March Madness, IonSound Style

Department of Music Ensemble-in-Residence IonSound Project always has a busy March at Pitt and this March is busier than ever. The group’s next concert is the second installment of CreatION Sound, a yearlong project exploring the interface between music and technology for which they received a Spark Award. The March 9 concert features Separate Self, a new collaborative work by Garth Zeglin and Philip Thompson (PhD, 2002) comprising Zeglin’s robotic/kinetic fabric sculpture and Thompson’s original composition. The program finale will feature students from the Falk and Waldorf schools performing on instruments they designed and built with guidance from members of IonSound Project and roboticist/musician Jeremy Boyle. Boyle’s robotic drum (created for his collaborative work with composer Patrick Burke) will join the students for the final performance.

IonSound clarinetist Kathleen Costello expressed a great deal of satisfaction when reflecting on CreatION Sound.

“With the Spark Award we were able to pursue the music and technology project in the way that we envisioned it. We got the artists we wanted to work with, we got the composers we wanted to work with, and we were able to pursue it from a genuinely collaborative standpoint from start to finish to create something unique.”

Completing a large-scale project like CreatION Sound is a major accomplishment in and of itself, but the month of March holds many more challenges and opportunities for IonSound Project. On March 18th, they will play new music by Pitt graduate composers Matt Aelmore, Ramteen Sazegari, Aaron Brooks, Sookyung Sul, and Jonghee Kang. In addition, the Pittsburgh Symphony has tapped the ensemble to present a concert at the Warhol on March 21st as part of Mason Bates’ residency.  Bates curated the program that includes two of his own compositions along with music by Marcos Balter and Anna Clyne, and Martin Matalon. 

Costello is enthusiastic in anticipating the upcoming performances.

“As always, we’re looking forward to presenting new music by the talented graduate students at the University of Pittsburgh and it’s a thrill to perform at the Warhol for the first time. We’re particularly excited to be a part of Mason Bates’ residency with the Pittsburgh Symphony this year.”

It’s a daunting schedule for musicians who are in as much demand as the members of IonSound Project, but they show no signs of letting up. In fact, they are in the process of completing their filing for 501c3 non-profit status, a move that will open up more opportunities for grants and developing a support base. It’s the logical next step for artists who continue to gain recognition as an asset to the Department of Music and to the whole region’s cultural life.