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  February 23-30, 2004

Other Minds 10:
A Festival to Remember

The Other Minds Festival 10  evening concert on Friday, March 5th, features the U.S. premiere of Ashtayama by Amelia Cuni (b. Italy), one of the few Western women to have mastered the classical Indian "dhrupad" vocal style, with sound design by electronic composer Werner Durand and lighting and stage design by Uli Sigg.

San Francisco's Other Minds celebrates 10 years of probing the most brilliant fringes of contemporary music with Other Minds 10, March 4-5-6, 2004, at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco. Unique in format among music festivals worldwide, Other Minds 10 gathers participants from Canada, Armenia, Germany, Myanmar, China, Japan, Poland, Italy, South Korea, and the U.S., for three days of extraordinary musical events, including two world premieres, six U.S. premieres, and an array of unusual instruments. 

Other Minds executive director and festival artistic director Charles Amirkhanian has invited stellar composers and musicians from many cultures, traditions, and musical genres to appear at Other Minds 10. Participants include: Alex Blake, Amelia Cuni, Werner Durand, Francis Dhomont, Mark Grey, Keiko Harada, Joan Jeanrenaud, Hanna Kulenty, Tigran Mansurian, Jon Raskin, Stanley Shaff, and special guest performer, avant-garde accordionist Stefan Hussong. Also appearing are violist Kim Kashkashian; Anne La Berge on quarter-tone flute with Nicole Paiement and the Parallèle Ensemble; ROVA Saxophone Quartet with Jiebing Chen, Min Xiao-Fen, Shoko Hikage, Kyaw Kyaw Naing, Jim Santi Owen, and Sang Won Park, conducted by Gino Robair; Ted Cruz, Chris Hunter, Victor Jones, and Bidal Roy of the Alex Blake Quintet; Joel Davel, marimba; set designer Uli Sigg; and stilt-walking dancer Pamela Wunderlich. 

A co-presentation of Other Minds and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, in association with the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, Other Minds 10 begins with three days of private retreat for guest composers at the Djerassi Resident Artists Program in Woodside. The festival then moves to San Francisco, March 4-6, for concerts, composer talks, a panel on Women in Music, films, a marketplace of hard-to-find books, recordings and original musical scores, and photographs from past Other Minds festivals by John Fago. 

A special event on the program will be a screening on March 6 of Khachaturian, a touching new documentary on the life and music of Armenian composer Aram Khachaturian (1903-1978) for his centennial, produced and directed by award-winning NY filmmaker Peter Rosen and narrated by Eric Bogosian. Included is previously unreleased Soviet footage of the 1948 congress denouncing the composer along with Prokofiev and Shostakovitch.

Other Minds 10 presents concerts, films, talks and exhibits, from Thursday, March 4, through Saturday, March 6, 2004, at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater (700 Howard St. @ 3rd) and Forum (701 Mission St. @ 3rd). Ticket prices for individual concerts are: $35 Premium / $27 Regular / $18 Budget.   A Festival Pass for all events is: $80 Premium / $65 Regular / $45 Budget. A Student Discount deducts $3 Premium / $2 Regular / $1 Budget off concert tickets and passes. 

Advance tickets are available from the Yerba Buena Box Office at (415) 978-2787 (978-ARTS). Festival information is available at OtherMinds

See the full schedule here.



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Our writers welcome your comments on their pieces.  Send your witty bon mots to jerry@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
Korean Wins Top Composer Prize The $200,000 Grawemeyer Prize is one of the top awards for composers. "The 2004 winner is the Korean composer Unsuk Chin - the third woman to take the Grawemeyer. Like the rest of us, composers come in all shapes and sizes, but Chin isn't quite what you'd expect a modern composer to look like: she's petite, delicate, almost weightlessly graceful, with the kind of sultry, heavy-lidded eyes that you see on James Bond's sexier villains." The Independent (UK) 02/16/04 

