New Season, New Works for ensembleNEWSRQ

The season celebrates past masters while introducing premieres by today's composers.

By Kay Kipling July 18, 2019

ensembleNEWSRQ's artistic directors Samantha Bennett and George Nickson.

EnsembleNEWSRQ, a Sarasota-based musical organization dedicated to presenting stimulating and though-provoking programs, has announced its 2019-20 season.

The ensemble, founded in December 2015 by co-artistic directors George Nickson and Samantha Bennett (she’s principal second violin at the Sarasota Orchestra; he’s principal percussionist there), is expanding its series of contemporary classical music, with offerings not only at venues around town but with two repeat (or “RePete”) performances at [email protected] in St. Petersburg.

The subscription series begins in September and continues the tradition of presenting masterpieces of the 20th and 21st centuries while also premiering new and commissioned works. Here’s the line-up.

“Frequent Flyers,” Sept. 30 at the First United Methodist Church, turns the ensemble’s attention to winds and brass with the Florida premiere of Magnus Lindberg’s Ottoni along with Peteris Vasks’ Music for Fleeting Birds. The centerpiece of the program features pianist Conor Hanick in Olivier Messiaen’s Colors of the Celestial City, while Luciano Berio’s Sequenza X for solo trumpet opens the evening.

“Peculiar Dreams” offers Kryzstof Penderecki’s Sextet along with Andrew Norman’s exploration of the string quartet's sonic possibilities in Peculiar Strokes. St. Petersburg composer/performer Elizabeth A. Baker’s Cosmic Dreams and Berio’s Sequenza XIV for solo cello are also featured, Oct. 20 in St. Pete and Oct. 21 at Sarasota’s First Congregational Church.

“Fire and Light” are on display with works on those themes by violist-composer Jessica Meyer (Delta Sunrise, Sagrada Familia, Tapped into the same vein), George Friedrich Haas (Ins Licht), and Eric Wubbels (the children of fire come looking for fire). This concert, Jan. 20, also takes place at First Congregational.

The ensemble's season blends masterworks from Messiaen, Penderecki and others with new commissioned pieces.

Philippe Hurel’s Tombeau, In Memorium Gerard Grisey accompanies Grisey’s own Vortex Temporum in an “Enter the Vortex” concert, March 23 at First Congregational. Then the final program of the season, “Digital Trees,” explores Marc Mellits’ minimalist grooves in Splinter, Ken Ueno’s frenetic Pharmakon and Patrick Harlan’s Digital. Also on the bill: the Florida premiere of David Maric’s Mallet Quartet, and the world premiere of Max Grafe’s New Work for Violin, Piano, Percussion—both ensembleNEWSRQ commissions. Performances are April 13 at First Congregational, April 14 at Studio @620.

General admission tickets are $20 ($10 for students). Check it out at



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