Heidelberg guest composer challenges musical boundaries

Stanford University composer Mark Applebaum – known for challenging the conventional boundaries of musical ontology and tradition – will be the guest composer-in-residence for the Heidelberg University School of Music & Theatre’s New Music Live! Series on March 23-24.

Applebaum will be featured in two performances: The Applebaum Jazz Piano Duo, along with his father, Robert Applebaum, at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 23, and in a solo recital of his compositions at 7 p.m. Friday, March 24. Both performances will be held in Ohl Concert Hall, located in Brenneman Music Hall, and are free and open to the public.

As a composer, Mark Applebaum’s solo, chamber, choral, orchestral, operatic and electroacoustic work has been performed throughout North and South America, Europe, Africa, Australia and Asia. He builds electroacoustic sound-sculptures out of junk, hardware and found objects for use as both compositional and improvisational tools. He is the founding director of the Stanford Improvisation Collective.

According to Doug McConnell, professor of theory and composition at Heidelberg, Applebaum’s musical philosophy forgoes the questions, “Is it music?” and instead asks audiences to consider, “Is it interesting?” About 25 Heidelberg students and faculty members will work with the composer to present various interpretations of his Metaphysics of Notation, an abstract score that challenges performers to react musically to non-traditional notation.

“No two performances of that piece are ever alike,” explained McConnell, who was on the Mississippi State University faculty with Applebaum several years ago. “He provokes us to expand our awareness of music by looking at it and thinking about it in new, different and daring ways.”

Applebaum also will present several additional pieces, including Aphasia, which utilizes synchronized hand gestures choreographed to sound with electronics and theatrical effects.

The Applebaum Jazz Piano Duo on Thursday evening will take the stage for a performance of jazz and blues improvisations, including both original tunes and jazz standards.

Bob Applebaum was a high school science teacher until his retirement, and has played the piano professionally since 1957. Bob began composing choral music for the Jewish liturgy in 1980 and has composed choral settings of many psalms and non-secular texts. Professional, community and children’s choirs throughout the country have performed his music. The father-son combo started playing together in 2001 and released their first album, The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far from the Tree, in 2002.

During his composer residency, Mark Applebaum will rehearse with students and faculty who are involved in the performance of his compositions. He also will present several lectures in music, theatre and honors classes.

For additional information, contact the School of Music & Theatre at 419-448-2073.

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