UCCS Music Program and the Ent Center host Summer Institute of Contemporary Performance Practice

The UCCS Music Program and the Ent Center for the Arts are partnering with Green Box Arts to host the 2023 Summer Institute of Contemporary Performance Practice (SICPP). SICPP is “an eight-day intensive seminar on the performance of 20th and 21st century music, culminating in a day-long marathon of explosive new music, a smorgasbord of masterworks and world premieres by composition fellows.”

Glen Whitehead, Professor of Music, Chair of Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA), LAS Co-Director of Bachelor of Innovation and new SICPP UCCS Director, is working with SICPP Artistic Director and New England Conservatory faculty Steve Drury and SICPP staff to oversee the event. UCCS Music Program faculty Jon Forshee also joined the SICPP staff as the Director of Admissions and tuba faculty.

“The VAPA Music Faculty are extremely excited about this opportunity to bring SICPP to UCCS and to work directly alongside Artistic Director Steve Drury and the incredible SICPP faculty,” said Whitehead. “In many ways, this is the result of the both the intentional directions and development of the UCCS Music Program over the years along with the top-flight facilities and staff of the Ent Center for the Arts. Both of these equations needed to be exactly right for this to work. On a personal professional note, this is an extraordinary serendipitous moment for me, as Steve Drury had a significant influence on me in my undergraduate years at New England Conservatory of Music, and my career directions expanded into more creative directions in contemporary music, which eventually led me to UCCS and founding the music program here.”

The festival is a compilation of both workshops and concerts. Undergraduate and graduate students can apply to take part in the seminar and those chosen to participate will work with the composer-in-residence, guest artists, and composers and faculty of several universities and conservatories. These students receive UCCS course credit for participating and will live in UCCS housing for the duration of the program.

Green Box Arts will fund and house this year’s Composer-in-Residence Marti Epstein, a renowned composer and pianist with numerous commissions and collaborations on her record. Select students will work directly with Epstein and her compositions will be performed and highlighted heavily throughout the festival. SICPP will also serve as a reunion for Epstein and Whitehead, as she was Whitehead’s accompanist on his Senior Recital at NEC in the early 90’s.

SICPP takes place from June 24-30, 2023, with this being the first year UCCS is hosting the festival, after taking place in Boston previously for over twenty years. Nearly the entirety of the Ent Center has been booked for SICPP participants to use. This change in scenery also allows the program to develop and evolve, as this year’s content will take advantage of the accessible natural beauty and trails on campus by incorporating it in environmental sound walks, installations and outdoor concerts. These concerts are open to the community and can be attended by anyone.

SICPP consists of three workshop programs during the week: a Performance Program, a New Works Program and an Electronics Workshop. While each program has a different theme, they’ll overlap and collaborate throughout the festival and during the nightly concerts. This year’s festival will emphasize cross-collaborative work with composers and electronic music and the programs will coalesce more than in previous years.

“Just in the past 20 years, electronic music has gone from kind of its own thing to being very much integrated with media, visual media and electroacoustic music involving instruments and voices in a much more collaborative way, so all of that will happen here at the festival. It’s three different programs that overlap quite significantly,” Whitehead said.

The Performance Program is composed of Performance Fellows working closely with faculty to prepare and perform contemporary chamber music, along with performing existing repertoires and collaborating on creative projects with the New Works Program and Electronic Workshop Fellows. Additionally, all performance students have the option to participate in the contemporary improvisation ensemble, new to SICPP and launched by Whitehead, which will explore a range of improvisation settings including Immersive listening, outdoor settings, site specific, cross-cultural, and electro acoustic.

For the New Works Program, Fellows are asked to create a new work for a small configuration upon acceptance. This work will then be rehearsed and performed by Performance Fellows over the course of the week, with the composer and performers working closely together. The content will be performed for the Composer-in-Residence in a masterclass, then presented and recorded at the conclusion of SICPP. Composers accepted to the program will have one private lesson each with the Composer-in-Residence in addition to their masterclass performance. Fellows will attend and present talks in daily Colloquia, which will cover various topics as moderated by the Composer-in-Residence and composition faculty.

The Electronics Workshop, directed by John Mallia (Director of the Robert Ceely Electronic Music Studio at NEC), involves a wide variety of electronic music styles and possibilities. Any musician over the age of 18 interested in electronics in music can apply and propose a project to work on during the seminar. Proposals for this workshop may include fixed media compositions; live electronics with or without an instrument or voice, and multimedia works. Daily sessions will include masterclasses, lessons, interactive lectures, guest presentations and open sharing and discussion sessions. Electronics Fellows will work on both individual and collaborative projects with performers or composers over the course of the week while receiving critique and guidance from faculty.

Whitehead, who will be working with participants in Creative Improvisation – which is brand new to SICPP this year – and brass, is taking part alongside other UCCS faculty members, including Haleh Abghari, voice, Andres Carrizo, composition, Colin McAllister, classical guitar, Jane Rigler, flute and Yvonne Wu, composition.

“One of the things we’re doing is bringing some of the broader artistic and unique interdisciplinary areas of the UCCS Music Program into SICPP. For instance, I will direct the new Creative Improvisation Ensemble that will focus on a wide range of improvisational approaches to music creation. We will explore environmental participation, eocacoustic improvisation, and a range of exciting spontaneous music creation practices,” explained Whitehead.

Holding SICPP at UCCS involves a close partnership with not only the Ent Center, but Green Box Arts as well. Green Box, whose director is VAPA theater lecturer Scott Levy, is a nearby arts collective in Green Mountain Falls that hosts artists in residence, displays permanent and temporary exhibits, provides arts education and puts on an annual two-week arts festival. The concert on the last night of SICPP will be held at Green Box instead of the Ent Center and kick off their own arts fair.

Learn more about VAPA, SICPP and applying for the program online, and fill out an application to participate in SICPP on the Green Box Arts website.

About the Ent Center for the Arts at UCCS

The Ent Center opened in 2018 and fosters a creative environment that allows artists to inspire and amplify one another. Community members and the students and faculty of UCCS engage with the Ent Center’s artistic programming, including impactful performances, free gallery exhibitions, direct access to professional artists, educational opportunities and more. In addition, the center provides space for local organizations to present their own programming by providing access to theaters and/or auditoriums.

About the UCCS College of Letters, Arts & Sciences

The College of Letters, Arts & Sciences at UCCS is the university’s largest college, enrolling nearly 6,000 students across 21 departments and programs. The college offers 19 majors and 53 minors in the arts, humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. Students can also choose from five accelerated bachelor’s and master’s degrees, nine full master’s degrees and three Ph.D. degrees, as well as pre-medical and pre-law programs. The mission of the college is to position graduates for success in their personal and professional lives, with a focus on thinking, creating and communicating — skills vital to employers and graduate and professional schools. Learn more about the College of Letters, Arts & Sciences at UCCS.