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Critic's pick: The International Contemporary Ensemble odyssey

June 13, 2013|By Mark Swed | Music Critic
  • Lydia Steier's video-camera staging of Peter Maxwell Davies' "Eight Songs for a Mad King" with the International Contemporary Ensemble.
Lydia Steier's video-camera staging of Peter Maxwell Davies'… (Lydia Steier )

A key moment in the history of post-World War II European avant-garde music was when Stanley Kubrick threw out the score that Alex North had written for “2001: A Space Odyssey” and replaced it with the temporary track he had been using.

Along with “Also Sprach Zarathustra” and “The Blue Danube” was the Hungarian composer György Ligeti’s mysteriously misty “Atmosphéres.” It seemed that everybody and their brother saw the film, and that every college student in America brought the soundtrack. For the first time, ultra-modern music was in the mainstream.

LACMA will celebrate that moment Saturday night in the final program of this year’s Art & Music series in the museum’s Bing Theater, with the Los Angeles debut of the International Contemporary Ensemble, which is the most impressive of the many new music groups currently crawling all over New York City. Its executive director and flutist, Claire Chase, was a 2012 MacArthur Fellow.

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For the LACMA program, ICE will explore the relationship of modern music to film related to the museum's current exhibitions on Kubrick and Hans Richter, because John Cage wrote a score for a Richter documentary, “Works of Calder.”

The ensemble is to premiere a new score by Phyllis Chen to accompany Richter’s “Everything Turns Everything Revolves,” and offer the premiere of another new work by Marcos Balter.

ICE is also to include one of its own signature multimedia filmic projects, a performance of Peter Maxwell Davies’ "Eight Songs for a Mad King,” with a “videocam staging” by director Lydia Steier.


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