Performance Thursday, April 24, 2014 | 6 PM

collected stories: love/loss

Zankel Hall
Hailed as “one of the most vital groups of its kind” (The New York Times), the “new-music dream team” (Time Out New York) Signal explores the duality of love and lost love in narrative music making in a concert that also features The Uncluded (Aesop Rock and Kimya Dawson), Nico Muhly, Sam Amidon, Iarla Ó Lionáird, and Nadia Sirota. Curated by David Lang—this season's holder of the Richard and Barbara Debs Composer’s Chair—as part of his collected stories series, the program includes works by Julia Wolfe and Nico Muhly that musically examine the emotional impact and intensity of intoxicating love, envy, betrayal, and devastating loss.

This concert is part of My Time, My Music.


  • The Uncluded
    ·· Aesop Rock
    ·· Kimya Dawson
    ·· with James Lynch
  • Ensemble Signal
  • Brad Lubman, Conductor
  • Iarla Ó Lionáird, Voice
  • Sam Amidon, Banjo and Voice
  • Nadia Sirota, Viola
  • Nico Muhly, Electronics and Piano


    Program to include:
  • TRADITIONAL "Cruel Sister"
  • JULIA WOLFE Cruel Sister
  • NICO MUHLY The Only Tune

Event Duration

The printed program will last approximately two and one-half hours, including one 20-minute intermission.


  • The Uncluded

    In 2007, while on tour supporting his album None Shall Pass, indie rapper-producer Aesop Rock wrote a fan email to folk singer-songwriter Kimya Dawson. A few years later, they reconnected during the creation of arts-and-oddities blog 900Bats, which in turn sparked the pair's collaborative musical efforts. After appearing on each other's respective recent solo records-Rock's Skelethon (Rhymesayers) and Dawson's Thunder Thighs (Great Crap Factory)-both found more worth pursuing within the group dynamic, and The Uncluded was hatched.

    The Uncluded's debut album, Hokey Fright, was recorded over the course of a year using a variety of locations and devices, from voice-memo recorders to full-service studios. Rock and Dawson wrote, performed, and recorded the whole album, with the exception of drums on "Delicate Cycle," which were played by James McNew of Yo La Tengo.

    Having both experienced loss in recent years, conversations about mortality served as a starting point for what would eventually become an album as much about finding therapy through writing and sharing as it is about being okay with admitting fear in the face of adversity. There is a sense of self-exploration and discovery that happens during the songs, as if the two are doing the problem-solving in front of you. While much of the album maintains a serious tone, Dawson and Rock's oddball humor plays an integral part in humanizing the obstacles that can initially seem too massive to process.

    Kimya Dawson is a Grammy-winning, platinum-selling singer-songwriter who is most widely known for her work on the Juno soundtrack and with her former band, The Moldy Peaches. She has released seven solo albums, including Alphabutt for children.

    Aesop Rock is a critically acclaimed hip-hop artist and producer, recognized for his dense and abstract word play. He has released six solo albums, three EPs, and a 45-minute piece of music designed for runners, commissioned by Nike. His lyrics have been published in The New York Times bestseller Hip Hop Speaks to Children, as well as Yale University's Anthology of Rap.

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  • Ensemble Signal

    Ensemble Signal offers audiences access to a diverse range of contemporary works through performance, commissioning, recording, and education. Since its debut in 2008, Signal has performed more than 90 concerts-including premieres of over 20 works-and co-produced five recordings.

    Signal was founded by Co-Artistic and Executive Director Lauren Radnofsky, and Co-Artistic Director and Conductor Brad Lubman. The ensemble regularly performs with Mr. Lubman and features a super-group of independent artists from the modern music scene. Signal is flexible in size and instrumentation, enabling it to meet the ever changing demands on the 21st-century performing ensemble.

    At home in concert halls, clubs, and international festivals alike, Signal has performed at the Lincoln Center Festival, Ojai Music Festival, Carnegie Hall's Zankel Hall, Miller Theatre, (Le) Poisson Rouge, Tanglewood Music Festival of Contemporary Music, Cleveland Museum of Art, Wordless Music Series, and Bang on a Can Marathon.

    Signal's fearless programming ranges from minimalism and pop-influences to the iconoclastic European avant-garde. The ensemble has worked with artists and composers who include Steve Reich, Helmut Lachenmann, Irvine Arditti, Michael Gordon, David Lang, Julia Wolfe, Oliver Knussen, Hilda Paredes, and Charles Wuorinen. Educational activities have included workshops with emerging composers at the June in Buffalo festival, where Signal is a resident ensemble.

