Supported by the Arts Midwest Touring Fund, Fifth House Ensemble’s flute, cello, and piano trio visits Lawrence University for a two-day residency composed of interactive workshops and engagement activities presented at Appleton-area public schools and community partner organizations, culminating in a performance at Harper Hall. The theme of the January 18th contemporary program is “Inspect the Unexpected”: a celebration of the beauty and humor everyday experiences we can too easily ignore, with works including JacobTV’s Lipstick, Caroline Shaw’s in manus tuas, Dan Visconti’s Soundings, Kaija Saariaho’s Ballade, and George Crumb’s Voice of the Whale. Dutch avant-pop composer JacobTV has been a 5HE favorite for many years. A rock musician who went on to study composition and electronic music on the conservatory level, JacobTV is obsessed with the “everyday” American media and news, drawing his inspiration from all corners of our pop culture including infomercials, talk shows, commercial products, radio and nightly newscasts. Lipstick, a work that is part of his series of “boombox” pieces for solo instrument and ghettoblaster (as affectionately named by the composer), is a duo between the flute and a fixed electronic track that contains clips from a relationship therapist with a heavy French accent (“you are jumping all those hoops”), young and desperate lovers on an American talk show (“2 years ago, we”), and Billie Holiday speaking lyrics from her favorite song (“Skip that lipstick – and I know you cheat”). All along, the flute mimics the rhythms and pitches of the recorded speech, illustrating the excitement, frenetic energy, paranoia, and resignation of young failed love. Based on a motet by 16th century composer Thomas Tallis, in manus tuas “is intended to capture the sensation of a single moment of hearing the motet in the particular and remarkable space of Christ Church in New Haven, Connecticut,” according to Caroline Shaw. One moment of religious experience from a previous era is expanded, dissected, and amplified by the heavy and virtually immobile harmonies of this entrancing work. Soundings “grows from primal sounds to a celebration of sound itself, a joyous and universal expression that explores the depths contained in the most simple and familiar sounds. Seven short movements alternate between ensemble pieces and cadenzas for each of the trio members—virtuosic outbursts where all three musicians produce sound by ganging up on one instrument and banging out a racket that could never be achieved by two hands unassisted. A series of auxiliary devices are explored as the instruments are probed and sounded in a series of offbeat episode involving rubber balloons, tuning pegs, and ping-pong balls.” - Dan Visconti Saariaho’s five-minute Ballade is a study in contrast. From the very beginning of the piece, melodic fragments are pitted against dense and oscillating textures. These fragments of a song become a voice working within and against the surrounding uncertainties, and even the surrounding chaos. Inspired by recordings of humpback whale song, George Crumb traces the passage of earthly time using the eponymous creature as a sort of narrator in Voice of the Whale. Five variations trace the geologic periods of time, each becoming increasingly agitated and conflicted as the life forms become more complex before giving way to the Sea Nocturne (...for the end of time), which re-imagines the opening Sea Theme in an undulating, serene, underwater environment. The piece’s expansive treatment of time reminds us that even momentous historic events are mere blips in the grand continuum of evolution. ABOUT FIFTH HOUSE ENSEMBLE Praised by the New York Times for its “conviction, authority, and finesse,” the Chicago-based Fifth House Ensemble harnesses the collaborative spirit of chamber music to reach beyond the traditionally-perceived limits of classical music. The ensemble’s artistic, educational, and civic programs engage theater groups, video game designers, corporate innovators, and folk bands to share stories as diverse as the communities it serves. Performances in previous seasons include those at Texas Performing Arts, LiveConnections (Philadelphia, PA), the MAGFest music and gaming festival (National Harbor, MD), WFMT Impromptu (Chicago, IL), Steppenwolf Theater, the Forma Festival (Moscow), National Sawdust (NYC) and the Miller Theatre (NYC). In addition to the ensemble’s work on the concert stage, 5HE reaches 17,000 students annually through its arts-integrated programming, and trains emerging artists nationwide as a curriculum design partner for higher education institutions and through its summer festival, Fresh Inc.