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Mar. 26: Alarm Will Sound Performs New Multimedia Program Heard, Curated by Tania León, at Carnegie Hall

February 27, 2024 | By Katy Salomon
Primo Artists | VP, Public Relations

Katy Salomon | Primo Artists | VP, Public Relations 
katy@primoartists.com | 212.837.8466 

Carnegie Hall Presents Alarm Will Sound in Heard
Tuesday, March 26, 2024 at 7:30pm

Curated by Pulitzer-Winner & Carnegie Hall Debs Composer’s Chair Tania León

New Multimedia Program Honors the Ways in Which Composers 
Express their Personal Narratives Through Music

Featuring a World Premiere by Damon Davis (arr. Ted Hearne),
NY Premieres by Chris P. Thompson, Elijah Daniel Smith, Texu Kim, 
Bora Yoon and works by Tania León and Christian Quiñones

“one of the most vital and original ensembles on the American music scene”
– The New York Times


New York, NY (February 27, 2024) – On Tuesday, March 26 at 7:30pm in Zankel Hall, Carnegie Hall presents contemporary chamber ensemble Alarm Will Sound in their new original program, Heard, which weaves together music and storytelling to illustrate how composers express their personal narratives through music. Described as “virtuosic” (The New Yorker) and “awe-inspiring” (Time Out New York), Alarm Will Sound is celebrated as a distinctive force in contemporary music, comprising 20 exceptional artists dedicated to pushing the boundaries of musical expression.

Conducted and conceived by AWS Artistic Director Alan Pierson, the program comprises a tapestry of works by eight composers of widely disparate backgrounds and styles, finding connective threads in the humanity of the composers and the life stories that have shaped their music. At its heart, the production captures the idea of being “heard,” or understood on our truest terms. Curated by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer, conductor and educator Tania LeónHeard represents the first installment in a new series by León, Carnegie Hall’s 2023-2024 Debs Composer’s Chair and a longtime collaborator to Alarm Will Sound. Among the featured works will be the world premiere of Damon Davis’s work Ligeia Mare: Episode 4 (arr. Ted Hearne), as well as the New York premieres of Hanabi by Chris P. Thompson, Vermilion Glare by Elijah Daniel Smith, Lila by Texu KimCasual Miracles by Bora Yoon and Gran Toque, León’s Gran Toque, the new orchestration of Leon’s work Toque arranged by John Orfe. Completing the program are Christian Quiñones’ Hasta que no pueda and the original version of León’s Toque.

Combining music, live and recorded storytelling by the composers, and elements of light and staging, Heard sprung from a challenge posed by León to bring together the widest possible range of music being created by composers in the United States today. All told, the program represents composers from such divergent origins as Havana, East St. Louis, Seoul, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Puerto Rico. By interweaving musical composition and personal life experience, this program of contrasting works finds its cohesion. Each half of Heard is largely performed seamlessly, with one piece passing into the next, building on AWS’s tradition of storytelling. As the program was assembled, the process opened into an unexpected journey of discovery for the ensemble and its artistic partners: Although several of the featured composers were already well known to Alarm Will Sound – including longstanding collaborators and members of the orchestra itself – the personal stories revealed in the crafting of the program shed new light on each artist’s body of work, even to longtime friends and colleagues.

“It turns out that it’s easy not to know deep things about even the collaborators and friends who are dearest to us,” Pierson writes in his program note on Heard. “I’d never have guessed any of these stories from the music itself. But learning about them enriched my experience of the music, and in many cases transformed how I performed it. It seemed imperative to find a way to bring this context into the show itself, and I wondered: could the stories themselves be the thread to tie together all of the music on this show into a holistic experience?”

In Heard, the stories told reflect narratives close to the composers’ hearts and heritage. In his world premiere work Ligeia Mare: Episode 4, defined as a science fiction electronic fantasy opera, Damon Davis draws on Black musical traditions including blues, hip hop, house and R&B – challenging the conventions of the historically white, Western operatic canon – through a story that speaks to the composer’s experience of Blackness in the United States. In Davis’s opera, composed alongside Ted Hearne, a teenager blessed with the gift of astral projection grapples with the pain and challenge of his father’s brain cancer diagnosis, seeking answers at night on a quest through the solar system. The story draws on the life and philosophy of jazz innovator and legend Sun Ra, who expressed the “otherness” of the Black experience through the idea that he’d come originally from Saturn and now lived as an outsider among earthlings. Davis also performs as a vocalist in the piece.

