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January 14-21, 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. 


What's New

An Interview with Steven R. Gerber

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.



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

Modern Music News

old news

AMERICA'S GREATEST LIVING COMPOSER? Who is America's greatest living composer? Here's a vote for John Adams: "Adams is the most consistently serious of them all - eclipsing trend-setters such as Steve Reich and Philip Glass, edging out older types like Ned Rorem, and dwarfing the semi- tonal postmodernist brigade. An Adams premiere is an international event. Unlike Reich and Glass, he is still evolving. In contrast to retro-Puccinians like Mark Adamo and Jake Heggie, his best works withstand repeated hearing. He has enough ideas - and craftsmanship - to sustain interest from beginning to end: in short forms or long, his music inspires confidence. Most important of all, it remains pleasurable to the senses." Financial Times 01/11/02

SAME OLD TIRED IDEAS: The Toronto Symphony, having just (barely) staved off bankruptcy a few months ago, is trying to broaden its appeal by offering pops concerts. But "two fake palm trees, the billboard-sized words 'Club Swing,' two lounge tables and a dreary raconteur who reels off showbiz names just don't work on this stage in this venue. And asking the TSO to metamorphose into a red-hot swing orchestra is asking for a manned spaceflight to Mars this year. Playing the nostalgia card at this stage cannot be considered wise." Toronto Star 01/08/02

WRONG ABOUT WALTON? It's the 100th anniversary of composer William Walton's birth. There not being a lot of great English composers, Walton is regularly trotted out as one of the very best. "To suggest, as I am about to do, that Walton is not worth the candle of retrospection is to risk the wrath of friends and the scorn of patriots. Walton was a talented composer. He was also, in objective terms, an archetypal English failure whose shortcomings cry out for critical examination. When a king walks down Centenary Lane clad in nothing but local adulation, there must surely be one voice in the throng to draw attention to his immodesty." The Telegraph (UK) 01/09/02

HOW THEATRES GREW UP: A study of Venice's La Fenice Opera House gives some idea of the evolution of theatres adapting to social customs. "During the 18th century, the theater was one of the most important meeting places in public life. In the boxes and the camerini allocated to them - Marcel Proust described these as 'small living rooms minus their fourth walls' - people ate meals, made love and hatched intrigues before, during and after the performances." Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 01/07/02

SAN DIEGO GIFT: The San Diego Symphony, which once went bankrupt and is perpetually in financial difficulty, is in line for a major gift - perhaps the largest-ever individual gift to an American symphony orchestra. "The money - thought by some in San Diego's arts community to be as much as $100 million - eventually could place the organization's endowment near the top 10 of U.S. orchestras and bring unprecedented stability to the 92-year-old institution." San Diego Union 01/09/02

IN PRAISE OF THE WALKOUT: Walking out of a performance is pretty rare these days. Some audience members walked out of a recent Dallas Opera performance of Wozzek. Usually, "audiences are more passive, or at least more polite, than they used to be. It's hard to play a piano concerto anymore and not get a standing ovation. 'I sometimes wish more people would walk out. At least it would show some passion'." Dallas Morning News 01/13/02

ART VERSUS INTERPRETATION: Is an opera production a "work of art?" "Missionaries for opera keep touting it as the greatest art form, simply because it supposedly subsumes so many others. Drama and music and painting, maybe even sculpture and dance: top that, if you can. Actually, the essence of opera, even for Richard Wagner, who dreamed of an 'artwork of the future' based on just this model, remained what it had been since Monteverdi: drama embedded in music. In a classic Platonic sense, this constitutes the work (in more fashionable parlance, 'the text'). On the other hand, a performance, along with its physical trappings, falls under the heading of interpretation, commonly held to be a creative function of the second order, though it does not have to be." The New York Times 01/13/02

FIRED CONDUCTOR STARTS RIVAL ORCHESTRA: Conductor Grzegorz Nowak was told this week that his contract as music director of the Edmonton Symphony wouldn't be renewed. The next day he announced he'd put together a group of supporters and will start a new orchestra in the city. The plans are ambitious: "an immediate 45 per cent increase in concerts, a growth in orchestra size from 56 players to 93, a near-doubling in musicians' salaries over six years, and annual recordings and/or tours beginning in 2002." The new orchestra "would be based on a quite different attitude," says Nowak. "The new orchestra would put musicians' concerns first and would present more concerts with higher-paid musicians." Edmonton Journal 01/10/02

