BRUNSWICK — The Bowdoin International Music Festival presents a healthy share of new music in its programs, but for listeners who want to hear recent works straight – lots of them, without standard repertory scores sharing the programs – Bowdoin also offers a subsidiary series, the Charles E. Gamper Festival of Contemporary Music.

This three-day festival, which ran from Thursday through Sunday, is stylistically dogma-free: Derek Bermel, the larger festival’s composer-in-residence, has chosen works that represent a variety of approaches to modern musical language, from the densely chromatic to the invitingly consonant. The performances were by ensembles in which students and faculty joined forces.

All three programs had a prelude, of sorts, in common. As listeners filed into the hall, they saw and heard Luke DuBois’ “A Jupiter Portrait,” a video installation projected on a screen over the stage. DuBois composed the work, a set of three movements each lasting one minute, for the Jupiter String Quartet. He then filmed the quartet’s members playing their parts individually.

In the finished work, the four films are combined, and slowed to a tenth their original speed – which, of course, transforms the three-minute score into half an hour of music that sounds more like an eerie electronic piece (which, in effect, it is) than like a string quartet. The effect, overall, ranged from transfixing to soporific, but in the work’s best moments, the speed and pitch shift created aural illusions – for example, that of a distant female choir, in the finale.

The second program, on Saturday evening, had a slightly melancholy, backward-glancing undercurrent. Where the two other programs were devoted entirely to composers who are still alive and producing new works, this one paid tribute to composers who had died relatively recently (with DuBois as the sole exception). Two of the featured composers, Steven Stucky and Ursula Mamlok, died just this year. Henri Dutilleux died in 2013; Alfred Schnittke and William Albright in 1998. Moreover, most of the works on the program embodied tributes to past composers.

Dutilleux’s “Les Citations,” for example, paid homage to Benjamin Britten in its opening movement, “For Aldeburgh 85,” and to the sweep of French compositional history in its finale, “From Janequin to Jehan Alain.”

In the Britten reminiscence, named for the English coastal town where Britten lived and established a festival, Dutilleux’s winding, chromatic oboe line, gentle cymbal swells, exotic-sounding marimba figures and touches of harpsichord and high-pitched bass lines evoke Britten’s way of creating hauntingly atmospheric music that evokes antiquity while sounding wholly modern.

The influences in “From Janequin to Jehan Alain” were more fleeting and obscure. Glimmers of past styles emerged and evaporated, but in the end, this melting pot of a movement proved to bear Dutilleux’s own thumbprint more strongly than anything else.

Mamlok was represented by “In My Garden,” a graceful soliloquy for solo viola, with dark, bowed sections – sometimes reflective, sometimes agitated – set apart by a repeating figure in which a single note, played pizzicato, slowly fades into the distance. Jing Peng, a student at the festival (and at the New England Conservatory) gave the piece a vivid, compelling performance.

Stucky’s “Parita-Pastorale, after J.S.B” is nominally a tribute to Bach, whose style makes ghostly appearances in the work’s piano line at several points. But as with the second movement of the Dutilleux, the overwhelming sensibility in this work for piano, clarinet and string quartet is Stucky’s facility for creating magical, constantly shifting textures. The clarinet lines, played deftly by Jackie Gillette, and the piano writing, executed ably by Alan Woo, held the spotlight much of the time.

Schnittke’s “Hymn No. 4,” for a colorful ensemble that included bassoon, harp, strings, percussion and harpsichord, was a vibrant reminder of this composer’s often whimsical, era-hopping style, and benefited from a tight performance conducted by Luke Rinderknecht (who was also the percussionist in the Dutilleux).

And composer-in-residence Bermel, in his other life as a clarinetist, presided over Albright’s magnificently eclectic Quintet for Clarinet and Strings. Homages to Brahms and Mozart in the work’s closing variations were so thoroughly refracted through Albright’s prismatic style that you could easily have missed the references. But in the “Klezmer Fantasy” finale, Bermel’s command of klezmer’s bent notes, textured attacks and fluid, singing quality put the movement’s influences beyond doubt.

Allan Kozinn is a former music critic and culture writer for The New York Times who lives in Portland. He can be contacted at:

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