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  June 03-10, 2002
Jennifer Higdon's
Concerto for Orchestra
Highlights Premieres

Jennifer Higdon’s Concerto for Orchestra, 
will be premiered at concerts by The Philadelphia Orchestra June 12-15, with the world premiere performance given for the assembled delegates to the American Symphony Orchestra League’s annual National Conference, being held in Philadelphia in 2002.  Each of the three commissioned pieces explores a different aspect of the Orchestra’s musical relationship with its hometown.

 The first (Michael Daugherty’s Philadelphia Stories) celebrates the city of Philadelphia, the second (Aaron Jay Kernis’s Color Wheel) commemorates the opening of the Orchestra’s new home concert hall, and the last (Higdon’s Concerto for Orchestra) will showcase the individual and collective musical artistry of The Philadelphia Orchestra itself. 

All three composers have direct connections in their lives to the city and/or Orchestra. 

A longtime resident of Philadelphia, Higdon is writing this new work as a paean to the individual and collective artistry of the musicians of The Philadelphia Orchestra.  Like earlier works of the same title by other composers, this new Concerto for Orchestra features prominent solos for many of the Orchestra’s principal players (many of whom Higdon knows personally) and for the special sonorities of the Orchestra’s sections (strings, winds, brass, percussion, and/or sub-sections). 

Comments Higdon: “I’ve worked with a lot of the Orchestra’s musicians in new-music concerts.  I went to school with some at Curtis, or they are former students of mine.  I’m tailoring the Concerto to the individual players and to the Orchestra as a whole.” 

Higdon (born in Brooklyn, New York, on December 31, 1962) has been called a renaissance woman of music, not only recognized as a composer but also as a performer (flute) and conductor.  She has served as composer-in-residence for a number of schools, festivals, and institutions throughout the United States.  She currently is a faculty member of the Curtis Institute of Music.  Her Blue Cathedral, a newly-written orchestral piece, was included in a concert last year celebrating Curtis’s 75th anniversary, which was featured on a special television broadcast series by Philadelphia’s WHYY-TV.  Further biographical/professional information is available at www.jenniferhigdon.com.

Hidgon attended the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia as a student and now serves as a faculty member teaching composition there.

The Higdon premiere is the final premiere of a series of eight Centennial Commissions created for The Philadelphia Orchestra surrounding of the ensemble’s 100th Annniversary in the year 2000.  The works are being premiered over the course of three seasons, from 1999 to 2002. 

Five received their world premiere performances prior to this season, four by the Orchestra and one in London as a co-commission with the BBC.  Those works include One Heart Beating by Hannibal, Symphony No. 8 ("The Journey") by Einojuhani Rautavaara, Violin Concerto ("A Fool's Paradise") by Richard Danielpour, and Concerto for Orchestra by Roberto Sierra.  The fifth, Quickening by James MacMillan, was premiered by the BBC Symphony Orchestra during the 1999 London Proms season and was given its first performances (and United States debut) by The Philadelphia Orchestra at concerts in April 2002. 

What's New

John Eaton's "...inasmuch" Debuts

Lincoln Center Festival

Interview with Gloria Coates

Entering the 21st Century with
Kitty Brazelton
Frank Oteri

Henry Brant's Ice Field
Wins 2002 Pulitizer Prize

Julia Wolfe after minimalism

Philip Glass at 65
Jerry Bowles

An Interview with Steven R. Gerber

A New Hall for Philadelphia
Deborah Kravetz

Interview with Poul Ruders

Our writers welcome your comments on their pieces.  Send your witty bon mots tojbowles@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.

Modern Music News
MUSIC AS EXPRESSION: Composer Tod Machover has helped develop a computer program that helps people who don't know anything about music, compose their own pieces. The software helps "convert expressive gestures — lines, patterns, textures and colors — made on the screen into pleasing and variable sounds. The goal, he said, is to let children have 'the direct experience of translating their own thoughts and feelings into music. Then music becomes a living, personal activity, and not a given which is handed down from experts or from history'." The New York Times 05/27/02

SURVIVOR: The St. Petersburg Philharmonic has long been one of Russia's cultural jewels. But since the USSR went away, money for culture has been tight. From nearly unlimited budgets harnessed to the orchestra's product, the orchestra has in recent years had difficulty just paying its musicians. "But aid is coming in. American friends of the orchestra have given money for new instruments, and an oil magnate whom [music director Yuri] Temirkanov knows has donated enough cash to double the orchestral wages." The Telegraph (UK) 05/27/02

