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Conversations in Modern Music is funded by the Jaroslav F. and Barbara S. Hulka Fund for Music in the Chapel Hill community. This series endeavors to enhance the musical interests of an informed community audience by bringing performers, composers, and music historians with an expertise in new music to UNC.

Concerts will be paired with a public lecture or open rehearsal in order to provide community audiences with opportunities to engage with composers and performers about the ideas that inform their music. We especially invite members of our Chapel Hill and greater Triangle communities to join us as we explore the language of contemporary music by engaging some its most creative practitioners.


October 29 • icarus Quartet

Talk Hill Hall 103 6:00 – 7:00 pm

Performance Kenan Rehearsal Hall 7:30 pm

Like the mythological figure from which it draws its name, the half piano/half percussion icarus Quartet dares to fly towards the sun, aspiring to new heights of artistry. Following their Carnegie Hall debut, composer Paul Lansky simply remarked, “This is music making of the highest order.” The Wall Street Journal hailed icarus Quartet’s 2022 album, BIG THINGS, as “a beautifully immersive recording…an impressive calling card.” Larry Weng, Christopher Goodpasture, Matt Keown, and Jeff Stern are all celebrated soloists in their own rights, and together they have found a special chemistry and inimitable joy playing chamber music. They are dedicated to the discovery, creation, and performance of new music, but what distinguishes their approach to contemporary music is a strong training and background in the classical genre. icarus Quartet is committed to performing new works with a studied and convincing interpretation that mirrors the validity of works with performance practices developed over centuries.

March 1 • Katherine Young and Sam Scranton: Beautifulish

Talk Kenan Music Building, Room 2030 4:00-5:00 pm

Performance Kenan Rehearsal Hall 8:00 pm

Sam Scranton and Katherine Young make music together as Beautifulish. We fuse free improvisation with composed musical material. Tightly interwoven gestures smudge into expansive textures. Rainbows of noise produced through haptic and breathy friction create proximity and space, timbre and harmony, pitch and rhythm. We use electronics and amplification to augment their primary instruments: Young plays bassoon; Scranton, percussion. The result is an integrated sound world that exists as its own beautifulish thing.

March 20-23 • Ex Machina • Festival on the Hill 2024

Academic Panel and Q&A March 20 Hyde Hall 5:30 pm

A Conversation with Clara Yang and her collaborators – the Making of Ex Machina March 21 Moeser Auditorium 5:30 pm

Performance March 22 • Moeser Auditorium 7:30 pm

EX MACHINA is an interdisciplinary and multimedia project exploring the complex connections and relationship between technology and humanity through visual art and music. Evolving technology has been changing our lives, including how we experience arts and music. The title, Ex Machina, or From the Machine, reflects on humanity’s creativity and struggle of identity in this fast-changing world. This project brings together scholars and artists from different fields to contemplate the meanings of the “machine” and its role in our society.

A rainbow of paint strokes behind the text "Conversations in Modern Music Series"