Contemporary composer to bring music home to Marquette

by Claudia Drosen

Spirited and innovative contemporary composer Ashley Rose Fure (pronounced fury) is a young artist—she was born in 1982—however, a list of her musical credentials seems to suggest someone older and more accomplished than your average “twenty-something.”
Fure grew up right here in the beautiful U.P. Her father Russell said the family moved from Escanaba to Marquette when Ashley was five years old. She attended Parkview Elementary, and led a busy Yooper life. Her immediate family members weren’t musicians, but Ashley’s grandmother sang with big bands in New York for a time. And Ashley’s aunt, Tret Fure, is a prominent American singer-songwriter whose discography began in 1973, and still is going strong with the release of her 2007 CD, “True Compass.”
Ashley Fure attended Marquette Senior High School until her sophomore year, when her father said she “begged to go to Interlochen and just try out for the following summer.” Well, try out she did. She was accepted to the high school-level boarding school at Interlochen right away and started in the fall.
After two years of study, she went on to Oberlin College and things just took off from there. She holds degrees in composition from the Interlochen Arts Academy, Oberlin Conservatory and Harvard University, where she is a doctoral candidate under the guidance of Chaya Czernowin.
Fure currently lives in Paris, where she attends the 2008-09 cursus at l’Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique (IRCAM). Next year, she will relocate to Germany for a residency at Stuttgart’s Akademie Schloss Solitude. The Germans greatly value combining disciplines to make art. Fure brother Adam, an architect, will be accompanying her to Germany, where he will employ his knowledge of architecture and she her musical skills, to collaborate on an installation. Their hope is that it will be shown in museums.
Fure’s compositions have been showcased in Germany on Deutschlandfunk Cologne, Radio Monalisa (the Netherlands), NPR in the United States, and in such festivals as the ISCM World Music Days (Lithuania), the Goteberg Siren Festival (Sweden) and the Third Practice Electroacoustic Musical Festival in the United States.
She has won many honors, among them two ISCM World Music Days nominations, a George Arthur Knight Prize, an SCI/ASCAP Young Composer’s Prize, a Pauline Oliveros Prize, a Blodgett Composition Prize and an Oberlin Conservatory Grand Prize in Composition. Native U.P. music enthusiasts may have tuned in to Public Radio 90 to hear Fure’s music broadcast on NPR’s St. Paul Sunday. Featured performers were such ensembles as the Arditti Quartet, eighth blackbird, Ensemble SurPlus and the Oberlin Contemporary Music Ensemble. Her primary teachers have been Chaya Czernowin, Lewis Nielson, Julian Anderson, Helmut Lachenmann and Brian Ferneyhough.
In order for listeners to understand the impetus behind the music she creates, Fure shared some of her personal perceptions.
“Ours is a culture of sensorial excess,” she said. “Aggressive flocks of stimuli assail us from all angles. I wade through this clutter, collecting shards of noise and bright bits of sonic debris… I translate this information into instrumental principles, building beds of live resonance meant to unleash and amplify the hidden poetics of this forgotten noise.”
Fure uses electronics and instrumentalists, asking her players to use extended techniques to provide just the right mix of pitches and timbres she seeks to get her point across.
Now it is Marquette’s honor to welcome back Ashley Rose Fure to the shore of Lake Superior. Because of a kind monetary donation by long-time musical patron Phyllis Reynolds, Marquette Symphony Orchestra (MSO) has been able to commission Fure to write a piece for the orchestra to perform. Her music, referred to by some as electro-acoustic, is fascinating to listen to. This is not your grandfather’s classical music. The community is fortunate to be able to stretch its musical grasp by having Fure bring music that is vital and fresh.
On April 4 at 7:30 p.m., the MSO will present its Spring Concert, guest conducted by Venezuelan native Orlando Cela at Kaufman Auditorium in Marquette. Along with Fure’s premiered composition, the orchestra also will perform Albinoni Concerto in D Minor for Oboe and Orchestra, performed by soloist and principal oboist of the MSO, Laura Robinson, Mozart’s “Magic Flute” Overture, and Rimsky-Korsakov’s exciting Scheherazade.
MSO was awarded an NEA grant to support outreach programs in public schools, and provide the community with a concert of Fure’s compositions. Fure also will host a master class in composition in Marquette at 7:30 p.m. on April 8 in Reynolds Recital Hall on NMU’s campus. This will be in the form of a free lecture and chamber music recital of Fure’s music.
Some of the interesting recent works by Fure include: “Blush” for Amplified Ensemble (sixteen players) and electronics, “Susurrus” for violin, flute, cello, percussion and electronics, “Drips of Hiss” for string quartet, “Spines” for chamber orchestra, “Steamed” for soprano and electronics, “Work with the Bones” for solo violin, clay teeth for orchestra, and “A Time to Break Silence” for women’s choir and chamber orchestra.
For those interested in familiarizing themselves with the music of Fure, “Blush” and “Susurrus” can be heard at

— Claudia Drosen
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