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 October 14-21, 2002

 David Lang

 DAVID LANG is one of the most gifted of the younger generation of New York composers. A co-founder of the indispensible Bang of a Can organization and Cantaloupe Records, Lang will be featured in his own "Composer's Profiles" concert in Columbia University's Miller Theater this coming Saturday at 8pm. 

Lang approaches the craft of composition with an urban sensibility and his distinct sound fuses the tradition of classical music with urban aggressiveness, where melodies are accompanied by noise and subtle harmonies are pulled apart by pounding rhythms. 

The Miller concert features the American premiere of The Passing Measures, his large-scale, slow and beautiful "anti-concerto" for bass clarinet, amplified orchestra, and women’s voices— an emotionally-charged meditation on the passing of time. 

Recorded on the Cantaloupe Music label in 2001, the disc received ecstatic reviews by critics around the world.  Joshua Kosman wrote in the San  Francisco Chronicle: "The Passing Measures sits and shimmers gently, like a jeweled pendant turning very slowly in the light." 

The concert also offers two world premieres performed by the ensembles for whom the pieces were 
written: The So-Called Laws of Nature—a rock n’roll romp on pieces of junk metal, wood planks, and drums performed by the exuberant So Percussion Group —and Increase, tailor-made to showcase the virtuosity of the ensemble Alarm Will Sound, the terrific new music ensemble led 
by the young-man-in-a-hurry conductor Alan Pierson (noted to have 
"hands like expressive and very precise trout" by Andante). 

Founded at The Eastman School of Music, Alarm Will Sound has fostered 
close relationships with living composers and garnered much praise for tackling a demanding and wide-reaching repertory.  Pierson, who has a degree in Physics from MIT, has in the past couple of years made a rapid deep impression as a
conductor in the new music world.

 He recently recorded two Steve Reich CDs for Cantaloupe Music and Nonesuch, and last season wowed Miller Theatre audiences and critics with an all-Ligeti concert with Alarm Will Sound. 

Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Martin Bernheimer wrote in The Financial Times that this event "was performed with equal parts exuberance, nonchalance and virtuosity by Alarm Will Sound….  Alan Pierson, the young conductor, oversaw suave and secure performances that actually made Ligeti’s linear, textural and rhythmic complexities seem simple…He managed these feats without losses in tension, without fuss or muss, even without reliance upon a score." 

Saturday, October 19, 8:00pm
7:00pm pre-concert discussion with David Lang and Alan Pierson 

DAVID LANG The Passing Measures for bass clarinet, women’s voices, and amplified orchestra (American premiere)
The So-called Laws of Nature for percussion quartet (world premiere) Increase for 13 players (world premiere

Evan Ziporyn, bass clarinet
So Percussion Group
Alarm Will Sound
Alan Pierson, conductor
With special guests Tarab Cello Ensemble, A Loose Band of Women (Kristina Boerger, band leader), and performers from the Manhattan School of Music

What's Recent

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On the Transmigration of Souls
Dead Man Walking
David Krakauer's The Year After
Steve Reich/Alan Pierson
The Good Solider Schweik
Neely Bruce Loves a Parade
John Cage's 90th Anniversary
Michael Gordon's Decasia
Bright Sheng's Silver River
 Earle Brown Dies
Oliver Knussen at 50
John Eaton's "...inasmuch" Debuts
Interview with Gloria Coates
Entering the 21st Century with
Kitty Brazelton
Julia Wolfe after minimalism
Philip Glass at 65
Interview with Poul Ruders
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


AMERICAN MUSIC ONLINE: One of the biggest frustrations for composers is getting their music out to be heard. The American Music Center proposes some help - a new website that will make available access to the work of American composers. "New Music Jukebox offers a 24-hour 'virtual' listening room with streaming and downloadable sound files, as well as extensive composer biographies, works lists, publishers, performance data and other information, all cross-referenced." The New York Times 10/09/02

