On Tuesday, May 2, the NOW Ensemble group demonstrated their musical talents in part of the Outpost Music Series at the UCR Barbara and Art Culver Center of the Arts. NOW Ensemble, as part of a spring tour that started late April in New York and ends in San Diego, played both original musical pieces and past collaborative efforts with other musicians. The group stars several musicians, of which five performed: Pianist Michael Mizrahi, bassist Logan Coale, electric guitarist Mark Dancigers, clarinetist Alicia Lee and flutist Alex Sopp. The group is mostly classical in delivery but pushes the frontier of contemporary classical music with its inclusion of the bass guitar, which at times makes the lead. The lively tones and rhythm of each instrument give the essence of pop but maintains true to traditional chamber music.
As a presentation site of higher culture, the dynamic setting of the Culver Center served as an ideal environment for NOW Ensemble’s avant-garde musical form.
The diverse backgrounds of each member further exhibit the musical coalition’s range. Having performed and worked with several skilled composers, such as beat-driven contemporary Judd Greenstein, Mark Dancigers, Patrick Burke, rock and blues enthusiast Sean Friar and San Fermin’s bandleader Ellis Ludwig-Leone, their melody certainly reflects the chemistry of their unique influences. Their early experience with music, as well as their various hometowns, are depicted as inspirations in the candid tones of their songs. Whether a member began with amateur rock, orchestra or hip hop, the timbre resonates from beginning to end.
NOW played several different songs with a few composed by guitarist Mark Dancigers. The upbeat beginning of the songs “Folk Music” and “Simple Machine” served a minimalist and exploratory introduction to the group’s philosophy. Toward the second half, the mystic “Waiting in the Rain for Snow” and “Cloudbank & Dreamfall,” which Dancigers composed himself, was, as he described it, an illumination of “the narratives of dream.” Another noteworthy song was “Loud Bank,” one that takes the listener on “an adventure on a bank of clouds.” With the pulsing lead bass not common to a classical set up, the cello and windpipes harmonized alongside the piano in a gorgeous performance of dream-like sensibility.
The NOW Ensemble groups will be continuing their tour with stops at UCLA’s Schoenberg Hall, Cal State Long Beach and San Diego’s Museum of Art.