Music in Time ever expanding horizons of series and its listeners

Huang Ruo

Music In Time, a contemporary music series directed by John Kennedy, features new and emerging artists, including “Paradise Interrupted” composer Huang Ruo, pianist Conor Hanick and The Living Earth Show, a cutting-edge duo from the west coast.

The series opens at 5 p.m. today with Huang Ruo’s “The Lost Garden,” the second installment in his four-piece chamber concerto cycle. He calls the work a chamber concerto because it includes solo passages for each instrument and each instrumental group.

“It is the idea of treating everyone equally,” Ruo said. “Each instrument, throughout the entire concerto cycle, has been featured, and plays a very important musical and dramatic role.”

Huang Ruo based “The Lost Garden” on the concept of an elusive paradise. To signify this loss, all the members of the ensemble chant the word “lost” in Chinese in the first measure of the piece, which demands a slow, tranquil tempo.

“Sometimes, the most challenging thing for a conductor is not fast rhythm and changing meter, but it’s about showing all the details within each beat,” Huang Ruo said. “It’s about keeping the momentum and keeping the flow going while maintaining a meditative state and incorporating all the theatrical and musical elements together.”

This season also includes the return of contemporary music specialist and pianist Conor Hanick. In previous seasons, Hanick performed chamber works by John Luther Adams and John Kennedy with percussionist George Nickson. This year, Hanick will absorb a little more of the spotlight, performing Hans Otte’s “The Book of Sounds,” a work of atmospheric minimalism, and Charles Ives’s “Concord Sonata,” which the composer described as his “impression of the spirit of transcendentalism that is associated in the minds of many with Concord, Mass.” Its four movements are called “Emerson,” “Hawthorne,” “The Alcotts” and “Thoreau.”

“Conor Hanick is a marvelous musician and really an emerging talent as a soloist, and a marvelous speaker on music as well,” Kennedy said. “I wanted to give him the opportunity to do programs that show him at his best and give him an opportunity on stage at a major festival to do this kind of work.”

To complete the season’s series, Kennedy chose the genre-defiant Living Earth Show. The duo combines electronic guitar and percussion, and has commissioned works from many composers. They will be performing at the Woolfe Street Playhouse, a new venue for the festival this year.

“This year we’ve had the opportunity to go to this new space, the Woolfe Street Playhouse, to do late-night concerts,” Kennedy said. “To me it felt like they (The Living Earth Show) were the perfect artists, the perfect kind of stylistic and artistic melange, to present in that space for the first time.”

Natalie Piontek is a Goldring Arts Journalist from Syracuse University.