A New Dynamic

Influence (New Dynamic Records)

Various Artists

By Daniel Gilliam

Classical music, to some, is something that an orchestra plays to a crowd of older adults in suits and dresses on a Saturday evening in a concert hall. It can be clever background music to commercials, cartoons, movies and sitcoms, usually to parody the events happening on the screen. It is, generally, pleasant and "soothing," helping our children score higher on their exams.

New Dynamic Records is not a classical music label. Erich Stem, founder and director, has dedicated this new label to record, distribute and discover new music. The premiere release, Influence, features living, breathing composers whose music defies the definitions of "classical" music. Part of a larger initiative funded by the Indiana University Commitment to Excellence Fund, Stem has committed to producing one CD a year as a component of The New Music Project at Indiana University Southeast.

Influence is dissonant and edgy, but also gorgeous and exuberant. The compositions are permeated with pop drumbeats, traditional Chinese folk music, jazz and spirituals. Joan Tower's "Petroushskates," superbly performed by eighth blackbird, is quickly becoming a hallmark of her work and of contemporary music.

Louisville composer Lu Pei incorporates sounds and textures of his native China through the use of erhu and pipa (traditional Chinese instruments), teamed with the traditional sounds of a piano trio (violin, cello and piano). The Aurelia Saxophone Quartet, a Dutch ensemble, plays with incredible precision on Michael Torke's "July" and Perry Goldstein's "Motherless Child Variations." And Robert Gibson's technically challenging "Three Etudes," for clarinet and piano, are brilliantly performed by Nathan Williams and Audrey Andrist.

Influence provides exciting music by living composers that is fun and invigorating, but also thoughtful and reflective. New Dynamic Records has embarked on a mission that will reinvigorate our artistic landscape and remind us that music is about the new, not the old.

Find out more at www.newdynamicrecords.com.