The EAR Unit isn’t your grandfather’s chamber music.
In fact, even though the group technically falls under the genre
of classical, its cutting-edge modern style will have Bach turning
in his grave.
And now they are bringing their unique, contemporary style to
the CSU campus. They will be performing on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in
the Music Building concert hall.
The EAR Unit, from California, consists of a standard chamber
line-up with a couple of very big twists. First, in addition to the
traditional instruments such as violin, cello and piano, there is a
percussionist. Second, the group employs numerous contemporary
technologies and techniques.
“Unlike most groups we amplify the group,” said Amy Knoles,
spokesperson and percussionist for the EAR Unit. “What that means
is that we hook them up to microphones and crank up the
Not only is their presentation unconventional but the music that
they perform is more contemporary and varied than other chamber
“We like to give our audience a taste of the new music styles
that are out there,” Knoles said. “This music comes out of the
classical tradition, but all the composers are living in a
contemporary world. I don’t even think we perform pieces from
people who are dead.”
Knoles describes the group’s music as “in your face.” Some of
the pieces even include modern innovations such as video backdrops
and electronic musical devices. In some cases the group has even
used handcuffs and plants as musical instruments, although they
will not be doing so in their upcoming CSU concert.
The group is expanding people’s musical boundaries and opening
up new worlds for listeners, said Micheal Thaut, the chair of the
Department of Music, Theatre and Dance, as well as the co-chair of
the School of Arts.
“The Ear Unit is one of the leading avant-garde music ensembles
in the country,” he said. “This concert is going to be a
fascinating endeavor into sound composition, presented in a very
The group is a must-see, Thaut said, not only because of their
unique performances, but also because their style is so
“It is important that we broaden our horizons in classical music
and not get stuck in our thinking on the great masters of the
past,” Thaut said. “They were also avant-garde in their own
Knoles said that the group’s enthusiasm about the music that
they do gives their music a sincerity that is often lost in more
popular art forms.
“This is the cutting edge of the non-commercial music scene,”
Knoles said. “Quite a few of the performers have been in rock bands
and they like to groove.”
The EAR Unit is visiting as part of the guest recital segment of
the CSU Chamber Music Series, which features world-renowned
visiting artists throughout the year.
“(The guest recital series) is very enriching and enhancing for
students, the community, everyone in terms of the musical life in
Thaut said the EAR Unit performance is an event not to miss.
“I believe this could be one of the most interesting and
enjoyable events in our community this year,” he said.