    Signal's recordings are available on Philip Glass's Orange Mountain Music, New Amsterdam Records, Mode Records, and Cantaloupe. Recent highlights included performing in the 2013 Lincoln Center Festival's production of Monkey: Journey to the West. Upcoming highlights include the co-commission of a new work for large ensemble by Steve Reich.

    Ensemble Signal's season is made possible, in part, by support from New Music USA's Cary New Music Performance Fund and The Amphion Foundation.

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  • Brad Lubman

    Conductor and composer Brad Lubman has gained widespread recognition during the past two decades for his versatility, commanding technique, and insightful interpretations. Conducting a broad range of repertoire from classical to contemporary works, Mr. Lubman has led major orchestras, including the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Netherlands Chamber Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra, American Composers Orchestra, New World Symphony, and The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. In addition, he has worked with some of the most important European and American ensembles in contemporary music, including Klangforum Wien and Asko | Schönberg, as well as the Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group, Boston Symphony Chamber Players, and Steve Reich and Musicians.

    Mr. Lubman is an associate professor at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, where he has directed the Musica Nova ensemble since joining the faculty in 1997. He is also on the faculty of the Bang on a Can Summer Institute.

    During the 2013-2014 season, Mr. Lubman returns to the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra in Munich and continues his collaboration with the Remix Ensemble Porto, followed by debuts with the NDR Sinfonieorchester and the Residentie Orkest. He also continues his conducting activities in the US, appearing with his Ensemble Signal at Carnegie Hall, and leading the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Orchestra of St. Luke's.

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  • Iarla Ó Lionáird

    Iarla Ó Lionaird has enjoyed a long and unique musical career in Ireland. From his iconic early recording of the vision song "Aisling Gheal" as a young boy to his groundbreaking recording Grá agus Bás with Dublin's Crash Ensemble, he has shown a breadth of artistic ambition that sets him apart in the Irish-music fraternity. A recipient of numerous awards and honors-among them two Grammy nominations-Mr. Ó Lionaird has worked with a stellar cast of international composers, including Nico Muhly, Gavin Bryars, and David Lang. He has also performed and recorded with such luminaries as Peter Gabriel, Nick Cave, Robert Plant, and Sinead O'Connor.

    Mr. Ó Lionaird's unique singing style has carried him to stages and concert halls all over the world, from New York's Carnegie Hall to the Sydney Opera House and beyond. His voice has also graced the silver screen, with film credits extending from Gangs of New York to Hotel Rwanda and the upcoming Calvary, starring Brendan Gleeson. He is the vocalist with the critically acclaimed Irish-American band The Gloaming. This year, Mr. Ó Lionaird is Traditional Artist in Residence at the University College Cork, where he is teaching both undergraduate and postgraduate courses on the aesthetics of sean-nós song. He holds a master's degree in ethnomusicology from the University of Limerick, where he is currently completing his Ph.D. in music.

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  • Sam Amidon

    Born and raised in Brattleboro, Vermont, Sam Amidon released his fourth album of songs in 2013 on Nonesuch Records. Entitled Bright Sunny South, Mr. Amidon describes it as "an interior, wandering journey through your own soul." On the album, he sings and plays banjo, fiddle, acoustic guitar, and piano. Bright Sunny South follows 2010's I See the Sign and 2008's All Is Well, collections of re-worked folk songs recorded with the Icelandic label/collective Bedroom Community and featuring orchestral arrangements by Nico Muhly. In addition to his solo albums, Mr. Amidon has frequently collaborated with Nico Muhly, Doveman, Beth Orton, and Bill Frisell. He has also appeared as a guest on albums by Tune-Yards, Aoife O'Donovan, Glen Hansard, and the Blind Boys of Alabama.

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  • Nadia Sirota

    Violist Nadia Sirota is best known for her singular sound and expressive execution, coaxing solo works from the likes of Nico Muhly, Daníel Bjarnason, Judd Greenstein, Marcos Balter, and Missy Mazzoli. Her debut album, First Things First, was released in 2009 on New Amsterdam Records and named one of The New York Times' records of the year. Her sophomore album, Baroque, was released in March 2013 on Bedroom Community and New Amsterdam. In addition to her work as a soloist, Ms. Sirota is a member of yMusic, ACME (American Contemporary Music Ensemble), and Alarm Will Sound, and has lent her sound to recording and concert projects by such artists and songwriters as Grizzly Bear, Jónsi, and Arcade Fire. She also hosts a radio show on WQXR's Q2 Music, for which she was awarded the 2010 ASCAP Deems Taylor Award in Radio and Internet Broadcasting. Ms. Sirota is the recipient of Southern Methodist University's 2013 Meadows Prize, awarded to pioneering artists and scholars with an emerging international profile.

