By Lawrence A. Johnson
The University of Chicago Presents’ Contempo concert probably was not everyone’s idea of a festive Earth Day celebration. (It took place indoors, for one thing.) But for intelligent programming and bracing musical execution, Sunday afternoon’s performances by the International Contemporary Ensemble at the Logan Center were hard to beat.
Since its founding in Chicago in 2001, ICE has concentrated primarily on new music and premieres. Rarely do they venture back to such ancient musical eras as the mid- or late-20th century. As ICE percussionist and co-artistic director Ross Karre put it Sunday, with most of the scores they play “the ink is still dripping off the page.”
But there is much to be said for exploring envelope-pushing composers of the less-recent past as well, and the Contempo program of 20th-century music for small ensembles–written between 1964 and 1985–proved consistently rewarding.