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January 6, 2014

UMS Playlist: “NEW” Music by UMS Associate Programming Manager Liz Stover


This post is a part of a series of playlists curated by UMS staff, artists, and community. Check out more music here.

Photo: Colin Stetson will perform in Ann Arbor January 15-16, 2014. Photo by Keith Klenowski.

We’re in the middle of a really exciting but possibly confusing time in music. Exciting because tons of new music is being created and performed, but confusing because people aren’t entirely sure what to call it.

An emerging young generation of artists and composers who have influences in both classical and popular music are creating work that doesn’t necessarily live within any pre-existing genres that audiences and critics are familiar with. Some of it might sound like a new kind of “classical”, or instrumental music. Some of it sounds like pop.

All genres aside, I’ve discovered lots of great music in recent years through my own background in playing violin and classical chamber music, as well as through my love of rock, popular, and indie music. What’s really exciting is how much collaboration happens between so many of these artists. No one works entirely alone — the artists compose and commission music for each other, or play on each other’s records or tours. You may remember last season’s concert by Gabriel Kahane and the sextet yMusic, whose members are all classically-trained musicians but also play regularly with indie rock stars such as Sufjan Stevens, Bon Iver, and The National.

I’m looking forward to Colin Stetson’s performance this January. A classically trained saxophonist (as well as Ann Arbor-ite and graduate of the University of Michigan), he’s worked with dozens of artists, including Tom Waits, Feist, Laurie Anderson, Lou Reed, David Byrne, LCD Soundsystem, and Angélique Kidjo, among others. I also loved UMS’s presentation of Brooklyn Rider in November, a string quartet known for exciting collaborations who performed a concert to showcase their recent work with banjo player Bela Fleck. Want to hear more? Check out New Amsterdam Records, a Brooklyn-based record label that produces many records and concerts by these artists and more.

What did you think about this playlist? Share your thoughts or song suggestions in the comments below.