Saturday, April 07, 2012

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
Spotlight on Craig Hultgren

This week, let's get reacquainted with cellist Craig Hultgren, who's returning to St. Louis next week to perform with members of the ensemble Luna Nova at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, April 14 at Christ Church Cathedral, 1210 Locust St. downtown.

The concert, which is sponsored by New Music Circle, will feature Hultgren, pianist Adam Bowles and flute player John McMurtery performing 20th and 21st century works by composers Elliot Carter, Olivier Messiaen, Robert G. Patterson, Toru Takemitsu, Monroe Golden, James Romig and Justin Merritt.

Hultgren, who's from Birmingham, AL, is known for his involvement in creating and commissioning new repertoire for his instrument, and for using and teaching various extended techniques for the cello. He has performed solo concerts and chamber music recitals all over the USA and in Europe, and appeared most recently in St. Louis in March 2011 in a solo concert at Focal Point.

Hultgren also is a member of the Alabama Symphony and a teacher at University of Alabama at Birmingham, the Alabama School of Fine Arts and Birmingham-Southern College, where he directs the BSC New Music Ensemble. He has recorded three solo CDs, the most recent of which, Music of the Next Moment, was released last December on the Innova label.

Though there's not much video of Hulgren online for someone who's been performing as long as he has,, we do have a few clips for you today that help demonstrate some of his talents and interests. The first clip up above is version of Elliott Carter's "Enchanted Preludes," which is scheduled to be on the program for Saturday's concert in St. Louis, recorded with John McMurtery in 2006 at Birmingham Southern College.

Down below, there's a clip in which Hultgren plays "Only Four?" by Charles Knox and discusses the goals of Birmingham's Scrollworks program, which offers free music lessons, sheet music and loaner instruments to children in the Birmingham area. Below that, there's a performance of "Off-White," an original piece by BSC student Josh Crowe, featuring Hultgren and percussionist Gene Fambrough.

Lastly, you can see both parts of "The Crab," described as "a diatribe for electric cello, computer-generated soundfile, and video" that was created in 2006 for the Hultgren/University of Alabama at Birmingham Computer Music Ensemble Commissioning Prize. Hultgren is on electric cello, accompanied by pre-recorded computer audio and a video; the piece was conceived as a modern silent film that tells "an allegorical tale of the danger of good ideas taken to their extreme conclusions."

If you'd like to hear more, although there's not much video documentation online of either Hultgren or the rest of the Memphis-based Luna Nova, the latter do offer an extensive selection of free downloadable audio files on their website.

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