Some Binghamton University music students will have the opportunity of a lifetime this Thursday: to have their original compositions performed by professionals.
The BU music department will be hosting the world-renowned Contemporaneous ensemble on Thursday, Jan. 24 in the Casadesus Recital Hall. Contemporaneous, a 21-person ensemble led by co-artistic directors Dylan Mattingly and David Bloom, who is also the conductor, will be performing new works by Iranian composer Anahita Abbasi and American composer Philip Glass, as well as original compositions by BU undergraduate and graduate students.
Contemporaneous has gained quite a bit of attention in the world of orchestral music. The New York Times published a feature on Contemporaneous in 2016, and the ensemble has performed at a wide range of venues including Lincoln Center, Park Avenue Armory, and (Le) Poisson Rouge. Their debut album “Stream of Stars – Music of Dylan Mattingly,” has been played on the radio internationally, including on WNYC’s “New Sounds” and WRTI’s “Now is the Time.”
Bloom and his peers founded the group during their time at Bard College. The ensemble was created with the goal of promoting and performing the most exciting music of the present moment.
With a passionate emphasis on educating other musicians, Contemporaneous travels to colleges and universities to practice and perform the original compositions of students studying in the music departments there, bringing to life the music of now.
“The music that students here at BU are creating is so vital to the present moment and that is the music that excites us the most,” Bloom said. “It’s why we do what we do.”
Fourteen BU students were selected to send original compositions to Bloom and his ensemble. After rehearsing the selected compositions, Contemporaneous musicians traveled to Binghamton to work alongside the students in order to achieve the vision that those students had in mind for each of their works.
“They are reacting to how we are performing their music and saying ’Oh okay, this is different than I expected, can we try it this way or that way?’” Bloom said. “It’s become a very close musical relationship.”
For Bloom, working with BU students is reminiscent of his college days as a music student at Bard. He said he is constantly inspired by their determination and novel approach to composing music.
“Contemporaneous started performing when we were the age of some of the composers that we are working with at [BU],” Bloom said. “The connections we made then and the musical partnerships we forged eight years ago are the most important ones to the ensemble in all of our respective musical lives.”
When Bloom is not conducting the ensemble, he works with well-known classical composers including Donnacha Dennehy, Lucy Dhegrae and Michael Gordon, and frequently works with artists outside of the classical world like David Byrne, Kimbra and Courtney Love.
Though the ensemble frequently travels to different locations, Bloom said that their music will continue to be innovative and unifying — regardless of where they are performing.
“The place we’re in and the music we’re making at each present moment is the most important music that we’ve ever played,” Bloom said. “We bring our all to everything that we do.”
The Contemporaneous ensemble will be performing at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 25 in Casadesus Recital Hall.