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Season Preview: Alias, boldly going where no chamber group has gone before

aliasAlias Chamber Ensemble has long been Nashville’s most daring classical ensemble. Now, the group is gearing up for its most audacious and ambitious season yet.

During the 2013-14 season, the Grammy-nominated group, which plays everything from early music (on period instruments) to contemporary works (using electronics), will present world premieres by Pulitzer Prize-winning composers Caroline Shaw and Paul Moravec. It will also engage in extensive and fertile collaborations with Portara Ensemble and Nashville Ballet.

The season begins in earnest on Tuesday, Oct. 22 at the Blair School of Music’s Turner Hall, when the group presents the music of five different composers – four of these composers are living, and three are women, which could be a double first for a classical concert. The highlight of the performance will be the world premiere of Caroline Shaw’s Cantico delle creature (2013). Alias will also perform Jennifer Higdon’s An Exaltation of Larks for string quartet (2005), Margaret Brouwer’s Demeter Prelude for string quartet (1997), Kenji Bunch’s Suite for viola and piano (1998) and Giovanni Pandolfi Mealli’s Sonatas for Violin and Continuo (1660).

Alias’ winter program, Feb. 18, 2014 at Turner Hall, will showcase the music of Paul Moravec, whose works are the subject of a forthcoming Alias CD on the Delos label. The group will perform Moravec’s terrific Pulitzer Prize-winning Tempest Fantasy for clarinet, violin and piano (2002). It will also perform American composer Piotr Szewczyk’s Twisted Dances for oboe, violin, cello and piano (2012), Alberto Ginastera’s String Quartet No. 2 (1968) and Claude Debussy’s Trio for flute, viola and harp (1915).

Alias’ spring concert, May 7, 2014 at Turner Hall, will feature more of Moravec’s music, including the world premiere of his new Amorisms for clarinet, string quartet and chamber singers (featuring the Portara Vocal Ensemble). The program will also include Moravec’s Sacred Love Songs for clarinet, violin, cello and piano (2012), along with Ravel’s Sonatine en Trio for flute, cello and harp (1905), Douglas Hill’s A Set of Songs and Dances for clarinet, horn, vibraphone and bass (2006) and Matt Walker’s Grooves for string quartet (2013).

In recent years, Alias has become the unofficial chamber-group-in-residence for Nashville Ballet. Alias will appear in the ballet’s Attitude series Feb. 14-16, 2014, performing Kevin Puts’ And Legions Will Rise. Alias and Portara will join forces for the ballet’s Emergence series May 29-31, 2014, performing all the music from the forthcoming Moravec CD.

Click here for information about Alias, Portara and Nashville Ballet.

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About John Pitcher

John Pitcher is the chief classical music, jazz and dance critic as well as co-founder of ArtsNash. He has been a classical music critic for the Washington Post, the Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle, National Public Radio’s Performance Today (NPR), ArtNowNashville.com and the Nashville Scene. His writings about music and the arts have also appeared in Symphony Magazine, American Record Guide and Stagebill Magazine, among other publications. Pitcher earned his master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, where he studied arts writing with Judith Crist and Phyllis Garland. His work has received the New York State Associated Press award for outstanding classical music criticism.