Dark Music Days: Works by Anthony Braxton & Bergrun Snæbjörnsdóttir

Wednesday, April 21, 2021. 5:00 pm

Roulette’s Spring 2021 Season will be live streamed from our stage and archived on our website. Watch the video of this performance below.



Dark Music Days: Works by Anthony Braxton & Bergrun Snæbjörnsdóttir

Wednesday, April 21, 2021. 5:00 pm

International Contemporary Ensemble and Skerpla Ensemble present works by Anthony Braxton and Bergrún Snæbjörnsdóttir.

The International Contemporary Ensemble has been working with Tri-Centric Foundation and Nokia Bell Labs Experiments in Art and Technology on structuring multi-site collaborations. This research will be put into action with a livestream performance of work by Anthony Braxton, under the direction of James Fei, and a world premiere of Bergrún Snæbjörnsdóttir’s Ecognosis. Ensemble members will be joined by special guests Fay Victor and Darius Jones as well as musicians in Reykjavik, Skerpla Ensemble from Iceland University of the Arts (IUA), for this synchronous livestream.

Preshow Panel discussion focused on the works of Anthony Braxton
Hosted by International Contemporary Ensemble in collaboration with Dark Music Days.
Tuesday, April 20, 2021. 7–8pm EDT
RSVP required

International Contemporary Ensemble
Fay Victor, voice
Joshua Rubin, clarinet
Darius Jones, saxophone
Rebekah Heller, bassoon
Josh Modney, violin
Kyle Armbrust, viola
Michael Nicolas, cello
Levy Lorenzo, percussion
Maciej Lewandowski, tech/production
Nicholas Houfek, lighting
Ross Karre, video design

Skerpla Ensemble – Iceland University of the Arts (IUA)
Berglind María Tómasdóttir, flute
Alvar Rosell Martin, clarinet
John McCowen, clarinet
Ana Luisa S. Diaz De Cossio, violin
Sigurður Halldórsson, cello
Khetsin Chuchan, piano

James Fei, conductor

The performance and preshow panel are presented virtually. Roulette’s theater is currently closed for public performances as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and the safety measures that Roulette has put in place to keep staff, artists, and the public safe.

Dark Music Days is an Icelandic contemporary music festival held annually in Reykjavík, Iceland. Dark Music Days provides the foremost platform for showcasing innovative and progressive contemporary music in Iceland. Established by the Society of Icelandic Composers in 1980, the festival places emphasis on premiering new and often experimental pieces that reflect the ever-growing diversity and creativity of contemporary music. The festival is today one of the most important festivals of contemporary music in Iceland, where the music of Icelandic composers blends with current events and renowned international music. The role of Dark Music Days in the musical community in Iceland is vital both as an eye-opener for the general public and as a place where composers and musicians can experience new music for inspiration. Dark Music Days is currently programmed by Ásmundur Jónsson.

The focus of the festival is to encourage new projects to happen and the festival seeks to include as many premieres as possible, making the festival daring in terms of programming events. Dark Music Days presents more premieres of new works every year than any other Icelandic event. It is a festival celebrating the wealth of contemporary music creation in Iceland, bringing together a variety of concerts including compositions in different styles by diverse composers. Dark Music Days puts an emphasis on presenting composers and performers ranging in age, nationality, and gender while presenting the versatile contemporary music scene in Iceland. Ásmundur Jónsson is http://www.darkmusicdays.is

The International Contemporary Ensemble is an artist collective that is transforming the way music is created and experienced. As performer, curator, and educator, the Ensemble explores how new music intersects with communities across the world. The Ensemble’s 36 members are featured as soloists, chamber musicians, commissioners, and collaborators with the foremost musical artists of our time. Works by emerging composers have anchored the Ensemble’s programming since its founding in 2001, and the group’s recordings and digital platforms highlight the many voices that weave music’s present.

A recipient of the American Music Center’s Trailblazer Award and the Chamber Music America/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming, the International Contemporary Ensemble was also named the 2014 Musical America Ensemble of the Year. The group currently serves as artists-in-residence at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts’ Mostly Mozart Festival, and previously led a five-year residency at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. The International Contemporary Ensemble was featured at the Ojai Music Festival from 2015 to 2017, and at recent festivals abroad such as gmem-CNCM-marseille and Vértice at Cultura UNAM, Mexico City. Other performance stages have included the Park Avenue Armory, The Stone, ice floes at Greenland’s Diskotek Sessions, and boats on the Amazon River.