Where Music Is Just Music - Isn't It? Alex Ross ponders the attractions and liabilities of encounters with classical music. "The strange thing about the music in America today is that large numbers of people seem aware of it, curious about it, even mildly knowledgeable about it, but they do not go to concerts. The people who try to market orchestras have a name for these annoying phantoms: they are 'culturally aware non-attenders,' to quote a recent article in the magazine Symphony. I know the type; most of my friends are case studies." The New Yorker 02/16/04 

Classic Zappa - Understanding The Avant Garde "The wary romance between Frank Zappa and the classical world was never fully consummated. It also never really ended. A decade after his death, Zappa is still a surprise guest at concerts by classical musicians, who can rent his published works almost as easily as they can music by Richard Strauss or John Williams. Some treat Zappa as a naughty kindred spirit, while others seem to deploy his works as props for the construction of a hip image." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 02/21/04 

Why Barenboim Is Leaving Why is Barenboim leaving the Chicago Symphony? One official suggested that "there have been ongoing conflicts with the administration and trustees regarding the 'non-artistic' side of his directorship, including questions about his taking a firmer hand in fundraising, community outreach and maintaining a more regular community presence." Chicago Tribune 02/20/04 

Singing The Praises Of Singing There are hundreds of thousands of choruses and choirs in North America. "For all the developments in symphonic and operatic music in recent decades, choral singing remains the most pervasive musical activity in the country, whether in churches, schools or concert halls." So what is the allure of opening your mouth to make noise? Toronto Star 02/22/04 

Who Will Lead Them? Who will take over the top jobs in New York's top music administrative jobs? There aren's a lot of good candidates. "The dearth of leadership material is not a consequence of poor remuneration. It is, rather, the fault of a system which diffuses authority in too many directions. The boss of most opera houses and concerthalls (Carnegie excepted) has an artistic director who makes the fun decisions and a board of big givers who double-guess everything else. The boss’s hands are manacled. Initiative is stifled and financial setbacks swiftly punished. The manager of a tyre plant in Denver has more power to transform the product than the president of any US arts centre or opera house." La Scena Musicale 02/18/04 

The CD Will Be Dead By 2007 "New studies show that young people have little interest in owning prepackaged music when just about every recording they want can be had as a download. For people stricken with the collecting disease, this plastic-free vision of the future sounds a little alarming. Sure, we smirked when Dustin Hoffman's Benjamin was urged to go into plastics in "The Graduate." But we've really come to love our plastic, especially when it contains the audio and visual stimulation we crave." San Francisco Chronicle 02/19/04 

Sentenced To Listen - The Music We Don't Like Recently a Florida judge sentenced a man who was playing his music too loud to listen to opera. Andrew Mueller believes this is enlightened thinking: "It is time, surely, to update the legal code in this country, to enable judges to sentence the noisy to a punishment that fits their crime. Few things are as distressing to the spirit as music we don't wish to hear." The Guardian (UK) 02/21/04 

Encouraging Minority Strings The Sphinx Competition was created to help encourage African-American and Latino string players. "This year, some 20 major orchestras — the Detroit Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra and Philadelphia Orchestra among them — will showcase Sphinx winners in solo appearances. Meanwhile, the number of competition entries jumped to 80 this year from “the 40-50 range” in 2003." Detroit News 02/18/04 

The Rehabilitation Of Franz Welser-Most When conductor Franz Welser-Most led the London Philharmonic Orchestra in the early-90s, he was not liked by his musicians, who dubbed him 'Frankly Worse than Most." He was soon run out of the job. A decade later he is the much-loved leader of the Cleveland Orchestra. So how did musicians and critics get Welser-Most wrong the first time around? La Scena Musicale 02/12/04 

Women Barrier - The Vienna Philharmonic Will Seiji Ozawa's presence in Vienna help add more women to the orchestra's ranks? "The Vienna Philharmonic will doubtless fall back on the assertion that change can only come gradually: It can't be expected to alter the male-to-female ratio overnight. So let's look at the employment numbers for six years from 1997, when the orchestra proclaimed a new, enlightened policy of hiring women, until 2003. It's men, 21; women, 3. How's that for even-handed progress?" Straight Up (AJBlogs) 02/16/04 

Last Week's News

Jennifer Koh, violin
Reiko Uchida, piano

Fresh Ink Flows 
In Philadelphia
By Deborah Kravetz 

The fact that crowds at previous performances of this series could barely make themselves known in the cozy expanse of Perelman Hall, prompted relocation to the basement Innovation Studio, where the seats were all filled for this combination recital by Simone Dinnerstein, piano, and Jennifer Koh, violin,
with pianist Reiko Uchida.

