Composer-pianist Eric Moe will have his long-awaited Chapel Hill homecoming as the first guest in the UNC music department's “Conversations in Modern Music” series this weekend.
The series offers a chance for musicians to connect with their audience through both a lecture and a performance component. The first installment will include a lecture by the University of Pittsburgh's Moe, a contemporary classical musician, tonight and a performance by Moe with the ensemble counter)induction tomorrow.
Moe, who hasn't been back to Chapel Hill in about 58 years, said he is looking forward to returning to perform and guests should be prepared for anything.
“The promise I will make is that they haven’t heard anything like this before,” he said.
UNC music professor Allen Anderson said he thinks Moe has interesting music and even more interesting things to say about it. He is excited to see Moe showcase his unique style.
“He looks at the intersection of traditional modern styles and contemporaneous popular music," Anderson said. "We can hear in his music those styles which are often considered polar opposites intersecting, and the result is thought-provoking."
Tonight's lecture will include a discussion on various topics related to Moe's music. On Saturday, he will perform self-composed pieces, as well as works composed by UNC music professors and Kyle Bartlett of counter)induction. Moe will play with the help of ensemble group counter)induction, who he called "kick-ass."
”The chamber piece I wrote for counter)induction is a really energetic piece and they really play the hell out of it,” Moe said.
Barlett had only positive things to say about Moe as a composer.
“counter)induction has a long relationship with Eric Moe and we are really excited to play a piece that he wrote," he said. "We specialize in music from 1980 that is highly virtuosic and Eric’s style is frequently virtuosic and powerful.”
Moe said he understands his music might be different from what guests are used to when thinking of classical music. He borrows from sitcoms, theme songs and artists such as Cyndi Lauper and Jimi Hendrix, pairing that with traditional high-brow classical music.
“The whole stew is going to be very unusual, but some of the elements, or rather the ingredients, will be familiar,” Moe said.
Moe's style emerged from a rebellion. He said growing up, a lot of classical composers made slow music, which made him want to do the opposite.
“I really like to write fast, propulsive music," he said. "It’s not all fast and propulsive, but almost all of it is. I like music that doesn’t put me to sleep"
He also said his style came out of a desire to hear music that he could enjoy himself.
“Once I was good enough, I read everything I could get my hands on," Moe said. "And then at some point, I realized there was no more music — I had read everything available. I realized I better write some more. The stuff I really wanted to hear wasn’t written yet.”
Anderson said this event will be a unique opportunity for UNC students.
“For the 18- to 24-year-olds, it gives them a chance to engage with music that is being written in their lifetime, not necessarily by their peers, but still music of their time,” he said.
Moe said after receiving a number of awards and fellowships, it seems like people are more open to his unique style of classical music.
“I think the world’s come around a bit towards my style," he said.
"They’re a little more willing to not be deadly serious — they’re more interested in rhythmic excitement.”
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