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what is ekmeles

[ɛk'mɛlɛs] \ek'meles\
1. In Ancient Greek music theory, tones of indefinite pitch and intervals with complex ratios, tones "not appropriate for musical usage." In New York City, a new vocal ensemble dedicated to breathing life into those disallowed tones, new and old.
2. A "brilliant young ensemble... defining a fresh and virtuosic American sound" - The New Yorker

Ekmeles is a vocal ensemble dedicated to the performance of new and rarely-heard works, and gems of the historical avant garde. New York is home to a vibrant instrumental New Music scene, with a relative paucity of vocal music. Ekmeles was founded to fill the gap by presenting new a cappella repertoire for solo voices, and by collaborating with these instrumental ensembles.

Director Jeffrey Gavett brings a hybrid vision to the group: he is an accomplished ensemble singer and performer of new works, and holds degrees from Westminster Choir College and Manhattan School of Music's Contemporary Performance Program. He has assembled a virtuoso group of colleagues who bring their own diverse backgrounds to bear on the unique challenges of this essential and neglected repertoire.

2014-2015 personnel

  • Sarah Brailey, soprano
  • Hailed by The New York Times for her "radiant, liquid tone,” “exquisitely phrased,” and “sweetly dazzling” singing, soprano Sarah Brailey is in growing demand as a concert and chamber music artist. This season, Sarah makes her solo debuts with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra in Handel’s Messiah and at Carnegie Hall in Steve Reich’s Drumming. She will perform the Strauss Vier Letzte Lieder and Villa-Lobos Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5 with the Brooklyn Symphony Orchestra, numerous Bach cantatas with The Choir of Trinity Wall Street and Bach Vespers at Holy Trinity, and the American premiere of Hercules en el Mato Grosso, a new opera by Esteban Insinger. Sarah returns throughout the season as a guest artist with GRAMMY-winning contemporary vocal octet Roomful of Teeth and continues her collaboration with John Zorn with recordings of Madrigals and a performance of Holy Visions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Recent highlights include Britten’s Les Illuminations with Novus NY, Caldara’s Maddalena with the American Classical Orchestra, Handel’s Samson under the baton of Nicholas McGegan, Reich's Music for 18 with Ensemble Signal, Josep Sanz’s King Lear at the MATA Festival, Jesse Jones’ through the veil, Brahms’ Liebeslieder with the Polydora Ensemble, Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass with St. George’s Choral Society, Bach’s Jauchzet Gott with Trinity Baroque, an international tour of Handel’s Theodora with The English Concert and the Choir of Trinity Wall Street, and premieres of works by John Zorn, Gabriel Jackson, Tarik O’Regan, Ralf Yusuf Gawlick, and Scott Wheeler. Sarah has recorded with tUne-yArDs, John Zorn, Paola Prestini, Bang on a Can All-Stars, and is featured on New York Polyphony’s GRAMMY-nominated album Sing Thee Nowell.

  • Mary Elizabeth Mackenzie, soprano
  • Described by the New York Times as “a soprano of extraordinary agility and concentration,” Mary Elizabeth Mackenzie has captured the attention of audiences throughout the United States.

    A passionate performer of contemporary vocal music, Ms. Mackenzie has collaborated with John Harbison, Richard Danielpour, and James Primosch; and works closely with young composers to develop and premiere new works for voice. As a chamber musician she has appeared with the American Contemporary Music Ensemble, the Chameleon Arts Ensemble of Boston, Ekmeles, the Da Capo Chamber Players, Fulcrum Point New Music Project, Le Train Bleu, and the Talea Ensemble.

    Notable solo appearances include Harbison’s Closer to My Own Life with the Albany Symphony; Elliott Carter’s Warble for Lilac Time with the American Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall; Reinbert De Leeuw’s Im wunderschönen Monat Mai at the Bravo Vail Festival; Schoenberg’s String Quartet No. 2 with the Borromeo String Quartet; and Pierrot Lunaire at Town Hall Seattle.