MUSICIAN, INC: More and more big-name musicians are choosing not to sign (or re-sign) with large music labels, instead recording and producing on their own labels. "It just goes to show you that we basically traded in a larger machine for a more well-tooled machine. It's like all small businesses. You do more specific targeting and cut out waste." Chicago Tribune 06/02/02

SIZE MATTERS: How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Uh, rent it out, actually, just as dozens of small groups and high schools do every year, their modest performances sandwiched between the world's greatest classical ensembles. The rental concerts generally draw small crowds, but a group of New Jersey school kids are anticipating quite a crowd for their Brahms German Requiem this week. The interest can be chalked up to the scale of the thing: the orchestra will contain 150 musicians, and the choir, which will spill over into the seating area, will number 250. Philadelphia Inquirer 05/30/02

FINISHING TURANDOT (AGAIN): Puccini's Turandot is widely considered to be the Italian master's greatest opera, and yet the composer was unable to complete the work before his death in 1924. An ending was commissioned from Franco Alfano, but it has always been considered amateurish and not up to the standard of the rest of the work. This year, a new ending is making the rounds of the world's opera houses, with the addendum courtesy of Italy's greatest living composer, Luciano Berio, and is garnering dramatically better reviews. Los Angeles Times 05/27/02

THE SOUNDS OF SILENCE: The newest fad in the world of electronic music is known as 'lowercase sound,' and it is every bit as understated and subtle as techno (electronica's most mainstream contribution to music) is bombastic. Lowercase focuses on computer magnification of incredibly soft sounds, and contains many long stretches of silence in between music so soft that some listeners don't realize it's there at all. Wired 05/29/02

WEBCASTING FOR FUN AND NO PROFIT: Music was supposed to be fun, so we were always told. But with the radio and recording industries now so corporate-driven as to make most stations and releases indistinguishable, webcasting was developed as a way to get exposure for music never heard on today's ultrasanitized Top 20 countdowns and generic music video channels. So why all the brouhaha over webcasting royalties? It seems that the corporate music monolith isn't enjoying the competition. Chicago Tribune 05/29/02

SPOLETO USA IN THE BLACK: "When the Spoleto Festival USA announced last summer that it intended to raise $25 million for programming, an endowment, and restoring a building, it also said it already had raised $18 million. Now the annual Charleston, S.C., arts festival, which opened Friday and will end June 9, is in its 26th year with $23 million collected or promised. That is not the kind of news people expect from a festival that has struggled with money from its first year." Philadelphia Inquirer (Knight Ridder) 05/29/02

 Last Week's News

American Accent presented its season's final concert on Thursday, May 27th. in the  Kosciuszko Foundation Recital Hall on East 65th Street, NYC. This is a wonderful concert series given in relaxed and beautiful settings.  Co-founded by composer Judith Lang Zaimont and pianist Joanne Polk, the series showcases mostly music of the 20th and 21st centuries by American composers. The core ensemble are members of the Lark Quartet; Alan Kay - clarinnet, Gayla Bauer Blaisdell - soprano and Joanne Polk - piano, with Astrid Schween - cello, Diane Pascal - violin and Maria Lambros - viola.

The program's works varied in style and flavor and was billed as "Romance In The Air". It seemed a tribute to springtime in the city and as it happened fell on a beautiful spring evening.

Music  included Shulamit Ran's Private Game for clarinet and cello, Bernard Rands' Memo 7 for female voice, George Antheil's Sonatina for violin and piano, Augusta Read Thomas's Among Dawn Flowers for voice and piano, excerpts from Judith Lang Zaimont's In the Theatre of Night for soprano and piano and Jennifer Higdon's Celestial Hymns for violin, viola, cello, clarinet and piano.

My favorites of the program were the vocal pieces that opened the second half of the concert;  Augusta Read Thomas' s Among Dawn Flowers and Judith Lang Zaimont's In the Theatre of Night. Haunting and contemplative, they were the pieces that complemented and touched my romantic sensibility on this particular evening; a totally subjective thing indeed. The other pieces were just as formidable with a standout romp on the Antheil and Higdon's ensemble compositions.   --DHG

Music for Chillin'
Summertime and 
the Listening is Easy

June is here and the listening is easy.  After a hard season of heavy sledding through
the German repertory, your Mahler and Rihm synapes are tuckered out and have gone off at summer camp to rest up for a another challenging season of  modernist programming at the local Phil.  Right now, you're in the mood for a cold Miller and a little...John Williams.  Okay, okay, maybe not.  Here are some cool choices for summer listening that you can enjoy without hating yourself in the morning.

