he now teaches viola and composition at Reed College and Portland State University and is the head music theory teacher for the Portland Youth Philharmonic.
Zach is a composer whose goal is to compose music that is enjoyable and meaningful for audiences and performers alike.
Having lived in Salem since the age of two, Zach performed with the Salem Youth Symphony during his high school years and attended Linfield College where he received a B.A. in piano performance and composition/theory, summa cum laude, with minors in math and education. Subsequently, completed his Master of Music in composition at the Mannes College of Music in New York City. He is currently a doctoral student in music composition at the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University, studying under Pulitzer prizewinning composer Kevin Puts.
Zach’s compositions have been performed across the globe at such venues as New York City’s Carnegie Hall, Bulgaria’s National Plaice of Culture, Norway’s Arctic Cathedral, the International Trumpet Guild festival, and at schools of music and conservatories throughout the country. Zach’s compositions often take inspiration from the beauty of his home state of Oregon—a place he is honored to call home.
Briley Neugebauer, originally from Seattle, grew up studying many styles of dance and was a graduate of the pre-professional program at International Ballet Theatre. Upon high school graduation, she received talent and academic based scholarships to study dance at the University of Arizona. In 2011 she graduated Summa Cum Laude with a B.F.A. from the School of Dance where she performed roles such as Choleric in Balachine's Four Temperaments, Lead Female Daemon in Carmina Burana and was apart of commissioned works such as Bella Lewitzky's Recuardo, and Martha Graham's Panorama. During the summer of 2011 she joined ART-IF-ACT Dance Project for a five week tour in China performing numerous roles that showcased the history of dance in America. Upon returning to the states, she was accepted as an apprentice at Spectrum Dance Theater_Donald Byrd where she also has the opportunity to perform in the musical Oklahoma! at the 5th Avenue Theater. She then moved to Portland and was a company dancer at Polaris Dance Theatre for two years where she also created original works such as Derailed, Choice, and One of Everything. She afterwards became a Principle Dancer and Rehearsal Director for Moxie Contemporary Ballet.
In August of 2015, Briley was one of the founding members of PDX Contemporary Ballet and now serves as their Artistic Director. While at PDX Contemporary Ballet her choreographic credits include Colours of Black, Through This Existence, Incipio, and Continually Beginning. She also created Formless which was invited to serve as a discussion piece for Womens Empowerment at Mt. Hood Community College.