Jazz influences abounded, from the themes treated by Levinson and Crumb, through the forthright free jazz of Ornette Coleman's fantasy for solo violin.

For Gerald Levinson's Ragamalika: Four Pieces for Solo piano (2001), chords
like pealing bells began quietly, breaking the silence (of morning?) and floating across the landscape of the Prelude.  The second movement featured running unison scales through which the ragas of India revealed themselves, along with an occasional jazzy syncopation and distinctly tart sonorities.
Black and white opposing sonorities must refer to the black and white keys, and indeed the third movement kept them closely enmeshed, mostly in clashing chords. The Postlude found the pianist reaching inside the instrument to pluck strings directly at times for a delicate-sounding close.

Dinnerstein presented Brahms' Intermezzo Op. 118, No. 2, with jazz-sounding
elements as a transition to the more distinct jazz influence in George Crumb's Eine Kleine Mitternachtmusik (2001).  Crumb is more familiar to me for his adaptations of American folk music, but the influence of Thelonius Monk's Round Midnight inspired this piece.  The theme appears in echoing high register punctuated with eerie knocks and strums bracketing movements that show the influence of other composers -- rag and blues, and even Debussy's Golliwog's Cakewalk are included.  The quotes from Til Eugenspiel and Tristan were sheer throwaways.

On the violin half of the program, Elliott Carter's Rhapsodic Musings for solo violin was full of energy without being panicked.  Trinity by Ornette Coleman was intended to be inspired by the performance itself, resulting in individuality with some improvisation, and clear Bachian roots, for a well-blended, although abruptly ended, result.

Lachen Verlernt by Esa-Pekka Salonen translates as "you've forgotten to laugh", but there is nothing to laugh at in this serious etude, much less Koh's skill as a musician.  Charles Wuorinen's Sonata is a theme and
variations on styles of music, as well as composers, but it came off as a collection of riffs interconnected, with little flow or musicality.

Luis Prado has studied at Curtis with Ned Rorem, and his Sonata is in three
movements of contrasting moods: recitative, meditation and intense, the latter two accompanied by piano. The recitative sweeps emotionally, with small, quiet interruptions.  Meditation creates  echoes between low piano chords and very high violin phrases, and sweeping melody lines.  The intense final movement moves nervously with jagged phrases, sudden starts and abrupt stops in a sort of Hungarian frenzy.

Ultimately, for all the freshness of the ink, the compositional distinctions were not overt, the jazz rhythms hardly subtle.  Overall, the Ornette Coleman stood out for its classicality, while the Brahms wasmemorable for its new age/pop sweetness.  How oppositional!

Fresh Ink Series
Kimmel Center 
Philadelphia, PA
February 5, 2004
(Reposted from Penn Sounds 2/18/04)

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, Steven R. Gerber, Gloria Coates, Tobias Picker

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
The Adams Chronicles

What's Recent
An Interview with Tobias Picker
Handmaid Tale's Debuts in English
Rautavaara Joins B&G 
Who's Afraid of Julia Wolfe
Derek Bermel's Soul Garden
 The Pianist: The Extraordinary 
True Story of Wladyslaw Szpilman
John Adams' Atomic Opera
A Bridge Not Far Enough
Turnage Signs With B&H
Sophie's Wrong Choice
Copland's Mexico
On Being Arvo
Rzewski Plays Rzewski
Praising Lee Hyla
David Lang's Passing Measures
Three Tales at BAM
Naxos at 15
On the Transmigration of Souls
Dead Man Walking
David Krakauer's The Year After
Steve Reich/Alan Pierson
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
             THIS WEEK'S PICKS 

Composer: Lee Hyla
Conductor: Gil Rose
Performer: Laura Frautschi, Tim Smith
 New World Records

A rare opportunity to hear several of the major symphonic works of a true American original.  Hyla happily mingles expressionistic, complex contemporary atonal idioms with elements of avant-garde jazz, and rock and garage band with results that cannot be anticipated.

