Talea Ensemble with Michael Weyandt | Univ. of Chicago Logan Center for the Arts | Classical | Chicago Reader

Talea Ensemble with Michael Weyandt All Ages Recommended Soundboard Image

When: Fri., Dec. 2, 7:30 p.m. 2016

Since 2007, New York’s Talea Ensemble has been a leading light in tackling challenging new-music repertoire, commissioning loads of new work and surveying landmarks of contemporary classical and experimental music from around the globe. In a scene where funding for brand-new commissions takes priority, an ensemble that devotes energy to criminally overlooked pieces from the recent past becomes more important. This rare local concert, under the banner of the University of Chicago’s Contempo series, offers a vivid example of how effectively Talea has filled the role, featuring four bold 20th-century musical-theater pieces of unwavering experimental impulses—so don’t expect show tunes. The greatest lure of the diverse program for me is Eight Songs for a Mad King, thanks to my recent discovery of the 1969 operetta’s original recording by British composer Peter Maxwell Davies, featuring composer and pianist Julius Eastman delivering tour-de-force vocals. New York singer Michael Weyandt will join members of Talea for this 30-minute feast of extended techniques and mind-melting vocal extremes, moving from insane falsetto yelps to stentorian baritone howls. He’ll also take part in other challenging musical theater pieces by Mauricio Kagel (“Sur Scène”) and Karlheinz Stockhausen (“Der Kleine Harlekin”), as well as John Cage’s playful “Living Room Music,” which draws upon household objects as percussive devices and features a reading of Gertrude Stein’s poem “The World Is Round.”

Peter Margasak

Price: $25, $5 students

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