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Capital M, a New York City-based electric chamber ensemble led by vocalist/composer Ian Moss, announces its first ever World Premieres Extravaganza on Tuesday, March 21st at the Cutting Room. The concert, which takes place at 8:30pm, will feature seven new works by seven different composers, five of which have been written specifically for this event. The program is the recipient of a Meet The Composer Creative Connections grant, and composers David Claman, Jennifer Fitzgerald, Monika Heidemann, Bradley Kemp, Ian Moss, Frank J. Oteri, and Stefan Zeniuk will be on hand for a question-and-answer session preceding the concert.

Capital M is one of the first rock bands ever to seek out music from the contemporary classical world. The band's instrumentation (two guitars, electric bass, drums, saxophones, and vocals) and liberal use of studio effects recall influences as diverse as King Crimson and godspeed you! black emperor, and its performance history includes appearances at the 2005 College Music Journal Marathon, the Tribeca Rock Club, and the Millcreek Tavern in West Philadelphia. Yet the band's members all possess extensive classical training and its leader, Moss, takes a composer's approach to constructing its sound.

'The idea behind Capital M was to create an ensemble that really couldn't be categorized, no matter how hard you try," says Moss. 'If you think about it, even genre-busters like Bang on a Can and Bj�rk can be forced into one metaphorical bin or another, based on the way they act if not always the way they sound. But it's very unusual to have an ensemble with our kind of instrumentation playing music that was written for the group by people who are not in the group. It just doesn't happen. Really, the only precedent that I know of is when Sonic Youth played a bunch of new music and commissioned a piece from Pauline Oliveros for its Goodbye 20th Century album. Other than that, I can't think of another time that something like this has taken place."

Moss knows of which he speaks�his day job involves working for the American Music Center, the nation's foremost information resource for the field of new American music, and he has written extensively on the subject of genre divisions between classical and popular music. In September 2005, he placed a notice in the Center's monthly Opportunity Update newsletter calling for pieces fitting Capital M's unusual yet versatile instrumentation. Among the responses were Jennifer Fitzgerald's How Terrible Orange, originally written for Duke University-based new music ensemble pulsoptional, and David Claman's Loose Canons, a meditative work scored for three electric guitars playing e-bows. Both works will be included on the program March 21st.

'I think that the moniker �new music' leaves room for a happy ambiguity," says Fitzgerald. 'I wrote a piece that included electric guitar and drumset because those were the instruments that I had available to me at home in North Carolina. Thankfully, there are a growing number of groups such as Capital M who engage in this ambiguity. We don't need to call this �crossover' for it to defy specific labels. Just �new music' works for me."

The evening is capped off by the world premiere of Frank J. Oteri's Imagined Overtures, a multi-movement work in 36-tone equal temperament. Oteri, who edits the highly regarded internet publication NewMusicBox, reconciles serialism, minimalism, and microtonality by referencing similarly seeming opposites in rock like punk and prog. 'Although I was born the same year that the Beatles invaded America (1964)," confesses Oteri, 'I didn't listen to Sgt. Pepper or any other rock album until I was in college, several years after I had already gotten turned on to classical music and was already exposed to microtonality. Believe it or not, the first rock band I ever heard live was the 31-tone J.C. and the Microtones!"

Moss has high hopes that the event will open up new horizons for Capital M. 'The best thing about this concert is that, because we're a rock band, the story doesn't have to end for these pieces on March 22nd. We can introduce them into our normal repertoire and play them at clubs, bars�wherever we go next. I keep having this fantasy of us being onstage at the Bowery Ballroom a few years from now, announcing to a crowd of teenagers with eyebrow piercings that �this next piece was commissioned for Capital M with generous support from the Fromm Foundation,' before launching into an onslaught of power chords. This concert brings us one step closer to that goal."

Oteri agrees. 'What Capital M has done by asking me and other composers to write for them is not just breaking down a wall in our seemingly wall-less musical communities. More importantly, they've created an opportunity to build something new. Imagined Overtures, as its name implies, is ultimately just a beginning."


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