León’s work Toque – meaning either “touch” or “play,” as one plays an instrument or a game – reflects her Cuban heritage through an adaptation of the lively dance tune “Almendra,” a melody so familiar that Cubans can recognize it within two notes. In Gran Toque, also included on this program, arranger John Orfe has translated the piece into a rich and sonorous version for Alarm Will Sound’s full instrumentation, while remaining true to the sprightly elegance of the original. Among the other pieces on the program, several illuminate deeply personal facets of the composers’ lives and backgrounds. In Vermillion Glare, Smith takes listeners inside his own searing memory, centering the image of the sun in his eyes, during a car accident that he experienced. Kim’s work, Lila, draws on Korean shamanistic music to reflect on time the composer spent in a Christian cult. In his piece Hasta que no pueda, Quiñones reflects on his mother’s congenital hearing loss through sampled clips of her favorite songs, filtered to simulate how sound became muffled and distorted version in her ears. Thompson’s piece, Hanabi (Japanese for “fireworks”) puts an experimental twist on the composer’s experience in drum corps, combining marching percussion sounds with the sampled pops and sizzles of an actual fireworks show.

“Alarm Will Sound’s past storytelling events have always adopted a unifying voice throughout,” says Pierson. “But we’ve never before created a storytelling show focused on so many composers from such widely different backgrounds. So for this event, we created a space where each composer could have their story heard in a way that felt authentic to them. You will hear each of their voices.”

Program Information
Alarm Will Sounds Performs Heard
Tuesday, March 26, 2024 at 7:30pm 
Zankel Hall, Carnegie Hall | New York, NY
 $54-$64 at CarnegieCharge (212) 247-7800, carnegiehall.org, or at the Box Office on 57th Street and Seventh Avenue.
Link: www.carnegiehall.org/Calendar/2024/03/26/Alarm-Will-Sound-0730PM

Tania León – Toque  
Chris P. Thompson – Hanabi (arr. Miles Brown) [New York Premiere]
Christian Quiñones – Hasta que no pueda
Damon Davis (arr. Ted Hearne) – Ligeia Mare: Episode 4 [World Premiere]
Elijah Daniel Smith – Vermilion Glare [New York Premiere]
Texu Kim – Lila [New York Premiere]
Bora Yoon – Casual Miracles [New York Premiere]
Tania León – Gran Toque (arr. John Orfe) [New York Premiere]

Alarm Will Sound
Alan Pierson, Artistic Director and Conductor
Damon Davis, Vocals
Bora Yoon, Vocals

About Alarm Will Sound
Alarm Will Sound is “one of the most vital and original ensembles on the American music scene” (The New York Times). A 20-member band committed to innovative performances and recordings of today’s music, they have established a reputation for performing demanding music with energetic virtuosity. 

With classical skill and unlimited curiosity, Alarm Will Sound takes on music from a wide variety of styles. “Stylistically omnivorous and physically versatile” (The Log Journal), their repertoire comes from around the world, and ranges from the arch-modernist to the pop-influenced. Since its inception, Alarm Will Sound has been associated with composers at the forefront of contemporary music. The group itself includes many composer-performers, which allows for an unusual degree of insight into the creation and performance of new work.

Alarm Will Sound is the resident ensemble at the Mizzou International Composers Festival. Held each July at the University of Missouri in Columbia, the festival features eight world premieres by early-career composers. In 2013-14, Alarm Will Sound served as artists-in-residence at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Alarm Will Sound may be heard on eighteen recordings, including For George Lewis | Autoshchediasms, their most recent release featuring music of Tyshawn Sorey, and the premiere recording of Steve Reich’s Radio Rewrite. Acoustica, their genre-bending, critically-acclaimed album, features live-performance arrangements of music by electronica guru Aphex Twin.

For more information and to join the mailing list, visit Alarm Will Sound’s website at www.alarmwillsound.com.

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