Empyrean Ensemble

Recital Hall, Ann E. Pitzer Center

Sam Nichols, director

Preconcert Discussion from 1:15–1:45 pm with composers Yu-Hui Chang and Maria Niederberger and Empyrean’s director Sam Nichols.

The music department’s professional contemporary music group the Empyrean Ensemble will premiere Weaving Sound by Maria Neiderberger, a 1981 graduate of UC Davis, a music department lecturer for nearly 15 years and professor emeritus at East Tennessee State University. The three-movement work interweaves clarinet, viola, and piano into a tapestry of sound. Her music has been performed throughout the U.S., Canada, Asia and Europe.


Harrison Birtwistle: Crowd
Jennifer Ellis, solo harp

This piece is an exploration of resonance, and in the essential nature of the earliest harps. Crowd (etymologically related to the Celtic words crwth, cruit, and crot) was the English term used for instruments of the lyre class, and ultimately for a frame harp from pre-Christian to medieval times.

Maria A. Niederberger: New Work PREMIERE

Yu-Hui Chang: Germinate WEST COAST PREMIERE

Commissioned by Boston Musica Viva (BMV), the oldest professional ensemble in the United States dedicated to contemporary music, Germinate was written for their 50th anniversary in 2019. Scored for flute, piccolo, bass clarinet, violin, cello, piano, and percussion, Germinate is a tribute to BMV for its contribution to the music of our time. A former UC Davis faculty member, Chang now teaches at Brandeis University.

Jonathan Harvey: Still
Portia Njoku, tuba and UC Davis lecturer in music

In Still, written for solo tuba and electronics, the soloist improvises around a series of eight chords, gradually building up a sustained background of reverberations.

Lee Hyla: Polish Folk Songs

Another BMV commission, Hyla’s Polish Folk Songs notably uses the melodica and organ to evoke melodies the composer heard in Zakopane, Poland. Hyla noted, “In my composition I have taken a number of the songs commonly heard in the area and re-combined them, allowing them to bump heads as well as interact peacefully.”



Ann E. Pitzer Center, Davis, CA

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