music @ UCLA header image 2

Alum?s Contemporary Performance Collective to present new musical works

April 24th, 2015 · No Comments

Alumna Jacqueline Marshall shared the latest on her recent activities with an alumnae music cooperative including grads Jonathan Beard, Kenny Wood, and Andrea Change, which has been featured in today’s Daily Bruin.

Jacqueline Marshall said she wasn?t playing the music that most interested her at the rise of her professional music career. Though a thriving harpist for orchestral and recorded music, the UCLA alumna said her passions lay in new music.

?I found that I had virtually no opportunities to play contemporary music in a chamber setting,? Marshall said. ?It was only if an orchestra had maybe scheduled a piece, but even those works were written back in the ?80s or ?90s.?

It was from those unfulfilled feelings that Marshall created an organization to encourage the creation and dissemination of new musical works. Her idea manifested itself in the Contemporary Performance Collective, an ensemble she developed to connect young composers with performers to write and perform new music.

The Contemporary Performance Collective will hold its flagship performance on Sunday in Silver Lake with a program featuring nine compositions ? seven of which are world premieres ? performed by instrumentalists from around the Los Angeles area. Marshall said she handpicked each of the artists, many of whom were her classmates at UCLA.

Three of the composers involved with the upcoming Contemporary Performance Collective concert are UCLA alumni. One such artist is Jonathan Beard, a UCLA music industry lecturer, creator of a recent oratorio with the L.A. Master Chorale. Beard said the Contemporary Performance Collective?s concert features a mix of composers, but their commonality lies in the variety of styles from which they drew inspiration for their works.

?When you work on doing music for media, oftentimes it requires a sort of diversity of styles,? Beard said.

Marshall said her overall goal for the Contemporary Performance Collective is to encourage the creation of new works by young composers who don?t have an opportunity to have their works performed live instead of off a synth or screen. She said her hope is to produce two to three shows each year going forward, each with a different set of new music composers and instrumentalists.

UCLA alumnus and composer Kenny Wood, who is currently scoring Pixar?s feature ?The Good Dinosaur? with Academy Award-winner Mychael Danna, said he jumped at the opportunity to be featured in the upcoming Contemporary Performance Collective program. He said he commends Marshall for organizing the instrumentalists and composers involved and for promoting the event.

?For this type of live concert setting, it really is a team effort,? Wood said. ?It takes a village to get a concert together.?

UCLA alumna Andrea Chang similarly composes for media outside of the Contemporary Performance Collective, working consistently with the video game production company Electronic Arts. She said after graduating, she faced the decision of sticking with classical composition or going more mainstream; she ultimately chose to write for soundtracks because there were more jobs for composers available in that field.

Chang said she is glad to have the opportunity for a digression from media music through the Contemporary Performance Collective. At the same time, though, she said she recognizes the difficulties involved in being part of a collective aimed at spreading new music.

?We are an eclectic group of composers and performers and it is in general always a challenge for any group in this day and age to compete with pop music,? Chang said. ?But I think everyone involved loves music ? performing and writing it ? so there?s not going to be any stopping any of us from doing what we love.?

Beard also recognizes the challenges of generating public interest in new music. However, he is optimistic about the direction of the Contemporary Performance Collective and contemporary instrumental music?s place in Los Angeles culture. He said he is encouraged every time he sees a younger face at a new music concert.

?It is a challenge to find and cultivate an audience and interest, particularly in a new group that?s just starting out,? Beard said. ?But it?s a worthy challenge and it?s a challenge that we relish because the demand is out there.?

Marshall said she has observed that some other contemporary music groups tend to pair new music with works of classical and known composers like Bach to attract audiences. But she said she is determined to keep her Contemporary Performance Collective concerts exclusively about featuring new music without needing to rely on familiarity.

?I want to be able to seriously put together a program of all new music and have people come see young up-and-coming composers, not because ?Oh, I recognize that composer or that work,?? Marshall said. ?This is all new.?

Photo courtesy of Jacqueline Marshall.

Tags: Alumni · Faculty · Performance · Performance · Performers · School of Music · Students