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Of Human Cloning:
Jörg Widmann's Opera 
The Bavarian State Opera presented "Das Gesicht im Spiegel" or "The Face in the Mirror," the first opera composed by one of Germany’s most promising young composers, Jörg Widmann.  It takes on the modern topic of human cloning. 

 Widmann, born 1973 in Munich, received his first clarinet lessons at the age of 7. He continued to study with Prof. Gerd Starke in Munich and completed his studies in New York at the Juilliard School of Music with Charles Neidich. In 1984, at the age of 11, he received his first lessons in composition with Kay Westermann and went on to study with Hans Werner Henze, Wilfried Hiller, Heiner Goebbels and Wolfgang Rihm.

He won the Carl Maria von Weber Competition in Munich and the Competition of German Conservatories in Berlin. He was awarded Munich’s cultural scholarship in 1996 and the Bavarian prize for young artists in 1997.

Wolfgang Rihm composed a clarinet concerto for him Musik für Klarinette und Orchester "Über die Linie II" which he premiered in November 1999 with the Symphony Orchestra of the Bavarian Radio under Sylvain Cambreling. He has also  performed this piece with the Radio Symphony Orchestra Vienna, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra London as well as the Munich Chamber Orchestra.

 He has lectured at the Royal Academy of Music in London since 1993 and as a result also at the Odessa and Lisbon Conservatories. Since October 2001 he is Professor for Clarinet at the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik in Freiburg. Upon request from the Münchner Kammerspiele he composed music for the theater in 1998/99, for Shakespeare’s "Cymbelin" and Euripides´ "Hekabe" (direction: Dieter Dorn). 2001 marked his debut at the Donaueschingen Musiktage with the symphonic work titled "Implosion". His works are performed at major festivals such as the Lucerne Festival, the Warsaw Fall, the Biennale Zagreb, the Almeida Festival, the Munich Biennale and the EXPO 2000. Orchestras such as the Staatskapelle Dresden, the Munich Philharmonic, the Deutsches Sinfonieorchester Berlin, the Klangforum Wien and the Ensemble Modern perform his works. 

In 1999, Widmann was awarded the Belmont Prize for contemporary music of the Forberg-Schneider-Foundation and in 2002 the Schneider-Schott-Musikprize as well as the Hindemith Prize of the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival. In May 2003 Jörg Widmann will receive one of the renowned prices by the Ernst von Siemens Stifung. He is presently composing an opera for the Bavarian State Opera in Munich.


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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 

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
Classical Music Recordings Share Dips A new study of recording sales in the UK indicates that sales of classical music are falling as a percentage of total music sales. "More than a decade after the heyday of the Three Tenors, the new survey, compiled by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), appears to prove that the public's brief 1990s flirtation with orchestral music is over. It found that classical CDs accounted for barely one in 20 of all the albums sold in the UK last year - compared to a high of one in 10 in 1990." The Independent (UK) 08/03/03 

The DNA Song A Thai geneticist, a computer programmer and a composer have "written" a piece of music based on DNA genetic sequencing. "When I first heard my hepatitis song, all my hairs stood up. The song was amazingly beautiful and it perfectly fit with my (play about DNA)." Discovery 08/06/03 

The Searchable Composer A new web site based in Canada is attempting to provide a much-needed resource for the classical music world: "a fully searchable Web site of home grown contemporary music. The slick, bilingual site, www.musiccentre.ca, includes comprehensive biographies and sound samples of about 580 composers, living and dead... Holding the country's largest collection of Canadian classical works, the Toronto-based centre, around since 1959, has re-organized its library resources so the general public can access the materials. Previously the centre's 15,000 scores were only available through five regional lending libraries." Canada.com (CP) 08/07/03 

Are Music Pulitzers Getting Better? The music Pulitzer has long been derided for its lack of insight into the best of American music. But, writes Dean Suzuki, "perhaps real change is afoot in the Pulitzer music category, first awarded in 1943. You can, as I did, go on the Pulitzer website and find a list of all winners, as well as nominees (the latter for each year dating back only to 1980). And while it has been slow in coming, there is a perceivable transformation that is taking place. Not only has the past few years seen prizes awarded to composers who would not even have been nominated ten years ago, the stylistic range of nominees has expanded." NewMusicBox 08/03 

