New-music cellist Judith Hamann shakes up the repertoire | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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New-music cellist Judith Hamann shakes up the repertoire


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Shaking can be an involuntary reaction to a one-sided relationship: you scare me, I shake. Likewise, Australian cellist Judith Hamann’s Shaking Studies is intentional, dialogic, and intimate. The set-length program includes passages that investigate various pulsing or vibrational aspects of playing, including rhythm, tremor, vibrato, and wolf tones— overtones that occur when a bowed note matches the resonating frequency of an instrument. In conventional practice cellists try to avoid wolf tones, sometimes by squeezing the instrument between their knees to suppress vibrations. But Hamann deliberately summons the effect, which in turn exposes her to being shaken by her cello's vibrations. Her two album releases explore similar phenomena. On last year’s Gossamers (Caduc), Hamann and saxophonist Rosalind Hall juxtapose overtones to hair-raising effect. And on composer Tashi Wada’s 2014 effort Duets (Saltern), she and fellow cellist Charles Curtis take Wada’s provocatively simple score—one line drawn diagonally across a music staff—as a chance to instigate four slow-motion explorations of close harmony and coarse dissonance. An opening performance from tenor vocalist Julian Terrell Otis includes Julius Eastman’s “Our Father” and Ben Patterson’s “Duo for String Instrument and Voice.”   v

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