The X Ensemble is a new contemporary chamber ensemble performing works of living composers as well as Modern Jazz arrangements of classic works (such as Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto.) Their debut performance took place on October 15th 2016 at The Ritz Theater in Newburgh NY to a sold out crowd. For that performance the ensemble consisted of 10 pieces – a “double quartet”: a Jazz Quartet (feat. Sax/piano/bass/drums) and a String Quartet, augmented by a percussionist (Marimba, hand percussion) and an additional wind player (flutes, penny whistle). Musicians included Violinist Fung Chern Hwei (from the Sirius Quartet), cellist Daniel Blair, bassist Peter Brendler, and percussionist Mark Frankel (Blue Man Group). We also included a spoken word component, featuring local poet extraordinaire Mona Toscano.
The group’s moniker of “X” implies a variable structure, and this is in fact what we have. In addition to large scale concerts for 10 – 15 pieces there are various smaller arrangements (3 – 8 pieces) of different instrumentation. Some examples of smaller versions of the ensemble would be:
– 2 Violins, Synthesizer & Percussion
– Piano, Laptop, Cello
– String Quartet, Laptop
– 4 Marimbas, Piano, Percussion
And a variety of other configurations, all venue, setting and budget dependent.
The ensemble is directed by pianist, synthesist and composer Neil Alexander [nailmusic.com], and features Neil’s compositions and arrangements. They also feature works by other members of the ensemble, as well as arrangements of classic work and contemporary composers. A commissioning plan for new pieces is also in the works.