  • Charlotte Mundy, soprano
  • Soprano Charlotte Mundy was praised as "mesmerizing" and "preternaturally focused" by the New York Times for her recent performance of Morton Feldman's epic work Three Voices. Her other recent engagements include singing Rehnqvist's Puksanger Lockrop for two sopranos and timpani by in the Salt Bay Chamberfest; singing Feldman’s Voice, Violin and Piano while simultaneously dancing a duet with New Chamber Ballet dancer Amber Neff; performing with Judd Greenstein’s The Yehudim at the River to River Festival; with the vocal octet Roomful of Teeth at Yale University; in Cynthia Hopkins’ This Clement World at St. Ann’s Warehouse; and in Howard Fishman’s The Mysterious Case of Connie Converse at Joe’s Pub.

  • Jane Sheldon, soprano
  • Praised by the New York Times for singing "sublimely”, NY-based Australian soprano Jane Sheldon is active in the creation and performance of new works. She has performed with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Pinchgut Opera, Sydney Symphony, Synergy Percussion, Sydney Chamber Opera, Boston's Firebird Ensemble and Sound Icon, and New York's Wet Ink. She has appeared in NYCO's Vox Festival (2012), in the MATA Festival (2014) with Ekmeles, and in the 2014 Resonant Bodies Festival. She is also a member of the acclaimed touring ensemble for composer John Zorn and has performed his music internationally. In 2011 Jane was awarded Performance of the Year at the Australian Art Music Awards for The Origin Cycle, a work she co-commissioned, and one of a number of projects she has co-curated which make connections between art and science. Jane’s album, North + South, was nominated for Best Classical Album of 2013 at Australia's ARIA awards.

  • Rachel Calloway, mezzo-soprano
  • Praised by the New York Times for her “dark and sizeable voice,” and “considerable depth of expression,” Rachel Calloway is quickly establishing herself as one of the foremost mezzo-sopranos of her generation. This season she makes her debut at the Cervantino Festival, alongside the Amernet Quartet and sings the world premiere of Gabriela Frank’s Holy Sisters with the San Francisco Girls’ Chorus and the Berkeley Symphony. In January she sang the title role in the first staged production of Mohammed Fairouz’s Sumeida’s Song at the inaugural Prototype Festival, and later this season will appear with the Signal Ensemble at the Miller Theater and Lincoln Center Festival. She makes her debut with the ensemble Alarm Will Sound at Zankel Hall and in St. Louis and will appear in numerous performances with the new music vocal ensemble Ekmeles. She also returns to France for performances of Britten's The Turn of the Screw.

    Ms. Calloway holds degrees from both the Juilliard School (BM) and Manhattan School of Music (MM) and maintains an active teaching studio.

  • Elisa Sutherland, mezzo-soprano
  • Elisa Sutherland is a New York based mezzo-soprano from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She recently graduated with her Master's degree from Northwestern University, where she appeared as Dorabella in Cosi fan tutte, Meg in Little Women, Ottavia in L'incoronazione di Poppea, Lucrezia in William Bolcom's Lucrezia, and Nancy in Albert Herring. In April of 2014, Elisa performed in a recital at the Kennedy Center for the Millennium Conservatory project. Elisa has performed with The Crossing, Fonema Consort, Fulcrum Point Ensemble, the Chicago Bach Project, Music of the Baroque, the Grant Park Festival Chorus, and the Lucerne Festival Academy Chorus. She is thrilled to be singing with Ekmeles this season.

  • Kirsten Sollek, contralto
  • Called "...an appealingly rich alto" by The New York Times and a singer with "elemental tone quality" by The Philadelphia Inquirer, contralto Kirsten Sollek has appeared as a soloist with Tafelmusik, Kansas City Symphony, Seattle Baroque Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, Bach Collegium Japan, Boston Early Music Festival, and Grand Rapids Symphony. She has performed and recorded works by Steve Reich with Alarm Will Sound and Signal. She works extensively with John Zorn, and has premiered his music in Jerusalem, New York, Milan, Paris, Warsaw, London, Rotterdam, Gent, Montreal, and Adelaide. Opera roles include Rosmira in Boston Baroque's production of Handel's Partenope, covering the title role in Handel's Rinaldo for Glyndebourne, Bradamante in Handel's Alcina for the Teatro Municipal de Santiago de Chile, Juno in Handel's Semele for Music in the Somerset Hills, and Beauty in Blood Rose by Hannah Lash. Ms. Sollek is represented by Robert Gilder & Co.

