Performance Sunday, April 27, 2014 | 6 PM

collected stories: (post)folk

Zankel Hall
Hailed as “one of the most vital and original ensembles on the American music scene” (The New York Times), Alarm Will Sound and its fearless Artistic Director Alan Pierson uncover how composers utilize musical language to underscore factual and fictional history. The group performs Donnacha Dennehy’s Grá agus Bás, which weaves traditional Irish music into contemporary forms to address the ebb of ancient morphing into the present. The program also includes the US premiere of Richard Ayres No. 42 In the Alps, incorporating yodeling and other folk idioms to articulate the tale of a young plane crash survivor, portrayed by the haunting Jennifer Zetlan, as well as the world premieres of commissions by Australian composer Kate Moore and avant-garde virtuoso guitarist Kaki King.

Please note that soprano Kiera Duffy has withdrawn from this performance due to illness. Jennifer Zetlan has graciously agreed to perform in her place.

This concert is part of My Time, My Music.


  • Alarm Will Sound
    Alan Pierson, Artistic Director and Conductor
  • Iarla Ó Lionáird, Voice
  • Jennifer Zetlan, Soprano
  • Kaki King, Guitar


  • KAKI KING Other Education (World Premiere, commissioned by Carnegie Hall)
  • KATE MOORE The Art of Levitation (World Premiere, commissioned by Carnegie Hall)
  • RICHARD AYRES No. 42 In the Alps (US Premiere)

Event Duration

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


  • Alarm Will Sound

    Alarm Will Sound is committed to innovative performances and recordings of today's music. The ensemble has established a reputation for performing demanding music with energetic skill. Alarm Will Sound's versatility allows it to take on music from a wide variety of styles. Its repertoire ranges from European to American works, from the arch-modernist to the pop-influenced. Since its inception, Alarm Will Sound has been associated with composers at the forefront of contemporary music. Through its work as the resident ensemble at the Mizzou International Composers Festival, the ensemble also champions the work of the next generation of composers. The group includes many composer-performers, allowing for an unusual degree of insight into the creation and performance of new works.

    Alan Pierson

    Conductor Alan Pierson serves as artistic director of Alarm Will Sound and principal conductor of the Dublin-based Crash Ensemble. He has appeared as a guest conductor with the London Sinfonietta, Steve Reich Ensemble, Orchestra of St. Luke's, Ensemble ACJW, Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra, New World Symphony, and Silk Road Project. He also served as a visiting faculty conductor at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. Mr. Pierson has collaborated with major composers and performers who include Yo-Yo Ma, Steve Reich, Dawn Upshaw, Osvaldo Golijov, John Adams, Augusta Read Thomas, David Lang, Michael Gordon, and La Monte Young, as well as with choreographers Christopher Wheeldon, Akram Khan, and Eliot Feld. Mr. Pierson has recorded for Nonesuch Records, Cantaloupe Music, Sony Classical, and Sweetspot DVD.

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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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  • Jennifer Zetlan

    Soprano Jennifer Zetlan is swiftly garnering recognition for her artistry and captivating stage presence. She has debuted on the stages of the Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, Seattle Opera, Santa Fe Opera, and Florida Grand Opera. On the concert stage, she has performed with the New York Philharmonic, The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, and Juilliard Orchestra.

    Ms. Zetlan opened the 2013-2014 season at the Metropolitan Opera singing the role of Rebecca in the US premiere of Nico Muhly's Two Boys. She sang the Mozart Requiem  with the Oratorio Society of New York and Handel's Messiah with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and returned to Seattle Opera as Gilda in Rigoletto. This past February, she made her debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in performances of Stravinsky's Pulcinella. Ms. Zetlan closes the season with The Lexington Philharmonic in a performance Osvaldo Golijov's Three Songs for Soprano and Orchestra and Beethoven's Symphony No. 9.

    In recent seasons, Ms. Zetlan made her debut as Musetta in La bohème at The Princeton Festival and as Gretel in Hänsel und Gretel at the Aspen Music Festival. She has been heard in the title role of The Cunning Little Vixen at Aspen, as First Madrigal Singer in Manon Lescaut with Florida Grand Opera, as Tytania in A Midsummer Night's Dream, and as Diana in La Calisto at The Juilliard School. Performances with New York's Liederkranz Foundation include Marianne in Romberg's The New Moon, Fifth Maid in Elektra, and Monica in The Medium.

    Ms. Zetlan has appeared as a soloist and chamber musician at the Aspen Music Festival; New York Festival of Song; Alexander Paley Music Festival in Richmond, Virginia; Foothills Chamber Music Festival in Winston-Salem, North Carolina; and The Artist Series of Sarasota. Committed to performing new works, she sang at the 2007 OPERA America New Works Showcase, participated in New York City Opera's VOX showcase of American composers in 2008 and 2009, and is frequently involved with the new works initiative co-sponsored by the Metropolitan Opera and Lincoln Center Theater.

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  • Kaki King

    Brooklyn-based guitarist and composer Kaki King is a true iconoclast, an artist whose singular body of work stands tall among the easily formatted. Over the past decade, she has made six diverse and distinctive recordings, most recently 2012's Glow; performed with Foo Fighters, Timbaland, and The Mountain Goats; contributed to a variety of film and television soundtracks, including the Golden Globe-nominated score for Sean Penn's film Into the Wild; and appeared as a guitar-playing hand double in the acclaimed 2007 drama August Rush. She also performs on innumerable world tours for an increasingly fervent fan following.

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Donnacha Dennehy's Grá agus Bás
Crash Ensemble | Alan Pierson, Conductor | Iarla Ó Lionáird, Voice

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 (post)folk

Part of collected stories, curated by David Lang.
Lead support for Carnegie Hall commissions is provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
David Lang is the holder of the 2013–2014 Richard and Barbara Debs Composer's Chair at Carnegie Hall.
This performance is part of Non-Subscription Events, and collected stories.

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