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 June 8-June 15, 2003

Jorge Liderman Wins
Guggenheim Award 
Jorge Liderman, a composer and professor of music at the University of California, Berkeley, is a winner of a 2003 Guggenheim Latin American and Caribbean Fellowship Award. 
The 45-year-old Buenos Aires native, who has been playing and writing music since he was a child, said his fellowship plans call for still more compositions - including an opera about Sor Juana, a feminist nun in Mexico in the 1600s.

Liderman's music - called sophisticated and primal, remarkably unusual, imaginative and uncompromising - has been featured around the world, including at such music festivals as the Munich Biennale, Osaka's Expo 90, London's Viva, Tanglewood, New Music Chicago and Music of the Americas. His music has been performed by the London Sinfonietta, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Arditti String Quartet and other leading ensembles. 
His first opera, "Antigona Furiosa," won the 1992 International Theater Prize at the Third Munich Biennale, and his chamber work "Yzkor" won the Argentine Tribune of Composers' Prize and represented Argentina at the International Rostrum of Composers in Paris. 

A recent effort was the creation of music to accompany a new translation of the "The Song of Songs," a famous love poem from the Hebrew Bible. Liderman worked with translators Chana Bloch and Ariel Bloch, musicians and Cal Performances to present a collaborative performance of "Song of Songs" at Hertz Hall on the UC Berkeley campus in 2002. 

Liderman said he was struck by the lyrical new translation, and almost immediately interpreted it into sound with three instrumental ensembles, a female chorus and three soloists seated among clarinets, violas and horns. His work also featured two pianos and two marimbas, and a third ensemble including a flute, violin, oboe, bass, and trumpet. 

"I spent a lot of time with the text," Liderman said, "talking to Chana (Bloch) about my ideas and impressions, and benefiting from her intimate knowledge of the Song. Among other things, we discussed the cyclical structure of the poem, marked by refrains and repetitions, and by the recurrence of lovers' meetings and partings, songs of praise, moments of longing, and celebrations." 
The result, he said, was an hour-long cantata covering almost the entire text and divided in three moments, with each scene displaying distinct musical and dramatic qualities. 

At the moment, Liderman is working on an orchestral piece, commissioned by the Fromm Music Foundation at Harvard University, for La Camerata, one of the leading orchestras in Mexico. 
"I am also working on a new work for two pianos and have plans for a violin concerto," he said. 

But Liderman's big project is creating an opera based on "El Sueño y la Agonía" by Mexican playwright and scholar Carlos Elizono Alcaraz. The play is about the life of Sor Juana, a Mexican nun who wrote three volumes of poetry and plays and spoke out against popular religious doctrines of her era. 

"What I want to do is use the play and some of her poetry," said Liderman, who has already begun selecting excerpts of her work. 

"This exciting new project of Jorge's is a natural sequel to his two major vocal works, 'Antigone' and 'Song of Songs,'" said Wendy Allanbrook, chair of the UC Berkeley music department in the College of Letters and Science. "I'm thrilled that the Guggenheim committee liked the project; the award will allow him to take a full year off so that he can get a good start on the third part of this quasi-trilogy." 

The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation announced the Latin American and Caribbean awards today (Thursday, June 5). Some 37 artists, scientists and scholars were chosen from a field of 737 applicants to receive grants totaling $1,150,000. Fellowships are based on demonstrated exceptional creative ability or capacity for productive scholarship. 
Liderman earned a bachelor of music degree with honors from the Rubin Academy of Music in Jerusalem. He holds a master's degree and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, where he studied with composers Ralph Shapey and Shulamit Ran. 

Liderman also studied composition at the Tanglewood Music Center in Massachusetts with George Perle and Oliver Knussen.  After a year teaching at Chicago's American Conservatory of Music, Liderman joined the UC Berkeley faculty in 1989 to teach music theory and composition, and contemporary music. He and his wife live in Richmond.

