Sacramento State’s Festival of New American Music (FeNAM) begins its fifth decade Friday, Nov. 2, with a typically strong lineup of acclaimed composers and performers.
Nearly all performances during the 41st festival, which runs Nov. 2-11, take place at Sac State. All performances are free except for Duo46’s 3 p.m. concert Sunday, Nov. 11, at the Crocker Art Museum. The Duo46 performance can be attended by paying the cost of museum admission.
Attendees will notice at least one big difference: All concert performances begin at 7 p.m., a standardized time adopted by the School of Music. Scott Perkins, the Sac State music professor who co-directs FeNAM with Artistic Director Stephen Blumberg, says he believes such consistency is a plus.
“I think it also probably helps people who are commuting larger distances,” Perkins says. “We have people who come from the Bay Area and beyond for these concerts.”
This year’s lineup includes acclaimed pianist Jeffrey Jacob; soprano Jamie Jordan and pianist Daniel Schlosberg; and composer Terry Riley, who is credited with creating the Minimalist movement, performing with his son Gyan and pianist Sarah Cahill in the festival’s closing concert. Terry Riley also delivers the festival’s keynote address at 3 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 8, in the Capistrano Concert Hall.
Other highlights include Chicago-based Ensemble Dal Niente, which is so massive that it’s sending only part of its large ensemble; Boston ensemble HUB; New York-based trio Eight Strings and a Whistle; and Jacob, whom Blumberg calls “one of the great American pianists” – and who just happens to have relocated to Sacramento in the past year.
FeNAM, Blumberg says, was founded in part to provide a forum for music that resides more on the margins of popular culture. He more concisely defines the music as “mostly contemporary classical” but concedes that is something of an odd juxtaposition.
“The whole thing is harder and harder to classify and categorize or just even define at all,” Blumberg says. “We just call it ‘new music.’ ”
Perkins says traditional musical genre boundaries, in large part, are dissolving, creating a more broad experience for FeNAM attendees than at its outset 40 years ago. “We find that the definition of classical music is in a lot ways expanding to encompass a lot of sounds that we would have heard in other kinds of music before outside the classical sphere,” he says.
This year also marks Blumberg’s 19th and last as artistic director. After this year’s festival concludes, he turns over the reins to Perkins, who will take the lead and find another co-director.
“I’ve done it long enough,” Blumberg says, “and I also feel like I want to give other people a chance to do it and I want to bring in new influences.”
Find more information on the festival, as well as a full schedule, on the event’s website or by calling 916-278-5155. For media assistance, call Sacramento State’s Office of University Communications at 916-278-6156. – Ahmed V. Ortiz