Santa Cruz’s NewMusicWorks (NMW) on Saturday will host its annual showcase of chamber music featuring songs by living composers from across the U.S.
“Night of the Living Composers” will be held at the Samper Recital Hall in Aptos and will feature the NMW Ensemble, led by Conductor and Artistic Director Phil Collins, joined by mezzo-soprano Lori Rivera and pianist Sarah Cahill.
Formed in 1979, NMW aims to present musical performance in new, imaginative ways. The group performs pieces from both living composers and masterworks of the 20th and 21st centuries throughout their season of concerts.
Last year, NMW celebrated its 40th year. This year’s 41st season is sponsored by Rowland and Pat Rebele. “Night of the Living Composers” is sponsored by Santa Cruz County Bank.
“We have assembled a program that is not only musically exhilarating, but that includes a mix of qualities,” Collins said, alluding to the show including pieces by popular artist Paul Simon.
The lineup also includes two world premiers by Scott Stobbe (“Circadian Melodies”) and Collins (a new version of 2006’s “Pleasant Dreaming” by Michael McGushin).
NMW will add a new name to its living composer roster by performing a piece by David Behrman entitled “Mills Open Space,” and also “I Like to Think of Harriet Tubman” by Christian Wolff, featuring Rivera.
NMW will perform two songs from Simon’s 2018 album “In the Blue Light.” Collins said that the group had planned to start practicing the pieces, but when they reached out to Simon’s team they revealed that there were no published recordings. This led to him and McGushin transcribing the arrangement by ear.
“Guaranteed, [our] performance of these two gorgeous arrangements will be the only live renditions to be heard, other than at a Paul Simon [concert],” Collins said.
The concert closes out with Carleton Macy’s “Spiral” for bass clarinet, vibraphone, marimba and piano.
“Night of the Living Composers” will be held Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Cabrillo College’s Samper Recital Hall, 6500 Soquel Dr., Aptos (lower campus). Tickets are $27 for general admission, $12 for students and $37 for “Golden” seating. Purchase online at cabrillovapa.com or call 479-6154. For information visit newmusicworks.org.