Romanian composer, pianist, and conductor Ana-Maria Avram (1961-2017) died at the age of 55 on Tuesday, August 1st, 2017. Avram was a truly gifted idiosyncratic composer and musician, co-conductor of The Hyperion Ensemble, and Artistic Director of the Spectrum XXI festival (which she founded to showcase innovative Romanian music).
In tribute and commemoration of her artistic contributions, ISSUE presents a “tombeau” program of Avram’s works performed by Either/OR, who produced a week-long festival of Romanian Spectralism in 2016 which brought Ana-Maria Avram and Iancu Dumitrescu to New York City for the first time. The ensemble features Mario Diaz de Leon (Electric Guitar), Vasko Dukovski (Clarinets), Yarn/Wire member and former ISSUE Artist-In-Residence Russell Greenberg (Percussion), Margaret Lancaster (Flutes), and Zach Rowden (Bass).
Since 1988, Ana-Maria Avram had been a member and co-conductor of Hyperion Ensemble with her husband Iancu Dumitrescu, who together pushed the Romanian avant-garde into the hyper-spectral realm. She has composed somewhere around 150 works and over 300 combined with Dumitrescu, including compositions for soloists, orchestras, and chamber ensembles, as well as works based in electronics and computers.
Avram explained the concept of spectralism to Philip Clark in The Wire 308: “Spectralism is not just a trend but a specific attitude towards sound,” she told Philip. “There isn’t one spectral approach, but many different viewpoints. Radulescu’s sound plasma, the music of the French spectralists, and our music are often defined as post-spectral or hyperspectral: but above anything it is transformational music.”
Penumbra (III) (2016) for bass clarinet
Quatre études d’ombre (1992) for bass flute
Axe VII (2004) for double bass
Metalstorm (IV) (2016) for ensemble and computer sounds
Textures Liminales (I) (2013) electronic music
Born in 1961 in Bucharest, Romania, Ana-Maria Avram studied composition at the National University of Music in Bucharest between 1980–85, and in 1992 she studied musical aesthetics at Sorbonne, Paris. In 1988 she joined The Hyperion Ensemble, the Bucharest based group specialising in contemporary composition and spectral music founded in 1976 by Dumitrescu. Avram composed around 130 works, including solo, chamber, orchestral, electronic and computer assisted music, and she released more than 25 collaborative albums with Dumitrescu on their label Edition Modern.
Winner of the 2015 CMA/ASCAP Award for Adventuresome Programming, Either/Or is a flexible chamber ensemble based in New York City that presents a repertoire of new and recent chamber music informed equally by American Experimentalism and European avant-garde practice, with special emphasis on artists outside the institutional mainstream and on works exploring nontraditional ensemble formations. Directors Richard Carrick (conductor/piano) and David Shively (percussion/cimbalom) curate its programming, drawing on a broader collective of 17 regular soloists (and guests) to realize the unique requirements of each project. Since its founding in 2004, Either/Or has premiered more than 125 works (as well as dozens of student compositions), toured throughout the US and Sweden, and recorded for labels such as New Focus, New World Records, Starkland, Edition Modern, and Sterling Classics. In 2016, Either/OR produced a week-long festival of Romanian Spectralism, bringing composers Ana-Maria Avram and Iancu Dumitrescu to New York City for the first time.
Mario Diaz de Leon is a composer and performer, whose output encompasses modern classical music, experimental electronic music, and extreme metal. His debut album as composer, "Enter Houses Of" was released in 2009 on John Zorn's Tzadik label, and praised by the New York Times for its "hallucinatory intensity". A second album, entitled "The Soul is the Arena", was released in 2015 on the Denovali label, and was named a notable recording of 2015 by New Yorker Magazine. Pitchfork wrote that the album "combined his interests seamlessly into music that throbs with snarling exuberance." From 2012-2016, his solo electronic project Oneirogen (o-NI-ro-jen) toured internationally and released three full length LPs and two EPs on the Denovali label. Since 2015, he leads the metal band Luminous Vault as vocalist and guitarist (Profound Lore Records). His mentors include George Lewis, Maryanne Amacher, and Iancu Dumitrescu.
Vasko Dukovski, a multi-instrumentalist virtuoso and diverse stylistic performer of the highest caliber has established himself as one of New York's most sought after instrumentalists in his generation. A master of the clarinet, Dukovski also plays Armenian Duduk, Balkan Pan Pipes, Bag Pipes, Chinese Hu Lu Si and various Midlle-Eastern percussion instruments. Born in Ohrid in the Republic of Macedonia, Dukovski began his musical studies at the age of nine. His dedication earned him a Fine Arts Award from the Interlochen Arts Academy, which he attended before earning a Bachelors and a Masters at the Julliard Schools of Music. At Julliard, Dukovski was principally a student of Charles Neidich and Ayako Oshima. www.dukovski.com
Queens-based percussionist Russell Greenberg specializes in music of the 20th and 21st centuries that spans a wide variety of styles. His breadth of experience as an international performer has led to a unique approach and viewpoint on contemporary music and teaching, and he strives to share this experience with varied audiences. As a founding member of the piano and percussion quartet, Yarn/Wire, Russell has collaborated with many of today’s leading composers to craft a body of new, wide-reaching and vital repertoire. At the vanguard of contemporary music, Yarn/Wire frequently tours the United States and performances have been labeled as “fearless” (TimeOutNY), and “intrepid/engrossing” (The New York Times). In addition to his work with contemporary music ensembles, Russell performs and records with the innovative bands Seaven Teares. www.russellgreenberg.net
“New-music luminary” (NY Times), Margaret Lancaster (flute) also works as an actor, dancer, amateur furniture designer and has built a large repertoire of inter-disciplinary solo works that employ electronics and mixed media. Performance highlights include Lincoln Center Festival, Spoleto Festival USA, Santa Fe New Music, Edinburgh Festival, Tap City, and the 7-year global run of OBIE-winning Mabou Mines Dollhouse (Helene). A member of Either/Or, Ipse, and Fisher Ensemble, guest appearances include Argento, American Modern Ensemble, and the New York Philharmonic. Recent collaborations include projects with Jean- Baptiste Barrière and Kaija Saariaho, ArmitageGone!Dance, and touring Morton Feldman’s 5 hour epic "For Philip Guston." margaretlancaster.com
Zach Rowden deals with the acoustic and performative possibilities of the upright and electric basses. Currently living in New Haven, Connecticut, and Richmond, Virginia. Collaborators and associations include Iancu Dumitrescu & Ana-Maria Avram (Hyperion Ensemble member/soloist), Michael Foster’s The Ghost, Robert Black, Matt Sargent, Leila Bordreuil, Lindsey Vickery, Gus Caldwell, Chris Cretella, and Sean Ali. He has performed at venues such as Harpa (Reykjavik), ISSUE Project Room (New York), Firehouse 12 (New Haven), Cafe Oto (London), Heimathafen Neukölln (Berlin), Real Art Ways (Hartford) and living rooms/basements throughout the United States.