    She received her undergraduate and master's degrees from The Juilliard School, where she performed as co-founder of the AXIOM ensemble, initiated the Castleman/Amory/Huang studio's New Music Project, and created the Juilliard Plays Juilliard program for student composers and performers. As a chamber musician, Ms. Sirota has collaborated with such artists as Joseph Kalichstein, Itzhak Perlman, and the Silk Road Ensemble, as well as with members of the Kronos Quartet, Chiara String Quartet, and Peabody Trio. In the fall of 2007, Ms. Sirota joined the faculty of the Manhattan School of Music for its new master's program in contemporary performance.

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  • Nico Muhly

    Nico Muhly has composed a wide scope of work for ensembles, soloists, and organizations that include the American Symphony Orchestra, Boston Pops, Carnegie Hall, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, countertenor Iestyn Davies, violinist Hilary Hahn, choreographer Benjamin Millepied, New York City Ballet, New York Philharmonic, Paris Opéra Ballet, soprano Jessica Rivera, and designer-illustrator Maira Kalman.

    Among Mr. Muhly's most frequent collaborators are his colleagues at Bedroom Community, an artist-run label headed by Icelandic musician Valgeir Sigurðsson. Bedroom Community was inaugurated in 2007 with the release of Mr. Muhly's first album, Speaks Volumes. In spring 2012, Bedroom Community released Mr. Muhly's three-part Drones in collaboration with pianist Bruce Brubaker, violinist Pekka Kuusisto, and violist Nadia Sirota.

    Born in Vermont in 1981 and raised in Providence, Rhode Island, Mr. Muhly graduated from Columbia University with a degree in English literature. In 2004, he received his master's from The Juilliard School, where he studied under Christopher Rouse and John Corigliano. His writings and full schedule can be found at

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Julia Wolfe's Cruel Sister (Part II)
Ensemble Resonanz | Bradley Lubman, Conductor

About collected stories

At the start, I have to say that I am something of a composer groupie. I love writing music and I love the other people who write music, no matter what kind of music they write or when they wrote it. I really believe that I belong to an international community of composers, stretching across all boundaries of time and place, regardless of style or category.

It's not the way we are normally taught to listen. Music and the people who make it can get separated from each other—by time, culture, genre, commerce. It makes it easy for us if all the different kinds of music stay separated. If everything sits neatly in a particular category, it gets much simpler to find the music you already know and to avoid the music you don't. But because I am a composer groupie, I always want to listen to music outside of these categories so I can pay attention to the things that different kinds of music and composers might have in common, and to consider their differences.

collected stories looks at one of music's more universal functions, namely how often music gets called upon to help tell different kinds of stories. What I am particularly interested in is how the act of composing changes depending on what kind of story the composer is trying to tell.

I started thinking about this in the mid-1990s when I was finishing two commissions at the same time. One was a giant grand opera for Santa Fe, an extravaganza with a big cast and chorus and speaking roles and children and ballet dancers. The other was a loud, aggressively static piece for the English post-rock ensemble Icebreaker. As I went back and forth from one composition to the other, I could really feel my approach change. The opera required me to tell a story, to reveal things in such a way that the audience experienced surprise, shock, elation, and sadness. In the opera, everyone experienced those things pretty much at the same time. The static piece was more like an object, an odd thing that changed very slowly. It didn't tell the listeners much about what they should feel or when they should feel it. I began to notice how my job, my skills, my musicality, my aesthetic sense all changed, depending on the needs of the piece in front of me.

collected stories divides the world not by genre or style, but by the various kinds of stories that a piece of music can tell in order to see how the story and the composer work together. The pieces I chose highlight some of the different ways a composer's job changes. But the truth is that everything on this series is music with which I have a long relationship and that I love. All of it. I hope you will too.

—David Lang

Program Notes


David Lang introduces love/loss

Part of collected stories, curated by David Lang.
David Lang is the holder of the 2013–2014 Richard and Barbara Debs Composer's Chair at Carnegie Hall.

Part of