Published: Sept. 13, 2017 By

Daphne Leong at piano

Daphne Leong hosts the first CU on the Weekend of the year on Saturday, Sept. 30.

The College of Music’s yearly collaboration with the CU Office for Outreach and Engagement’s CU on the Weekend series continues this fall, and this time the college opens the season.

Since 2015, the Theory department has hosted “Musical Conversations,” a discussion of the why and how of music that started with “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” and continued last year with George Crumb and an exploration of his musical depiction of grief. On Saturday, Sept. 30, Associate Professor of Theory Daphne Leong brings yet another approach to the eye-opening and popular series.

“My talk will focus on modernism and the way it challenged the arts, especially music,” says Leong. “I’ll be interacting with the audience and asking them what they’re hearing, drawing out their insights.”

The talk, aptly titled “What do you hear? Listening to modernist music,” will provide the audience with examples of modernist music—works by Bartók, Schoenberg, Webern and others—and delve into how the aesthetic changed pitch organization, types of sound and the shaping of musical time.

Leong says though the musical styles that grew out of modernism—such as serialist, minimalist and textural—can seem like a different language entirely from the music most people are used to, we’re often more adept at gleaning meaning from such pieces than we may think.

“People can often dismiss their reactions to music like this because they think they don’t know anything about it. But really, there is a lot that they know intuitively, and it’s exciting to explore these intuitions.”

sheet musicThroughout the talk, Leong will play music and couple it with discussion. The multimedia presentation ends with a performance: Leong’s quartet of College of Music faculty and alumni, Throw Down or Shut Up!, performs their namesake piece, written by Vineet Shende, along with another secret work.

“We want to keep the second piece a mystery, so that the audience can discover it along with us that day.”

The “Musical Conversations” series has proven popular with the Boulder community. The first two presentations were standing room only. Leong suspects the reason for its popularity is simple: People like learning about subjects that are brand new to them. “Music is such a natural part of people’s lives. If you can experience it in a richer way, then that’s rewarding.”

That’s why she’s focusing her talk on more contemporary—and sometimes unfamiliar—music.

“We’re living in the 21st century. Music from the 18th century is wonderful, but there are new adventures to explore now. Opening our ears to music of the 20th and 21st centuries can bring unexpected discoveries to our hearing of older music.”

“What do you hear? Listening to modernist music” is Saturday, Sept. 30, at 1 p.m. in the Chamber Hall. Seating is limited to the first 115 people. Doors open at 12:30 p.m.; advance registration is not required. For more information, visit the CU on the Weekend website.