  • Eric S. Brenner, countertenor
  • Hailed as "astonishing," "penetrating," "untamed," "remarkable," "gorgeous," & "mr. roboto," some of countertenor Eric S. Brenner's current engagements include: Tolomeo in Handel's Giulio Cesare with Opera Roanoke; Volpino in Haydn's Lo Speziale with Rochester Lyric Opera; Doodle in Stefan Weisman's & David Cote's Scarlet Ibis; Didymus (cover for David Daniels) in Handel's Theodora with English Concert; The Poet in Virko Baley's Holodomor (NYC & Kiev); Countertenor soloist in Orff's Carmina Burana & Bernstein's The Lark at Avery Fisher Hall; Soprano soloist with Alarm Will Sound; Beast in Hannah Lash's Blood Rose; D.A.V.E. in Kamala Sankaram's Miranda; Soloist/ensemble with Toby Twining Music.

  • Patrick Fennig, countertenor
  • Praised by the Albuquerque Journal for his “heartfelt intensity of smooth, effortless, bittersweet tones,” countertenor Patrick Fennig is sought after as both a soloist and choral singer. He has appeared with Fretwork Viol Consort, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Concert Royal, The American Classical Orchestra, and The Brooklyn Conservatory Orchestra. A choral singer since his days as a choirboy at Christ Church Cathedral, Indianapolis, Patrick is a member of The Saint Thomas Choir of Men and Boys, NYC, Early Music New York, Musica Sacra and Ekmeles Vocal Ensemble. He graduated from Northwestern University and is now based in New York.

  • Nathaniel Adams, tenor
  • Equally well-versed in classical and jazz styles, Nathaniel Adams is a New York based tenor and pianist originally from Chicago, Illinois. He sings regularly with The Saint Thomas Choir of Men and Boys, Early Music New York, and the Manhattan Chorale. In addition to his active performance career, he is an accomplished choral composer, with performances of his works in Canada, Colombia, Indonesia, Sweden, Switzerland, and Venezuela. He has been commissioned by the World Youth Choir, the St. Charles Singers (Jeff Hunt, conductor), and Cantamus (Iowa State University - Kathleen Rodde, conductor), among others.

  • Tomás Cruz, tenor
  • Tomás Cruz is a performer who works in a variety of genres including RnB, jazz, pop, choral, new music, and chamber. Most recently, he has worked with Anthony Braxton in his new opera, Trillium J, and finished the world tour of Philip Glass’ Einstein On the Beach. Other credits include performances with contemporary artists Missy Mazzoli, Helga Davis, a guest appearance at Berkeley Rep Theater’s summer workshop, and a spot on SNL. He has recorded with New Amsterdam Records, New Braxton House Records, See-A-Dot Music, Folk group HEM, and Brian Carpenter’s Ghost Train Orchestra. He regularly performs and records with a cappella group Duwende, chamber ensemble Little King, and the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Choir. Tomás earned his MM at New England Conservatory.

  • Eric Dudley, tenor
  • Eric Dudley is a full-time member of the choir at Trinity Wall Street in New York, where he also serves as assistant conductor for the Trinity Choir and Baroque Orchestra’s weekly “Bach at One” concert series. He sings regularly with Musica Sacra, The New York Virtuoso Singers, The Collegiate Chorale, Seraphic Fire (Miami, FL), Roomful of Teeth, and Bard Summerscape Opera. His conducting engagements have included positions with the Hartford, Princeton and Cincinnati symphony orchestras, as well as guest conducting the International Contemporary Ensemble, and the Arcko Symphonic Project on the Melbourne International Arts Festival. He studied voice, piano and composition at the Eastman School of Music, and trained as a conductor at the Brevard and Aspen music festivals and as a recipient of the Doctoral degree from Yale.