1. Dancing In Colombia With Quintet of the Americas - A wonderful new CD of folk-based music 
by Colombian composers.  The  program includes 15 
songs and traditional dance types including pasillos, bundes, porros, paseos, and bambucos by José Abrajím Elcure, José Barros, Luis Antonio Calvo, Fulgencio Garcia, Eduardo Cadavid Angel, Jorge Olaya Muñoz, Julio Flórez and Bunde Tolimense by Alberto Castillo. Played with mucho joy by the Quintet of the Americas.
2. Será Una Noche- Nobody makes cleaner, better-
sounding CDs than the folks at MA. Technically, the
recordings are produced with only two omni-directional microphones, the signals of which are "fed" through exotic audio cabling into handmade and customized recording equipment, designed specifically for MA. Conceived by Argentine percussionist, Santiago Vazquez and MA producer, Todd Garfinkle, "Será" was recorded in a small church about 150 kilometers from Buenos Aires. Authentic tango, played superbly, with the feel of being there.
3. Music for You Series - A series of re-compiled and previously released classical and jazz recordings, mostly from the old Columbia library,
cleverly repackaged by Sony and Legacy Records with ECM-like postcard covers. Stuff like Brahms performed by Murray Perahia and members of the Amadeus Quartet or Dvorak performed by Yo-Yo Ma or Dave Brubeck playing ballads or Satie's Trois Gymnopédies played by Riri Shimada.  Sleeper is British composer Howard Skempton's superb minimalist piano pieces played in an appropriately understated way by John Tilbury.
4. Late Night Guitar - Tom Salvatori says he wrote and played many of these melodies as a way of lulling his kids to sleep at night and that's as high as
praise can get. He's right. I put it on and, sure enough, by cut 5, "Soft Landing," I was out like a light.
5. Turning to the Center - Lovely and introspective songs based on writings of Whitman, Twain and Rumi for baritone, clarinet, and keyboards
 by American composer and teacher Phillip Schroeder.  Not easy writing but haunting melodies for a troubled time. 
6.Classical Chill - Not to be outdone by the repackaging from Sony, the nice folks of Naxos have launched their own series of "theme" 2-CD compilations 
with names like "Heat" and "Chill." CD 1 from Chill is called "From the Freezer" and features generous samples from pieces like Rautavaara's Cantus Arcticus and Vaughn Williams' Sinfonia Antarctica.  CD 2 is "From the Fridge" and includes parts of pieces by Greig and Finzi.  Generally, I hate this sort of thing but these snippets work well together and make good ambiance while you're throwing some more scrimp onto the old barbie.

Classical Grammy Winners

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

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




Violin and String Quartet
Composer: Morton Feldman
Performer: Christina Fong, Karen Krummel, et al.
Ensemble: Rangzen Quartet
Listening to this epic 2-CD chamber work is like watching a large block of ice melt for nearly two hours--excruciating sameness, tantilizing variation, in equal measures. A labor of love by all involved and the kind of thing that only small, independent labels will do.  Bravo 
OgreOgress Productions

Anake & Other Works
Composer: Lyell Cresswell
Performer: Daniel Bell, William Conway, et al.
Nmc Records - #77 
Compositions for solo instruments (other than the piano) rarely get recorded which is a shame because sometimes--as in this case--the results are spectacular.  New Zealand-born British composer Cresswell's warm and passionate solo turns for the violin, cello, flute, and piano are given convincing readings by members of The Hebrides Ensemble.

Symphony 4 / Overture / Nympholept
Composer: Arnold Bax
Peformers Lloyd-Jones, Royal Scottish Nat'l Orch
Naxos - #8555343 
Not in Vaughn Williams or Arnold's class as a symphonist, Bax nonetheless has a highly invidual voice and offers tremendous pleasures for those who look for less traveled paths.

 Silk Road Journeys
Composer: Michio Mamiya, Franghiz Ali-Zadeh, et al.
Performer: Yo-Yo Ma
Ensemble: Silk Road Ensemble
Sony - #89782 
Okay, so the guy is a one-man marketing machine, classical music's equivalent of Sting, but the music is nearly always honest and heartfelt and God knows modern classical music doesn't sell itself. 

Turandot Suite
Composer: Ferruccio Busoni
Performers:  Wong, Hong Kong Phil Orch
Naxos - #8555373 
Little-known suite that Busoni extracted from his incidental music to Gozzi's play, Turandot. Completed in 1905, and in eight descriptive sections, it is engaging late Romantic with hints of Straussian darkness. The Saraband and Cortege are from Busoni's better-known Doktor Faust.