His  honking, strongly articulated rhythms mask  an inner beauty that almost always seems ready to burst into radiant sunshine. 

The three works on this disc—Concerto for Bass Clarinet and Orchestra (1988), Trans (1996), and the Violin Concerto (2001)—show Hyla at peak form, with stunning performances by Gil Rose and the Boston Modern Orchestra Project.


Mein Herz Brennt
Composer: Torsten Rasch
Performer(s): Rene Pape, Katharina Thalbach, Dresdner Sinfoniker
Deutsche Grammophon

The best part of this odd little exercise is the sensational baritone Rene Pape, who sings these re-set songs by the German punk rock group, Rammstein, as if they were written by Mahler, on a good day.

Four Psalms, Emerson
Composer:  John Harbison
Performers:  The Cantata Singers & Ensemble
New World Records

This is the first recording of one of John Harbison’s most important works, Four Psalms, which was commissioned to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the state of Israel.  The composer describes Four Psalms as follows: "[It] opens with a prelude for mezzo-soprano and orchestra, a prayer composed by Amemar in 454 A.D., which states the major themes of the piece, both musical and philosophical … There follow four psalms, in Hebrew, alternating with the voices, in English, of people now living. The psalm settings employ fully developed forms—march, antiphon, passacaglia, and aria—suggested by the majesty and mystery of the Hebrew language. In contrast, the contemporary voices are set within brief inventions, their form echoing the momentary illuminations granted to those reflecting upon their own time." The other work, Emerson, is an a cappella setting of an extract from Emerson’s philosophical prose.  Stunning performances and a must-have disk.

Homage to Haydn / Triumph of St Joan
Composer:  Norman Dello Joio
Performer(s):   Slatkin, Louisville Orch
First Edition 

American composer Norman Dello Joio turned 91 in January and this re-issue of two of his significant works shows that his music  is wearing well.  Perhaps, a little too neo-classic or "accessible" for some modern sensibilities, Dello Joio's unique  compositional fusion of American popular music, jazz, Italian opera and the liturgical music of the Catholic church has an elegance that transcends the label of easy listening. Two wonderful works by Dello Joio are featured on this First Edition release: the stirring, widely acclaimed Louisville Orchestra commission, Triumph of St. Joan Symphony, which debuted with Martha Graham as dance soloist, and his Homage to Haydn, an jubilant tribute that reflects Dello Joio’s studies with Paul Hindemith.

Black Earth
Composer: Fazýl Say
Conductor: Muhai Tang, Eliahu Inbal
Performer: Fazil Say, Laurent Korcia

The Turkish pianist Fazýl Say has built a formidable reputation for himself through a string of first-rate recordings  of Mozart, Bach, Gershwin and Stravinsky.  This time around,  Say demonstrates that he is also a composer of considerable talent.  The title piece, Black Earth for solo piano, is  based on a Turkish folksong, in which Say, evoking the saz, a Turkish traditional instrument, simultaneously plays the keys and the strings inside the piano, producing an otherworldly sound. Say's compositions are hardly classical--more like Keith Jarrett with a dynamite hook-- but these are daring and exciting performances.

American Angels
Performer(s): Anonymous 4
Harmonia Mundi Franc 

Anonymous 4 turns from the medieval repertoire to explore the roots of American sacred music. Developed in Toni Morrison’s Atelier program at Princeton in spring 2003, American Angels includes songs of redemption and glory from the time of the American Revolution to the present day: 18th-century psalm settings from rural New England, 19th-century shape-note and camp revival songs from the rural South, and some of the nation’s best-loved gospel songs. Drawing from collections including “The Southern Harmony,” and “The Sacred Harp,” - the album explores the beauty and power of early American sacred music and the relatively obscure form of a cappella choral singing known as Sacred Harp.

