Kali Malone’s disciplined compositions tune into the church organ’s expressive potential

Stockholm-based, American-born composer Kali Malone is known for her pipe-organ works, and her path to the instrument was hardly conventional. Five minutes into her first and only organ lesson, she prevailed upon the teacher to let her get inside the instrument. She left with a referral to an organ tuner, with whom she eventually apprenticed. Malone’s music doesn’t deal with virtuosic display. Instead, she devises rigorous, rule-based compositions whose austerity is paradoxically affecting. On The Sacrificial Code (Ideal Recordings), the two-hour 2019 album whose material forms the foundation for this concert, close microphone placement strips the organ of its usual room reverb, revealing the structural integrity of a series of long, slow-motion canons that draw the listener into a meditative state. And on “Pipe Inversions (for Kirnberger III),” Malone’s contribution to a 2021 collection of music in just intonation titled The Harmonic Series II (Important), she uses that tuning system to set the listener adrift in a wash of sympathetic vibrations that can be felt as much as heard. Because some of her pieces require four hands, Malone sometimes performs with a second musician; her accompanist tonight will be Stephen O’Malley of Sunn O))), Khanate, and KTL.

Kali Malone Sat 10/1, 8 PM, Rockefeller Chapel, University of Chicago, 5850 S. Woodlawn, free, all ages

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