In the late 1990’s Eastman School of Music students Gavin Chuck and Alan Pierson saw the need for a top notch ensemble to perform their compositions and other contemporary music. They set to work and formed the student ensemble Ossia. One of their more notable concerts was one in 1999 that featured music by Steve Reich which the composer attended. After the concert, Reich expressed to the group his desire for an American new music ensemble that would be equivalent to England’s London Sinfonietta or Germany’s Ensemble Modern. That is all the impetus the group needed to create a twenty member ensemble which was named Alarm Will Sound. Gavin became the ensemble’s Managing Director and Pierson the Conductor and Artistic Director.
A dozen years later, Alarm Will Sound has received critical acclaim including the New York Times accolades as “the future of classical music” and “the very model of a modern music chamber band.” Based in New York, Alarm Will Sound has also started a St. Louis series as an outgrowth of the ensembles’ participation in the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation’s Mizzou International Composers Festival. The ensemble presents the third concert of that season on April 26 at the University of Missouri – St. Louis’ Touhill Performing Arts Center.
The Touhill program is Alarm Will Sound’s multimedia portrayal of the year 1969. The program was inspired by an imagined meeting between the Beatles and the German avant-garde composer Karlheinz Stockhausen. In addition to drawing on music by the Beatles and Stockhausen, 1969 features selections from Leonard Bernstein’s Mass, Luciano Berio’s opera Traces as well as original music by University of Missouri composition and theory professor Stefan Freund.
In addition to music, 1969 includes spoken word and multimedia elements including three on-stage screens displaying still photos and video of events such as civil rights protests, riots, the Vietnam War, and the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy.
Alan Pierson was Steve Potter’s guest on Cityscape to discuss the background of Alarm Will Sound and the work 1969.
Alarm Will Sound Presents "1969"
Friday, April 26, 2013
8:00 p.m. (Pre-concert lecture at 7:10 p.m.)
UMSL's Touhill Performing Arts Center
Touhill Performing Arts Center Website