On 20th April 2018, City University hosted a concert to celebrate the 50th birthday of Ian Pace, Lecturer and Head of Performance in the Department of Music, performed by the pianist himself. This concert was divided into two halves, each showcasing one of Ian’s many pianistic specializations: the first half included three lesser-known works from the early modernist period; while the second was reserved for premières of new works written specially for this occasion – a particularly well-suited decision which celebrates Ian as a promoter and advocate of new music.
The first piece to be performed was Arthur Lourié’s Deux poèmes op. 8(1912). This extremely chromatic piece is an early work and reflects the immense influence that impressionism, and in particularly Scriabin, had on the composer. Next, we heard Stefan Wolpe’s Sonata for Piano (Op. 1, 1925), a remarkable piece whose rhythmic first and second movements were a particular highlight. The first part concluded with a very intimate set of delicate miniatures by Frederico Mompou, entitled Charmes (1920–21).
In the second half, Ian performed 23 short pieces specially written for him in celebration of his 50th birthday. Most of these were gathered by the composer Evan Johnson into a single collection, though other composers also joined in. These works included compositions by Michael Finnissy, Lauren Redhead, James Dillon and Marc Yeats. Ian also performed a shorter version of a composition of his for piano, spoken voice and video projection entitled auseinandergerissene Hälften, which deals with themes of cultural classes and cultural freedom.
The full list of works performed in the second half (all of which were world premières) is found below.
CHRISTOPHER FOX Fifty Points of Light (2017)
JAMES DILLON amethyst (2018)
RODDY HAWKINS Down-Time for Ian (2007, rev. 2017)
LAUREN REDHEAD nothing really changes (2017)
MIC SPENCER A Maze I(a)n (S)pace (Space [G]race) (2017)
MICHAEL FINNISSY Were we born yesterday? (2017)
SADIE HARRISON gentle (2017)
BEN SMITH burnt (2017–18)
PATRÍCIA SUCENA DE ALMEIDA Desperatio (piano piece no. 5) (2017–18)
ALWYNNE PRITCHARD 50 is a magic number (2018)
PAUL OBERMAYER Fra (electronic music) (2018)
WILLIAM A.P.M. Fragment aus einem gebrochenen Geist „kaum intakt“ (2018)
WALTER ZIMMERMANN Stars for Ian (2017)
IAN PACE auseinandergerissene Hälften (2018)
JESSE RONNEAU AGHB (2017)
ELERI ANGHARAD POUND pbh (2017–18)
MORGAN HAYES Comparison (2018)
MARC YEATS exordium (2017)
ALANNAH MARIE HALAY Progress always comes late (2017)
NIGEL MCBRIDE wide stare stared itself (2017–18)
ALISTAIR ZALDUA Sylph Figures for Ian Pace (2017)
WIELAND HOBAN Whiptail (2017)
EVAN JOHNSON qu’en joye on vous demaine (2017)
Several of these compositions were only a single page long and many made direct references to Ian himself and his birthday. For instance, Christopher Fox’s Fifty Points of Light is constructed using exactly fifty stemless notes, Morgan Hayes’s Comparison reuses material from an earlier composition written for Ian’s 30th birthday and Nigel McBride’s wide stare stared itself is structured upon conversations between the composer and the pianist.
This was great opportunity to hear a wide variety of contemporary piano music, in particular since the programme included a large selection of contemporary composers with many different approaches to music.
Ian said: “I was incredibly touched by the collection, assembled by US composer Evan Johnson, who wrote that this collection was ‘in recognition of a career built around the persistent championing of young or unduly ignored composers, and of difficult or otherwise unreasonable music: the sort often thankless effort that can indelibly shape a nascent compositional career, build decades-long collaborations, and begin to change the face of a repertoire”
A selection of excepts from scores can be seen on Ian’s blog page.
You can also can watch a recording of the concert here.
Gilberto Agostinho,PhD Composition student