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January 06-13, 2002
The new Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts is home to 2,500-seat Verizon Hall, a cello-shaped concert hall with mahogany walls and state-of-the-art acoustics designed especially for The Philadelphia Orchestra by Russell Johnson, and a 650-seat Perelman Theater, with a stage that rotates to accommodate chamber music, recitals and dance.
 
Where to Go in Philadelphia
Kimmel Center Acoustics Okay
Now, About The Ladies' Rooms
by Deborah Kravetz

Hold your horses! You want to know about the acoustics, right? Well, let me tell you about the ladies' rooms at the Kimmel Center. All those other critics never mentioned them, did they? Well, of course not -- they're all men! The rest of us know what's really important. So here's the scoop: there are six (count 'em six) ladies' rooms, two on each side of each of the tiers of Verizon Hall, with six stalls and four sinks each. The only mirror is facing the sinks, and the lighting is aquarium green and underwater dismal. Once again, women lose out to the male designers who must have made this decision, never having had to check make-up or replace 
a contact lens at intermission. Ladies' rooms at the Academy, the Prince, the Walnut and the Wilma are all better lighted, and seem to have a greater ratio of stalls. So there. 

That out of the way...oh, yes, the legroom. I went to the public open house mobfest on Sunday and the Orchestra subscribers' open house and sat in the last row of Verizon. While the seat was comfortable for my five-foot frame, it could be described as skimpy, but there was twice as much legroom for crossing legs and passing by as anywhere in the Academy, or even any other theater in Philadelphia. Seats on the sides of the "cello" are full-size moveable arm chairs that were too large for me, but on the sides of the third tier, I would be leaning forward on the railing most of the time to see the stage anyway. It is easier to view the stage from the angle of the sides of the second tier. 

Overall, the hall seems smaller and shorter, the top seat not as high, and the stage covers a larger portion of the floor than in the Academy. 

Oh, the acoustics? Well at the mobfest, a baritone was singing with piano in Verizon, and I had no trouble hearing him over the crowd from the last row of the third tier. Perelman Hall was presenting an amplified jazz band that day, and there was no problem hearing anything from anywhere there. 

In fact, I would have expected to hear the vocal recital in Perelman and the jazz band in Verizon, considering the relative intimacy of their spaces. 

On Sunday I stood in line at the box office, which has seven windows and will be open all day every day, to buy a ticket for Audra McDonald. They are continuing use of the Academy purchasers' database, so my address information was already there. The lowest prices for any concert are going to be in the "Conductor's Circle," the box across the back of the stage and facing the audience, so be aware that you will be exposed to every set of opera glasses and binoculars in the house; of course they are much less necessary here than in the Academy, but you had better be prepared to be visible and awake. These seats might be desirable for a string quartet or small ensemble, but not for a diva soprano, so I decided to pay a premium of $30 for a third tier seat. After leaning forward for the first half, I moved from the center of row A to the side of row E for the second half 
and had a better view of the front center of the stage. 

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What's New

A New Hall for Philadelphia
Deborah Kravetz

Complete List of Grammy Nominations

Exploring the Carnegie Hall
Millennium Piano Book
Deborah Kravetz

Terry Riley Gets Hot
A new recording makes an unlikely star.

Indie-Rock Meets Neo-Bach
Key to Relâche Repertoire
Deborah Kravetz

Kernis Wins Grawemeyer
Adds to Pulitizer; nets $200,000

Death of Liberty
The Boston Symphony's cancellation of The Death of Konghoffer chorus does not bode well for the future of the arts in a free society.

Lilith 2001
Deborah Drattall's revisit to the Garden of Eden delivers less than promised.

Interview with Poul Ruders

Why the Arts Matter
by Cary Boyce
In the face of overwhelming loss, the arts help us give voice to our sorrow. 