L.A. OPERA'S PRODUCTION WOES: Los Angeles Opera is having a tough time getting its October opera together. First it canceled a $3-million Kirov production of War and Peace because of money problems. Now its replacement - another Kirov offering, Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk - is in trouble. Because of the lockout of West Coast ports, the sets, costumes and props for the production couldn't wait in LA's harbour, and now they've departed "on a slow boat to Tokyo." Los Angeles Times 10/10/02

MUSIC AMID THE MUDDLE: This week, Shanghai launched an incredibly ambitious international music festival, and predicted that the huge gathering would 'make history.' The reality, says one critic, was that the city and the festival organizers were completely unprepared to put on a show of such magnitude. "The level of incompetence is hard to understand in a city that resembles a bizarre cross between the sci-fi optimism of Dan Dare and the dystopian nightmare of Blade Runner... How many Chinese men does it take to change a light bulb? Eight. This is not a joke. I happen to know the answer because I watched it happen. China is a country whose full employment policy creates ludicrous levels of over-staffing and a pass-the-buck culture." The Telegraph (UK) 10/12/02

GREED KILLED THE RADIO STAR: With the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Chicago Lyric Opera both killing off their local and national radio broadcasts, the Second City's classical music community is in danger of losing cultural cache and national recognition. Critic John van Rhein, who this weekend celebrates 25 years of observing the Chicago music scene, is disgusted by the lack of vision from all sides. "The classical music world is reaping the bitter fruits of American orchestras having priced themselves out of the broadcast and recordings market. The free-spending '90s are dead -- musicians in other cities have swallowed hard and accepted it. Chicago has yet to do so." Chicago Tribune 10/13/02

OH, GOD, NO: "A Russian opera company is planning a comic opera that will tell the infamous story of Monica Lewinsky and the president. The Russian president, to be precise. The composer of Monica in the Kremlin is Vitali Okorokov, a classically trained musician who is well known to the Russian public for his pop hits. After a performance of one of his symphonic poems, Okorokoc was approached by the artistic director of the Saratov Opera, who asked him to write an opera on a contemporary subject." Andante 10/10/02 

NOTHING HAPPENS BY ACCIDENT: To hear many people tell it, you would think that the recent resurgence of opera as a popular art form has happened purely by chance, and that the increasingly young age of opera patrons is due to nothing more than youngsters wandering into the opera house by accident. Not so: in fact, opera companies across North America have been making a concerted effort to draw in a more diverse crowd. The Canadian Opera Company is a prime example, with an 'Opera 101' education program, as well as a continuing series of classic operas directed by famous names like Atom Egoyan. Toronto Star 10/12/02

X-RATED CLASSICAL: The New Zealand Symphony sent out 8000 promotional CDs to market its new season. But when recipients of the discs put them into computers to play, they discovered that someone had substituted the track titles with pornographic descriptions of sex acts. "It seemed the person responsible used an Internet media player to read the CD, made the changes and saved them on the database. This meant that whenever anyone else used a media player connected to that database, the X-rated version was displayed." The Age (Melbourne) 10/08/02

ACTIVE ANALYSIS: "To understand the significance of music for the musicians who created it and the society in which it was produced is a challenge to music-lovers. Perhaps no writer on music devoted more energy to this task than Theodor Wiesengrund Adorno, and the translations into English of his writings on philosophy and music and their diffusion have been multiplying in recent years while, at the same time, his ideas have become widely influential in the US and Europe." New York Review of Books 10/24/02

 Last Week's News

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.


Meet the New Music Jukebox
At the American Music Center

By Molly Sheridan
New Music Box 

Need to find a piece for wind quintet written after 1990? Wishing you knew of a new 15-minute chamber suite to round out that perfect program? Is your classical music station playing yet another Handel concerto grosso and you've had enough? 

For those with a need for new music, the ultimate source has arrived on the Internet. On October 9th the American Music Center officially launched www.newmusicjukebox.org,
a composer-controlled digital library of contemporary music offering detailed information about each included composer and piece, and often score and sound samples of the music. 