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 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

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

Exploring American Music In Its Many Flavors Minnesota Public Radio's American Mavericks series is a collection of first-rate radio shows about American music. But it's also a valuable website, the "latest attempt to find a home on the Internet for progressive classical music, which is played sparingly in concert and on the radio. "For Michael Tilson Thomas, the San Francisco Symphony's music director and co-host of the "American Mavericks" radio series, the Internet is a logical place for young people to discover new music. Just as cutting-edge composers push beyond common assumptions, he said, a certain adventurous nature is needed to explore cyberspace." The New York Times 06/05/03 

Sorting Out Winners And Losers In NY Phil Move To Carnegie John Rockwell writes that Carnegie Hall gives up something important by becoming home to the New York Philharmonic. "At Lincoln Center, meanwhile, the immediate impression might be that the rats are scurrying down the hawser, fleeing a sinking ship. The New York City Opera is making noises about abandoning the center for a Ground Zero cultural center not yet designed, let alone built. The Philharmonic is on its way out. Who's next? What is to become of the grand late-50's and early-60's dream of a cultural center that would bring everyone together, a dream that spawned imitators all over the world? Not much bad, say I, and maybe something good. The urban-renewal aspect of the Lincoln Center project has long been fulfilled." The New York Times 06/08/03 

Lincoln Center's New Opportunity So what will become of Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall after the New York Philharmonic leaves? Lincoln Center says there's a big opportunity and management envisions "new uses sweeping and small, including hosting the world's top orchestras, staging festivals, introducing interactive technology to audiences and emphasizing youth education programs. The hall 'is now a blank canvas, and we have a palette of musical colors that we're going to paint on that canvas'." New Jersey Online (AP) 06/08/03 

All About The Piano It's the 150th anniversary of the founding of the American Steinway company. Time was when pianos were a big status symbol. "By the end of the 19th century, about one in six New Yorkers worked in some piano-related job..." The New York Times 06/06/03 

If You Play Contemporary Music And No One Comes, Is It Still Good Music? Birmingham's Floof! Festival of contemporary music was first rate. But there was no one there to listen. "The trouble with Britain is that it has a showbiz culture, and things are not regarded as worthwhile unless they fill halls. It is important for those involved in contemporary art music to push home the notion that small audiences are acceptable, that new music deserves a protected status, that it should not be judged by how many bums are affixed to seats. This is reasonable. But while it is fine to accept the position that new music can be a minority interest, which ought not be judged according to popularity, it by no means follows that we should be satisfied with that." The Guardian (UK) 06/05/03 

Met Removes Vilar's Name From Building The Metropolitan Opera has taken down patron Alberto Vilar's name from the opera house after Vilar failed to make good on a number of promised donations. "The Vilar name had been affixed to the Grand Tier since 1998, when Mr. Vilar pledged $20 million over five years toward a $400 million endowment goal, as well as $5 million to match grants by others. The opera did not say how much he was in arrears or in what form, cash or stocks, but the statement suggested that the amount was substantial. The un-naming at the Met ó a stinging rebuke in the genteel world of big-time philanthropy ó was the latest sign that arts groups were losing patience with Mr. Vilar's missed commitments and were willing to speak out, even at the risk of losing any future largesse." The New York Times 06/07/03 

Mobile Phones - Your Music Here "With sales of CDs on a three-year slide, the music industry sees mobile phones as powerful outlets for promoting artists and distributing music for profit - something it failed to do in the early days of Internet music-swapping. In recent months, recording labels have entered deals with wireless carriers and other companies. The music companies are selling rights to their musicians' recordings and images for use in screen savers, digital images and song snippets that are then sold to mobile phone users." National Post (Canada) 06/04/03 

