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Acclaimed composer Phyllis Chen in residence at SUNY New Paltz

Phyllis Chen2The Kenneth Davenport Residency for New American Music is pleased to announce that composer Phyllis Chen, “one of the world’s leading proponents of the toy piano” (Chicago Reader), will be in residence at SUNY New Paltz from Oct. 6-27.

The Department of Music will present a series of events during Chen’s residency, emphasizing her unique takes on American experimental music in solo and collaborative settings.

Alex Peh and Friends Present Béla Bartók kicks off the series on Oct. 6 at 8:00 p.m. in the Julien J. Studley Theatre, with percussionists Christopher Clarino and Christopher Howard and pianists Wenyin Chan and Alex Peh. The evening will feature performances of groundbreaking American works by Steve Reich and Mark Applebaum, concluding with Béla Bartók’s masterpiece “Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion.” This concert will also be performed at the Wallkill Senior High School on Oct. 5 at 7:00 p.m.

Chen will lead a workshop on her own music and iconic works from the American Avant-Garde on Oct. 7, from 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. in the Nadia & Max Shepard Recital Hall. The workshop will include John Cage’s notorious ‘4’33”,’ Alvin Lucier’s “Nothing is Real” for piano, teapot and electronics, and Pauline Oliveros’ “Sonic Mediations.” A workshop and rehearsal of Lucier’s “Opera for Objects” will follow the lecture. The event is free and open to the public.

The series concludes with the Phyllis Chen Davenport Artist-in-Residence concert on Oct. 27 at 8:00 p.m. in Parker Theatre, performed by Chen in collaboration with students and faculty. Chen will feature her newest works: “Columba” for solo piano, commissioned by the Harvard FROMM Foundation; “Mobius” for two music boxes; and “Lighting the Dark,” scored for music boxes, clavichord, accordion, and electronics, and inspired by the photography of Paula Gianturco.

“Lighting the Dark” was premiered at the Baryshnikov Arts Center, NYC, in 2014, and the New York Times reported that “the looping, spellbinding music…became a fitting tribute to the modest, repetitive, yet quietly heroic work of women.”

Tickets for the Alex Peh and Friends Present Béla Bartók and Phyllis Chen Davenport Artist-in-Residence concerts are  $8 general public; $6 seniors (62+) and faculty/staff; $3 students. Tickets can be purchased at the door prior to the performance. For additional information, call (845) 257-2700 or visit www.newpaltz.edu/music.

About the Composer

Described as “a dazzling performer who wrings novel sounds from the humble toy piano,” (New York Times) and “a bold pianist with an excellent sense of color” (Los Angeles Times), Phyllis Chen has performed in a variety of contexts in the US and abroad. She has received commissions and grants from the Singapore International Festival of the Arts, FROMM Foundation, LA County Museum, NYSCA, New Music USA, Baryshnikov Arts Center, A Far Cry, Opera Cabal Opera Shop, ICElab and others.

Chen is the winner of the 2007 Concert Artists Guild Competition and a New Music/New Places Fellowship, a founding member of the International Contemporary Ensemble and the founder of UnCaged Toy Piano, a call for scores and festivals whose aim is to expand the toy piano repertoire.

Chen’s forthcoming fifth album, “Nature of Thingness” (2016) will feature original works with composer Nathan Davis. More information at http://www.phyllischen.net/

About the Residency

The Kenneth Davenport Residency for New American Music was established in 2007 by William Davenport to support new American music performance and programing at SUNY New Paltz.