Warren and Patricia Benson Forum on Creativity | Guest Artist Recital: Deviant Septet


April 30, 2016 | 8:00 PM Kilbourn Hall
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  • General Public: $10
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Deviant Septet has been hailed as an “exciting” (New York Times), “stylish new ensemble” (New York Magazine).  “Superb” (Washington Post), “exceedingly fun” and “led by new music veterans” (Time Out New York), “lively and accomplished” (Classical TV: The Drift) and “boisterously entertaining” (Lucid Culture).  WNYC called it “a brand new ensemble with a high concept… made up of top classical and avant garde musicians”, and ran a feature on its premiere concert in May 2011.  Deviant Septet’s commission of David Liptak’s “Focusing” received a 2013 Serge Koussevitzky Foundation commissioning grant.

Deviant Septet’s members are Bill Kalinkos (clarinet, Executive Director), Mike Gurfield (trumpet, Artistic Director), Courtney Orlando (violin), Brad Balliett (bassoon), Doug Balliett (double bass), David Nelson (trombone), and Jared Soldiviero (percussion).  In addition to the Septet, players perform with various contemporary groups like Alarm Will Sound, Ensemble Signal, International Contemporary Ensemble, Ensemble ACJW, Wordless Music Orchestra, and Talea Ensemble, and they collaborate with artists such as The National, David Byrne, Sufjan Stevens, The Dirty Projectors, Tyondai Braxton, St. Vincent, and John Zorn in addition to many others.

The mission of Deviant Septet is to fulfill the vision Igor Stravinsky had for his l’Histoire du Soldat ensemble.  Stravinsky, so enamored by the unusual combination of instruments— the soprano and bass voice of every instrument family: violin and bass, clarinet and bassoon, trumpet and trombone, and percussion— thought that others would follow his lead, and that this unusual blend of musicians would travel the world playing the music of many composers.  The quirkiness of the ensemble poses unique challenges to a composer, and while Stravinsky’s contemporaries were seemingly not up to the task, it is the goal of Deviant Septet to bring this idea to life by creating a repertoire for this distinctive ensemble.  21st Century composers jump at the chance to solve Stravinsky’s riddles, and Deviant Septet stands alone among the world’s new music collectives, as it is the only ensemble consisting solely of this instrumentation.

The Warren and Patricia Benson Forum on Creativity is a semi-annual event held at the Eastman School of Music, curated by the Composition Department, with the purpose of encouraging open discussion on the nature of creativity across artistic disciplines. It is made possible by a generous gift from the Benson family.

The Forum engages the artistic partnership interests of Warren and Pat Benson — in the arts, poetry, languages, history and cultures — to inform the creative process and, especially, to offer young composers the opportunity to explore writing and hearing new works influenced by these elements.


David Liptak Focusing (2014)
Caroline Shaw L.E.O.
Brad Lubman For the Deviants (2012)
the moment we enter the moment - WORLD PREMIERE (2014)
Warren Benson Rondino (1963)
Esa-Pekka Salonen Catch and Release (2006)
Stefan Freund The Soldier Dances with Tom Sawyer (2011)