you find yourself in London this week—and it’s a lovely time to find yourself
there—check out South Bank Centre’s celebration of contemporary Dutch composer
Louis Andriessen. "Passion: the Music of Louis Andriessen," which
began on October 4 and will run through October 17 at Royal Festival Hall,
includes a world premiere and two U.K. premieres as well as several rarely
performed early works.
The world premiere
of Andriessen's La Passione for voice, violin and ensemble will be performed
by Oliver Knussen - who has a long association with Andriessen's works
— leading the London Sinfonietta. The group will also accompany a concert
performance of Andriessen's opera, Writing to Vermeer, in its U.K. premiere.
(Vermeer was premiered at the Netherlands Opera in December 1999 and staged
at the 2000 Lincoln Center Festival in New York.) The Arditti String Quartet
gives the U.K. premiere of Andriessen's second string quartet, Garden of
was born in Utrecht in 1939 into a musical family: his father Hendrik,
and brother Juriaan were established composers in their own right. Andriessen
studied with his father and with Kees van Baaren at the Hague Conservatory,
and between 1962 and 1964 undertook further studies in Milan and Berlin
with Luciano Berio.
he has combined his teaching with his work as a composer and pianist. He
is now widely regarded as the leading composer working in the Netherlands
today and is a central figure in the international new music scene.
From a background
of jazz and avant-garde composition, Andriessen has evolved a style employing
elemental harmonic, harmonic and rhythmic materials, heard in totally distinctive
instrumentation. His acknowledged admiration for Stravinsky is illustrated
by a parallel vigour, clarity of expression, and acute ear for color.
"The creator should
disappear behind the music. An essential aspect of my way of composing
is the realization that each piece of music deals with other music. I learned
this, of course, from Stravinsky, who in many respects is my great model...I
don't feel comfortable with composers - like Schönberg - who always
push ahead in one direction. I prefer the jacks-of-all-trades: the Purcells
and Stravinskys, who are at home anywhere, borrowing here, stealing there..."
Andriessen is among
the most eclectic of contemporary composers. His early works were strictly
serialist in the manner of Boulez or Stockhausen, then in the 1970s he
leaped from modernism to post-modernism, adopting a style that was
much closer to the minimalism of Steve Reich, Philip Glass and Terry Reilly.
Along the way, he has consumed many other sub-genres, from musique concrète
to electronic, to jazz and rock.
inspiration is wide, from the music of Charles Ives in Anachronie I, the
art of Mondriaan in De Stijl, and mediaeval poetic visions in Hadewijch,
to writings on shipbuilding and atomic theory in De Materie Part I. He
has tackled complex creative issues, exploring the relation between music
and politics in De Staat, the nature of time and velocity in De Tijd and
De Snelheid, and questions of morality in Trilogy of the Last Day.
works with other artists include a series of dance projects, the full length
theatre piece De Materie created with Robert Wilson for the Netherlands
Opera, the music for the Peter Greenaway film M is for Man, Music, Mozart
and the 'horse opera' Rosa premiered at the Netherlands Opera in 1994 with
text and production by Peter Greenaway.
from the Netherlands, where Andriessen is a highly influential figure,
will perform during the South Bank Centre festival, including the Amsterdam
Loeki Stardust Quartet, Electra, Ensemble Loos and the Orkest de Volharding
(created to perform Andriessen's music in 1972), which performs the composer's
film scores against a video backdrop.
The South Bank
festival also examines Andriessen's influence in Britain, presenting works
by his students Graham Fitkin, Mary Finsterer and Steve Martland, whose
Steve Martland Band opens the festival. Bang On A Can All-Stars,
who have long been supported by Andriessen, perform Terry Riley's Minimalist
classic In C.
also provide a rare chance to hear Andriessen perform on the piano, when
he accompanies singer Greetje Bijma in a late-night program of improvisation.
NEEDS TASTE IF TASTE DOESN'T MATTER? Those who try to assign the
blame for a decline in classical music are usually looking in the wrong
places, writes Harvard composer Joshua Fineberg. "The lesson that has been
taken from Cage and Duchamp is that if traffic noise and toilet seats are
equal to Mozart and Rembrandt then so are Garth Brooks and black-velvet
Elvis paintings. This view quickly leads to taste being the only legitimate
arbiter. In the cultural realm this rapidly leads to the downward homogenization
of taste toward the least common denominator, a phenomenon that makes almost
everyone vaguely uncomfortable." Salon 10/02/02
WANTED - INSPIRATION: The English National Opera is looking for
a new director. It's a desirable job (if you can overlook the unfortunate
demise of the last incumbent) "True, there's a bit of financial sorting-out
to do - but we are are pretty confident that we can achieve that. And the
company will have a fantastic new home in 2004." So who are the early contenders?
Well, almost anyone you can think of... The Guardian (UK) 10/03/02
SELLERS SETTLE PRICE-FIXING SUIT: Top American music distributors
and retailers have agreed to pay $143 million in cash and CDs to settle
charges they cheated consumers by fixing prices. "The settlement brings
to a close accusations made by attorneys general of 41 states and commonwealths
who accused record companies of conspiring with music distributors to boost
the prices of CDs between 1995 and 2000." Nando Times (AP) 10/01/02
NEEDED FOR MUSIC SCHOOLS: A new report suggests radical reform
of England's music schools. "Backed by leading figures from music and the
arts, including Sir Simon Rattle, it concludes that a new range of decidedly
non-classical skills should be on the curriculum - including business and
technology studies and a knowledge of contemporary styles, including jazz
and world music. Nine out of 10 professional musicians are self- employed,
it says, and most can make a living only by turning to teaching, session
work and composition, as well as traditional concert hall performances."
