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Ruehr concert celebrates CD release

Elena Ruehr
Elena Ruehr

The titles of MIT Lecturer Elena Ruehr's compositions are almost as evocative as her music. In the case of her new work, "Calling Laura Linney," to be premiered by flutist Sarah Brady this Saturday, March 10 at 8 p.m. in Killian Hall, Ruehr said that her inspiration came from a fascination with the actor's process--in particular, that of Linney, star of the films "Kinsey," "Mystic River" and "The Truman Show," who's been nominated for awards for both her stage and screen work.

Ruehr, who recently received a Radcliffe Institute Fellowship for 2007-2008, said that the process of writing her 2003 dance opera, "'Toussaint Before the Spirits," made her realize how much a composer's work can be like an actor's: to "take a written script and then with excruciating care interpret the timing and inflection of each line," as she described it.

As for Linney, not only is she a great actress, says Ruehr, "but her dad, Romulus Linney, a playwright, was an acquaintance who helped me with the final libretto of 'Toussaint Before the Spirits.'"

Saturday's concert will also celebrate the release of "Toussaint Before the Spirits" on Opera Unlimited's Arsis audio CD.

The concert will also feature a retrospective of Ruehr's flute and saxophone music, including the world premiere of a version for 10 saxophones of "The Voyage Out," "Of Water and Clouds" (performed by Sarah Brady, flute, and Sarah Bob, piano), and the New England premiere of the live version of "The Law of Floating Objects" (performed by flutists Lauren Alford, Sarah Brady, Christine Gustafson, graduate student Ole Nielson and affiliated artist Sue-Ellen Hershmann-Tcherepnin).

While at Radcliffe next year on her fellowship, Ruehr will compose a cantata based on Louise Gluck's most recent book of poems, "Averno," for the McGill University Orchestra and Chorus.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on March 7, 2007 (download PDF).

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