Nicholas DeMaison

Nicholas DeMaison, conductor and composer at Rensselaer will work in residence at EMPAC the week of the performance to rehearse three of Sciarrino’s best-known works (composed between 1985 and 2009).

Existing at the edge of what can be heard, the music of Italian composer Salvatore Sciarrino is identified by whispers of sound that punctuate a canvas of silence. It’s music that demands a pristine listening environment to be presented properly. On April 14, the rare pairing will be achieved when a program of chamber works by Sciarrino is presented in the concert hall of the Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) at Rensselaer.

Often touching upon Italian medieval and Renaissance culture as an inspiration, Sciarrino distills the sounds he uses in his compositions down to their essence to create music that exists outside of the noise of daily modern life. For his new approach to old ideas, he has become one of the best known and respected European composers working today, with more than 100 recordings to his name. His fragile music requires exceptional focus from its performers, stretching their technique and control to extremes.

Rensselaer faculty member Nicholas DeMaison will work in residence at EMPAC the week of the performance to rehearse three of Sciarrino’s best-known works (composed between 1985 and 2009). Working with a nine-piece ensemble and featured vocalist Amanda DeBoer Bartlett, the program will consist of Infinito Nero, a piece that draws its inspiration from the vocal outbursts of 16th-century mystic St. Mary Magdalene de’Pazzi; Lo Spazio Inverso, a piece that creates islands of sound in a sea of silence; and the most recent, L’Altro Giardino, an elaboration of his earlier work Il Giardino di Sara.

Composer Salvatore Sciarrino (born 1947) boasts of being born free and not in a music school. He started composing when he was 12 as a self-taught person and held his first public concert in 1962. After 40 years, the extensive catalogue of Sciarrino’s compositions is still in a phase of surprising creative development. He has composed for Teatro alla Scala, RAI, Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Biennale di Venezia, Stuttgart Opera Theatre, Brussels La Monnaie, Frankfurt Opera Theatre, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, London Symphony Orchestra, Tokyo Suntory Hall, and many festivals across the world.

Conductor Nicholas DeMaison is a conductor and composer whose performances have been described as “consistently invigorating” (New York Times), “spine tingling” (Feast of Music), and “enchanted” (Seen and Heard International). Currently the music director of the Rensselaer Orchestra and Concert Choir, his recent and upcoming conducting engagements have included appearances at the Beijing Modern Music Festival, Handan Grand Theater, Monday Evening Concert Series, The Stone, Brooklyn Academy of Music, and Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, premiering new operas by Mojiao Wang, James Ilgenfritz, Nathan Davis, and Charles Fussell.

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