The End Of Music As Object? "I believe the era in which music is treated as an almost fetishistic object of desire is coming to an end. Not for me, perhaps, even though I have been busy recently uploading my entire music collection to my computer, clearing acres of valuable shelf-space by transforming stacks of CDs (never the most beloved format, with their easily cracked plastic boxes, tiny covers and tatty booklets full of microscopic print) into digital sound files on a kind of virtual juke box. And quite possibly it is not yet over for you, either, certainly if you grew up in the vinyl era and have developed a soft spot for albums with distinct identities, the running order of songs identified on the sleeve, just as the artist intended. But it is a very different situation for the teenage students..." The Telegraph (UK) 06/05/03 
 

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Remembering 
Luciano Berio
We are somewhat remiss in paying tribute to Luciano Berio, whose marvelous "Sequenzas" were the inspiration for the name of this webzine, who died in a Rome hospital on May 27.
Among the post-war modernists, Berio wrote music that was the least doctrinaire and most approachable.  Born in 1925 in Oneglia, Italy, his early musical education was under the guidance of his grandfather and father, both organists and composers, with whom he studied harmony, counterpoint and piano. In 1945 he entered the Milan Conservatory, where he studied composition with G. C. Paribeni and G. F. Ghedini, graduating in 1951. The following year, he won a Koussevitzky Foundation scholarship to study with Luigi Dallapiccola at Tanglewood. 

After returning to Milan, Berio founded Incontri Musicali--a series of concerts and a journal dedicated to contemporary music. From 1955 to 1960, he directed the "Studio di Fonologia Musicale," which he and Bruno Maderna had founded at RAI (Italian Radio). 

Beginning in 1962,   Berio spent a decade in the United States where he taught at Mills College, Harvard University and The Juilliard School. During this ten-year span he also taught at the Summer School in Dartington, England, and at Darmstadt in Germany. Mr. Berio returned to Europe in 1972, where he collaborated with Pierre Boulez in developing IRCAM in Paris, heading its electro-acoustic department until 1980. In 1987 he founded an institute for music research and production in Fiorence, called "Centro Tempo Reale," where a team of musicians and computer-science experts explored new composition techniques. 

 Berio's life-long literary interests have led him to work in close contact with some of Italy's greatest literary minds: Italo Calvino (who wrote the text for two of his stage works), Edoardo Sanguineti and Umberto Eco. A selection of  Berio's essays is due to be published in Italy and France. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Royal Academy of London, as well as of the distinguished Accademia dei Lincei and the Akademie der Kunste. The recipient of numerous honors,  Berio has received two prestigious awards thus far in this birthday year: Palermo's Nietzsche Prize and the Golden Lion Award of the Venice Bienale. In November, he will be awarded an honorary Doctor of Literature degree from the University of Siena. Additional honors include a "Laura Honoris Causa" conferred by the City University of London in 1981, the 1989 Siemens Prize, and the 1991 Wolf Foundation Prize of Jerusalem. Since 1984,  Berio's manuscripts have been held at the Paul Sacher Foundation in Basel. His principal publisher is Universal Edition, Vienna

Berio Page at UniversalEdition


 
 
20/21 - Berio: Sequenzas
Composer: Luciano Berio
Performer: Sophie Cherrier, Frederique Cambreling, et al.
Polygram Records - #457038 
NWEAMO 2003: The Exploding Interactive Inevitable 
October 3-5, 2003: Portland, Oregon (B-Complex) October 10-12, 2003: 
(San Diego State University) 

Miller Theatre: 
2002-03 Season at a Glance

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


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 
Advertising and Sponsorship Information
             EDITORS PICKS 

Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 2
Composer:  Alan Rawsthorne
Performers: Peter Donohoe, Ulster Orchestra, Takuo Yuasa
Naxos

The complete package--two complex, important  and demanding piano concertos by England's most underrated modernist, played to dazzling perfection by the world-class pianist Peter Donohoe.  The chance of running into a treasure like this  is why classical music collectors get up in the morning. 


