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--- Jared Beynon studied composition with Clifford Taylor, George B. Wilson, Eugene Kurtz, and William Bolcom, and received a master’s degree in composition from the University of Michigan. He is a member of ASCAP and is published by Societe des Editions Jobert of Paris. Mr. Beynon received the Composers Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts for his opera Iphigenia with a libretto by Rebecca Radin. Recent works include his Rose Sonata for violin and piano, which has been recorded by violin virtuoso Rolf Schulte and pianist Emma Tahmizian, and is available on the NYAE recording label.


--- Edmund Cionek composes for the concert hall and the theater. His post-modern style of writing reflects an interest in the combination of classical and popular styles. Among his theater works are Space: An Opera in Capsule Form with libretto by Dennis Deal, and Henry David Thoreau: One Step Beyond, lyrics by Albert Evans. His orchestral works include Sinfonietta and Burnin’ Rubber/Visions of Vivaldi. Mr. Cionek’s vocal and chamber music is performed regularly in New York City and includes American Landscapes, Ed Wood: The Sinister Urge, and Boogie-Woogie-Woogie. A recipient of the degree DMA from the University of Michigan where he studied with William Bolcom, Eugene Kurtz, and George B. Wilson, Edmund Cionek teaches courses in American music at Purchase College and New York University.
--- Preston Stahly grew up in South Bend, Indiana, and started studying piano at age seven. By the time he was a teenager, he was performing and arranging music in soul, R&B, and rock bands on the midwest college circuit, in the Chicago/Milwaukee area, and as a studio musician at Chess Records.  He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in composition from the University of Michigan, where he studied with Leslie Bassett, William Bolcom, Ross Lee Finney, Eugene Kurtz, and George B. Wilson.  His concert music encompasses a wide variety of instrumentation, from solo and chamber works to his Chimera, a three-part work for orchestra that received the Charles Ives Prize from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters.  His music has been recorded on the Fleur De Son Classics, Musical Heritage and NYAE labels.  In addition to chamber, vocal, and symphonic works, he has also written music for film (Robert Altman’s Secret Honor) and television (the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Children’s Television Workshop).  He currently serves as Executive and Artistic Director of the New York Art Ensemble.

The Emerging Avant-Pop

Over the last 30 years new music has witnessed an evolution--from academia to “the street.”  New music has slowly broken free of its serial/atonal “Modern” style approach and is in the process of coming to grips with the ever-changing pop media environment in which we all live.  Many names or terms have emerged for this new direction, “avant pop” being favored by an increasing number of people.    

Some wonder if this means the death of atonality. The answer is no.  Rather, atonal expression has become absorbed into the entire tonal spectrum—another tool in the toolbox—along with modal, traditional, and other forms of harmonic organization.  The entire tonal language has expanded.

Originally, the intent of the serial process was to replace the straitjacket of traditional harmonic language—a brave new world at the beginning of the 20th century.  But for many, one straitjacket was replaced by another. The serial/atonal approach became destructive dogma because of its proponents’ extreme, exclusive, and myopic attitude toward other forms of tonal expression.  By the 1960s, academia was obsessed. (Who is more extreme, the teacher or the disciples?)  The audience was ignored, alienated, disrespected. “Who cares if you listen?” was the rhetorical question posed by one famous disciple. 

Music students would study tone rows by day, and sneak off at night to play “pop music:” rock, jazz, R&B, punk, hip-hop, and so forth.  Why would students keep performing this music?  Because they grew up with it, it’s in their blood. It speaks to them in their own language, not Schoenberg’s.

Unfortunately, old academic habits die hard and many students today are still getting caught in the old “my way or the highway” mindset. Much of academia still lives in denial.

Fallout from the Modern stigma is a public that avoids or is disconnected from “new music,” a recording industry locked into the idea that new music is “Modern” and therefore unmarketable, classical radio stations that are more and more irrelevant or nonexistant, orchestras too timid to program living composers, and yet are puzzled as to why a living audience does not attend.

The New York Art Ensemble has vowed to attack this problem with a fresh approach to programming that considers composers, performers, and the audience as one--to be integral to the relevance and success of our concerts. After our early concerts in the 1990s, audience members would consistently tell us that they “loved our concerts” and “never knew there was music like this to hear!” It was the latter comment that got our attention. We realized that new music had been effectively eliminated from the lives of most Americans--a destructive sin of omission.

Today, new music is exploding into a galaxy of wonderful new styles and expression. The NYAE is dedicated to putting people back in touch with the music of their time and nurturing the development of works by living composers. Please join us as we challenge, inspire, entertain, educate, and connect one another to the best of new American music.


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