The New Abandon
Williams College’s annual I/O Festival of New Music, January 7-9
The mere mention of contemporary music may make even the most loyal music fan run—fast—in the opposite direction. There is an assumption of dissonance and awkward silence. But “new” music is not to be feared, according to Matthew Gold, who is the spark behind Williams College’s annual I/O Festival of New Music, which will be held January 7-9 at the college’s ’62 Center.
“The program was designed to explore some of the more interesting but still obscure paths in contemporary music and to present them in a new space that allowed for unconventional performances and staging,” Gold says.
Unconventional, in case you were getting those running shoes, means cool. The three-day festival, which is free to the public, features a performance of British/American composer Oscar Bettison’s tremendous work, ”O Death,” for two saxophones, trombone, electric guitar, piano, and percussion.
The piece (from the album of the same name) draws on jazz, pop, and “all kinds of strange corners” of American folk music, including good ol’ funereal blues. Other festival programming will feature works by major composers such as Pulitzer Prize–winning Steve Reich, and new names like Anna Thorvaldsdottir, an emerging Icelandic talent.
There will be a late-night show in the all-glass dance studio and “sound art” installations elsewhere on campus. Composers and guest performers also will do presentations.