Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble (PNME) is a group of top-notch musicians that has been making July Friday and Saturday nights compelling musical experiences since 1976, and the work they have done over the years includes the premieres of over 300 specially commissioned new compositions. The dedicated energy of this group that gathers each summer from near and far is palpable at every performance, and such a wide variety of styles is offered that practically all musical tastes are accommodated. It wouldn’t be accurate to state they simply offer concerts of new music – the pieces performed are augmented by creative artistic and lighting effects that make them “musical experiences” which draw in the listener in a manner that is innovative and highly entertaining. As the group’s Mission states: “The PNME Theatre of Music seeks to bring together the people and the arts of our time. Using music as the vehicle for larger ideas, we commission, perform, and present new work, constantly reinventing the concert experience in a relentless pursuit to bring meaningful experiences to our audience.”
Catherine Noe’Rourke, Executive Director, and Kevin Noe, Artistic Director of PNME, recently took the time to share some thoughts on the upcoming performances and the ensemble in general.
“PNME’s 43rd year promises to be one for the memory books! I’m thrilled with the range of emotions, the artistic languages, and all the various artistic media featured this summer,” Mr. Noe began. “With music, visual art, poetry, shadow puppetry, and animation, the varying inspirations and subjects are both wide ranging and universal. Whether it’s the kind of special first time listening that happens only when new world premieres are launched, or the immersive ‘Theatre of Music’ experience, PNME offers something compelling, moving, and memorable for everyone this season.
“With five world premiere commissions in the first two weeks alone by composers David Biedenbender, legendary jazz bassist and composer Rufus Reid, Korean composer JungYoon Wie, Cuban composer Ivette Herryman, and composer and guitarist D. J. Sparr, we begin our July 2018 season with topics ranging from the tragedy of infertility to the need for remembrance, from the five stages of grief to a genre-bending tribute to Bernstein, Gillespie, and Monk, and all the way to the goofy but poignant remarks of children around the dinner table. Born of a collaboration between Pittsburgh visual artists Linda Price-Sneddon and Val M. Cox, week two is embroidered and deepened by a rich visual artscape commission only possible at PNME. Week three we feature our often imitated but never duplicated Lindsay Kesselman in a show designed to stretch you in every direction until you feel whole again. Week four sees the return of our highly acclaimed show The Gray Cat and the Flounder as we prepare to launch it on an international tour in the summer of 2019.”
“Above all things, PNME is on a relentless pursuit to bring meaningful experiences to our audience,” Catherine Noe’Rourke added, “ – to release them back to their lives with a new brilliant prism through which they see things a bit differently.
“The PNME audience is an enthusiastic bunch – hungry for art, shared unique experiences, and to be a part of our lime green community,” she said in conclusion, referencing the group’s “team color.”
This season’s offerings are, in Week One – featuring the 2017 winners of the American Composers Forum annual competition – (Friday, July 6 at 8 p.m. and Saturday, July 7 at 8 p.m.)
Program – From Across the Table (David Biedenbender); Remembrance (Rufus Reid) and Every Bone Has a Memory (Jung Yoon Wie).
Week Two (Friday, July 13 at 8 p.m. and Saturday, July 14 at 8 p.m.) –
Program – Nullipara (D. J. Sparr, composer; Caitlin Vincent, librettist) and Memorial (Ivette Herryman).
Week Three (Friday, July 20 at 8 p.m. and Saturday, July 21 at 8 p.m.) –
Program – PNME soprano Lindsay Kesselman in music by David Lang, Amy Beth Kirsten, William Bolcom, Lee Kesselman, John Bucchino, Jeff Nytch, and Kieren MacMillan.
Week Four (Friday, July 27 at 8 p.m., Saturday, July 28 at 8 p.m. – AND a Special Family Matinee Performance, Saturday, July 28 at 1 p.m., FREE for Kids and special price for adults!) –
Program – The Gray Cat and the Flounder (Kieren MacMillan, composer; Kevin Noe, Co-Creator).
All performances are given at City Theatre, and are a great way to begin or end a Friday or Saturday summer night in Pittsburgh’s colorful South Side neighborhood. The evening performances are followed by fun “BYO Bottle of Wine” (or drink of choice) meet-and-greet type gatherings in the lobby, with “nibbles” (and wine glasses) provided by a different team member each evening.
PNME’s website is one the best designed there is to be had, full of audio clips, detailed program information, great photography and graphics, history and more. It’s a “must see.” For a vivid taste of what the ensemble has to offer – and tickets – visit PNME Theatre of Music.