OpenICE, made possible with lead funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, offers free concerts and interactive, educational programming wherever the Ensemble performs. As the Ensemble in Residence of the Nokia Bell Labs Experiments in Art and Technology, the International Contemporary Ensemble advances music technology and digital communications as an empowering tool for artists from all backgrounds. Curricular activities include a residency and coursework at the New School College of Performing Arts, along with a summer intensive program, called Ensemble Evolution, where topics of equity, diversity, and inclusion build new bridges and pathways for the future of creative sound practices. Yamaha Artist Services New York is the exclusive piano provider for the Ensemble. Read more at www.iceorg.org and watch over 350 videos of live performances and documentaries at www.digitice.org.

The Tri-Centric Foundation is a non-profit organization that supports the work and legacy of American composer and musician Anthony Braxton. Their primary activities are preservation and dissemination of his scores, recordings, and writings, production of performances, and pedagogy. Tri-Centric maintains Anthony Braxton’s massive and growing archive which includes roughly 33,000 pieces of print material in the form of over 400 scores and parts, various writings, cassettes, videos, and ephemera. In recognition of their efforts, they received the support of the GRAMMY Museum® Grant Program in 2018 and the CLIR Recordings At Risk grant in 2019. Tri-Centric also strives to cultivate and inspire the next generation of creative artists and educators to pursue their own visions with the kind of idealism and integrity Braxton has demonstrated throughout his distinguished career, advocating for the crucial role risk-taking art plays in maintaining the health and vibrancy of our culture. Through a commitment to innovation, self-sufficiency, and artistic ambition, the organization looks to create a new model of artist empowerment and offer a supportive community to those in pursuit of “trans-idiomatic” creativity. https://tricentricfoundation.org/

Anthony Braxton (born 1945), the Chicago-born composer and multi-instrumentalist, is recognized as one of the most important musicians, educators, and creative thinkers of the past 50 years. He is highly esteemed in the experimental music community for the revolutionary quality of his work and for the mentorship and inspiration he has provided to generations of younger musicians. Drawing upon a disparate mix of influences from John Coltrane to Karlheinz Stockhausen, Braxton has created a unique musical system that celebrates the concept of global creativity and our shared humanity. His work examines core principles of improvisation, structural navigation and ritual engagement – innovation, spirituality, and intellectual investigation. From his early work as a pioneering solo performer in the late 1960s through to his eclectic experiments on Arista Records in the 1970s, his landmark quartet of the 1980s, and more recent endeavors, such as his cycle of Trillium operas and the day-long, installation-based Sonic Genome Project, his vast body of work is unparalleled. His small ensembles of the 1970s through to the present day are considered among the most innovative groups of their respective eras, while his Creative Orchestra Music has brought together the varying streams of American jazz orchestras, marching bands, and experimental practices with the traditions of European concert music in a wholly individual compositional voice. His continuing and evolving current systems of the past 15 years, including Ghost Trance Music, Diamond Curtain Wall Music, Falling River Music, Echo Echo Mirror House Music, and ZIM Music, have served as the artistic incubators for some of the most exciting artists of the current generation.

James Fei (b. Taipei, Taiwan) moved to the US in 1992 to study electrical engineering and has since been active as a composer and performer on saxophones and live electronics. Works by Fei have been performed by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra of the S.E.M. Ensemble, Bang on a Can All-Stars, MATA Micro Orchestra and Noord-Hollands Philharmonisch Orkest. His recordings can be found on Leo Records, Improvised Music from Japan, CRI, Krabbesholm and Organized Sound. Compositions for Fei’s own ensemble of four alto saxophones focus on physical processes of saliva, fatigue, reeds crippled by cuts and the threshold of audible sound production, while his sound installations and performance on live electronics often focus on electronic and acoustic feedback. Fei has taught at Mills College in Oakland since 2006 where he is Professor of Electronic Arts. He is the recipient of the 2014 Grants for Artists Award from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts and currently the president of Anthony Braxton’s Tri-Centric Foundation. www.jamesfei.com

