Listen to the varied sounds of now at Zeitgeist’s annual New Music Cabaret

Zeitgeist’s new music festival is this week, Thursday through Sunday, November 6, 7, 8 & 9.

Zeitgeist’s annual New Music Cabaret is always well curated, but this year’s line-up is particularly intriguing. For four days at Studio Z this week, Thursday through Sunday, in-the-know audiences will be treated to a wide variety of “cutting-edge performances from the fringe of the Twin Cities music scene.” $10 gives you access to a full evening of eclectic fare, as there are several hour-long sets each night; with your ticket you may attend any or all of them.

Struck Percussion at the Walker's Open Field. Photo courtesy of the artists.

Struck Percussion at the Walker’s Open Field. Photo courtesy of the artists

As you’d expect, Zeitgeist (a Knight Arts grantee) will perform each evening. In addition, Thursday, Friday and Saturday shows will begin with a Young Performer Showcase, each of which will spotlight local student musicians – from Perpich Center for Arts Education, Saint Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists, Walker West Music Academy (a Knight Arts grantee), and  the Dakota Combo of the Dakota Foundation for Jazz Education.

Each night, composer/veena musician Nirmala Rajasekar, joined by Zeitgeist, will perform from a new East-meets-West series of five works, collectively called “Summer Rain.” The pieces were composed and developed with the musicians of Zeitgeist to blend traditional South Indian (Carnatic) melodies and orchestration with those of Western, new classical music.

Also on the docket for the 6th annual iteration of this new music festival are selections from Ted Moore’s atmospheric and adventurous composition inspired by the ancient Sumerian “Epic of Gilgamesh,” written for string quartet and using audio created from the programming language SuperCollider. One evening, Nautilus Music-Theater will present a sampler of songs they’re calling “Storytelling Through Music,” played by pianist Jill Dawe and sung by Kym Chambers, Janet Fried and JP Fitzgibbons. (I’m particularly looking forward to hearing them perform “Three American Songs” by James Taylor, Bruce Springsteen and Paul Simon.)

More highlights to listen for include: the mixed chamber ensemble, Skeleton Crew’s performance of Philip Glass’s minimalist work, “Music in Similar Motions,” and a piece for “amplified tables” played by Struck Percussion. In their set, ANCIA Saxophone Quartet will play an instrumental rendition of Arvo Part’s “Summa,” originally composed as a liturgical work for four voices.

There’s some great jazz on offer, too: new compositions and jazz/funk covers played by Ethiopia-born Minneapolis bassist Yohannes Tona, improvisational jazz by local supergroup the Steve Kenny Quartet, and a performance by drummer Eric Kamau Gravatt, who’ll be playing with the ensemble Source Code.

Zeitgeist’s 6th Annual New Music Cabaret will be Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, November 6, 7, 8 and 9 at Studio Z, 275 E. Fourth St., Ste. 200, St. Paul. Admission is $10 each night. For a full schedule of specific performance times and more information on the festival’s participating musicians, visit the event’s web page.