Terminus Ensemble, now in its second season, exemplifies the classical music equivalent of the “locavore movement.” Every work on the program for the group’s first concert of the season on Friday has a Georgia connection. “We want to present music from our colleagues, and help bolster this community,” said Adam Scott Neal, a composer and one of the group’s co-founders.
While Atlanta has some really amazing contemporary classical music groups, including Bent Frequency as well as Georgia Tech’s Sonic Generator, Terminus is unique in that it was organized and is run by composers. Sarah Hersh and Brent Milam are the other founders.
Another feature of the group, so far, is its roving nature. Previous concerts took place at smaller venues, but on Friday the ensemble moves to Kopleff Hall on the Georgia State campus. This represents an upgrade in space and a response to its growing audience. But Neal said the group will continue to perform at smaller, more intimate spaces from time to time.
Composers often have narrow ideas about music, but Neal said the organizers have set out “to reflect the diversity of Atlanta, while keeping up standards.”
Terminus has a core of six or so professional musicians, augmented as needed depending on the program. Eight will be performing on Friday.
On the program is “Hakka Fusion,” a trio written by Zack Browning, a Georgia native who recently retired from the University of Illinois faculty. His style has been called (in this newspaper) “speed-demon music,” and “a rush of cyclic riffs and fractured meters” (New York Times). “Hakka Fusion” is based on “magic squares” from Chinese Feng Shui. Though Browning’s work often involves electronics, this piece is acoustic.
“I grew up in Atlanta, where James Brown from Augusta and the Allman Brother Band from Macon were what inspired me,” said Browning, adding that he continues to find inspiration in a variety of pop music.
The concert will feature the premiere of a vibraphone solo, “Spirals,” by David Brighton, who started out with a music degree before touring as a rock musician. He’s practiced law here for 20 years, but now has returned to “my first love,” classical music. His work is influenced by American abstract composers like Elliott Carter and Charles Wuorinen, and he likes to work with 12 tone techniques.
“Twin Moons,” composed by Retired University of Georgia professor Roger Vogel, is a duo for flute and clarinet. Vogel’s work has been described as “soft lyricism.”
Other works on the program include a string trip by Georgia Tech’s Jason Freeman; a trio by Chris Owenby, a young alumnus of Georgia State University; and a marimba duo by Sarah Hersh, one of the ensemble’s founders.
If you’ve been going to classical concerts by the more established groups in Atlanta and wondering where all the young people are, well, here’s your answer. If history is any guide, they’ll be packing into Kopleff Hall for this concert, listening to some of the most adventurous fare on the Atlanta scene.