Ne(x)tworks

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The Kitchen; Fri 11
Chelsea Art Museum; May 3

One need only read accounts of the spontaneity that Mozart and Beethoven brought to their concerts, or remember that Chopin and Liszt were major touring attractions, to find proof that composition, improvisation and interpretation were once inextricably linked activities. The members of young New York new-music ensemble Ne(x)tworks are dedicated to reasserting that old synergy: Each is a skilled performer, an inventive composer and a capable improviser.

Founded in 2002, Ne(x)tworks made an early specialty of works by New York School composers of the 1950s—John Cage, Morton Feldman, Earle Brown and others—whose idiosyncratic scores provided improvisatory freedoms. Some members, including vocalist Joan La Barbara and violinist Cornelius Dufallo, were well known in contemporary-classical circles, while others, such as harpist Shelley Burgon and glass-instrumentalist Miguel Frasconi, were associated with the downtown avant-garde.

That heterogeneous mix amounts to a passport affording free movement between scenes and styles, a point made clear by two upcoming engagements. On Friday 11, Ne(x)tworks plays pieces by seminal post-Minimalists Julius Eastman and Lois V. Vierk at the Kitchen, as part of guitarist-composer David Grubbs’s “Nights Errant” weekend. On May 3 the group continues its fruitful residency at the Chelsea Art Museum, presenting new pieces by trombonist Christopher McIntyre, violist Kenji Bunch and violinist Arianna Kim, and participating in a conduction (a conducted group improvisation) led by Lawrence “Butch” Morris.

—Steve Smith

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