For some string players, the music of Brahms, Tchaikovsky and Schubert just isn’t enough. These fearless contemporary crusaders choose a different path, eager to push the boundaries of their instruments and unafraid to bow and pluck their way into uncharted territory. Take Mariel Roberts, for example, a doe-eyed 25-year-old cellist who’s sure to shine at Issue Project Room’s temporary digs this Wednesday. Expect to hear selections from her debut album, nonextraneous sounds, which consists of works written for Roberts by five of New York’s freshest young composers: Andy Akiho, Tristan Perich, Daniel Wohl, Sean Friar and Alex Mincek.
Armed with a barrage of aural diversity, Roberts sets out to challenge listeners with an album that shows she has no qualms with pushing boundaries. Perich’s heavily textured Formations is more hypnotic minimal techno than contemporary classical. Akiho’s thrillingly percussive Three Shades, Foreshadows interweaves live performance with digital playbacks, rendering the cello practically unrecognizable. Other selections, like Wohl’s Saint Arc, can be downright abrasive, yet still admirable when Roberts’s technical prowess is taken into account.
Already a regular in fearless ensembles such as the Wordless Music Orchestra and Signal, Roberts recently joined the Mivos Quartet, a new-music mainstay with which she will perform Felipe Lara’s Corde Vocale on Wednesday. She finishes the evening with Nathan Davis’s Keybar Untai for cello and cimbalom. Such selections display Roberts’s technical ease and her ear for experimentalism, qualities sure to keep this plucky up-and-comer opening minds for a long time to come.—Sarah Hucal
Follow Sarah Hucal on Twitter: @SarahHucal