Our writers welcome your comments on their pieces.  Send your witty bon mots to jbowles@sequenza21.com and we might even publish some of them here.  And, don't forget--if you'd like to write for Sequenza21 (understanding that we have no money to pay you), send me a note.  JB


Record companies, artists and publicists are invited to submit CDs to be considered for our Editor's Pick's of the month.  Send to: Jerry Bowles, Editor, Sequenza 21, 340 W. 57th Street, 12B, NY, NY 10019  Also, feel free to nominate your favorite composer-- even if it's you--for Spotlight of the Week.

NAXOS IN DEMAND: 
PHILIP GLASS

 Philip GLASS: Violin Concerto / Company
Adele Anthony, violin 
Ulster Orchestra 
Takuo Yuasa, conductor

Modern Music News

old news

ANOTHER OPERA HOUSE FOR BERLIN? Does Berlin need a fourth opera house? There is a proposal to build one, devoted to music theatre written since 1945. The design is sleek - like a space ship, and the project is creating a sensation. But "there are a few problems. Berlin, which can no longer afford to maintain its three existing opera houses, is probably the European capital least likely to want to pay for another. The national government has already categorically said it will not provide money for the project; Germany already has some 80 opera houses." Andante 01/04/02

A PLEA FOR BACK TO BASICS: Why must opera directors muck up perfectly good classic operas? "The curse of the megalomaniac producer is not confined to Britain. In fact we get off quite lightly. It is now almost impossible to see a classic opera in Germany in a reasonably traditional production. There must be a new 'Konzept', good or bad makes no difference." The Telegraph (UK) 01/05/02

WILL OPERA SURVIVE? Gerard Mortier wonders about the future of opera: "For years now, like vampires, we so-called managers and artistic directors have been sucking fresh blood from film and theater directing to secure a little more eternity for opera. I have taken great delight in doing so. The experience was an important one - it brought about refreshing new interpretations of works. In the meantime, however, this process has itself become clichéd, possibly even a pure publicity reflex. Will it be possible to keep opera from becoming a dead language and gradually disappearing from our so-called educational canon, just as Latin and Greek are vanishing from our classrooms?" Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 01/04/02

CROSSING THE LINE: The problem with crossover music (the blending of classical with popular forms) may be that so much of it uses the moniker of "classical" to reinforce old elitist stereotypes of the superiority of high art music. "But is there any scale on which [Charlotte] Church could possibly be measured a greater, more valuable artist or musician than soul goddess [Aretha] Franklin? And is every Boston Pops concert automatically inferior to any performed by the Boston Symphony Orchestra?" Boston Herald 01/03/01

KERNIS AT THE TOP: Composer Aaron Jay Kernis has been winning all the music world's top prizes for composers, including the Grawemeyer and the Pulitzer. He's also getting some of the most prominent commissions by major orchestras. "He's capable of irony and wit, but won't take cover behind those qualities. There's a lot of passion to his writing, and what ties his disparate pieces together are the grand gestures, the way he'll go for a big romantic statement." Christian Science Monitor 01/04/02

A NEW STANDARD OF SUCCESS? It is a strange phenomenon of an uncertain time in the orchestral world that many top ensembles are announcing year-end fiscal numbers that would have been considered horrifying a couple of years ago, but can still be said to place the orchestra well out of the danger zone inhabited by groups in Toronto, St. Louis, and elsewhere. Case in point: the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, which ran over $1 million in the red in 2001, but is going ahead with a massive venue expansion plan and shows no signs of making cuts. Detroit Free Press 01/02/02

HOPE FOR HIGHBROW? The San Francisco Opera's new director may be sick and tired of all the fundraising work her job entails (no surprise after the years she spent in Europe, where the arts are publicly subsidized,) but the necessity of catering to the interests of certain wealthy patrons isn't stopping Pamela Rosenberg from mounting challenging new productions. Among the costly and daring projects the SF Opera is planning: the American premiere of a Messaien opera that critics swore up and down would never be heard here. San Jose Mercury News 01/03/02

