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Newspeak will perform in concert Wednesday, April 2, at 7:30 p.m. in the Rooke Recital Hall of the Weis Music Building at Bucknell University.
The performance, "In the indifferent brutality", is free and open to the public as part of the continuing Gallery Series at Bucknell. The Gallery Series, a public program of experimental and world music, was founded by William Duckworth, professor emeritus of music, as part of his commitment to fostering new audiences for contemporary music.
Named after the thought-limiting language in George Orwell's 1984, Newspeak is a powerhouse ensemble that blends the anthems of Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Mogwai with the frenetic and politicized aggression of Black Sabbath and the Dead Kennedys. Fusing the music-for-use directness of Louis Andriessen and Frederic Rzewski, the ornate complexity of King Crimson and the Mahavishnu Orchestra, and the emotional depths of Elliot Smith and The Cure, they create a mysterious, nuanced, and compelling sound.
An early standout within New York's indie-classical scene, members of Newspeak met in New York City in 2005. The current ensemble, which began performing together in 2008, includes Mellissa Hughes, voice; James Johnston, piano/synthesizer; Taylor Levine, guitar; David T. Little, founding artistic director; Eileen Mack, clarinet; Brian Snow, cello; Peter Wise, percussion; and special guests James Moore, guitar, Melissa Tong, violin, and Owen Weaver, drums.
"You could call this punk classical," Lucid Culture says of Newspeak. "Fearlessly aware...(and) resolutely defiant."
"If more groups played music with such life, power, and passion," says Sequenza2, "nobody would think this music is 'dead.'" New Sounds host and tastemaker John Schafer has called them "important players on the new music scene here in New York" and Danny Johnson of the New Haven Advocate has proclaimed: "These players are so great! ...first-rate."
Newspeak released their first CD with New Amsterdam Records in November 2010, and recently released their follow-up disc, Soldier Songs, on Innova. This summer, they will make their international debut, performing at the Muziekgebouw, for the 2014 Holland Festival.
Of their debut album, sweet light crude, George Grella of The Big City called it "a provocative recording that's also fun and satisfying to listen to, and it may be as seminal for the next generation of composers as Icebreaker's debut CD was for this one."
Newspeak has been featured as a part of the Tune-In Festival with Eighth Blackbird at the Park Avenue Armory, the Ecstatic Music Festival In NYC, on New Sounds Live, and at the International Festival of Arts and Ideas. They have headlined on the MATA Festival, shared bills with The Fiery Furnaces as part of Wordless Music, and performed as part of John Zorn's Full Force festival.
In addition to band member/composers Little and Burhans, Newspeak has commissioned, work-shopped, and premiered work by some of the most exciting composers of the new generation, including Corey Dargel, Darcy James Argue, Oscar Bettison, Sean Friar, Ted Hearne, Judd Greenstein, William Brittelle, Toby Driver, Matthew Friedberger, Ruby Fulton, Sarah Kirkland Snider, Matt Marks, Lisa Coons, and Missy Mazzoli, as well as established composers like Randall Woolf, Frederic Rzewski and Paul Lansky.