Yellow Barn residency finds links between Baroque era and today

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PUTNEY -- Conor Hanick and Jay Campbell tell us they’ll be performing music on Friday at the culmination of their Yellow Barn Artist Residency.

What they’re actually doing is more closely tied to physics, since their work explores ways of overcoming barriers of time and space.

Bringing 17th century Europe and 21st century America closer together is at the heart of their residency which explores points of convergence and complement between Baroque and contemporary music.

Together, Campbell, a cellist and Yellow Barn alumnus, and Hanick, a pianist, have spent two weeks at the Greenwood School exploring repertoire and ideas. Their residency wraps up on Friday with a performance at 8 p.m., at Next Stage titled "Counterpoint: Structure and Improvisation," featuring music by J.S. Bach and C.P.E. Bach and contemporary composers Charles Wuorinen and Matthias Pintscher. The program also features world premiere performances of commissioned works by Wei-Chieh Lin and David Fulmer.

Performing on both modern instruments and the piccolo cello and harpsichord, the duo explores the dialogue between the unbridled imagination of the Baroque and today’s world.

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"I think they share a lot of similarities and share a lot of characteristics," said Hanick. "The big thing that’s emerging, for me at least, is this idea of counterpoint, which is something so integral to the Baroque style. There’s an equality of voices and an incredible fabric of voices. We’re realizing that counterpoint and interaction of voices has a really interesting analog with a lot of the contemporary music we’re playing."

Though Hanick and Campbell are exploring these compositions in the name of their own interests, there’s an ulterior motive -- the demystification of contemporary music for audiences.

"Contemporary music is not its own genre. It’s connected to a tradition," said Hanick. "Some of the best music ... and some of the most contemporary music is not necessarily cutting itself off from tradition."

Equally passionate about contemporary music and Baroque, Hanick and Campbell will present two world premieres on Friday. Campbell will perform David Fulmer’s solo cello piece that pays tribute to the victims of those massacred in Zhanaozen in Kazakhstan. Commissioned by the Human Rights Foundation, "The Requiem for Zhanaozen: Star of the North," will receive its premiere in Putney and then tour to Dallas, where Yellow Barn has a partnership with the Nasher Sculpture Center, and from there to New York and abroad.

During their Yellow Barn Artist Residency Campbell and Hanick also led a workshop creating texts inspired by music with students at the Greenwood School. Using a piece from the early 18th century by Marin Marais with texts that give a detailed account of a gallstone operation as a jumping off point, Greenwood students wrote their own accounts of horrific experiences, carefully following a diagram of the music to crescendo and accent with exclamations at the right moments. Along with other Yellow Barn-Greenwood School partnership projects, this collaboration was filmed for a Ken Burns documentary focusing on the work of the Greenwood School.

Admission to Friday’s performance is $12. There will be a brief discussion with Campbell and composers Fulmer, and Lin following the performance. Visit www.yellowbarn.org.


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