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Wednesday, December 11

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Concert Sun Oct 20 2013

Tempest in an ICEcube: International Contemporary Ensemble plays John Zorn

zorn.jpg

John Zorn

Like the elephant to the blind men, composer John Zorn looks completely different depending on where you first experienced him, and like Walt Whitman, he contains multitudes. No single description will wrap it all up tight. If you watched "120 Minutes" in the '90s, you remember being pinned to the wall any time his group Naked City strafed your susceptible mind. Perhaps you even went further with his "death jazz" group Painkiller, and he hepped you to Japanese noise and grindcore terror. If jazz was your bag, perhaps you have fond memories of Masada, his "Judaism meets Ornette Coleman" project, with 500 compositions and dozens of recordings on display. Free improv fans remember seeing the weird, cartoonish mayhem of his game-based improv pieces like Cobra, Archery, or Xu Feng. Maybe your heard him blow duck calls on early Golden Palominos records, or subliminally took in his scads of soundtrack work. Back in the day when Best Buy and Borders catered to all tastes, you might have taken a chance on releases on his ultra-prolific Tzadik and Avant labels.

But amidst this sprawling hedge-maze of musical styles and approaches, John Zorn is first and foremost a composer. His works for variable ensemble units range from Feldman-like rivers of calm ("Redbird") to blood-draining exorcisms ("Kristallnacht").

This Saturday, Chicago's International Contemporary Ensemble perform an evening of Zorn compositions at the Museum of Contemporary Art, including pieces written specifically for ICE, and several receiving their Chicago premiere.

The 90-minute program features works from many eras of Zorn's work, including a piece ("Canon to Stravinsky, in memoriam") written in 1972, when Zorn was 19 years old. Other works include a solo piece for virtuoso clarinetist Joshua Rubin based on Hermann Hesse's "Steppenwolf"; a 14-minute musical adaptation on Shakespeare's "The Tempest," written specifically for the musicians of ICE; the aggressively dissonant string trio "Walpurgistnacht"; a canon and interludes for cello and piano ("Occam's Razor"); and a 3-part ensemble work influenced by the works of poet and noted opium enthusiast Charles Baudelaire.

Though it would be easy enough to stay home and listen to any of the hundreds of John Zorn records in the marketplace, ICE's Joshua Rubin notes that "Music is storytelling, and Zorn's connection with the people he works with is, of course, only made clear to the audience in performance."

MCA is located at 220 E. Chicago Ave. Tickets are $28, $22 for MCA members. A limited number of student tickets ($10) are also available. Click here for ordering info. The performance begins at 7:30.

 
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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

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By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

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