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San Francisco Contemporary Music Players

The San Francisco Contemporary Music Players is the West Coast's longest-standing and largest new music ensemble, consisting of twenty-two highly skilled musicians. With over 50 years of history, the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players have been at the forefront of creating innovative and artistically excellent music, making them one of the most acclaimed ensembles in the United States dedicated to contemporary music.

*Programming and artists subject to change, please refer to the participating organization’s calendar listing for the most up-to-date program.

Performance Times

Saturday November 11th, 7:00PM

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California Festival

The San Francisco Contemporary Music Players' "RE:Voicing" program explores the interconnections and lack of connection between space and spirituality, with the centerpiece being the Bay Area premiere of Raven Chacon's Pulitzer Prize-winning "Voiceless Mass." Alongside Chacon's composition, the program will feature music by renowned composers Olivier Messiaen, Chinary Ung, and George Crumb, creating a diverse and captivating musical experience.



Program Notes

The San Francisco Contemporary Music Players' "RE-Voicing" program revolves around the Bay Area premiere of Raven Chacon's "Voiceless Mass," the winner of the 2022 Pulitzer Prize in Music. Raven Chacon, a Diné-American composer from the Navajo Nation, became the first Native American to receive this prestigious award.

"Voiceless Mass" is a significant ensemble work that delves into the spaces we gather in, the history of access to these spaces, and the land they occupy. Despite the title referencing "mass," the composition contains no audible singing voices. Instead, it utilizes the openness of the large space to emphasize the constricted intervals of wind and string instruments. The piece explores the architecture of the cathedral and reflects on the futility of giving voice to the voiceless when those in power refuse to cede space.

In harmony with Chacon's theme, the program opens with Olivier Messiaen's "Apparition de l'Église éternelle" (Appearance of the Eternal Church) for solo organ, describing the appearance and subsequent fading away of the eternal church.

Chinary Ung's "Luminous Spirals" (1997) follows, scored for flute, cello, and guitar. This composition creates a sound world inspired by the luminosity and spirituality associated with the galaxy.

Concluding the program is George Crumb's iconic "Ancient Voices of Children" (1971), based on texts by Federico García Lorca. The piece consists of five movements, with all but two being settings of fragments from longer poems by García Lorca. Two purely instrumental dance-interludes, "Dances of the Ancient Earth" and "Ghost Dance," appear between the vocal movements. The climactic final words of the last song express the composer's desire to go very far to ask Christ The Lord to give back the ancient soul of a child.

This thoughtful and evocative program promises to be a captivating exploration of spirituality, space, and the power of music to give voice to important themes and ideas.



San Francisco Contemporary Music Players: Voiceless Mass