FARMINGTON – The Emery Community Arts Center on the University of Maine at Farmington campus is featuring three exciting musical performance events this month. These will take place in the Emery Performance Space and are free and open to the public.
Wednesday, March 8, 7 p.m.
Roger Zahab and Aaron Wyanski, “Being Slowly Nowhere: Music of the New York School”
Visiting artist Roger Zahab joins UMF professor Aaron Wyanski for a concert of violin and piano music featuring works by John Cage and Morton Feldman.
Wyanski is a composer, pianist, and educator whose work explores memory, perspective and vulnerability. His music has been commissioned by the Amaranth String Quartet, Roger Zahab, percussionist Michael Jones, among others, and he has been an artist-in-residence at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and the Vermont College of Fine Arts.
An active educator, Wyanski is assistant professor of music composition at the University of Maine Farmington, and previously taught at The Hartt School (University of Hartford) and Sweet Briar College. He holds a DMA in composition from The Hartt School, an MFA from The Vermont College of Fine Arts and a BM in jazz studies from Purchase College (SUNY).
Zahab enjoys instigating fairly complex and unpredictable interactions through his activities as composer, violinist/violist, improvisor, conductor, teacher and writer. He has fostered premieres of more than 200 works and his repertoire spans some 700 years – from Guillaume de Machaut to the present. His work as composer and improvisor is primarily focused on music’s place in society at large. Recent activities include conducting Daron Hagen’s film opera “Orson Rehearsed,” editing primary and revised versions of Julia Perry’s Concerto for violin which he also gave the world premiere of in February 2022, composing the flute concerto wild woods for Lindsey Goodman, and the role of Strolling Violinist/Charon in Daron Hagen’s film opera “9/10 Love before the Fall.”
He teaches at the University of Pittsburgh, where he is teaching professor, director of the orchestra, and director of undergraduate studies, and at the Vermont College of Fine Arts where he is founding core faculty member of the Master of Fine Arts in Music Composition program and currently co chair of the program.
Friday, March 24, 7 p.m.
Mali Obomsawin Sextet, “Sweet Tooth”
A suite for Indigenous resistance, the new album, “Sweet Tooth,” from Wabanaki bassist, composer, and songwriter Mali Obomsawin flies in the face of Western tropes that insist Indigenous cultures are monolithic, trapped in time. Instead, Obomsawin highlights centuries of clever adaptation and resistance that have fueled the art and culture of Wabanaki people.
Written as a compositional suite, the album Sweet Tooth, released on October 28, 2022, by Out of Your Head Records, blends Wabanaki stories and songs passed down in Obomsawin’s own family with tunes addressing contemporary Indigenous life, colonization, continuity, love and rage. It’s at once intimately personal, featuring field recordings of relatives at Odanak First Nation, but also conveys a larger story of the Wabanaki people, stretching across the domain of their confederacy from Eastern Canada to Southern New England. In three movements, Obomsawin’s powerful compositions honor the Indigenous ability to shape great art from the harshest fires of colonialism. The compositions reveal threads that bind together blues, jazz, hymns, folk songs, and Native cultures and foreground the breadth and continuity of Indigenous contributions to these genres. “Telling Indigenous stories through the language of jazz is not a new phenomenon,” Obomsawin explains. “My people have had to innovate endlessly to get our stories heard – learning to express ourselves in French, English, Abenaki… but sometimes words fail us and we must use sound. Sweet Tooth is a testament to this.” Sweet Tooth is a celebration of Indigenous innovation and an ingeniously envisioned debut for this composer-bandleader.
Sweet Tooth is performed by Mali Obomsawin Sextet, which features Mali Obomsawin, Zack O’Farrill, Miriam Elhajli, Allison Burik, Noah Campbell and Allison Philips.
Mali Obomsawin (they/she) is an award winning bassist, songwriter and composer from Abenaki First Nation at Odanak. With an expansive background in American roots, rock and jazz, Obomsawin carries several music traditions. Mali’s debut album, Sweet Tooth, has received international acclaim since its release (Out of Your Head Records 2022), including rave reviews and “best of 2022” placement in The Guardian, JazzTimes and NPR.
Wednesday, March 29, 7 p.m.
Kyle Grimm, “Works for double bass and electronics”
Visiting artist Kyle Grimm will perform works for double bass and electronics, including two world premieres, “Twist, Then Pull” by Aaron Wyanski and “Serendipitous II” by Kyle Grimm.
Grimm is a composer and double bassist whose music has been described as “feisty technicolor.” His compositions strive to strike a balance between the gritty and the beautiful through juxtaposition, layering and synthesis, often employing electronics alongside acoustic elements. Improvisations I, a full-length album for double bass and electronics, is currently streaming on all platforms. In addition to the stage, Kyle’s works can be heard in the video game Hold the Fort, by Monster Tooth Studios, which is currently on Steam, and the short film The Autumn Waltz, currently on Amazon Prime.