January 22, 2018
by Andrew Bauld
Over the next several months, University of Chicago Presents will celebrate the life and works of celebrated 20th-century classical composer, György Ligeti, through a series of musical events and lectures.
Amy Iwano, executive director of University of Chicago Presents, has long hoped to organize a performance around Ligeti, who is considered one of the most influential avant-garde composers of the last century. Her intent was to create a celebration both of his music and scholarship.
“We are very lucky in Chicago to have fantastic artists and ensembles who create really interesting programming, and in these concerts, we see Ligeti’s legacy—his impact on a younger generation of artists and how his music is evolving in their hands,” Iwano said.
Iwano worked closely with Music Department musicologists Seth Brodsky and Jennifer Iverson and composers Anthony Cheung and Sam Pluta, along with musical groups Third Coast Percussion and Eighth Blackbird, to create the series that began earlier this October. The series concludes on March 6 with a special performance by Pierre-Laurent Aimard, the famed pianist who worked closely with Ligeti during his lifetime.
On Friday, Feb. 2, Eighth Blackbird will join with Hungarian percussion group Amadinda to perform a selection of Ligeti’s piano etudes. Then, on Friday, Feb. 16, Third Coast Percussion will present three of Ligeti’s works, including Poème Symphonique, a spectacular performance that includes 100 mechanical metronomes. Both shows will begin at 7:30 p.m. at the Logan Center.
David Skidmore, executive director of Third Coast Percussion, said his group is thrilled to get to share the works of “one of the great composers of our lifetime at the height of his prowess” with the UChicago community. Skidmore says they are working closely with UChicago students to prepare for the show, who are helping to procure the metronomes.
“The students will also help us design the performance, which leaves a lot to the imagination and allows for some fun extra-musical ideas with regards to staging, position of the metronomes in the concert hall,” Skidmore said. “It’s so rare to hear a live performance of this piece, and we’re so excited to bring the performance to Chicago!”
Each concert will also feature a pre-performance lecture by a member of the music faculty; and following the concert series, the Department of Music will host a scholarly conference, “Dislocations: Reassessing Ligeti,” from March 7-8.
For more information about György Ligeti and about UChicago’s series, click here.