KEYS TO SUCCESS? Should classical music popularize itself like the visual art industry has? "Classical music doesn't suit that sort of hype. Its sedentary, spiritual quality tends to appeal to older people. Unlike the visual arts, it demands communal concentration - something most young people, raised on a culture of soundbites, are not prepared to do. It can't be sampled at a glance, it's not visually exciting. It also happens to be horribly labour-intensive. Worst of all, classical music is in the throes of an identity crisis, because its principal tools are 18th- and 19th-century creations, with a few 20th-century accretions. The vast majority of orchestras and venues have failed to reinvent themselves in a way that suits modern media." Financial Times 01/01/02

TROUBLE GETTING MUSIC: Many music fans looking for recent classical recordings in stores before Christmas were stymied. Selection in stores is lousy and distribution is limited. So where did all the music go? "It must be said that the downturn in the disc business doesn't herald the end of classical music. Box office figures for live performance remain good to excellent here and elsewhere. Yet veterans of the disc biz say it's rarely been worse." Philadelphia Inquirer 01/01/02

DALLAS POSTPONEMENT: The Dallas Opera has seen ticket sales fall by about 15 percent. One of the company's cost-cutting measures is to postpone the American premiere of Mark-Anthony Turnage's The Silver Tassie to the 2004-2005 season. The opera is "based on a play by Sean O'Casey, tells the story of an Irish soccer hero who goes off to World War I and returns paralyzed by a battle injury." Dallas Morning News 01/02/02

--more news--

Lucky Pierre Boulez Heads
Grammy Classical Nominations

Maybe it was his 75th birthday or maybe it was because of the Molierian farce of the Swiss police hauling him off as a suspected terrorist for a remark he made 40 years ago, but Pierre Boulez heads the list of classical nominees for GRAMMY Awards this year. The 44th Annual GRAMMY Awards will be held on Feb. 27, 2002 at Staples Center in Los Angeles and be broadcast on the CBS Television Network at 8 p.m.

Boulez received six nominations, including Best Classical Contemporary
Composition, Best Classical Album, Best Orchestral Performance, Best Instrumental Soloist Performance with Orchestra and Best Chamber Music Performance.

Born in Montbrison(Loire, France on 26th March 1925, Boulez studied at the Paris Conservatoire with Olivier Messiaen (1944-45) and studied twelve-tone technique with René Leibowitz (1946). Boulez has been a leader of the avant-garde.

Among his compositions are Le Soleil 
des eaux (1948, for voice and 
orchestra; Structures (1952, 1961), 
for two pianos; Le Marteau sans maître 
(1954), for voice and chamber 
ensemble; Pli selon pli (1957-62, for 
voice and orchestra: the Piano Sonata 
No. 3 (1957, unfinished) in which 
aleatory processes are explored; and Éclat (1965), for 15-piece chamber orchestra. His later work includes Memoriales (1973-75), Dérive I (1984), and Dérive II (1988). Since the early 1960s many of his works have been revisions of earlier compositions.

He was director of music for Jean-Louis
Barrault's theater in Paris, and there he 
founded the Concerts Marigny and the 
Domaine Musical to present avant-garde works. He has conducted throughout the world and has published several works 
in French. He was music director and 
conductor (1971-77) of the New York
Philharmonic. He founded the Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique (IRCAM, part of the Pompidou Center in Paris, serving as its director from its opening in 1977 until 1992.

In recent years he has devoted much time to the development of sophisticated electronic equipment for the production, generation, and modification of musical sound. This work is exemplified by his ongoing composition Répons, for orchestra, ensembles, and electronic devices.


 COMPLETE
CLASSICAL GRAMMY NOMINATIONS
Best Classical Contemporary

Composition
A Composer's Award. (For a contemporary classical composition composed within the last 25 years, and released for the first time during the Eligibility Year.)

