By Parth Upadhyaya
The UNC Department of Music will welcome earspace to campus this week. The group held a workshop on Wednesday, March 21 in Moeser Auditorium in Hill Hall, where they read works written by UNC music students. Earspace will lead a class, “Intro to Experimental Music,” on Friday, March 22 from 1:15 – 2:30 p.m. in Moeser Auditorium. UNC music students will also perform alongside earspace on Thursday, March 22 at 7:30 p.m. and the ensemble will perform the culminating event of their residency on Friday, March 23 at 8:00 p.m. — both performances will also be in Moeser Auditorium.
Thursday’s performance will be free and earspace and UNC music students will perform Shelter by David Lang, Michael Gordon and Julie Wolfe. Friday’s performance features earspace playing the music of Ted Hearne, Anna Thorvaldsdottir, Donnacha Dennehy and Simon Holt. Tickets to Friday’s show will be $15 general admission and $10 for faculty and staff, both available at the door.
There will be a end-of-residency cerebration following Friday’s performance at Kipos Greek Taverna on Franklin Street.
Started in the summer of 2016 by UNC graduates Vincent Povázsay and Richard Drehoff Jr., earspace is a contemporary chamber music ensemble made up of nine members that live in different areas of the country. As a fan of contemporary chamber music, Povázsay noticed a lot this genre of music was not making its way to North Carolina. This was one of his key motivations for starting earspace.
“As a native North Carolinian and as a UNC graduate, now living in Raleigh, I wanted to really bring that music and that movement here,” Povázsay said. “We have the challenge and opportunity to create an audience for this type of music.”
After Povázsay returned to the Chapel Hill area in the summer of 2016 from studying conducting at Northwestern University, he and Drehoff decided to put their plan of starting an ensemble into action. The group had meetings with donors and gathered startup capital, and did a fundraiser concert in a private home in February of 2017.
Then, following a season announcement show at the Google Fiber Space in Raleigh last May, earspace began its first season. The season was kicked off with a performance at the Contemporary Art Museum in Raleigh in October.
Shortly after, earspace received an invitation to conduct a residency at UNC. This was fitting, since five of the nine ensemble members are UNC alumni.
“Our hope, as an ensemble that has a connection to UNC as alumni, was to do our first residency here,” Povázsay said. “We know everyone here. We know this community. And to have the opportunity to come back to our first musical home, where we all met and started playing music together, is just a thrilling idea.”
Povázsay hopes to expose the students at UNC to a type of music they may not be accustomed to playing — something that is even different from normal contemporary chamber music.
“There are a lot of ensembles playing contemporary music out there today,” Povázsay said. “They’re all different. They each have their own unique identity. What we, as an ensemble, wanted to do was to focus on bring music that we love to play, that we want highlight, but also create these evening productions.
“What we don’t want to do is — be on stage, play 30 minutes of music, have an intermission, play 30 more minutes of music, get a polite applause and then everyone goes home,” Povázsay said. “To me, that’s a concert. We want to focus more on the performative aspects of bringing contemporary music closer to the audience.”