Mission: Ammonia

Sat Sep 24 2016: Knuth Hall, San Francisco State University, 1600 Holloway Ave., San Francisco, San Francisco (Free for SFSU students & faculty; $15 general admission (suggested donation))

Wild Rumpus presents the world premieres of Dan VanHassel’s Mission: Ammonia, Dan Tramte’s Helmut and Teddy Coming Down After a Rave, and Finola Merivale’s Phosphorescence, alongside Sivan Eldar’s Archive[s] and Christopher Cerrone’s Hoyt-Schermerhorn.

Mission: Ammonia

Dan VanHassel: Mission: Ammonia
Finola Merivale: Phosphorescence
Dan Tramte: Helmut and Teddy Coming Down After a Rave
Chris Cerrone: Hoyt-Schermerhorn
Sivan Eldar: Archive[s]

Technology, drama, video-pastiche, soaring melody & rhythmic tapestries mark the opening concert of Wild Rumpus’ 2016-17 Season. Going into its sixth season, the San Francisco based contemporary chamber ensemble will present three world premieres and two recent works at San Francisco State University’s Knuth Hall at 8pm on Saturday Sept 24.

The program features Mission: Ammonia commissioned by the Chamber Music America Classical Commissioning Program*, a new 25 minute work composed by Dan VanHassel for Wild Rumpus members soprano Vanessa Langer, flutist Bethanne Walker, trombonist Weston Olencki, violinist Mia Nardi-Huffman, electric guitarist Dan VanHassel, percussionist Mckenzie Camp and pianist Margaret Halbig to be conducted by Nathaniel Berman. Mission: Ammonia tells the story of a salesperson on a mission to the planet “Ammonia” to sell a remarkably powerful cleaning solution. Lyrics include a primary text written by songwriter and artist Jesse Rimler and additional fragments extracted from Super Bowl TV commercials and leaked government documents of the Bush and Obama administration memorandums justifying the use of torture and assassination of American citizens living abroad.

Wild Rumpus will also present two world premieres of the 2015 Wild Rumpus Commissioning Project winners, composer Dan Tramte and Finole Merivale. A Harvard teaching Fellow, Dan Tramte’s research interests lie at the intersection of technology, social media and sounds. Helmut & Teddy Coming Down After a Rave for five musicians, violinist Mia Nardi-Huffman, cellist JoAnne deMars, trombonist Weston Olencki, electric guitarist Giacomo Fiore, percussionist McKenzie Camp and video presents a “sound piece” shown from the perspective of the sound-actuating sources on screen as the musicians perform the corresponding linear gestures. The work represents the saturation spikes we experience on social media—the point at which our memories and knowledge are overwritten by GIFs and memes.

Irish composer and pianist Finola Merivale is currently a Benjamin Franklin Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania. Her work explores innovative modes of intercultural composition and improvisation. She describes Phosphorescence as composed in a meditative manner, in memory of Aingeal ní Mhurchú, a close family friend who suddenly passed away in 2015. Aingeal, a spiritual, happy and inspirational presence in the composer’s life, would swim every night in Lough Hyne, a lake famous for its phosphorescence, and this piece is inspired by the phenomenon of the twinkling bioluminescence in this lake. The commission is composed for flutist Bethanne Walker, electric guitarist Giacomo Fiore, percussionist McKenzie Camp, pianist Margaret Halbig, violinist Mia Nardi-Huffman, cellist Joanne de Mars, bassist Eugène Theriault, and will be conducted by Nathaniel Berman.

Wild Rumpus pianist Margaret Halbig will tackle the ethereal and luminous Hoyt-Schermerhorn for piano and electronics by Christopher Cerrone. Described by the composer as “a tribute to the New York Nightscape…a (mostly) soft and gentle lullaby, coated with a shatter of fragmented electronics breaking the quiet haze.”

Bay Area composer Sivan Eldar’s Archive[s] written in 2010 for violin, cello, and video will feature Wild Rumpus artists Mia Nardi-Huffman and Joanne de Mars. Eldar explains that “Archive[s] explores the symbiotic relationship between conductors and instrumentalists, and the performative act of musical expression. The visual element of the work consists of silent videos of Stravinsky, Gergiev, Rattle, Arnold, and Tilson Thomas conducting the Finale of the Firebird. These conductors, synched to one another, function as both masters and slaves to the new composition.”

* Mission: Ammonia has been made possible by the Chamber Music America Classical Commissioning Program, with generous funding provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Chamber Music America Endowment Fund.