Music Technology - Problem Or Solution? Recording companies blame file-sharing for much of their current woes, and they're getting increasingly aggressive about going after file traders. "Yet no matter what the label lawyers say, technology itself isn't the problem. The problem is how the technology is used, and how copyrights are protected with those new uses. Along with that comes the challenge of rebuilding relationships with consumers who are increasingly treated like criminals. Sooner or later, companies will have to shift their emphasis from policing and throwing up roadblocks to their exclusive material and move toward inspiring listeners, engaging them, bringing them into more active modes of listening and interacting with music." Philadelphia Inquirer 08/10/03 

'Virtual' Orchestra Debate Heats Up For the Brooklyn-based opera company which found itself in a hurricane of bad publicity last week after announcing that it would use a computerized orchestra for an upcoming production of Mozart's Magic Flute, things just keep getting worse. At least one singer has quit the production for fear of being blacklisted in the opera world, and an e-mail campaign by the American Federation of Musicians is causing untold headaches. But the opera's director insists that he would hire a real orchestra if he had the budget, and can't understand why the musicians' union would stand in the way of the development of young opera singers. New Orleans Times-Picayune (AP) 08/06/03 

Are Recording Labels Irrelevant These Days? "Record labels these days are the stuff of great melodrama in the decline-of-Rome battles between petulant artists and the fading major brand names that print their work onto CDs. But music lovers these days know more about who built the blank CDs stacked in their ripping rooms than the name of the record company that puts out Queens of the Stone Age or Ashanti." Denver Post 08/05/03 

A New Old Take On Beethoven Twenty years ago Early Music specialists bringing their aesthetic to Beethoven were a threat to modern orchestras. But modern orchestras continue to perform Beethoven, many of them incorporating the Early Music ideals fo conductors such as Roger Norrington. "To the extent that other conductors have reconsidered issues like balance, articulation, tempos and the use of string and wind vibrato, he has a point. He is taking the view that these interpretive issues are far more crucial than the use of old or new instruments, and he is proving it by spending much of his time with modern orchestras, including the Camerata Salzburg, which he brought to Lincoln Center for these concerts." The New York Times 08/06/03 

 Last Week's News


We Remember 
We had a death in the Sequenza21 family this week.  Publisher Duane Grant's stepdad and my dear friend and neighbor Luther Henderson passed away.  He had been declining for several months and the cancer finally won, as it usually does. 

Luther was one of the gentlest souls who ever lived, a man who managed to survive and succeed in more than 60 years of show business without ever making an enemy. He was a brilliant arranger and composer and musician whose credits included "Ain't Misbehavin,'" "Jelly's Last Jam," and "Play On." 

Luther was a Julliard graduate and the man Duke Ellington frequently turned to for help when he wanted to create "serious" music.  Much of that spirit and style is captured in the 2000 EMI release "Classic Ellington," conducted by Sir Simon Rattle from Luther's arrangements.

He was one of the very few people in the world who was absolutely race-blind. A gathering of his extended family resembled a United Nations picnic. 

For me, he defined the world “elegant,” from the surprisingly long fingers that could make a keyboard produce magical sounds to his custom-made clothes that made him look like a distinguished diplomat from the Republic of Ellingtonia. My wife and I went to see him briefly a couple of weeks ago, to say goodbye really, and even in his diminished condition, he was a picture of dignity. 

I’m not a religious person but there was an angelic glow all over his beautiful black skin and I couldn’t help thinking that somewhere in the next life there was a band of angels just waiting for a sharp-dressing free spirit who could whip together a kick-ass arrangement of “Take the A Train.” They got the best.
--Jerry Bowles

New York Times Obit

Playbill Obit


NWEAMO 2003: The Exploding Interactive Inevitable 
October 3-5, 2003: Portland, Oregon (B-Complex) October 10-12, 2003: 
(San Diego State University) 

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

Music of Elliott Carter
Volume Five - Nine Compositions (1994-2002)
Composer: Elliott Carter
Performer: Rosen, Sherry, et al.
Label: Bridge 

Volume Five of Bridge’s indispensible ongoing Elliott Carter series contains five premiere recordings, including Carter’s  Oboe Quartet of 2001. Now well into his tenth decade, Carter's imagination is undiminished by the passing of time.   Also featured on this CD is a new recording of Carter’s song cycle Of Challenge and of Love, performed by the brilliant young American soprano Tony Arnold, the recent first prize winner of the Gaudeamus International competition for interpreters of contemporary music. Rounding out this CD are a series of instrumental miniatures played by dedicatees Virgil Blackwell, Charles Neidich, Ayako Oshima and Fred Sherry. In addition, the pianist Charles Rosen adds on to his earlier (almost) "Complete Piano Music of Carter" CD (BRIDGE 9090) with the Two Diversions, and Retrouvailles. 