Violin Concerto
Composer: Khachaturian,
Performer(s): Mihaela Martin, Kuchar, Nat'l So Ukraine

It takes a lot of virtuosity to keep Khachaturian's demanding Violin Concerto afloat and the Romanian violinist, Mihaela Martin, does a masterful job.  Her version is less daring, say, than that of, David Oistrakh, to whom the piece is dedicated, but she skillfully navigates the bristling outer movements and pours her soul into the elegaic central movement.  Among recent versions this holds it own with the very best. 


Piano Concerti Nos. 1 & 2
Piano Concerto No. 2
Marc-André Hamelin (piano), 
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Andrew Litton

Marc-Andre Hamelin makes child's play of these two very different piano masterpieces of Shostakovich.  Fabulously accompanied by the BBC Scottish Symphony, led by Andrew Litton,  Hamelin provides not simply his usual technical brillance but also a feeling for the material that sounds--to this listener--definitive.  The Shchedrin concerto, though less well-known, is no less enjoyable. 

Composer: Luigi Dallapiccola
Conductor: Ernest Bour
Radio France

 Dallapiccola's final masterpiece, the opera Ulisse, which premiered in Berlin in 1968, recounts the voyage both of Homer’s hero and of mankind's search  for eternal truths.  Recorded in 1975, a few months after the composer's death, this performance is the culmination of a lifetime of meditation and musical discipline by one of the great humanists of the 20th century arts.

Early and Unknown Piano Works
Composer:  Morton Feldman
Performer(s): Debora Petrina
OgreOgress Productions

Previously unrecorded pieces from the early 40s reveal Feldman during the period he studied with Wallingford Riegger.  No real surprises here but no klunkers either.  His  composition style borrows 12-tone techniques and atonality but deploys them within more traditional neo-classic structures. 


Guitar Concertos & Solos
Composer:  Poul Ruders
Performer:  David Starobin, guitar

The long and intimate collaboration between Poul Ruders, the brilliant composer, and David Starobin, the splendid guitarist, (who also happens to be David Starobin, the successful record executive--co-founder of Bridge Records)--has led to some of the most challenging and original compositions in the modern guitar repertory.  Consider this a kind of "greatest hits" for the modern classical guitar.

Symphonies 1 & 7
Composer:  Aulis Sallinen
Performer:  Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz, Ari Rasilainen

Another great Finnish composer, ho hum, but Aulis Sallinen (b. 1935) is, with Rautavaara, the latest proof that small countries can produce big composers.  There are hints of Sibelius, of course,  but Sallinen is a unique voice that speaks directly.  His work is tonal and completely devoid  of the modern  medievalism that characters much north of the Arctic Circle music. 

String Quartets 1 & 3
Composer:  Frank Bridge
Performers:. Maggini String Quartet

Frank Bridge is a bit of a lost horse in the English stable of composers that includes such giants as Elgar, Vaughan Williams and, his student, Benjamin Britten.  But he shouldn't be. No. 1, written in 1901, is a mature, fully realized work; No. 3, composed in 1927 is one of the pilars of 20th century chamber music.  As always, the Maggini play magnificiently and the recording is first rate.

Le Villi
Composer: Giacomo Puccini
Conductor: Marco Guidarini
Performer: Melanie Diener, Ludovic Tezier, et al. Radio France Chorus, French Radio Philharmonic Orchestra

Just listening to young Puccini's first opera (as opposed to seeing it staged and sung), you notice immediately that the big sweeping melodies, the ingenious "hooks" are already there. Naive has also issued a Radio France recording of Puccini’s second opera, Edgar, written five years after Le Villi.   In this more ambitious and complicated work, Puccini develops his technique using a score that merges stirring arias and ensembles. 

