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J. Pavone String Ensemble
Performance
2023 New Music Festival

J. Pavone String Ensemble

April 07, 2023

This event occurred as part of the 22/23 Music Department season. This is an archived view.

Sonic vibration coursing through collective improvisation

22/23 Music Department

The ensemble focuses on a vision of collective improvisation that prioritizes a collaboratively sewn musical fabric where they respond to a score and a performance space as well as to each other, in contrast to prizing the individuality and uniqueness of the soloist. Influenced by Pavone's solo work, the group attends to how the body plays a role in sound and intention. In this system.

The New Music Festival is a co-production of the Music Department and the Hopkins Center for the Arts, with support from The Leonard J. Reade 1917 Institute for American Music Fund, The Leslie Center for the Humanities, and a gift to the Don Glasgo Fund in memory of Alan Gottesman '13 and Friends of the Coast Jazz Orchestra.


Founded in 2017, the J. Pavone String Ensemble presents original compositions that expand on the themes of Jessica Pavone's extensive solo work for viola while incorporating recent research into the effects of sonic vibration on human physiology and emotional health.

Pavone's solo viola music, which stems from years of concentrated long-tone practice and an interest in repetition, song form and sympathetic vibration, is influenced by the 'folk song,' which lives largely through oral transmission. Each piece's performance may be unique, reflecting the indeterminacy of Pavone's output for solo viola; her folk music. The group has performed at the Suoni Per Il Popolo Festival (Montreal), Logan Center for the Arts (Chicago), the DiMenna Center for Classical Music (Manhattan), NYC Winter Jazzfest, Roulette and ISSUE Project Room (Brooklyn), Firehouse12 (New Haven), Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center (Asheville), the Garner Arts Center (Garnerville, NY), and The Rotunda (Philadelphia). Three studio albums have been released to critical acclaim from The Wire, The New Yorker, Pitchfork, JazzTimes and San Francisco Classical Voice. Brad Cohen of JazzTimes described her as "a free-thinker who can't be pigeonholed." In 2019, the string ensemble's debut album, Brick and Mortar, was hailed by the Chicago Reader's Peter Margasak as "the most assured, bracing work of Pavone's career." Astral Spirits Records released their second, Lost and Found, in 2020 to critical acclaim from publications such as; The Wire, The New Yorker, NYC Jazz Record, NPR, and Jazzwise. Bandcamp Daily named it a "Best Contemporary Albums of 2020". Chris Ingalls from Pop Matters described their music as "too stunning to lump into genres."

As an instrumentalist and composer, developing original compositions for solo viola has been integral to Jessica Pavone's practice. She explores music's tactile and sensory experience as a vibration-based medium and incorporates time-based principles to shape the works. Inspired by processes that center on intuition and instinct, her music channels all these ideas by focusing on how music feels when played and heard and exploring how sonic vibrations affect the body, weaving her experiences as an instrumentalist into works that transcend time.

While her primary training was in classical music at the Hartt School of Music (B.M. Music Ed. '98) and Brooklyn College (M.M. Music Composition '07), Pavone has dedicated her career to exploring alternative avenues for creative musical expression and "has made a career of redefining the possibilities for her instrument" (Steve Smith, National Sawdust Log). Since studying with Leroy Jenkins from '00-'05 and incorporating improvisation in her viola playing, Pavone has performed original music by William Parker, Henry Threadgill, Matana Roberts, Wadada Leo Smith, Aaron Siegel, Tyondai Braxton, Glenn Branca, Matthew Welch, Samantha Boshnack, Elliot Sharp and Taylor Ho Bynum. From '05 to '12, she toured regularly with Anthony Braxton's Sextet and 12+1tet and appears on his discography from that time.

She has premiered new music at prominent NYC venues and has released four collaborative duo recordings with guitarist Mary Halvorson (2019 MacArthur Fellow). In 2011, Pavone was featured in NPR's "The Mix: 100 Composers Under 40." The New York Times wrote that her music is "distinct and beguiling… its core is steely, and its execution clear," and in Wire Magazine, Julian Cowley noted that Pavone "[is] not like other composers–she is uniquely herself, and from that stems the improbable strength of her music."

Aimée Niemann is a violinist and improviser who investigates sound through its intersection with movement. Steeped in the worlds of experimental music, dance and theatre, they compose graphic scores that are used as structures for interdisciplinary invention and the unearthing of new sounds. Niemann often plays with the J. Pavone String Ensemble, appearing on Pavone's two most recent albums, Lull (Chaikin Records) and …of Late (Astral Spirits). They are a founding member of Du.0 (do-point-oh), a New York City-based violin duo formed in 2015 specializing in contemporary and noise-based music that "[shines] in moments of deep listening" (I Care if You Listen). The duo has premiered new works by composers Leah Asher, Emily Praetorius and Scott Wollschleger; their debut album is forthcoming. Alongside violinist Marija Kovačević, Niemann released a four-part record with their duo BUKA, spanning the seasons pre and post-pandemic (G.P Stripes Recordings). Niemann is honored to have played on the premiere performance and recording of 2022 Pulitzer Prize finalist Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti's with eyes the color of time (String Orchestra of Brooklyn, New Focus Recordings). Other notable collaborators include composers Aleksandra Vrebalov, Alvin Lucier, Anthony Coleman, Christian Wolff, Lucie Vítková, Matt Smiley, and Paul Elwood. Since 2013, Niemann has worked extensively to challenge the traditional role of the "violinist" across multiple disciplines, including large-scale multimedia installations with visual artists, works co-produced with choreographers, and live scores featured in experimental theatre works. A passionate educator, Niemann has taught at Third Street Music School Settlement in Manhattan, at New York University, The String Quartet Program of Northern Colorado and Mahidol University in Bangkok, Thailand (Visiting Artist). They also teach graphic score and improvisation workshops to youth in New York City and have trained more than 50 teachers in the Creative Ability Development (CAD) method. Originally from the prairies of Colorado, Niemann currently lives in Queens, NY.

Multi-instrumentalist composer and performer Abby Swidler (violin, viola) spins sound into immersive dreamscapes that invite listeners to explore and reflect upon the natural world. Swidler's music thoughtfully weaves organic and electronic textures together to create otherworldly sonic landscapes. Their compositions draw inspiration from classical cannon, minimalism, popular idioms and improvisation traditions, creating space for performers to add their unique artistic gifts. Since 2017, Swidler has been connecting with the natural world and exploring environmental themes in their music: Botanical Portraits (2019) is a series of miniatures for string quartet focused on plant life; Horizon & Retrospect (2020) examines snapshots of evolving landscapes in Portland, Maine; and Mollusca (2022) is a collection of string soundscapes celebrating marine life. Swidler is a passionate collaborator across a multitude of artistic disciplines and musical contexts. Abby Swidler has also composed written works for Palaver Strings, BBC Shortcuts, O Miami Poetry Festival, and the Peabody Essex Museum. As a violinist, violist and vocalist, Swidleris a versatile and expressive performer who is equally at home across a wide breadth of genres. They are featured on over 30 studio albums; have performed at venues including The Tonight Show, SXSW, Winter JazzFest, Panama Jazz Festival, Redbull Music Festival, National Sawdust, Carnegie Hall, and Lincoln Center. Originally from Missoula, MT, Abby Swidler currently lives in Brooklyn, NY.

“distinct and beguiling"

The New York Times
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Hanover, NH 03755

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