Compositions for Piano (1920-1952)
Composer: Stefan Wolpe:  Performer: David Holzman, piano BRIDGE 9116
From the nice people at Bridge Records comes an invaluable look at an early and largely forgotten modernist just in time for the Wolpe Centenary (1902-2002)

Pianist Holzman wins the uphill battle with such Wolpe knuckle-busters as the Sonata No. 1 "Stehende Musik" (1925), the aptly named 
Battle Piece (1943-47), 
The Good Spirit of a Right Cause (1942), Adagio. Gesang, weil ich etwas Teures verlassen muss (1920), Tango (1927), 
Waltz for Merle (1952), and 
Zemach Suite (1939)


The Rheingold Curse: A Germanic Saga of Greed and Revenge from the Medieval Icelandic Edda
Ensemble: Sequentia
Marc Aurel Edition - #20016
Wagner's mother lode. Apocalyptic texts, atmospheric performances, bring to shattering life the age of the Vikings and the Valkyries when Gods and mortals jousted for the medieval soul.  Thoughtful music for an age in which evil men once more live in caves and wreak havoc upon their fellow men.

Stephen Hough's English Piano Album
Composer: Alan Rawsthorne, Stephen Reynolds, et al.
Performer: Stephen Hough
Hyperion - #67267
Stephen Hough is among the most talented pianists today and also one of the most adventuresome.  Rather than concentrating on the surefire crowd pleasers, he has followed his own tastes which have taken him  down a less traditional path. His focus on neglected works by less-known composers is never less than rewarding and particularly so in this CD which showcases virtuoso piano pieces from English composers like Alan Rawsthorne and Stephen Reynolds as well as Elgar and Bridge.  A delight from start to finish. 

Speaking Extravagantly
Composer:  David Stock
Performer(s): Cuarteto Latinoamericano 
innova 563 
Stock blends influences from Ives to minimalism, from Bartok to jazz, and from synagogue music to Schoenberg into a fresh and imaginative style of dramatic sweep and lyrical flight.  His close collaboration with Cuarteto Latinoamericano,  one of the world’s outstanding chamber ensembles,  has produced a recording of great emotional power and driving rhythm, with blazing colors and a wide dynamic and expressive range.

The Epic of Gilgamesh
Composer: Bohuslav Martinu
Conductor: Zdenek Kosler
Performer: Ludek Vele, Stefan Margita, et al.
Naxos - #8555138
Gilgamesh was an historical king of Uruk in Babylonia, on the River Euphrates in what is now modern Iraq; he lived about 2700 B.C.  Many stories and myths were written about Gilgamesh, some of which were written down about 2000 B.C. in the Sumerian language on clay tablets in the script known as cuneiform and which still survive,  providing continuing inspiration for writers and poet and musicians.  One of the most inspired of these was Czech composer Bohuslav Martinu, who wrote this magnificent choral masterpiece based on the legend in 1955--only a couple of years before his death.  Like virtually everything Martinu wrote, this one is indispensible.

Concertos for Two Pianos
Composer: Bohuslav Martinu, Alfred Schnittke
Conductor: Eiji Oue
Performer: Kathrin Rabus
Cpo Records - #999804 
An inspired pairing of works for two pianos by two of modern music's real giants.  Martinu's concerto is big, sprawling and filled with musical color; Schnittke's is restrained with tensions that build into moments of momentous relief.  Taken together, a testimony to the power of the imaginative to produce different, yet equally compelling, solutions to the same problems.


Symphony No. 9
Composer: Hans Henze
Performer: NYPhilharmonic
Berlin Radio Choir 
No  record can quite capture the excitement of a live performance, but having been there the night the Henze 9th  was recorded, I can testify that this CD comes very close to capturing the epic, shattering, passionate, heartbreaking pain of this incredible work. The Philharmonic plays magnificently, and the Berlin Radio Choir sings with total commitment this setting of seven harrowing poems by Hans-Ulrich Treichel, based on Anna Seghers's wartime novel "The Seventh Cross," about the re-capture and martyrdom by crucifixion of seven concentration camp escapees. No one who listens to this work will ever forget it.

SEQUENZA21/ is published weekly by Sequenza21/, 340 W. 57th Street, 12B, New York, NY 10019
Publisher:  Duane Harper Grant  (212) 582-4153
Editor:    Jerry Bowles   (212) 582-3791
Contributing Editor: Deborah Kravetz 
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