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Beth Wiemann: "Different Trains"

538 Congress St, Portland, ME   (view map)

NEW ARRANGEMENTS | Ever since the ’80s, when the classical composer Philip Glass wriggled his way into American pop consciousness, it’s been Steve Reich and John Zorn who’ve been the major pillars of the New York avant-garde classical scene. Reich, a former cab driver (who feuded endlessly with Glass), was known for his unorthodox methods of writing his contrapuntal compositions, such as transposing African percussive rhythms onto woodwind instruments to forge melodies that had no trace of lyricality, a method that resulted in the masterwork Music for 18 Musicians. Zorn, an impossibly prolific saxophonist and composer, seemed always to have one foot in extremist noise, another in the “radically Jewish” explorations of his quartet Masada, and a third doing scores for films about fetishistic or marginal topics. Among countless highlights in the vast catalogues of these two career artists, the Maine composer Beth Wiemann covers two seminal pieces: Different Trains, a movement for strings and looped tape Reich wrote in 1988 that imagined the trains used by Holocaust victims, and “Cat O’ Nine Tails,” Zorn’s innovative and sinewy composition that transforms from lightning fast scales to bluegrass to elegant jazz. Helped by members of the local chamber music scene, BETH WIEMANN’S “DIFFERENT TRAINS” starts at 8 pm. $12 at SPACE Gallery, 538 Congress St., 207.828.5600.

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