Music is a panoramic experience, according to Hoff-Barthelson Music School. It’s as much about paying homage as it is looking forward.
This weekend, the school kicks off its annual Festival for Contemporary Music, with performances held in various Westchester locations from Friday, May 10 through Sunday, May 19. The festival will feature music from the last 100 years, including a world premiere piece commissioned by the school.
“We live in a really cool time,” HBMS cello teacher Peter Seidenberg said. “It’s the first time in the history of music we have access to all of the sounds of western music.”
Seidenberg, now in his third year as the festival’s artistic director, added that hindsight encourages innovative writing. “Right now, there’s an eclecticism in classical music,” he said. “Composers use musical language from all different periods of classical music to create ... a really unique voice for our time.”
The festival will build on last year’s novelties, including concerts that feature multiple ensembles. In bringing different skill levels together, such as students and faculty, “They can hear different sounds,” Seidenberg said. “They get a different perspective on ways to play together, ways to play the same notes that sound different.”
HBMS soloists and ensembles will play recitals throughout the week at the school, 25 School Lane, including the popular program “Jazz A to Z” on Monday, May 13. Students will also participate in the festival’s Compose Yourself! Project, in which award-winning composers offer their feedback on students’ renditions of their works. This year’s composers are Žibuoklė Martinaitytė and Danny Gray. The school will also host a Young Composers & Improvisers recital featuring works by HBMS’s youngest composers.
“The contemporary festival is one of the most exciting, creative events of the school year,” HBMS Executive Director Ken Cole said.
The festival will culminate with a finale concert Sunday, May 19, 7 p.m., featuring a diverse program at Community Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 468 Rosedale Ave., White Plains. Students will premiere saxophonist and composer Remy Le Boeuf’s “Scherzo” for piano quartet.
The New York Times called 32-year-old Le Boeuf “musically precocious” and said his music embodies “the gleaming cosmopolitanism of our present era.”
Known for marrying jazz, classical and indie-rock, Le Boeuf has collaborated with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, Wynton Marsalis, JACK Quartet, Knower, Linda Oh and his twin brother Pascal Le Boeuf, with whom he co-leads the Grammy-nominated ensemble Le Boeuf Brothers. His newest project, a modern jazz album, “Light as a Word,” debuts May 24.
“I think of music and language as extremely similar,” Le Boeuf said. “The devices that make a story interesting to listen to ... are very musical. I like to consider speech when I’m writing music and consider music when I’m speaking and trying to communicate with people.”
This month, he is in residence at The Copland House in Cortlandt, the former home of prolific composer Aaron Copland. There, Le Boeuf reads Copland’s memoirs, pores over his scores and plays his piano. “I’m really soaking in as much of his life and music as I can,” he said.
Each year, The Copland House nominates one of its resident composers to write a piece for HBMS’s contemporary festival. This year, Le Boeuf composed the playful piano quartet, “Scherzo.” “I wanted something that would challenge the students and also be a lot of fun to play,” he said.
Other highlights include performances by the Advanced Jazz Ensemble, Chamber Choir, Chamber Orchestra and Junior Voices. The show will close with a favorite from last year, Terry Riley’s “In C.”
There is a suggested donation of $20.