1. Boulez: Sur Incises
Pierre Boulez (Solistes de l'Ensemble InterContemporain;
Pierre Boulez)
Track from: Boulez: Sur Incises; Messagesquisse; Anthème 2
[Deutsche Grammophon]

2. Rouse: Concert De Gaudí For Guitar And Orch.
Christopher Rouse (Sharon Isbin, guitar; Muhai Tang;
Gulbenkian Orch.)
Track from: Rouse: Concert De Gaudí/Tan Dun: Con. For
Guitar And Orch. (Yi2)
[Teldec Classics International]

3. Ruders: Handmaid's Tale
Poul Ruders (Anne Margrethe Dahl, Poul Elming, Hanne
Fischer, Aage Haugland, Susanne Resmark & Marianne
Rorholm; Michael Schonwandt; Royal Danish Orch.)
[da capo]

4. Saariaho: Lonh
Kaija Saariaho (Dawn Upshaw, soprano)
Trk from: Saariaho: Private Gardens (Lonh; Près; NoaNoa Etc.)
[Naïve Montaigne]

5. Tavener: Total Eclipse
John Tavener (John Harle, saxophone & Max Jones, treble
solo; Edward Higginbottom; The Cho. of New College,
Oxford; Paul Goodwin; The Academy of Ancient Music)
Track from: Tavener: Total Eclipse; Agraphon
[Harmonia Mundi]

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The Adams Chronicles


Previous Interviews/Profiles
Simon Rattle, Michael Gordon,Benjamin Lees, Scott Lindroth, David Felder, Mark-Anthony Turnage, Erkki-Sven Tüür, John Luther Adams, Brett Dean, Judith Lang Zaimont, Meyer Kupferman, Evan Chambers, Poul Ruders

Previous Articles/
Busoni The Visionary
The Composer of the Moment:  Mark-Anthony Turnage
Electronic Music
Voices: Henze at 75
Henze Meets Emenim
On Finding Kurtag
Charles Ruggles:  When Men Were Men
Ballet Mécanique




EDITOR'S PICKS - January 2002



The Music of Elliott Carter, Volume Four
Composer: E. Carter
Conductor: Elliott Carter
Performer: Susan Narucki, David Starobin, et al.
Ensemble: Daniel Druckman
Bridge - #9111 
Volume four of Bridge's comprehensive Elliott Carter series includes the  masterpiece, Eight Pieces for Four Timpani,  as well as a number of short recent works. Particularly fine  is  David Starobin's performance of  "Shard," a piece for solo guitar that is short but breathtakingly original.

Complete Crumb Edition, Volume 5: Easter Dawning, Celestial Mechanics, A Haunted Landscape, Processional
Composer: George Crumb
Conductor: George Crumb
Performer: Thomas Conlin
Ensemble: Haewon Song , Robert Shannon Don Cook 
Bridge - #9113 
The fifth release in Bridge's award winning Complete Crumb Edition includes the premiere recording of Crumb's1992 carillon solo, "Easter Dawning"  played by Don Cook, carilloneur at Brigham Young University."Celestial Mechanics", for piano, four-hands is pure Crumb.  "A Haunted Landscape" 1984) for orchestra is played by  The Warsaw Philharmonic under conductor Thomas Conlin, the same combination that produced the Grammy-winning "Star-Child". 

Klezmer Suite
Composer: Sid Robinovitch
Cbc Records --Naxos-- - #5212 
Okay, so klezmer is not everybody's bag but folk and popular music blend seamlessly with the classics in this appealing new release from CBC Records celebrating the music of Sid Robinovitch. The three works performed  are Klezmer Suite, Concerto for Saxophone Quartet and Orchestra, and Camptown for Banjo and Orchestra.

Dioscures, Ephemeres
Composer: Yves Prin
Conductor: Bruno Ferrandis
Performer: Pierre-Yves Artaud
Ensemble: Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France
Naxos - #8555347 
Once you know that Prin was in Boulez's first composition class at IRCAM, the fact that all of these pieces are revisions of earlier pieces begin to make sense.  Like the master, Prin is obviously a harsh critic of his own work.  At 41 minutes, the disk covers a lot of contemporary territory and contains flashes of geninue originality.