The sheer volume of information—all searchable by myriad criteria— housed under the site's umbrella can make a first visit overwhelming, but once the basic features are understood, it's a digital musical playground. 
Lyn Liston, the AMC's Information Specialist, calls it the "next generation" of the AMC's beloved score library, now a closed collection residing in The New York Public Library. George Boziwick, curator of the American Music Collection at the NYPL for the Performing Arts and also a participating Jukebox composer, agrees. "The Center’s decision to go digital was in my mind the most logical next step forward. Moving the original score collection to NYPL has shifted the emphasis onto the digital library, thus giving the AMC’s original mandate a new and powerful thrust." 

Boziwick also points out that the move to digital makes access to both the music and the composer more immediate and more global. "While this will never displace the traditional print repository, and it may be some time before performers no longer read from hard copy scores and parts, digitization gives new meaning to the word 'access.' "
AMC Board Members Larry Larson and Carl Stone (no longer serving) and Executive Director Richard Kessler drafted the original framework for the site. Their goal was to create a venue for discovering and promoting new music on the Web in a way that would at the same time adequately safeguard the work as intellectual property. 

The need to represent a healthy cross-section of American music is a top priority of the project. A fair share of established composers are represented, with more to come as the site moves out of the trial phase and major publishers upload more of their materials. But one of the distinctive aspects of the site is the way it does away with that hierarchy. Here all AMC member composers—regardless of style or celebrity—are created equal. Each participant is simply given a slot on the site to demonstrate their work as they see fit. 

On the user end, a key element of the site is the advanced search engine built into it, allowing visitors to track down the perfect piece, whether that's a work that uses text by Emily Dickinson or something for an oboe/harp/xylophone ensemble. For those who like what they hear and want to perform a work, contact information for the composer or publisher is provided. See it online @ JUKEBOX

Miller Theatre: 
2002-03 Season at a Glance
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


Symphony 11: The Year 1905
Composer: Dmitri Shostakovich 
      Performers: Mstislav Rostropovich,
London Symphony Orchestra
   Lso Live - #30 
How many ways can you spell superb?  From the tortured beginning to the shattering climax, Rostroprovich maintains a sense of rising foreboding and menace that inspires a cold sweat in the careful listener.  This is one of those live performances that concertgoers tell their friends about years later.  Symphony 11 is rarely mentioned in the list of Shostakovich's greatest orchestal works.  This recording may change that.  The LSO has never sounded better or more Russian.  Surefire Gramophone winner. 

String Quartets 11 13 & 15
Composer: Dmitri Shostakovich 
      Performers: St. Petersburg String Quartet
Hyperion - #67157 
More spectacular music from Russia's tormented genius, superbly played. The 11th Quartet breaks from the more traditional four-movement structure, and comprises seven separate short movements  thematically unified by a sequence of phrases introduced at the beginning of the first movement. The 13th is  the only single-movement quartet in Shostakovich's output. 
The 15th Quartet was written in 1974, the year before Shostakovich's death and seems to reflect his state of health and mind.  Stark and brooding, it sounds most like a last will and testament.

Shulamit's Dream; Scenes from Shir ha-Shirim: Biblical Songs
Composer: Mario Davidovsky
Conductor: George Rothman, Anthony Korf Performer: Susan Narucki, Mark Bleeke, et al.
Bridge - #9112 
Commissioned by the San Francisco Symphony in 1993 and given its New York premiere by Susan Narucki and the Riverside Symphony at Tully Hall in 2000, Shulamit's Dream is a suprisingly lyrical,  “quasi-rhapsodic”  setting of The Song of Songs by the Argentine-born Davidovsky, who came to the U.S. about 45 years ago and became a pioneer composer of electornic music.

The Miraculous Mandarin
Composer: Bela Bartok 
Performer(s): Robertson, Orchestre National De Lyon
Harmonia Mundi Franc - #901777 
This is billed as the world premiere
recording of the original score restored in 1999 by Péter Bartók, the son of the composer which contains 30 bars previously missing and also restores dynamics, bowings and other performing
directions from the autograph.  Only those who follow along with the score will know the difference.  Extraordinarily precise and sympathetic reading demonstrating why the young American  David Robertson is   considered one of the best interpretors at modern music by critics and audiences around the world. 

