OU music faculty member sharing limelight at the Met

Oakland University Assistant Professor of Music Miles Brown chose to teach music at the college level not only to embrace his love of teaching, but to afford himself the opportunity for creative, innovative and truly unique music performance.

During a yearlong residency with the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Brown and fellow members of the widely celebrated, new music sinfonietta ensemble Alarm Will Sound have just such an opportunity.

“The Met is one of the greatest museums in the world, and some of the spaces we’ll be playing there make this experience so interesting,” Brown explained.

“When I found out that we’ll be playing in the Temple of Dendur, for example, I was ecstatic. It really is fantastic.”

Brown has been the bassist with Alarm Will Sound for the last 10 years. He is excited to accompany fellow ensemble members on an international journey of musical exploration and mounting acclaim. New York Times music critic Steve Smith, for one, describes the group as adventurous, stylish, versatile and beguiling.

Prior to the residency with the Met, these qualities and masterful performance skills landed Alarm Will Sound appearances at Carnegie Hall, the Guggenheim Museum and the Whitney Museum of American Art, not to mention numerous notable destinations overseas.

The ensemble has garnered attention as a result of working to expand the boundaries of conventional classical and ensemble repertoires. The group has focused its creative energies on pieces inspired by electronic musician and composer Aphex Twin and by alternative rock band Radiohead, for example.

Brown explains that the result is difficult to categorize or label, but adds that anyone interested in hearing music move in previously unexplored directions will find it engaging.

“It keeps the creative mind challenged,” he said. “There’s always a sense of newness to it.”

This passion for innovation, as well as a commitment to theatrical performance, is what captured the interest and endorsement of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. As part of the 2013-14 Artist in Residency project, Alarm Will Sound agreed to deliver four cutting-edge performances.

The group now has two of those performances under its belt, and Brown is looking forward to the next two being even more exciting and fulfilling. “For me, this project is another step in the evolution of this ensemble, and it’s very exciting to be a part of it,” he said.

Although Alarm Will Sound has garnered considerable acclaim within a niche community of music lovers, the group aspires to appeal to far broader audiences. Brown said the Met residency could very well advance this goal.

If becoming a household name should elude the group over time, however, the Oakland faculty member and passionate music devotee says that even decades of focused work and undying commitment will offer rewards than cannot be overstated.

“We always do this just for the love of music and of performing,” Brown said. “I think there will always be an audience for this kind of music, and in that sense it’s very gratifying.”