By Amy Wells
Michael Harley maintains there's something for everyone in contemporary classical music. And the Ohio University assistant professor of bassoon travels in a circle that regularly works to prove that theory.
Harley is a member of the instrumental group Alarm Will Sound, which seeks to expand appreciation of today's classical music through innovative performances and recordings. The group will bring its mantra to the Athens campus during a three-day residency that begins Sunday.
"In reality, everyone can find something for their tastes in today's classical music," Harley said. "The sheer variety is astonishing."
Members of the widely acclaimed group will kick off their residency at 9 p.m. Sunday in Baker University Center Theatre with a screening of the film "La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc" with live accompaniment by member John Pickford on viola and electronics.
During the residency, which is funded by Arts for Ohio and brings 10 of the 16 instrumental Alarm Will Sound members to campus, the group will perform and work alongside students and faculty in the School of Music.
"A strength of AWS is that we have a very open approach to repertoire. We play what we like -- period," Harley said. "(Our repertoire) can run the gamut from very 'crunchy' modernist fare, pop, jazz and rock-influenced works to minimalist pieces and the avante garde. We have fun playing it, and that energy comes across to an audience."
Calling the group's work "the future of classical music," The New York Times said Alarm Will Sound is "as close to being a rock band as a chamber orchestra can be."
Founding members of the ensemble met while studying at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y. With diverse experience in composition, improvisation, jazz and other types of music, AWS brings intelligence and a sense of adventure to its performances. The group has performed throughout the United States, including at Carnegie Hall and the Miller Theatre in New York City, and has completed residencies at Harvard, Duke, MIT and NYU.
The Athens campus residency continues at noon Monday in the Glidden Recital Hall with a performance of works composed by AWS members. That performance will be followed by a lecture and recital at 2 p.m. in Seigfred Hall's Mitchell Auditorium. The event will feature a performance of "relics/rituals" for ceramic trumpets, electronics and trumpets by Jason Price of AWS and members of the Ohio University's trumpet studio. Special guest Michigan State University Professor of Ceramics Blake Williams will lead the lecture.
At 3 p.m. Monday, AWS members will perform student compositions in the Glidden Recital Hall.
"If students can take away one thing from this residency it's our energy and commitment to the music of today -- and perhaps they will hear something that speaks directly to their own interests," Harley said.
The residency will conclude at 8 p.m. Tuesday with a concert featuring AWS and the Ohio University New Music Ensemble at The Ridges Auditorium. The concert will feature the world premiere of a work AWS composer and pianist John Orfe was commissioned by the New Music Ensemble and Dance Department to compose. Ohio University Director of Bands John Climer will conduct the piece, which will feature choreography by Assistant Professor of Dance Ruben Graziano.
All events are free and open to the public.