The University at Buffalo’s Creative Arts Initiative will present the boundary-defying voice-and-piano Hayley-Laufer Duo at 7 p.m. Saturday, May 18, at the Burchfield-Penney Arts Center in a concert performance that features the world premieres of compositions from five contributors.
The premier works by current UB student composers Robert Azaretto and Ka-Shu (Kenneth) Tam, former UB student composer Matthew Chamberlain, Columbian composer Camilo Méndez and Canadian composer Anthony Tan explore the technical and expressive possibilities of the Lied genre, which sets poetry to classical music in the spirit of renowned composers such as Franz Schubert and Robert Schumann.
The Hayley-Laufer performance is presented in partnership with the Burchfield-Penney Arts Center’s “A Musical Feast” concert series. The concert is the culmination of the artists’ spring 2019 CAI residency. Tickets can be purchased online through the Burchfield-Penney’s website.
Drawn to the new, the audacious and the complex, the Hayley-Laufer Duo challenges the boundaries of voice-and-piano composition by commissioning young artists while cultivating a core repertoire of 20th- and 21st-century masterworks.
Their more than 10-year creative collaboration has taken them to North America, South America and Europe with a variety of groundbreaking programs that cover centuries of song repertoire with an emphasis on electrifying contemporary music.
Soprano Dorothea Hayley, the artistic co-director of the Blueridge Chamber Music Festival, has been a soloist with the Vancouver Symphony, the Bourgas Symphony, the Allegra Chamber Orchestra and Capriccio Basel. A former visiting scholar at Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute and visiting faculty artist at the Afghanistan National Institute of Music, Hayley currently teaches voice at Vancouver Community College.
“We’re excited to premiere five new works on this program, three of them by current and former UB students,” Hayley said. “Each of these composers has taken a novel approach to voice and piano writing.”
Pianist Manuel Laufer, an enthusiastic proponent of new music, has presented world premieres at Merkin Hall, Le Poisson Rouge, Bang on a Can, June in Buffalo and Festival Atempo (Caracas and Paris). He served as collaborative pianist at the University of California, Irvine, and is currently a member of the adjunct faculty at NYU Steinhardt and the artist faculties of the BICMF and the NY Steinhardt Summer Piano Intensive.
The duo’s program represents a unique display of variety.
Azaretto’s work creates a strangely mesmerizing sound world by taking a well-known Mahler song and reordering its pitch and rhythmic material, while Tam uses a broad palette of extended techniques to evoke the sounds and theatricality of a something similar to a modern Chinese opera. Tan, meantime, uses the Zen Buddhist Heart Sutra to explore the subjective perceptual experience of sound. Chamberlain derives pitch and rhythmic material algorithmically, and the Mendez composition turns the whole ensemble into a marvelous machine by having the duo play inside the piano with what seems like outlandish instruments, but actually produces a softly magical web of sounds.
“It’s a fun challenge to work together on a program like this, because each piece is a completely different answer to the question, ‘What is the Lied duo?’ ” Laufer said. “Each piece demands a new approach from us as performers.
“We’re not just a soprano and pianist playing traditional roles. We have to reinvent our process all the time.”
The CAI is a university-wide initiative dedicated to the creation and production of new work upholding the highest artistic standards of excellence and fostering a complementary atmosphere of creative investigation and engagement among students, faculty, visiting artists and the community.
Through its artist-in-residence program and its innovative, interdisciplinary offerings for students, CAI is raising the profile of UB and Buffalo in the world of artistic expression and revitalizing the initiative’s proud tradition as a leader in contemporary art.