Extempore II
A modern Mass for the 
Feast of St Michael
based on the medieval melody L'homme armé 
Performers:  Orlando Consort / Perfect Houseplants
Harmonia Mundi Franc 

Jazz meets medieval and, for once, avoids a train record. This album is the second volume in a collaborative project between the Orlando Consort, a classical vocal ensemble, and British jazz quartet Perfect Houseplants . In both medieval classical music and jazz, improvisation is an essential skill and both groups exhibit lots of imagination.


 




 


Child
Composer: David Lang
Conductor: Carlo Boccadoro
Ensemble: Sentieri Selvaggi
Cantaloupe

A major new work for seven musicians,  "Child" is a powerful meditation on childhood and memory. Sweet and simple on the surface, gentle musical fragments float by, leaving faint traces of darkness in their wake. The result is at once dramatic and personal, intensely introspective and piercingly beautiful.  This is Lang's most controlled and complete work to date, pointing the way to a new maturity filled with enormous possibilities.

Written in five separate parts for some of Europe's finest groups, "Child" is recorded here by the Italian ensemble Sentieri Selvaggi. 


In the White Silence
Composer:  John Luther Adams
Performer(s): Adams, Weiss, Oberlin Contemp Music Ens
 New World Records 

 In the White Silence (1998) is an example of Adams' concept of "sonic geography," through which he attempts to realize the notion of music as place and place as music and reveals his obsession with the "treeless, windswept expanses of the Arctic"  and specifically refers to Adamsís fascination with the color of white, a dominant feature of Arctic landscapes. As Adams explains in his preface to the score: "White is not the absence of color. It is the fullness of light. As the Inuit have known for centuries, and as painters from Malevich to Ryman have shown us more recently, whiteness embraces many hues, textures, and nuances." 


Four Songs of Solitude; Variations; Twilight Music
Composer: John Harbison
Performer: Janine Jansen, Lars Wouters van den Oudenwijer, et al.
 Naxos 

John Harbison was born in New Jersey in 1938 and is now established among the most prominent American composers, his output including symphonies, string quartets, and three operas.  I find his music generally too gnarly by half but admire his technical abilities which are on sharp display in ttese well-performed chamber pieces.


Symphony Number 5
Composer;  Roy Harris
Performers: The Louisville Orchestra. 
Robert S. Whitney, Lawrence Leighton Smith, conductors, Gregory Fulkerson, violin
First Edition - #5 

Roy Harris wrote 11 or 14 symphonies in his long career, depending on who's counting but only one of them remains treasured--the extraordinary one- movement, 18-minute Third Symphony, which is the statement the composer was born to make.  Most of his odd-numbered symphonies are worth a listen and No. 5 just may be the best, after No. 3.


Symphony No. 3; Psalm, Kaddish
 Composer: David Diamond
 Conductor: Gerard Schwarz
Performer: Janos Starker
Naxos 

David Diamond is thought of as an American composer although he was trained largely in Europe and has spent much of his life in Italy. The glorious Psalm, completed in 1936, was Diamond's first successful orchestral score.  The  Fourth symphony, completed in 1945, is in four movements and is characterised by its strong rhythmic character, with a breezy scherzo and brilliant finale.  Kaddish, completed in 1958, is   dedicated to Janos Starker. It is an enormously powerful cry to heaven.


Symphony No. 4
Composer: Walter Piston 
Conductor: Gerard Schwarz
 Performer: Seattle Symphony, Therese Elder Wunrow
 Naxos 

 Walter Piston achieved considerable success during his lifetime but his work is rarely played these days which is too bad since it is  immediate and appealing and very "American."  The Fourth Symphony dates from 1950, and incorporates  an atmosphere of American folk music, especially in the bright  finale.  The three  New England pieces are dark and brooding.  This recording was first released on Delos in 1992.  If  you don't already have it, pounce. 


