BY TIM SAWYIER
Thursday evening Contempo presented a “UChicago Resident Ensembles Showcase” at the Logan Center for the Arts. The program was comprised of a world premiere from a current doctoral candidate and four pieces by University of Chicago composition doctoral graduates selected by resident ensembles eighth blackbird and the Pacifica Quartet.
Opening the evening was Erik Brinkman’s Sublimation for bass clarinet and string quartet. Beginning with droning open intervals in the second violin and viola, tension builds as the other instruments enter at dissonant intervals and harmonic density grows. The highlight of the work came after a protracted buildup of this pressure culminated in a wailing bass clarinet solo from eighth blackbird’s Michael J. Maccaferri, whose consummate command of pitch and dynamics in all registers of that unwieldy instrument was stunning. After his virtuosic outburst, the work came to a quiet, otherworldly close with Pacifica violinists Simin Ganatra and Sibbi Bernhardsson dovetailing in rising and falling glissandi.