Vicki Ray: The Elements Tuesday, February 23 @ REDCAT



World Premieres by Composers Mu-Xuan Lin and Dominique Shafer

Tuesday, February 23, 2016 at REDCAT

Piano Spheres co-founder Vicki Ray, presents a program exploring the four elements at REDCAT on Tuesday, February, 23, 2016, 8:30pm. The concert includes Luciano Berio’s Luftklavier, Erdenklavier, Wasserklavier, Feuerklavier, Takemitsu’s Between Tides, Piano Spheres Commission Premiere of Aufwind by Dominique Shafer, and Piano Spheres Commission Premiere Pale Fire by Mu-Xuan Lin. Also, featured is John Luther Adams’ work Nunataks, and the premiere of Four Elemental Songs, a new song cycle by Vicki Ray. Piano Spheres is co-presented with REDCAT, with recitals held at REDCAT THEATRE, 631 West 2nd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012. Tickets/information are available at, and

“I’ve wanted to build a program around the Berio encores ever since first hearing them years ago.  I’m finally realizing that dream with this program. The evening will start with the Berio and then each subsequent work will explore one of these elements in depth. The water element is heard in Takemitsu’s Between Tides for which I’ll be joined by violinist Sarah Thornblade and cellist Erika Duke-Kirkpatrick. The earth element is presented in John Luther Adams’ work for piano solo Nunataks. Two premieres explore the remaining elements: Lin’s Pale Fire for piano and electronics, and Schafer’s Aufwind will present the fire and air elements respectively. My own cycle, Four Elemental Songs, will be sung by soprano Elisa Johnston,” says Vicki

Italian composer Luciano Berio’s Encores (Luftklavier, Erdenklavier, Wasserklavier, Feuerklavier) is part of his 6 Encores composed between 1965 and 1990. He is noted for his experimental work and his pioneering work in electronic music. Toru Takemitsu’s Between Tides for piano trio, “aptly expresses the idea of opposing forces and directions that shaped music from Japan in the twentieth century.” Aufwind is a new work for the ‘air’ element and a World Premiere, Piano Spheres Commission, by Dominique Schafer – “A native of Switzerland he is a composer whose breadth of musical expression encompasses the acoustic instrumentations and the electroacoustic media.” Always intent on promoting new musical piano culture, the premiere Four Elemental Songs is a new song cycle with Vicki Ray in the composer role. The earth element is John Luther Adams‘ work Nunataks for solo piano “stark chords and arpeggios reflect the nature of Nunataks, mountains which rise out of ice fields and glaciers.”   World Premiere, Piano Spheres Commission, Pale Fire (for piano and electronics) is by Taipei, Taiwan, composer Mu-Xuan Lin, explores a wide range of extended techniques both inside the piano and on the keys while also incorporating fragments of text from the Nabokov book – which the title comes.

February 23, 2016 – 8:30pm

Luciano BerioEncores (Luftklavier, Erdenklavier, Wasserklavier, Feuerklavier)

Toru TakemitsuBetween Tides for piano trio with violinist Sarah Thornblade and

cellist Erika Duke-Kirkpatrick

Dominique Schafer Aufwind (World Premiere, Piano Spheres Commission)Vick

Vicki Ray Four Elemental Songs (World Premiere) sung by Elissa Johnston

John Luther Adams Nunataks

Mu-Xuan Lin Pale Fire (World Premiere, Piano Spheres Commission)

Described as “phenomenal and fearless,” Grammy nominated pianist Vicki Ray is a leading interpreter of contemporary piano music. Known for thoughtful and innovative programming which seeks to redefine the piano recital in the 21st century, Vicki’s concerts often include electronics, video, recitation and improvisation. As a founding member of Piano Spheres, an acclaimed series dedicated to exploring the less familiar realms of the solo piano repertoire, her playing has been hailed by the Los Angeles Times for “displaying that kind of musical thoroughness and technical panache that puts a composer’s thoughts directly before the listener.”

A pianist who excels in a wide range of styles Vicki Ray’s numerous recordings cover everything from the premiere release of the Reich You Are Variations to the semi-improvised structures of Wadada Leo Smith, from the elegant serialism of Mel Powell to the austere beauty of Morton Feldman’s Crippled Symmetries. Recent releases include David Rosenboom’s Twilight Language on Tzadik Records and Feldman’s For Piano and String Quartet with the Eclipse Quartet on Bridge Records. Her 2013 recording of Cage’s The Ten Thousand Things on the Microfest label was nominated for a Grammy.

Ms. Ray’s work as a collaborative artist has been extremely diverse and colorful. She was the keyboardist in the California E.A.R. Unit and Xtet.   Her chamber music contributions in greater Los Angeles include frequent performances on the Dilijan, Jacaranda and the Green Umbrella Series. She performs regularly on the venerable Monday Evening Concert series and was featured in Grisey’s Vortex Temporum on the 2006 celebration of the re-birth of the series. Vicki has been heard in major solo roles with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Master Chorale, the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, the German ensemble Compania, and the Blue Rider Ensemble of Toronto, with whom she made the first Canadian recording of Pierrot Lunaire.

Vicki is currently head of the piano department at the California Institute of the Arts, where she has been on the faculty since 1991. In 2010 she was awarded the first Hal Blaine Chair in Music Performance. For the past eight years she has served on the faculty at the Bang on a Can summer festival at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. Vicki Ray is a Steinway Artist.

Piano Spheres supports and encourages the composition and performance of major new works for the piano. It expands the piano repertoire by commissioning new music and sustaining a concert series of the highest artistic quality which focuses primarily on pieces by contemporary composers. In its concerts, Piano Spheres provides a context for these new works by including lesser-known music by established composers whose compositions influenced the course of piano music.