Orchestral Works 6
Composer: Joaquin Rodrigo
 Conductor: Max Bragado-Darman Performer: Lucero Tena
 Naxos 

For a guy who is basically famous for a single work, Rodrigo sure wrote a lot of sparkling, sunny, highly-listenable music.  Not sure how many more of these Naxos has in the works but I'm not tired yet. 


Turandot
Composer: Giacomo Puccini
Conductor: Alexander Rahbari
 Performer: Masako Deguci, Jose A. Garcia-Quijada, et al.
 Naxos 

Like a local wine consumed with good friends and good food not far from the vineyard, regional opera productions of famous operas often have a charm, passion, and character that befies their modest ambitions.  This thoroughly charming rendering of Puccini's most hummable score is one of those unexpected delights.


Pipa From a Distance
Performer:  Wu Man, Stewart Dempster, Abel Domingues
Naxos

In addition to being a rightous goodlooking babe, Wu Man is probably the best pipa player alive and here she takes on some thoroughly modern pieces with results that range from the soothing to the downright eerie.  There are echos of Yo Yo Ma's Silk Road Project (for which Wu Man served as main pipa person) as well as hints of new traditions yet to come. 


Ritter Blaubart
Composer:  Emil Nikolaus von Reznicek
Conductor: Michail Jurowski
Performer: Arutiun Kotchinian, Robert Worle, et al.
Cpo Records 

Emil Nikolaus von Reznicek (1860-1945) is remembered for a single work, the overture to the opera Donna Diana but CPO hopes to change that with  the release of his Ritter Blaubart (Knight Bluebeard), a fairy-tale opera. 

Gretry, Offenbach and Bartok were also drawn to the story of Bluebeard, the mythical figure who kills his faithless wife and then murders the other women he marries. Reznicek's version boasts music filled with atmosphere and keen drama.  Conductor Michail Jurowski leads the Berlin Radio Orchestra and a cast of fine singers in a powerful performance.


The Shock of the Old
Composer:  Common Sense 
Composers' Collective
 Santa Fe New Music - #513 

Consider the possibility  that ancient instruments like the harpsichord, Baroque flute and so on can  be used to play  contemporary music as well and you have the idea behind this very fresh and appealing collaboration between the Common Sense Composers' Collective--an eight-member cooperative based in New York and San Francisco--and American Baroque, an early-music consort that makes its home in the Bay Area.   Remarkable stuff that should make converts on both ends of the musical spectrum.


Darkness into Light
Composer: Composer:  John Tavener
Performer:  Anonymous 4
Harmonia Mundi Franc

Four pieces by contemporary mystic composer John Tavener framed by medieval hymns illustrate the passage from darkness to light in this hypnotic collaboration between Anonymous 4 and the Chilingirian Quartet. The most substantial piece is the world premiere of Tavener's "The Bridgegroom," which is nearly 18 minutes long and spellbinding from start to finish.


 




 


Overture to the Creole 'Faust'
Ollantay, Pampeana No. 3
Dances from the Ballet, 'Estancia'
Composer: Alberto Ginastera
Performers:  Odense Symphony Orchestra, Jan Wagner, conductor
BRIDGE 9130

 The nice folks at Bridge Records are obviously thinking Latin America these days with their recent fabulous Villa-Lobos release and now this superb collection of music from the great Argentine composer Alberto Ginaestera--played, as was the Villa-Lobos, by the Odense Symphony Orchestra under Jan Wagner.  This is bold and flavorful music served fresh and hot--the way you like it. 


Thirteen Ways
Composers:  Tower, Perle, etc
Performer(s): Eighth Blackbird

You got to love a group that takes its name from one of Wallace Stevens' best poems but you'd love them if their name was Band X.  This  six-member ensemble mixes flutes, clarinets, violin and viola, cello, percussion and piano to create a big sound for chamber pieces.  The composers here--Joan Tower, George Perle, David Schobar, and Thomas Albert--are all given polished and enthusiastic readings.  Absolutely first-rate and highly recommended. 



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