AMC has attended at least one concert from each of the last 5 seasons of the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble (PNME). Last evening's concert feature two of the hottest young composers and performers today: Andy Akiho and Ian Rosenbaum (check elsewhere on this site for an interview with the extraordinarily talented Mr. Rosenbaum). As I has said before, gong to PNME is not simply attending a concert, it is going to an event. Executive Artistic Director Kevin Noe always has something new and theatrical to add to any performance and last evening was no exception. Mr. Akiho sees music in color and Noe used those colors to light up the stage while the two percussionists were playing. Not garish, but beautiful rich colors carefully controlled by the lighting designer Andrew Ostrowski. In addition, Mr. Noe had candles placed strategically around to theater to honor the memory of David Stock, the founder of PMNE, who died recently. The City theater, where the PNME season is held, is located in Pittsburgh's South Side neighborhood that is at once shabby, chic, trendy, and dense. But last night's program was focused on Mr. Akiho, who is the enfant terrible of new music and all things steel plate. He and Rosenbaum presented nine of the composer's works, ranging from a playful interchange between Rosenbaum's snare and a computer voice, to lyrical and touching short pieces, performed mostly by Akiho on the steel plate and Rosenbaum on the marimba. There were few hard edges, just soulful sounds and melodies. Akiho announced most of the pieces and he is a charming, shy, but totally engaging stage presence. Noe said that he believes Akiho will soon win a Pulitzer for his work. AMC cannot argue. If anyone thinks that new music is simply "try this, try that" for effect, I urge you to dear Akiho's warm and melodic music. There are two concerts this weekend that will again feature more of Akiho's work. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) there is so much music going on in Pittsburgh this time of the year that it is impossible to attend everything, and thus AMC will be missing these two concerts. If you live in the Pittsburgh area, get your tickets for any of the PNME's concerts to experience this magical combination of great music, and strong theatricality.
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