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New Sounds Live

Darcy James Argue vs. David T. Little with Vijay Iyer & Nicole Lizee

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Mind control experiments and conspiracy theories are the subject matter for brand-new music performed by an electric chamber ensemble and a Grammy-nominated big band. Those are just two of the four offerings on this New Sounds Live concert at Merkin Hall, part of the Ecstatic Music Festival, on Thursday February 24, 2011 at 7:30.  Socially engaged, hybrid genre-straddling ensembles Newspeak and Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society take on brand new works written specifically for each. 

Darcy James Argue: The Sleep Room, Part 1
David T. Little: Conspiracy Theory Premiere*
Vijay Iyer: Premiere*
Nicole Lizée: Premiere*

Merkin Hall
at Kaufman Center, 129 W. 67th Street
(between Broadway and Amsterdam)
» Tickets
» New Sounds Live 2010-2011 Concert Season


Hear the premiere of Darcy James Argue’s The Sleep Room, Part 1, the first-ever commissioned work by the big band rising star composer and arranger for an ensemble other than his own. The “other” group, is an eight-piece, high-powered electric chamber ensemble, Newspeak, led by David T. Little.  Conversely, Argue and his acclaimed 18-piece big band, Secret Society, will present a world premiere written by Little called “Conspiracy Theory.”  Plus, two other commissioned pieces, one by jazz pianist/composer Vijay Iyer (possibly his first piece for big band) and one by the Montreal-based composer Nicole Lizée (who has also written for So Percussion.)  This concert marks the first time that DJA’s Secret Society has ever performed music by another composer…

Listen to Ecstatic Music Festival curator Judd Greenstein preview the 2/24 concert:

This concert is a part of the Ecstatic Music Festival and will be webcast live on our sister station WQXR's web service, Q2.  Bonus live introductions and interviews with host John Schaefer will be taped from the stage for later broadcast on New Sounds.

Perhaps inspired by Newspeak's Orwellian name, Argue says of "The Sleep Room, "This work will explore the parallels between aesthetic communication (inducing altered states, wiping the slate clean, imprinting new thoughts) and mind control."

DJA Darcy James Argue
is a native of Vancouver, and former member of the Montreal jazz scene, Argue moved to Brooklyn in 2003 after earning a Master’s Degree in Boston while studying with legendary composer/arranger Bob Brookmeyer. He has also studied with Lee Hyla, Randall Woolf, Maria Schneider and John Hollenbeck. His awards include the BMI Jazz Composers’ Workshop Charlie Parker Composition Prize and the SOCAN/CAJE Phil Nimmons Emerging Composer Award and he has received grants from the Jerome Foundation, the American Music Center, Meet The Composer, the Aaron Copland Fund for Music and the Canada Council for the Arts, among others.

Darcy James Argue's Secret Society
Formed in 2005, Secret Society evokes an alternate musical history in which the dance orchestras that ruled the Swing Era never went extinct, but remained a popular and vital part of the evolving musical landscape. Adopting a steampunk-inspired attitude towards the traditional big band, Argue refashions this well-worn instrumentation into a cutting-edge ensemble. The band’s first studio recording, Infernal Machines (New Amsterdam Records) takes its name from a John Philip Sousa quote about the dangers of music technology. Newsweek’s Seth Colter Walls praised the album as “a wholly original take on big band’s past, present and future” and Time Out New York’s David R. Adler awarded it five stars and proclaimed it “a seven-track marvel of imagination.” In his feature article on Argue for the Village Voice, Richard Gehr called it “maximalist music of impressive complexity and immense entertainment value, in your face and then in your head.”

NEWSPEAK is an eight-piece amplified ensemble working under the direction of composer David T. Little and clarinetist Eileen Mack. Named after the thought-limiting language in George Orwell’s 1984, Newspeak explores the grey area where art and politics mix, seeking to reconsider, redefine, and ultimately reclaim the notion of socially engaged music. By embedding elements of a rock band into a classical new music ensemble, Newspeak also confronts the boundaries between the classical and the rock traditions.