BRITAIN'S TOP SINGERS: Who are Britain's top ten opera singers? A poll of English singers ranks Bryn Terfel on top. The Independent (UK) 01/07/02

THE SELLING OF RENEE: Soprano Renee Fleming is said to have the most beautiful voice on stage today. "Though singing may be a private orgy, it is also a business, and if Fleming has become America's sweetheart it is because, behind her soft smile, she so shrewdly understands the country's values: the need to balance pleasure and profit, self-expression and the ambitious manoeuvrings of a career." The Observer (UK) 01/06/02

--more news--

Electronic Dialogues

An Interview with
Steven R. Gerber
Steven R. Gerber's music has achieved international recognition recently as a result of two CDs of his orchestral music released on Chandos and KOCH International Classics.  Chandos has issued his Symphony #1, "Dirge and Awakening," Viola Concerto, and Triple Overture, played by the Russian Philharmonic Orchestra under Thomas Sanderling, with Lars Anders Tomter, viola, and the Bekova Sisters Trio, and the CD has received  rave reviews in a large number of magazines, newspapers, and websites in Great Britain and the U.S.  Under a grant from the Aaron Copland Fund, KOCH has just released his Violin Concerto, Cello Concerto, and Serenade for Strings, with the National Chamber Orchestra under Piotr Gajewski and soloists Kurt Nikkanen and Carter Brey.

     Gerber has written for many of the major performers of our time.  In addition to the concertos written for Nikkanen and Brey, he wrote his String Quartet #4 for the Fine Arts Quartet, his Viola Concerto for Yuri Bashmet, who premiered it at his festival in Tours, and several works for Russian violinist Tatyana Grindenko. His works have also been performed by such groups as the Knoxville Chamber Orchestra under Kirk Trevor, Philharmonia Virtuosi under Richard Kapp, and The Russian National Orchestra under Mikhail Pletnev.  Most recently, he received a commission from Concertante Chamber Players for a work entitled "Spirituals" for clarinet and string quartet, premiered by them in 2001 in Harrisburg, New York City, and the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. 

    Born in Washington, D.C. in 1948, Gerber now lives in New York City.  He has degrees from Haverford College and from Princeton University, which awarded him a 4-year fellowship for graduate studies.  His works have been played throughout the U.S., Europe, and the former Soviet Union, where he has toured frequently and had literally dozens of orchestral performances and 
many concerts of his own chamber and solo works.  Several solo and choral works of his have been recorded on CRI and the French label Suoni e Colori.  His works are published by MMB, Boelke-Bomart/Mobart, and APNM.  Currently he is working on a clarinet concerto for Jon Manasse and has been commissioned by Voice of America to write a new work for its 60th anniversary.

S21: You are a remarkably prolific composer and have created works in a wide variety of forms—orchestral, chamber, choral, solo.  Do you prefer one form over another? 

SRG: For a long time I preferred to write solo, vocal,  or chamber works and didn't expect to write much for orchestra.  When I began my Symphony in 1988, at the age of 40, I had written only one previous work for orchestra, some settings of Wallace Stevens for soprano and orchestra, which were still unplayed.  (I had to wait nearly 15 years for them to be performed; oddly enough they were given two performances in Ukraine during the same year with two different orchestras, singers, and conductors.)  I Had no idea when I would hear the Symphony, or my next work, a Serenade for Strings, but I got 
lucky very soon after they were finished and they were both played a lot, first in Russia, and then, in the case of the Serenade in the U.S. too, and 
those performances inspired me to write a lot more for orchestra.  Since then I have enjoyed alternating between orchestral works and works for much smaller groups, but I think my greatest affinity may be for writing pieces for solo viola, solo oboe, etc.  At one time I enjoyed writing songs and choral music more than anything else, because the texts made me feel a connection to the world in a way I didn't feel with instrumental music, but I haven't written for voice since 1988.


Violin Concerto
Composer: Steven R. Gerber
Performer: Kurt Nikkanen, Carter Brey
Koch International Classics - #7501 


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 Bryar’s concerto, "Farewell to Philosophy", Rolf Wallin’s "Ground" for solo cello and strings, Krzysztof Penderecki’s 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.

Composer:  Paul Lansky 
 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 Reich’s 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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SEQUENZA/21/ is published weekly by Sequenza/21 
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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