The wild world of Willy Wonka, the Roman god Janus and Edgar Allan Poe are all evoked in the first of this season’s Eko Nova concerts. The youthful Tower Duo—flutist Erin Helgeson Torres and saxophonist Michael Rene Torres—brings alive music from our own time, from 2002 to 2016, by composers most of whom circle around age 30 and hail from such places as Ohio, North Carolina, New York and Hong Kong. They are Chris Lamb, Chin Ting Chan, Phillip Sink, Paul Hayden and saxophonist Torres himself.
Lamb aims to have fun. His “Sideways and Slantways” spins off Willy Wonka, who said, “An elevator can only go up and down, but the Wonkavator can go sideways, and slantways, and longways, and backways .. .” Lamb describes it as miniature chaconne passing, flipping, reversing and augmenting the theme.
A classical legend is called forth in Hayden’s “Janus: Janua Coeli.” The Roman god, the composer notes, was “the guardian of gates and doorways, associated with the beginnings of events whose gold key unlocked the winter solstice gate … a Gate of Heaven.” With December not far off, you might consider the idea a celebration of what’s to come.
In “Crosswind” Chin wants to “explore an idea of conflict and harmony … a progression of tension and release … a collective sonority that is constantly developing, and often unexpected.”
Sink also has chosen to ponder a thoughtful path. His “Places Never Painted” aims to question, as in his original poem from which it springs, “the conflict between recording the world and actually seeing the world … places that cannot be quantified or measured … perhaps even places of the mind.”
As for Torres, he too seems to be looking inwardly. In “I have not seen as others saw,” written this year, his score seeks to explore Poe’s poem, “Alone,” “to express the introspective battle that millions of Americans face each year with depression.” This involves the pre-recorded sounds of “non-traditional percussion.”
He and Erin Helgeson Torres joined together for the Duo’s first performance six years ago. They have premiered 16 new works, three of which will be heard here. Those by him, of course, plus the ones by Lamb and Chin. Michael is Lecturer of Saxophone at The Ohio State University, Instructor of Saxophone and Composition at Muskingum University, and Executive Director of the Columbus Ohio Discovery Ensemble. Erin is Professor of Flute at Ohio Northern University, with the Evansville Philharmonic, and the McConnell Arts Center Chamber Orchestra. http://towerduo.weebly.com/
The other composers have extensive and impressive credits, most clearly revealed in their websites:
This performance in the Eko Nova series is Nov .14 at Kaneko, 1111 Jones St. Mon. 7 p.m. Tickets:$10-$15. http://www.omahachambermusic.org