The inaugural Re:Sound New Music Festival, organized by the recently formed Cleveland Uncommon Sound Project (CUSP), rolls out in Cleveland, Ohio, June 7-10, 2018. CUSP is the brainchild of saxophonist and educator Noa Even and cellist and musicologist Sophie Benn, who are determined to energize the creative music community in Cleveland. We caught up with Noa as they are making final preparations for the festival kickoff to find out more.
How did Cleveland Uncommon Sound Project come to be?
In July 2016, Sophie Benn contacted me about her interest in boosting the new music scene in Cleveland. Unbeknownst to her, I had been considering organizing a new music festival in Cleveland and putting together a non-profit organization that would head other new music projects. After performing at Omaha Under the Radar that summer, I felt even more determined to put together a performer-driven festival for summer 2018. Sophie was interested in joining in, and from there, we put together Cleveland Uncommon Sound Project (CUSP) and started planning Re:Sound. We invited Gabe Pollack, manager of The Bop Stop at the Music Settlement, and Stephen Klunk, freelance percussionist and my Patchwork duo partner, to join the team, although we will likely change personnel this summer as we gear up for other projects and Re:Sound 2019. We have ideas involving young composers, workshops on free improvisation for young performers, an annual concert series, and collaborations with other presenters in town: The Syndicate for the New Arts and New Ghosts.
How does Re:Sound fit into the overall CUSP mission?
A major part of our mission is bringing people together—both performers and audiences—for conversation, collaboration, and community around new and experimental music. Our first annual Re:Sound will showcase a wide spectrum of artists who are either improvising, performing their own music, or playing music by composers they’ve worked closely with or chosen to program. In addition to seven shows at five different venues, there will be a post-concert free improv jam session for festival performers and community members, and on the final day of the festival, we’ll have a panel discussion featuring a handful of Re:Sound performers who also compose. These events are definitely intended to build community and bring audiences and performers closer together for conversation and collaboration. Re:Sound will probably remain one of our larger-scale projects each year, but there will be many other events and projects as we build momentum.
How did you go about putting together a first time festival?
I will admit that I was a bit nervous putting out a call for participants last fall for a brand new festival. However, knowing the new music community fairly well, I was optimistic that we’d receive a decent number of excellent proposals, but I wasn’t expecting over 100! We were overwhelmed by the response. I was originally hoping for at least 50, but once we hit about 75, I knew it would surely be an awesome festival. In reviewing proposals, our goal was to strike a balance in terms of instrumentation, aesthetic, and geography. It was incredibly challenging to narrow down the acts, but we’re quite pleased with the final lineup.
What has been the response of the local Cleveland-area music community?
Certain individuals in the community were supportive as soon as we started making plans for a festival, and those folks have been incredibly helpful in a variety of ways. Quite a few have made valuable contributions to CUSP, while others have offered useful advice or help with publicity. Others were more hesitant until we had a lineup, schedule, and venues confirmed. Overall, the contemporary classical, experimental, and jazz communities in the area have been extremely supportive. One of the wonderful things about Cleveland is the abundance of venues that are great primarily because of the people running them. The management of each venue we’re using has been gracious and supportive throughout the planning process. Hopefully we can win over even more supporters and general music lovers by the time the festival ends so that they can get excited about future CUSP activities.
Can you give us a preview of some of the music we’re going to hear at Re:Sound?
I’m particularly excited about the variety of programming we’ll present. Detroit-based Joo Won Park will be doing a set with found objects and live electronic processing. Local Cleveland composer Buck McDaniel has put together a mighty group of locals from across several genres to perform his music; Pianist Brianna Matzke is performing two commissioned works from her Stockhausen Response Project; Chicago-based percussionist John Corkill will be sharing two works by prominent Chicago-based composers; and local Cleveland experimental saxophone, guitar, and drum set trio, Togishi, will be concluding the festival with improvisation. Other acts include an improvising harpist, saxophone and electronics, solo flute, solo cello, string quartet, and many more!
June 7-10, 2018: Re:Sound New Music Festival, Cleveland, OH