Grunge Meets Classical

Gleb Kanasevich is a man of many talents. The extraordinary clarinet player of the local group Cantata Profana, he is also the master organizer of an exciting and ambitious new CD, Refractions Vol. 2. A collaborative venture that fuses referential strains of electronic, industrial, grind, grunge and more, the CD offers a glimpse into the lives of several Yale-trained musicians after Yale, and a pursuit that has reunited them.

Refractions Vol. 1 was more concert-art oriented.” Kanasevich explained in a recent interview about the new CD. “I think this one ... I don’t want to call it crossover, but maybe more referential. And more modern because of the surplus of information, of art, of different styles of music that we have right now. It’s really fun to have pieces that are referential to things we hear.”

Piece’s like Fay Wang’s “Inside Insides,” arranged for bass clarinet, b-flat clarinet, e-flat clarinet and tape, illustrate this, adding electric and industrial tones to instruments envisioned for tamer pursuits. Brendon Randall-Myers’ work also builds on the sentiment, bringing into being what Kanasevich calls “pure grind core tour de force” with his piece “Nausea.”

Funded largely by a Kickstarter campaign, the project is a distinctly modern undertaking that does not forget to pay homage to earlier movements and the brains behind them.

Kanasevich, who received his Masters of Music from Yale in 2013, splits his time between New Haven and Baltimore. He was interviewed in a practice room in Sprague Hall, where the bulk of Refractions Vol. 2 was recorded; he nixed his apartment because he lives with a medical student who was still sleeping at noon. Positively hip, he wore a shirt from Depeche Mode’s current Delta Machine tour.

When asked about his influences, Kanasevich pointed to Steve Reich’s “New York Counterpoint” on the CD, explaining: “The Reich, being a piece from the late ‘80s, is this sort of cosmic thing that a lot of synth and electronica music took on. Right now, we’re experiencing a return that’s very back to the roots. That’s where I drew from.”

At the heart of Refractions is a stellar lineup of musicians and young composers, many of whom hold the New Haven community dear. Wang, Randall-Meyers, and Kanasevich were involved in last year’s Rite Now project. Composer and percussionist Nathan Davis received his Masters of Music from Yale, and comes through New Haven while tweaking new performance initiatives closeby in New York City. And minimalist pioneer Steve Reich is no stranger to the community, having performed at the School of Music several times during and after his tenure as the Chubb Fellow. 

It isn’t for the classical purist. Even gems like Alican Camci’s meditative “Eklenip Ekelmenmeyen Zaman” are über-modern, drawing on Turkish modal music in a completely contemporary fashion. But for those willing to listen with open ears, the CD offers an ingenuity hard to find anywhere else. Kanasevich, for instance, explained: “My pieces are electronically complicated. “Moments de Refraction” isn’t going to get performed unless it’s in a computer music residency because it’s for solo clarinet and seven assistants amplifying my sound. But that was the exciting part.”

Currently, Kanasevich has seven concerts planned in support of the record. Grab or download a copy of the CD and find a theater near you: the only thing better than hearing Kanasevich on an album is seeing him in action, a new master machine brought to life by music.

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