Nonken Presents Abstract Musical Structures
by Michael Gallope

This weekend Oberlin College will host two of New York’s finest and most recognized young musicians. Pianist Marilyn Nonken and her composer husband, Jason Eckardt will be in residence this Friday through Sunday evening. Nonken will perform a solo piano recital at Warner Concert Hall Friday at 8 p.m. with a program consisting entirely of pieces written for and dedicated to her. The composers showcased include husband Eckardt, Milton Babbitt, Michael Finnissy, Jeff Nichols and David Rakowski.

“Over the past five years, I have had the pleasure of working closely with these composers in performing and recording their music,” Nonken said. “Their voices are original and powerful. To me, each of their works is more like a dance than a song, and, in their performance the physical is ennobled, as it is in ballet or the forms of modern dance that require physical discipline, in addition to artistic sensitivity.”
Most guest pianists cater to the traditional repertoire — interpretations of historical music of the 18th , 19th and early 20th centuries with little or no ground covered for music written during our lifetime. The guests that do cover this area are usually composers who never get much of a chance to interact with performance majors in the conservatory. Thus, Nonken will promise to be an exciting presence for this week in showcasing her rare talent for communicating extremely abstract musical structures — music that, as of yet, is insufficiently played and taught at Oberlin.
Nonken has been praised repeatedly by The New York Times, The Boston Globe and The New York Observer. She has clearly earned herself a reputation among living composers as leading a new generation of pianists in the interpretation of new music.

Eckardt is offering a lecture on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. in Bibbins 238, entitled “Parametric Articulation in Composition” that is open to the public. His music is intensely complicated rhythmically, melodically and harmonically. It explodes in violent outbursts of intensely controlled contour and rhythmic pulse bringing to mind the figuration of Berio, the gestures of Boulez and the sponteneity of Coltrane. His approach toward compositional parameters should prove fascinating to anyone interested in new music.
Also included in the weekend are a piano masterclass conducted by Nonken, featuring conservatory piano majors playing the works of Dallapiccola, Carter and Gubaidulina. This will take place in Warner Concert Hall, Saturday morning from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. In addition, Marilyn will give a short career workshop in Bibbins 238 at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday for those interested in a career in the performing arts, especially a soloist’s career.
Finally, one of Eckardt’s recent works, “Tangled Loops,” will be performed by senior Dave Reminick on saxophone and conservatory graduate Max Fleischman on piano as part of Reminick’s senior recital, Sunday evening at 8 p.m. in Kulas Recital Hall.


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