Emerson Concerto / Symphony 1
Composer:  Charles Ives
Performers:  Alan Feinberg (piano), National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, James Sinclair (conductor)

Ives sketched the Emerson Concerto in 1907 but never fully finished it, although he used portions in other works.  David G. Porter, a noted Ives scholar, was  able to create a performing version which was premiered in 1998 by Alan Feinberg, the pianist on this premiere recording.  The piece is extremely demanding, often abrasive, and demands exceptional  virtuosity.  Symphony No. 1 is fetching, but not as charateristic, of the great American maverick that followed.

Piano Concertos 2 & 3
Composer: Einojuhani Rautavaara
Performers: Laura Mikkola (piano), Netherlands Radio Symphony Orchestra, Eri Klas (conductor)

The Finnish composer Rautavaara has enjoyed enormous success in recent years with his unique blend of northern lights impressionism and romanticism  served up in an aura of modernity. His Cantus Articus is immensely popular, conjuring up associations of Messiean, although the latter is a much more important composer.   The Third Piano Concerto from 1998 is forceful, drawings on  the Russian school of pianism, although it not technically flashy until the finale.  The Second, composed nine years earlier, is more traditional and  Laura Mikkola, already on disc with a highly regarded account of the First Concerto, again provides an outstanding performance.

Composers: King, Kline, Reynolds, Ziporen
Performers:  Ethel

New York's most daring string-quartet sensation, Ethel, makes its debut here with a menu of the kind of hard-edged downtown music that has won the group a big following in the NY new music scene.   Todd Reynolds and Mary Rowell, violins; Ralph Farris, viola; and Dorothy Lawson, cello—all began their careers in New York as freelance musicians, playing difficult music that relies heavily on non-classical sources but requires a virtuoso classical ensemble to play. Its repertoire ranges from John King's energetic blues transcriptions to  the gnarly quartets  of Julia Wolfe and on Todd Reynolds' quirky
musical postcards.  Adventuresome and fun for the advanced music listener.

Return from a Journey
Composers:  Gurdjieff, De Hartmann,
Performer:  Kremski

Gurdjieff was a Russian Aremenian spiritual master who, in addition to the main body of his teaching created sacred dances, or Movements, as well as  200 or so musical compositions--all of which were were done  in collaboration with German composer Thomas de Hartmann at Gurdjieff's  Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man, near Paris,  in the years 1925–27.  For many years, the pieces heard here were played only by De Hartmann or another of Gurdjieff's disciples but in recent years they have attracted the interest of a number of adventuresome pianists.  Kremski plays these exotic, vaguely oriental and oddly thematic pieces with great respect and warmth.

Chichester Psalms
Composer:  Leonard Bernstein
Performers:  Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, Marin Alsop (conductor)

Commissioned in 1965 by the Dean of Chichester, Bernstein’s colorful Chichester Psalms is one of the composer’s most successful and accessible works on religious texts, contrasting spiritual austerity with impulsive rhythms in a contemplation of peace. The composer fashioned his Oscar nominated score to the 1954 movie On the Waterfront into a symphonic suite, skillfully capturing the oppression of the New York dockyards in the ’50s. The Three Dance Episodes were extracted from the popular On The Town, Bernstein's first successful foray into musical theatre.  Bernstein protege Marin Alsop gets a robust performance from Bournemouth orchestra and chorus.

Double Concerto
Composer:  Witold Lutoslawski
Performers:  Polish National Radio Symphony, Antoni Wit

Volume 8 in Naxos' indispensible survey of Lutoslawski's orchestra work brings us into lesser known territory but there are still treasures to be found.   The  Dance Preludes from 1955 is basically a five-movement clarinet concerto, with lots of  interesting harmonies and rhythmic twists and turns. The Double Concerto for oboe and harp from 1990 rattles the ear a bit and has a  demanding oboe part, beautifully  played by Arkadiusz Krupa. The Children's Songs, gorgeously sung by the soprano, Urszula Kryger, are beguiling. 

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