  • Brian Giebler, tenor
  • Hailed as a “faultless high tenor” (Seattle Times) with “gleaming tones” (South Florida Classical Review), tenor Brian Giebler is active nationwide as both a soloist and chamber musician. Brian recently appeared as a soloist in Rachmaninoff’s All-Night Vigil with the Handel Choir of Baltimore where he was praised for his “great elegance of tone and phrasing” (Baltimore Sun). Other recent solo engagements include Bach’s St. Matthew Passion with Conspirare, Bach’s St. John Passion with Tucson Chamber Artists, Mozart’s Requiem with the Saganaw Bay Symphony Orchestra, Bach’s Magnificat with Seraphic Fire, and made his Carnegie Hall solo debut singing Haydn’s Missa Sancti Nicolai under the auspices of Anton Armstrong and the New York City Chamber Orchestra. Currently based in NYC, he is a member of the GRAMMY®-nominated Choir of Trinity Wall Street, and sings with Conspirare, TENET, Blue Heron, Clarion Society, Yale Choral Artists, Tucson Chamber Artists, and Sounding Light.

  • Kelvin Chan, baritone
  • As a singer, performer, producer, and stage director, Kelvin Chan pursues his core commitment to cultivating human connection through the arts. Recent projects include György Kùrtag’s Kafka Fragments, Part I (director) on the 2014 Resonant Bodies Festival, Brian Fennelly’s Sacred Songs with the New York New Music Collective, the premiere of Anthony Braxton's opera Trillium J, Ostrava Days, and New York City Opera’s VOX Festival. He has appeared with Opera Moderne, Cincinnati Opera, Houston Grand Opera, and Opera Theater of Pittsburgh. Mr. Chan sang baritone and served as co-artistic director of the male vocal ensemble, Cantus. He is a former member of the GRAMMY®-nominated Choir of Trinity Wall Street, with whom he has appeared as a featured soloist and currently sings with the renowned St. Thomas Choir of Men and Boys. Mr. Chan is the Founding General Director of Vital Opera.

  • Jeffrey Gavett, baritone and director
  • Jeffrey Gavett is dedicated to new music as composer, performer and improviser. He has appeared with a broad array of artists, ranging from the Rolling Stones and indie rock group Clogs to new music groups such as ICE, Roomful of Teeth, Talea Ensemble, and his own ensembles Ekmeles and loadbang. He has worked with composers including Chaya Czernowin, David Lang, Liza Lim, Terry Riley, and Steven Takasugi.

    He has performed at Alice Tully Hall, Issue Project Room, The Kitchen, Merkin Hall, Miller Theatre, Le Poisson Rouge, Roulette, The Stone, and Zankel Hall, and has been praised as a “brilliantly agile singer” by the New York Times. Mr. Gavett holds degrees from Westminster Choir College and Manhattan School of Music.

  • Steven Hrycelak, bass
  • Steven Hrycelak is in demand as an operatic, concert, and ensemble performer. He has performed with the NY Virtuoso Singers, Toby Twining Music, ekmeles, Early Music New York, Vox, TENET, Meridionalis, Seraphic Fire, and a vocal jazz quintet, West Side 5. He has also been a frequent soloist at Trinity Church Wall Street, as well as with NYS Baroque, Pegasus, Musica Sacra, 4x4, the Waverly Consort, the American Symphony Orchestra, Sacred Music in a Sacred Space, Union Avenue Opera, and the Collegiate Chorale. His performance of Monteverdi’s Seneca with Opera Omnia was hailed by the NY Times as having "a graceful bearing and depth." He has also traveled the US, Canada, and Europe performing in Frank London's Klezmer musical, A Night in the Old Marketplace. Mr. Hrycelak has degrees from Indiana University and Yale University, where he sang with the world-renowned Yale Whiffenpoofs. Additionally, he is a coach/accompanist.


6-29-15: Five Boroughs Music Festival: Premieres with Brass
at the DiMenna Center


4-25-15: The Sacred and the Profane
at New Music New College, FL
2-28-15: Avant Music Festival: Music of John Cage
at Wild Project
2-19-15: Stefano Gervasoni Portrait
at Miller Theatre
1-23-15: American Composers
at the Dimenna Center
12-8-14: The Men of Ekmeles
at the DiMenna Center
6-13-14: Stimmung
at the DiMenna Center
4-18-14: MATA Festival
at The Kitchen
3-4-14: Pop-Up Concert
at Miller Theatre

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