October 19, 2007

Festival celebrates 30 years of American music

The Festival of New American Music kicks off it’s 30th season with accordionist and composer Pauline Oliveros. The Festival of New American Music kicks off it’s 30th season with accordionist and composer Pauline Oliveros.

Sacramento State’s Festival of New American Music kicks off its 30th season on Thursday, Nov. 1, presenting a wide variety of innovative concert music across a spectrum of styles and genres.

The Festival offers the best of contemporary American music through Nov. 11. Most of the concerts are in the Recital Hall of Capistrano Hall, on the campus at 6000 J. Street, and they’re free.

This year’s keynote speaker is accordionist and composer Pauline Oliveros, who will talk at noon on Nov. 1. She also will lead the Gala Performance at 8 p.m. that day, along with Sarah Cahill at the piano and Nancy Zeltsman on the marimba. In recognition of the three-decade milestone, the opening night’s reception following the concert will be expanded with all audience members and performers invited to the Redwood Room to enjoy even more live music and some wine and cheese.

Just what is “new music?” “It is pretty hard to define since there are so many different approaches. Some of the boundaries between categories are blurring,” says Sacramento State music professor Stephen Blumberg, the festival’s artistic director.

Music professor Stephen Blumberg is the festival’s artistic director.
Music professor Stephen Blumberg is the festival’s artistic director.

“New music” is basically modern classical music from the last 20 years, with special focus on music of the last five to 10 years.

While much of contemporary concert music is atonal and avant-garde, Blumberg says some composers are writing in more traditional styles, incorporating some elements of jazz, rock, electronic or world music into their works. “There are a lot of influences from different styles and different types of music resulting in some interesting hybrids” he says.

Blumberg started helping with the festival in 1997, becoming assistant director two years later. He became the artistic director last year, succeeding Daniel Kennedy.

Planning the festival is a year-round effort for Blumberg and co-director Keith Bohm. Most years the concert series will feature several mixed ensembles and solo artists, including at least one pianist and often a guitarist. One year it may favor brass and then focus on a different area, such as string quartets, the next year.

Blumberg points out that many contemporary music groups are comprised of a mixture of instruments, such as a flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano and percussion, “so it’s kind of a mini orchestra.”

Visit www.csus.edu/music/fenam/schedule.htm for a complete list of performances. For more information, call the Music Department at (916) 278-5155. For media assistance call Sacramento State’s Public Affairs office at (916) 278-6156.