New and Less New Music in September and October | PITTSBURGH

Upcoming Concerts from City of Asylum, NAT 28, Kamratōn, Chamber Orchestra of Pittsburgh

By David Bernabo

“New Music” — sometimes defined as classical music since 1950 or sometimes post-war music (i.e. 1945 and after) or maybe in the case of Contemporary Classical Music, mid-1970s and on — is on the rise again in Pittsburgh. Years ago, Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, founded by composer David Stock in 1976, introduced a new style of composition and immersive performance to the area. In the early 1990s, Music on the Edge increased the access to contemporary composition, bringing in world class ensembles and performers. The mid-00s saw a rise in composer and performer-led groups: Alia Musica Pittsburgh, IonSound Project, ELCO.

In the past few years, a whole slew of new groups seemingly sprung out of nowhere: NAT 28, Kamratōn, Wolftrap, Chamber Orchestra of Pittsburgh. And now, a number of these groups are presenting music this month. We also threw in a few free music/jazz-leaning heavy-hitters that are coming to town. So, please go enjoy some new music!

[Note: It’s a small scene, and there are so many conflicts of interest contained below. But that doesn’t invalidate the music.]

Sept 7: Tom Rainey Trio

Certainly not local, but as part of City of Asylum’s International Jazz Poetry Month, drummer Tom Rainey brings an incredible trio to town with brilliant composer/guitarist Mary Halvorson and brilliant composer/saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock. This show promises a mix of innovative composition and skilled free improvisation from these three (now) New Yorkers.

Tickets here. Also, City of Asylum is bringing a monster roster of international talent throughout September. Peep the image below and mark your calendars.

Sept 10: Chamber Orchestra of Pittsburgh presents “Sounds of Youth”

Chamber Orchestra of Pittsburgh or COP isn’t necessarily a “new music” group, but they pull from a healthy mix of old and new, known and less known. For their season opener, the orchestra highlights two young talents — Young Artist Competition winner Nathan Magley, who will be playing Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto in A Major, and composer Hannah Ishizaki, who with the orchestra will premiere her new work, Up/Down. Also, on the bill is an arrangement of one of Robert Schumann’s most famous piano pieces, Kinderszenen.

There is a suggested donation of $20/$10 for students and seniors. Facebook info here. 4pm, First Unitarian Church of Pittsburgh

Sept 10: Tashi Dorji & Tyler Damon with Cloning, Diaphony

Highly acclaimed Bhutan-born improvisor Tashi Dorji is joined by Bloomington percussionist Tyler Damon for what promises to be an exciting duo set. Pitchfork writes of Dorji, “the range of creative solutions he’s found while trying to avoid the well-worn paths of instrumental guitar music is thrilling.”

Diaphony, the duo of pianist Susan Kuo and violinist Danielle Rager, open alongside Cloning, who have a really nice record here.

$10 at the door, 21+ show
9 pm, Howlers,

Sep 30: NAT 28 “Vox Novus”

Vox Novus explores the questions of what it means to have a voice; how the human voice relates to tradition, storytelling, and record keeping; and the ways in which folk songs and folk tales relate to identity and understanding.”

NAT 28's stellar musicians will be joined by three vocalists — soprano Jennifer Aylmer on two works by the award-winning Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho, Kamratōn’s Anna Elder on the American premiere of NAT 28 composer Jean-Patrick Besingrand’s Aux couleurs du couchant reflété par mes yeux for solo voice and on the world premiere of Curtis Rumrill’s Domestic Beasts of Vinland Char, and Mezzo-soprano Kara Cornell on Luciano Berio’s wonderful Folk Songs.

Tickets $12 online/at the door, $5 students at the door only. 7:30PM, Third Presbyterian Church, 5701 Fifth Ave. Pittsburgh, PA 15232.

Keep up with NAT 28 at

October 15: Kamratōn “Pittsburgh Sounds I”

We will publish an interview with Kamratōn’s Kaylyn Shearer later this month, but for now know that this awesome new ensemble will open their 2017–2018 season with premieres by Pittsburgh composers Ryan McMasters, Curtis Rumrill, Hannah Ishisaki, and Mark Fromm.

7pm, Irma Freeman Center for Imagination​

Keep up with Kamratōn at

If these concerts pique your interest, also know that Music On The Edge, Alia Musica Pittsburgh, and ELCO will have concerts throughout the 2017–2018 season, too.