Song for the New Century: Soprano Anush Avetisyan singing in Christopher Cerrone’s composition, "I Will Learn to Love a Person." | Credit: Phil Channing

On Thursday, July 29, Music Academy faculty member Conor Hanick took the spotlight as part of the MAW’s x2 concert series. Hanick brought his special sensitive touch to the championing of new music by premiering two pieces by contemporary composer Nico Muhly. The lovely new Pastoral (Indoors/Outdoors) plays true to the title, but with small, illuminating tensions. Crosswise asserts intricate weavings and arpeggio constellations-in-motion. Aptly, Hanick also played Muhly’s clever, brief piano-for-four-hands piece Teacher-Student, with student fellow Nan Ni taking the free upper part.

On the same program, soprano Anush Avetisyan wowed in Christopher Cerrone’s millennial-minded song cycle I Will Learn to Love a Person. Mendelssohn’s famed Piano Trio No. 1 brought up the rear, played beautifully yet anticlimactic after the fresher goods before it.

On Tuesday, July 27, at Hahn, percussion was front and center, and splayed all about the stage, in a Mosher Guest Artist/Master Class event boasting fast-ascending and admirably genre-unrestrained Tyshawn Sorey. He appeared via long distance video stream, unfortunately, but nonetheless marshalled a calm but strong presence in the room. Sorey, who established himself as one of the most powerful and sophisticated drummers in jazz, is now hailed as an important composer in the global moment. 

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Here, percussion faculty leader Michael Werner guided the evening, including the performance of three wildly divergent pieces by Academy Fellows: Malika Kishino’s Monochrome Garten II for Timpani, played by Dominic Jacquemard; Rolf Wallin’s virtuosic yet absurdist Scratch for Red Balloon, gamely performed by Jeremy Sreejayan, and a style-hopping drum kit improvisation by the impressive young Italian Massimo Martone.

Sorey seemed fascinated by the compositional and conceptual processes — and specific performances — in the first two. Being a genuinely masterful drummer, he saved his most detailed comments and gentle criticisms for the third, suggesting the drummer try another solo, but limited only to his left limbs, and more thematic thinking. Voilà: The second improv was the charm. 

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