Composer: Franz Lehar
Performer(s): Jurowski
Cpo Records - #999762 6 
Re-working of Kukuschka (1898) - (1905)
(Music by Franz Lehár: Libretto by Felix Falzari and Max Kalbeck)
Though we still think of Franz Lehar as the leading operetta composer of the 20th century, his reputation now largely resides on one work, The Merry Widow (Die Lustige Witwe). The situation was much different during his lifetime, and many of his thirty-nine scores were loved, none more so than the story of  Tatjana, daughter of a Volga fisherman.  The score includes the exhilarating Russian Peasant Dances and the fine tenor aria 'Gedenke mein'.

A Portrait of Langston Hughes
Performer(s): Various Artists
Label: Naxos - #8559136 
Nobody wrote more musical poetry than Langston Hughes, Ellie Steigmeister once declared and perhaps it is so.  From "Lonely House," written with Kurt Weill to the recent "My People"with music by Ricky Ian Gordon, Hughes poems were naturals for settings by some of the 20th century finest songwriters.

Piano Concerto #4
Composer:  Geir Tveitt
Naxos - #8555761 
Thanks to Naxos' extraordinary Tveit series, I am now certain that the Norwegian Geir Tevitt was one of the great overlooked composers of the 20th century.  With easily engaging music, often influenced by the folk music of his native Hardanger region of Norway, the extensive Variations for two pianos is a masterpiece. The duo pianists are used as virtuoso performers and in the role of decorating the orchestral score. If you haven't tried Tveitt, you've missed an eye-opening experience,


Death Valley Suite
Composer:  Ferde Grofe
Naxos - #8559102 
Ferde Grofe is known mostly for his Grand Canyon Suite but he wrote other splendid, atmospheric  pieces as well, including these three suites, one of them ("Hollywood Suite") a premiere recording. Excellent performances of an American composer who may have been too quickly sent to the basket marked "kitsch."

Symphony No. 3
Composer:  Max Bruch
Naxos - #8555985 
Little known works by a composer best-known for his lush violin pieces.  Sumptious tones and a fine romantic arc make this one easy to listen to and to like.

Cello Sonata / Cello Works
Composers: Schumann, Grieg
Performers: Marie Hallynck, Tiberghien
Harmonia Mundi Franc - #911779 
Harmonia mundi's Les Nouveaux Musiciens features the young Belgian/French cellist Marie Hallynck in stunning accounts of Schumann' s "Adagio and Allegro," "Phantasienstke," and "Funf Stucke im Volkston" for cello and piano, as well as Grieg's "Sonate Pour Violoncelle et Piano." Our kind of easy listening. 

Darkness & Light 4
ComposerPerformer(s): Weiner, Starer, Stern, Korngold, Lees, Holt
Albany Music Dist. - #518 

  The latest release from the Chamber Music Series at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is highlighted by the stunningly original "Piano Trio No. 2 "Silent Voices" (1998) by Benjamin Lees. Anguished and almost unbearably intense, Lees crams more drama, passion and empathy into this 14-minute piece than many composers muster in a lifetime.

Chamber Music
Composer: Lawrence Dillon
Cassatt String Quartet, Borromeo String Quartet, Mendelssohn String Quartet

In 1985, Lawrence Dillon became the youngest composer to earn a doctorate at the Juilliard School. He studied privately with Vincent Persichetti, and in classes with Milton Babbitt, Elliott Carter, David Diamond and Roger Sessions. Upon graduation, he was appointed to the Juilliard faculty. He is currently Assistant Dean at the North Carolina School of the Arts where he is also Composer-in-Residence and conductor of the contemporary music ensemble. The three pieces recorded here might be considered genre-bending in that they attempt to blend elements of post-modernism and older forms like romanticism. 

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 
(C) Sequenza/21 LLC 2000

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