Violin|Viola and Keyboard Works
Composer: Alan Hovhaness
Performers: Christina Fong, Arved Ashby
This disc  might easily be subtitled "music to chill out by."
Deceptively simple and meditative with just the right touches of exotic  eastern mysticism, this is music that captivates through  simplicity.  A keeper. 

Colored Field · Musica Celestis · Air 
Composer: Aaron Jay Kernis
Conductor: Eiji Oue
Performer: Truls Mørk
Emd/Virgin Classics - #45464
Some of Kernis' greatest hits retooled for Truls, who performs them magnificently.
















 


This Is the Colour of My Dreams
Conductor: Mario Bernardi
Performer: Shauna Rolston
Ensemble: CBC Radio Orchestra
Cbc Records --Naxos-- - #5214 
Ralson is an enthusiastic advocate and performer of contemporary music. She has given the North American premiere of Gavin Bryarís concerto, "Farewell to Philosophy", Rolf Wallinís "Ground" for solo cello and strings, Krzysztof Pendereckiís Sextet for violin, viola, cello, piano, clarinet and horn, as well as the Canadian premiere of "Kai", a work for solo cello and 18 instruments by Mark Anthony Turnage. Here she delivers  the world premieres of  works written especially for her by Canadian composers Heather Schmidt, Christos Hatzis, Chan Ka Nin, and Kelly-Marie Murphy.

Selected Songs
Composer: Ned Rorem
Performer: Ned Rorem, Carole Farley
Naxos - #8559084 
Pushing 80, Rorem continues to add to his extensive catalogue of over four hundred songs. His individual settings and cycles draw their texts from a wide range of poetry. Among his favorites sources have been Walt Whitman, Theodore Roethke, Kenneth Koch, Paul Goodman, and the English Metaphysical Poets.  Nobody does art songs better.

Ride
Composer:  Paul Lansky 
Bridge
 The title track, 'Ride', is a 19 minute piece made from sounds of a highway, processed and filtered to create sweeping sonic landscapes. An 8 channel version of the piece was played at Lincoln Center's 'Great Day in New York' festival in January 2000. 

 Triple Quartet/Music for a Large Ensemble/Electric Guitar Phase
Steve Reich, Kronos Quartet, conductor Alan Pierson
Wea/Atlantic/Nonesuch - #79546
This is the first recording of Reichís Triple Quartet performed by Kronos Quartet, who commissioned the work and in whose honor it was written. This disc, the first to include a new work by Reich since the 1996 release City Life,  also features first recordings of Electric Guitar Phase and Tokyo/Vermont Counterpoint, as well as the first recording of a newly revised edition of Music for Large Ensemble. 
 

Pulse Shadows
Composer: Harrison Birtwistle
Wea/Atlantic/Teldec - #26867 
Written for soprano, string quartet & ensemble of 2 clarinets, viola, cello and double bass, Pulse Shadows' nine string quartet movements alternate with the 'song' ensemble. The nine quartet movements comprise five Fantazias and four 'Friezes', of which the fourth is an instrumental meditation on Celan's famous poem Todesfuge (Death Fugue), with its strange recurrent image of black milk.

Brahms · Stravinsky - Violin Concertos
Composer: Johannes Brahms, Igor Stravinsky
Performer: Neville Marriner
Sony Classics - #89649 
Thank heaven for little girls. Kid breathes new life into old workhorses.

The Ancient Thespians
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Publisher:  Duane Harper Grant  (212) 582-4153
Editor:    Jerry Bowles   (212) 582-3791
Contributing Editors: Armando Bayolo, Sam Bergman, Joshua Cohen, Karina Cristina Demitrio, Deborah Kravetz 
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