Network for New Music celebrates 30th anniversary with musical “Exquisite Corpse” project
Over the past three decades, Philly-based new music chamber ensemble Network for New Music has commissioned work by a host of notable composers, including renowned names like Alvin Curran, John Harbison, Bright Sheng, Jennifer Higdon, Toru Takemitsu, Shulamit Ran, and Todd Reynolds. So when your entire mission is dedicated to commissioning and performing music by living composers, how do you celebrate a landmark anniversary?
Hand it to NNM, they’ve found a novel approach to mark their 30th birthday: they’ve commissioning thirty Philadelphia composers to write a new piece. Not a new piece each – a single new piece by thirty composers, including Robert Maggio, Evan Solot, Joo Won Park, Andrea Clearfield, Kyle Bartlett, Richard Brodhead, Robert Capanna, and Gene Coleman. For “Made by All and Not by One,” to be premiered on Sunday, Oct. 26 at Settlement Music School, the ensemble has drawn inspiration from the “Exquisite Corpse” parlor game invented by the Surrealists, in which each individual would write or draw on a section of a sheet of paper, fold it over to hide most of their work, then hand it off to the next artist to continue, largely in the dark as to what had come before.
For the NNM version, each composer has been asked to contribute six measures toward the final piece with only the last measure of their predecessor’s work as a starting point, which will surely put the skilled ensemble through its paces with constant shifts and sudden swerves over the course of a single work. Surrealism founder André Breton called the Exquisite Corpse game “the most fabulous source of unfindable images,” so expect this unique performance to result in an evening of unfindable sounds.