Despite cellist Ha-Yang Kim's professional solo debut with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra at the tender age of 16, her career has proved the exact opposite of the stereotypical Asian string prodigy who robotically memorizes classical music.
Born in Korea but living both in Brooklyn and Amsterdam, Kim has become known for performing radical contemporary works and extended string techniques with the New Music sextet Non Sequitur and her duo Odd Appetite with NYC percussionist Nathan Davis. Odd Appetite explores links between Western avant-garde/electro-acoustic music and the musical traditions of Bali and South India, deploying giant gongs, microtonal glockenspiels and tuned aluminum pipes alongside an amplified cello with distortion boxes and effects.
Doesn't sound much like Yo-Yo Ma, does it? Neither does her debut CD, Ama, on John Zorn's Tzadik Records. The recording includes a couple of Odd Appetite pieces, an ensemble composition and a solo work of breadth and power.
Kim's also a formidable improviser; those skills will be put to the test with an equally accomplished partner -- Italian avant-guitarist Marco Cappelli. Cappelli has worked with Han Bennink, Anthony Coleman and Marc Ribot (fleshing out a Ribot-composed work titled "And So I Went to Pittsburgh") and recorded Yun Mu for Mode Records, featuring compositions by John Zorn and Steve Reich.
A native of Naples, Cappelli is the charter member of Dissonanzen, an association that for years has been promoting and diffusing contemporary music in his hometown. Imagine if Pittsburgh had such an umbrella organization, instead of tiny, underattended avant-garde concerts thrown by disparate individuals at irregular intervals. Until that happens, you've got Eden McNutt's worthwhile "Radical Riffs" series (of which this is an installment) to keep you happily engaged.
"Radical Riffs" featuring Ha-Yang Kim, Marco Cappelli and Eden McNutt 8 p.m. Fri., Sept. 7. Wood Street Galleries, 601 Wood St., Downtown. $6 suggested donation ($4 students with ID). 412-471-5605 or www.woodstreetgalleries.org