By Tim Sawyier
The University of Chicago’s Contempo ensemble launched its 53rd season Friday night at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts in Hyde Park. Formerly the Contemporary Chamber Players, Contempo changed course 13 years ago under then-director Shulamit Ran to become a “new music collective”–one showcasing the talents of the university’s composers and resident ensembles as well as guest performers.
Contempo hosted the New York-based Talea Ensemble as one of the latter. Talea’s program, somewhat grandiosely dubbed “The Young and Brilliant,” was devoted to music of five European composers in their 30s.
In her brief opening remarks Contempo artistic director Marta Ptaszyńska said she sought “variety” above all in selecting the repertoire for this program. This she certainly achieved, assembling five works in a wide range of compositional idioms that made for an engrossing evening. Four of the five selections were being heard in their U.S. premieres, the closing Ondřej Amámek work in its Chicago premiere.