Composer and pianist Rachel Grimes and Louisville Orchestra Music Director Teddy Abrams appear with the NouLou Chamber Players in a free New Lens Concert event Sunday evening at 21c Museum Hotel. The concert also includes new dance choreography by Ashley Thursby for a composition by Daniel Gilliam.
The NouLou Chamber Players is a collective of professional musicians, including many players from the Louisville Orchestra, which performs chamber-sized musical works — such as Grimes’ “Music from Egon Schiele.”
Grimes composed the piece for a movie about the notorious Austrian expressionist painter of the early 20th century, and later recorded it with The Rachels in 1996. Sunday night Grimes will again be at the keyboard for a trio version of the work, with NouLou Players cellist Cecelia Huerta-Lauf and violist Laura De St. Croix.
A quartet of players will perform a Grimes piece called “The Clearing.” Maybe a clearing like a glint of light in the deepest corner of a forest.
“It’s completely different sounding,” says De St. Croix, “very dark, kind of scary to listen to.”
Also on the bill, Louisville Ballet choreographer Thursby premieres a new dance, with video by Milan Misko, for a work called “Variations,” composed by Daniel Gilliam.
Gilliam is the program director of public radio’s WUOL 90.5 FM Classical Louisville, and an active composer. He says a poem by Wallace Stevens called “Variations on a Summer Day” is an inspiration for his “Variations.”
“I’m interested in how Stevens uses the English language, how he works with it,” says Gilliam. “That’s interesting to me on a personal level, and I don’t know how that comes out in the music, necessarily. But it’s personally gratifying to read his words and phrases. And turns of phrases.”
The variations, you might say.
The New Lens show will open with orchestra maestro Teddy Abrams performing two piano pieces by Gilliam.
If all that variety and changing ensembles of players sounds kind of like the cast of the Grand Ole Opry stepping on and off the stage putting on a show, that’s not a bad comparison.
Today’s musicians, and audiences, are very much interested in exploring new formats, and a New Lens concert, with NouLou players, two composers, a dancer and a video — all set in an up-close venue outside the concert hall — is just the thing. A jam of music, if you will.
“I’m always remembering that little phrase we hear, that ‘All music was once new,’” says De St. Croix, the violist. “We feel very lucky to be performing with the composers — working with the composers — on music that hopefully, potentially, one day becomes the classics.”
The concert on Sunday, July 14, is a ticketless event, with seating opening at 6:30 p.m. for the 7 p.m. show in the Atrium of 21c, 700 W. Main St.