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New Music Ensemble

The CSULB New Music Ensemble consists of student performers and frequent faculty guests dedicated to performing contemporary music in a variety of genres. The ensemble has toured the state, and early on established a reputation as a first-rate performing group, particularly of new works with live electronics.

In recent years the NME has performed an hour-long rendition of Terry Riley’s In C (hosting beforehand a Listening Lounge of new In C Remixes composed by CSULB composers), a complete version of Satie’s proto-minimalist Vexations (all 840 repetitions!) reinterpreted throughout the day by various ensembles (including antiphonal sax sextet, vintage analog synth trio, electric guitar and electric bass, melodica trio, toy piano and tuba, and many others), provided an evening of works connected to Abstract Expressionist art in the University Art Museum (including a world premiere of a work for ensemble, narrator, and electronics), and hosted several evenings of different 60x60 mixes (each mix comprised of 60 one-minute electronic works by 60 different composers). In April 2011, the NME hosted a visit from famed experimental composer Christian Wolff and gave the world premiere of a work commissioned from Wolff, entitled Robert. Wolff also joined the ensemble on piano, performing a few of his Exercises.

New Music Ensemble
The New Music Ensemble.

In the 2011-12 academic year, the NME staged two large-scale happenings by John Cage (complete with a small dog parade, hula hooping, and soap bubble blowing), gave the world premiere of an ensemble work by Perry La Marca written expressly for the NME, performed a noise-based concert in the University Art Museum in conjunction with the Lou Reed Metal Machine Music exhibition, and performed a joint concert with the Cole Conservatory Laptop Ensemble (along with some special guest vocalists) of several works from John Cage's Song Books. In addition to the world premieres of works by Wolff and La Marca, the NME has also given recent world premieres of works by Randall Bauer, James Bohn, Alan Shockley, Andy Zacharias, Justin Scheid, and others. The ensemble regularly both workshops and gives public premieres of student works, and student composers are always invited to sit in on rehearsals or even to join the ensemble as performers.

The ensemble tackles works from the broad spectrum of contemporary composition, from traditionally notated fixed instrumentation works, to ones with graphic scores, text scores, and non-traditional or open instrumentation, from serial works to minimalist ones, from chance pieces, to rock influenced ones. Repertoire is drawn primarily from the last fifty years, with a particular focus on very recent works, and ones by American composers. Recent concerts have included works by George Crumb, Steve Reich, Morton Feldman, Christian Wolff, Anne LeBaron, Paul Lansky, Arvo Pärt, David Smooke, James Bohn, Shulamit Ran, Terry Riley, Alvin Lucier, Earle Brown, Karlheinz Stockhausen, David Lang, Martin Bresnick, Toru Takemitsu, Michael Daugherty, Justus Matthews, Frederic Rzewksi, James Tenney, John Cage, and many, many others.

Laptop Ensemble

Open to students across campus, the Bob Cole Conservatory Laptop Ensemble of CSULB is a collection of composer/performer/sound artists who explore and explode the boundaries between contemporary sound art, computer music and interactive technologies. The ensemble brings together performers, composers, and artists across disciplines in experimental sound practices and cross-disciplinary projects and concerts.

Laptop Ensemble
The Laptop Ensemble.

Recently, the Laptop Ensemble performed at the 2013 Spoleto Festival dei due Mondi, where it participated in the creation and multiple performances of a new theatre work, Voyage, at the Cantiere Oberdan performance space in Spoleto. It developed the piece with the Korean Singing Actors Group during a 10-day invited residency at LaMaMa Umbria in Italy. The Laptop Ensemble will be in Seoul, Korea in 2015 as part of an invited week-long residency and performances of the work there.

The ensemble has also been featured in various webcasts and performance spaces for experimental sound artists throughout LA, such as LA Artstream’s "Ear Meal" for live performance and broadcast in 2014. It was also a featured ensemble in 2012 as part of the SoundWalk and MERGE Festivals in Long Beach, California and performed in the John Cage 100th birthday celebration concerts in Los Angeles with realizations of selections from the John Cage Songbooks I and II.

The ensemble has premiered over 20 compositions written especially for it by members of the group as well as other prominent composers and sound artists. These pieces run the gamut of works exclusively for laptops to pieces that incorporate live video, live acoustic instrumentalists performing alongside the ensemble, modular synthesizers, and "hyperoperas" that are fully staged.

The ensemble is directed by Dr. Martin Herman.

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