Composer: Pascal Dusapin
Performers:  Watt - concerto  pour trombone et orchestre - 1994
Galim - concerto pour flûte solo et orchestre à cordes - 1998 
Celo - concerto pour violoncelle et orchestre - 1996
Disques Montaigne 

Dusapin's early influences were Xenakis and Franco Donatoni but his receptivity to other artistic media, like jazz, graphic arts, or poetry, provide his work with texture and ambiquity and give Dusapin a unique modern voice all his own.  These first recordings of his  concertos  for trombone, flute and cello all benefit from committed performances and vivid recordings.


Rituel in memoriam Bruno Maderna
Notations 1, 7, 4, 3, 2
Composer: Pierre Boulez
Orchestre National de Lyon 
David Robertson
Disques Montaigne

Boulez's tribute to the late conductor/composer Bruno Maderna is an extremely moving  dance of small ensembles arranged around a fixed point.  All  five completed of the 12 projected Notations, the most protracted of all Boulez's works in progress, heard here. What began as a collection of piano miniatures in 1945 has been expanded into a series of orchestral studies over the past 20 years; the most recent, Notation VII, appeared in 1998. 

Most rewarding of all  is Figures - Doubles - Prismes, Boulez's landmark  1960s  piece which marked the first time he had composed for a full orchestra alone.  For mainly practical reasons, it is one of the least often performed of Boulez's masterpieces. David  Robertson demonstrates persuasively why he is the conductor of the moment.

Symphony No. 2 "Age of Anxiety"
Composer:  Leonard Bernstein
Performer(s): Jean Louis  Steuerman, piano, Florida Philharmonic Orchestra, James Judd 

 Age of Anxiety is one of Bernstein's most personal works, first performed in 1949 with Bernstein playing the piano part himself, this CD also includes the Symphonic Dances from 'West Side Story' and the overture to 'Candide.'
Based on a long poem called 'The Age of Anxiety: a Baroque Eclogue' a long poem by W. H. Auden (1907-1973), who had settled in New York in 1939, Bernstein identified passionately with the poem, seeing himself as pianist and 'autobiographical protagonist' in his symphonic realization. Outstanding performances by the Florida Philharmonic, another fine regional orchestra struggling to survive in these Philistine times.

Sonic Vision
Composer:  Carolyn Yarnell

 Inspired by the beauty and power of nature, the music of Carolyn Yarnell straddles the borders of minimalism, romanticism and Baroque.  Sonic Vision, the first CD devoted entirely to her music, contains the powerful electronic composition Love God, a beautiful solo piece for Baroque flute, a minimalist suite for chamber ensemble and a powerful extended work for computer piano. Lyrical and mystical music that evokes volcanoes, birds and the Rocky Mountains. 

Chamber Music
Composer;  Harold Shapero
Performers:  Lydian String Quartet
 New World Records - 

 Shapero’s (b. 1920) vastly underrated portfolio is one of the great undiscovered treasure troves of American neoclassicism. The String Trio, the String Quartet, the Serenade in D offer a  broad-based introduction to Shapero’s compositional thought processes.  Beautiful, committed playing by the Lydian String Quartet.

 Composer: Steve Reich
 Performer: Ictus, Synergy Vocals

 Reich's 1971 masterpiece gets a spirited workout by the Belgian new music group Ictus.  Drumming is constructed around one single basic rhythmic-melodic pattern, for an imposing ensemble of percussion (bongos, marimbas, glockenspiel) joined by some female voices, a piccolo flute or a whistling part. The breathtaking feeling of simplicity/complexity in this work is transmitted with an amazing skill by the Belgians.

American Works for Piano Duo
Composer(s): Barber, Persichetti, Diamond, Fennimore 
 Performer (s): Georgia & Louis Mangos 
Cedille Records

  Barber's homage to the Plaza Hotel's Palm Court, Souvenirs, Op. 28, has never sounded better or more nostalgic  and Joseph Fennimore's Crystal Stairs also invokes the quintessential American city.  The real surprise here are the two pieces by Vincent Persichetti, which invoke a more dynamic and rough and tumble form of Americanism.  The Mango sisters display formidable technique and taste.



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

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. 

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

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

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

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