The Observer (UK) 09/29/02
CHECK'S IN THE MAIL (NOT): When the Washington Chamber Symphony
ceased operations earlier this year, many of the folks in charge seemed
to vanish into the ether. Months later, subscribers want to know where
their ticket refunds are, and the WCS's creditors are wondering when they'll
be paid as well. Meantime, the people who seem to have run the orchestra
into the ground may be too busy pointing fingers at each other to figure
out just how the defunct organization can pay off its debts. Washington
HARD LOOK AT ORPHEUS AS IT TURNS 30: The Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
is 30 years old, and the musicianship of the conductorless band is often
nothing short of breathtaking. But big challenges loom, and some of the
orchestra's claims are overblown. "Can Orpheus survive the turnover of
personnel in the orchestra? Thirty years is an eternity for a string quartet
but not that long for a symphony orchestra. We're somewhere in between."
The New York Times 10/06/02
ORCH CUTS CHAMBER SERIES: Back when the epidemic of orchestra deficits
began sweeping North America, many observers assumed that the crisis would
be tough on the small and medium-sized orchestras, but would barely cause
a ripple among the biggest and richest ensembles. It didn't work out that
way, and now, nearly every major American and Canadian orchestra is slashing
and burning through the budget, looking for cost-saving measures. The latest
victim is the Cleveland Orchestra's chamber music series, which will be
suspended as part of a cost-cutting package which also includes a staff
wage freeze and pay cuts for the new music director and executive director.
The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) 10/04/02
SHORT YEARS WITHOUT GLENN GOULD: "If you're reading this at 11:
30 a.m., it is precisely 20 years since Glenn Gould left this life... Gould
must be seen as Canada's greatest contribution to classical music, as his
work continues to inspire a seemingly endless stream of books, films, documentaries
and miscellaneous other monuments and remembrances in all corners of the
world. He once said that be didn't believe anybody would come to his funeral.
Three thousand people did, and every day many thousands more continue to
pay homage to the man by listening to his music over and over again." Ottawa
NEW REGIME: Simon Rattle has only recently taken over as music
director of the Berlin Philharmonic. But his presence is changing the very
nature of the world's most celebrated orchestra. “It’s amazing that this
collection of 130 very disparate and opinionated people is able to smell
the changing of the seasons, almost like an animal. Many of us felt that
there was no way to stop the clock, or turn it back.” The Times (UK) 10/01/02
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
his death in 1972, composer Stefan Wolpe has emerged as one of the major
figures in new music and the New York avantgarde. His compositional career
spanned more than fifty years, starting amid the turmoil of Germany in
the ’20s and early ’30s.
Forced to flee from Nazi Germany in 1933, Wolpe found refuge in Palestine,
where he did much to encourage music among the settlers in the kibbutzim
and wrote simple songs to Hebrew texts for amateur choirs. Wolpe invented
a radical Jewish music during these years, an eloquent, daring integration
of the European avant-garde with a newly forming national music.
Eventually, Wolpe left Palestine for the United States, where he was discovered
by a new generation of composers, and where he continued to compose in
his innovative style until his death. Greatly affected by his environment,
Wolpe’s work is filled with energy, reflecting the spirit of Dada, the
Bauhaus, abstract expressionism and improvisational jazz.
To celebrate the centenary of Wolpe’s birth (1902–2002), the Kaufman Center
and the Stefan Wolpe Society will present an eventful weekend of music
and conversation exploring the artist’s life and work—in particular the
years he lived and worked in Palestine (mid-1930s).
Tara O'Connor, flute; Gerard Reuter, oboe; Charles Neidich, Ayako
Oshima, clarinet; Peter Kolkay, bassoon; William Purvis, horn/conductor;
Eric Ruske, horn; Mark Gould, trumpet; James Pugh, trombone; Stephen Gosling,
piano; June Han, harp; Jennifer Frautschi, Anna Lim, Jesse Mills, violin;
Brian Chen, Richard O'Neill, viola; Erin Breene, cello; Fred Sherry cello/conductor;
Timothy Cobb, bass; Tony Arnold, soprano; Jan Opalach, baritone; Robert
Craft, Charles Wuorinen, conductor; David Margulies, actor; and the 20th
Century Classics Ensemble
October 12, 2002, at 8 pm
Piano Duo will perform one of Wolpe's masterpieces created during his years
in Palestine,"The Man from Midian," based on the life of Moses. The program
begins with a panel discussion led by Fred Sherry.
October 13, 2002, at 2 pm and 7 pm
concerts will feature guest artists and works by Wolpe and The Wolpe Circle,
including Milton Babbitt, Elliott Carter, Morton Feldman, Matthew Greenbaum,
Arnold Schoenberg, Anton Webern and Charles Wuorinen.
October 13, 2002, at 4:30 pm
David Holzman will present an All-Wolpe recital, touching on the extremes
of Wolpe¹s repertory. The program will include "Sonata," which provoked
a riot at its first performance in 1925, and the immense "Battle Piece,"
Wolpe's response to the Second World War.
will culminate on Sunday, October 13, 2002, at 9 pm in a panel discussion
moderated by Wolpe Society President Martin Brody.
(best value!): $55
and panel: $25
for individual Sunday concerts: $15 Sunday package (includes 9 pm panel):
$40 Call 212 501 3330 for tickets.
Rattle, Michael Gordon,Benjamin
Lees, Scott Lindroth,
Turnage, Erkki-Sven Tüür,John
Luther Adams, Brett Dean,
Kupferman, Evan Chambers,
Steven R. Gerber,
Composer of the Moment: Mark-Anthony Turnage
Henze at 75
Ruggles: When Men Were Men