We used to apply the terms “modern” and “contemporary” to music that was experimental or pushing the limits of tradition and current tastes. Those definitions are now used interchangeably in reference to popular music. Instead, “New Music” is now considered to be that which goes beyond the current or familiar; incorporating the alien, the disparate or disconnected and continually challenging our understanding and definition of music.


Ken Ueno, composer, vocalist and cross-disciplinary artist.

On December 10, Chapman University’s Hall-Musco Conservatory of Music welcomes composer, vocalist and cross-disciplinary artist
Ken Ueno
who will give a free guest lecture at 5:00 p.m. in Oliphant Hall room 204. The UC Berkeley professor and winner of the 2006-2007 Rome Prize and the 2010-2011 Berlin Prize is known for music that “coalesces diverse influences into a democratic sonic landscape.”  In the lecture, Ueno will discuss his approach to composing non-transportable musical works for specific collaborators. These are pieces that are composed for a specific person or for performance at a specific location – such as a museum, a music hall, or some other architecturally important location. The songs are composed with the unique acoustic abilities of the individual or the venue in mind, and therefore cannot be performed anywhere else by anyone other than the individual for whom they were written.

The following evening on December 11, Ueno will  join Chapman’s New Music Ensemble, directed by
Sean Heim
, to perform a few of his own works at 8:00 p.m. in Salmon Recital Hall. He will also be accompanied by the avant-garde music duo
The Living Earth Show
, which performs commissioned compositions for guitar and percussion, with or without electronics, drawing from its members’ diverse musical backgrounds performing rock, Celtic, jazz, and Polynesian music. Admission to the concert is also free.

Ueno states that in addition to Heavy Metal sub-tone singing and Tuvan throat singing, he is influenced by European avant-garde instrumental techniques, American experimentalism, and
or beautiful noise, an aesthetic in traditional Japanese music. His artistic mission is “to champion sounds that have been overlooked or denied so that audiences reevaluate their musical potential. The music pushes the boundaries of perception and challenges traditional paradigms of beauty.”

Nothing is out of bounds. Even residual aspects or noise caused by electronic equipment used in music performance become part of the work – which is why Ueno often amplifies his music. This promises to be an intriguing, eclectic and exciting two days for anyone in the audience!