Hailing from the peripheries of Iceland, now Reykjavík based composer Bergrún Snæbjörnsdóttir follows inner logics when approaching composition, often integrating sound and visual phenomena into an indivisible whole. Her “elemental style” (Steve Smith, The New Yorker) has been performed widely and by groups such as the Oslo Philharmonic (NO), Iceland Symphony Orchestra (IS), International Contemporary Ensemble ICE (US), Decibel (AUS), Avanti! Chamber Orchestra (FI) and Nordic Affect (IS), while featured in festivals and events such as Tectonics (Glasgow, Reykjavík, Athens, Oslo), Nordic Music Days (London, Bodø, Reykjavík), Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart (New York), Only Connect (Oslo), Classical:NEXT (Rotterdam), SPOR (Aarhus), Cycle (Kópavogur), Ultima (Oslo), Dark Music Days (Reykjavík) , Sigur Rós’s Norður og Niður (Reykjavík), KLANG (Copenhagen), ISCM’s World New Music Days (Beijing), Sound of Stockholm, Prototype (US) and more. As a performer she has a diverse background, having in the past toured extensively and recorded with acts like Sigur Rós and Björk, as well as being a performer of experimental music in various constellations. She is also a member of composers’ collective S.L.Á.T.U.R. (Artistically Obtrusive Composers Around Reykjavík). Bergrún holds a master’s degree (2017) in composition from Mills College where she studied with Fred Frith, Zeena Parkins, Pauline Oliveros, Roscoe Mitchell, James Fei and John Bischoff, as well as as well having completed bachelor’s degrees in new media composition and horn from the Iceland University of the Arts. http://www.bergrun.com/

“She’s essentially invented her own hybrid of song and spoken word, a scat style for today’s avant-garde.”—Giovanni Russonello, The New York Times. Fay Victor is a sound artist that uses performance, improvisation, and composition to examine representations of modern life and blackness. Based in Brooklyn, NY, Victor’s ‘everything is everything’ aesthetic permeates her work and approach to the vocal instrument. Victor’s released eleven critically acclaimed albums as a leader, including her latest release, “WE’VE HAD ENOUGH!” with her improvising quartet SoundNoiseFUNK (ESP-Disk) just released in October 2020. Victor is breaking ground as an educator and is on the faculty of the New School of Jazz & Contemporary Music in NYC. Learn more about Fay Victor at www.fayvictor.com; Follow Fay Victor @freesongsinger on IG, FB, and Twitter. Support Fay Victor on Patreon.

Darius Jones has created a recognizable voice as a critically acclaimed saxophonist and composer by embracing individuality and innovation in the tradition of African-American music. Jones has been awarded the Van Lier Fellowship, Jerome Foundation Commission, Jerome Artist-in-Residence at Roulette, French-American Jazz Exchange Award, and, in 2019, the Fromm Music Foundation commission at Harvard University. In 2020, Darius premiered a major new multimedia work entitled, We Can Change the Country, commissioned by New Music USA and New York State Council on the Arts. Jones has released a string of diverse recordings featuring music and images evocative of Black Futurism. His work as a new music composer for voice culminated in a major debut performance at Carnegie Hall in 2014. Jones has collaborated with artists including Gerald Cleaver, Oliver Lake, William Parker, Andrew Cyrille, Craig Taborn, Wet Ink Ensemble, Jason Moran, Trevor Dunn, Dave Burrell, Eric Revis, Matthew Shipp, Marshall Allen, Nasheet Waits, Branford Marsalis, Travis Laplante, Fay Victor, Cooper-Moore, Matana Roberts, JD Allen, Matthew Shipp, Nicole Mitchell, Georgia Ann Muldrow, and many more. The New York Times named Jones among the Best Live Jazz Performances of 2017 for his Vision Festival performance with Farmers by Nature. In 2018, Darius premiered across the United States a major new composition entitled LawNOrder, a dramatic commentary on social justice and American politics. Jones’ music is a confrontation against apathy and ego, hoping to inspire authenticity that compels us to be better humans.

The International Contemporary Ensemble is grateful for the support of the NYC COVID-19 Response and Impact Fund in The New York Community Trust in making this program possible. The International Contemporary Ensemble is the Ensemble in Residence of the Nokia Bell Labs Experiments in Art and Technology.

Performances and commissioning activities during the 2020–21 concert season are made possible by the generous support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Howard Gilman Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, A.N. and Pearl G. Barnett Family Foundation, Jerome Foundation, Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, Aaron Copland Fund for Music Inc., Francis Goelet Charitable Lead Trusts, Amphion Foundation, Ernst von Siemens Musikstiftung, The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, Pacific Harmony Foundation, Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation, Alice M. Ditson Fund of Columbia University, The Casement Fund, BMI Foundation, as well as public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, the New York State Council for the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and the Illinois Arts Council Agency. Yamaha Artist Services New York is the exclusive piano provider for the International Contemporary Ensemble.

Bergrun Snæbjörnsdóttir’s Ecognosis was developed through the Ensemble’s icecommons Artist-in-Residence program, with lead support from Jerome Foundation.

This performance is a co-production between Roulette and International Contemporary Ensemble. 

This engagement is supported by Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation through USArtists International in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Howard Gilman Foundation.

Photos: digitice Media Team, Paul Gannushkin, Derrick Belcham, Sunna Rán Stefánsdóttir (from left: John, Alvar, Khetsin, Sigurður, front row from left: Ana Luisa, Berglind)