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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Playlist of the week: The New Classical

    Matthew Murphy
    Imani Winds poses for a photo with their instruments. Their song “Umoja” is an example of music portraying the diverse cultural landscape of America.

    This week’s Playlist of the Week features classical music from the 21st century. Long gone are the firm structures of Johann Sebastian Bach, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ludwig van Beethoven as classical composers. New artists are experimenting with the fusion of other genres to make a new form of classical music.

    1. ”Change”

    The NOW Ensemble is one of my favorite groups that has popped up recently, with its usual (flute, clarinet, electric guitar, string bass and piano) and its fresh compositions that match the bustling cultural cornucopia of New York City. One of their flagship pieces by Judd Greenstein, “Change,” is built on a single motive that interweaves throughout the duration of the piece, and inspires so much ear candy in spite of its nearly 14-minute length .

    2. ”Umoja”

    Another New York-based group is the Imani Winds, a woodwind quintet (flute, clarinet, oboe, French horn and bassoon) made up entirely of people of color. Race is prevalent in every area of life, and being able to pull influences from rich, cultural histories makes modern classical music very appealing. Their piece “Umoja”, composed by Valerie Coleman, is a fantastic example of America’s vast musical, cultural landscape.

    3. ”In C”

    While not from the 21st century, Terry Riley’s “In C,” is one of the greatest examples of spatial notation and minimalism in modern music. Each play of an ensemble starts at different times in a sequence of different events, which takes a long time to put together in a way that sounds composed, but it has a wonderful shimmering effect when it does.

    4. ”Become Ocean”

    Recently, Seattle Symphony received a $50,000 donation from Taylor Swift for having produced this Pulitzer Prize-winning piece. “Become Ocean,” composed by John Luther Adams, gives listeners the sensation of floating through the wide expanse of open ocean. “Become Ocean” is deeply meditative and greatly introspective.

    5. ”Water Night”

    This list would not be complete without at least one Eric Whitacre piece. Whitacre is famous for his lush chords, and Octavio Paz for his vivid poetry, which makes “Water Night” a breathtaking cornerstone of contemporary classical literature.

    6. ”Sarabande”

    The first time I heard Partita for 8 Voices’ “Sarabande,” which was composed by Caroline Shaw and performed by New York-based collective Roomful of Teeth, I was immediately reminded of the sultry tones of Imogen Heap. A play on traditional dance movements passed down through hundreds of years of musical history, Partita for 8 Voices’ “Sarabande” is a great example of reinterpreting the ancient in the modern.

    7. ”Freebirds”

    If you have been looking for a musical piece that combines the power of concert band music, the extended techniques of the clarinet and Lynyrd Skynyrd, this is the piece for you. Scott McAllister’s “Freebirds” features two clarinets literally sounding like birds and riffing extensively on the sweeping and curling electric guitar licks of the Lynyrd Skynyrd classic, “Freebirds.”

    8. ”Elements”

    While I cannot in good conscience say that music produced by Lindsey Stirling is classical in the way that other music on this playlist is, her particular brand of electric dubstep violin music is breaking down the boundaries between what is considered classical and what is not. “Elements” perfectly captures her unique style, and its video features some of the most beautiful imagery of different elements of nature.

    Follow Kincaid Rabb on Twitter.

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