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340 W. 57th Street, 12B, New York, NY 10019

Jerry Bowles
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Managing Editor:
David Salvage

Contributing Editors:

Galen H. Brown
Evan Johnson
Ian Moss
Lanier Sammons
Deborah Kravetz
Eric C. Reda
Christian Hertzog
(San Diego)
Jerry Zinser
(Los Angeles)

Web & Wiki Master:
Jeff Harrington

Latest Posts

Love and Cow Bells
Sorceress of the New Piano
Well, That Was Fun
Naxos Dreaming
Reich@70: Let the Celebrations Begin
The Bi-Coastal Jefferson Friedman
Violins Invade Indianapolis
John Cage (born Los Angeles, 5 September 1912; died New York, 12 August 1992).
The People United Will Never Be Divided
Attention Sequenza21 Shoppers


Record companies, artists and publicists are invited to submit CDs to be considered for review. Send to: Jerry Bowles, Editor, Sequenza 21, 340 W. 57th Street, 12B, New York, NY 10019

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Opera Company of Brooklyn has announced two performances of two one-acts by Brooklyn-born composer Thomas Pasatieri later this month. A few years ago I asked a certain Grawemeyer composer what Pasatieri�s music sounded like. He said: "It�s like Menotti-light." Apparently in addition to his operas, Pasatieri has been active as a Hollywood orchestrator; his orchestrations can be heard in American Beauty and The Shawshank Redemption among others.
Think of today and tomorrow as a Wiki-end. (Sorry.)
Off to a Flying Stop

It seems the new music world is up to little more today than kicking back on the proverbial rocking chair and enjoying iced tea on the veranda. Not a bad idea, if you ask me. The Composers Forum is percolating along, of course, with bubbly discussions of unions, the Internet�s effect on classical music, and even music theory (wherein I have taken some heat). Things'll certainly pick up next weekend when S21 brings you the skinny on concerts by Jenny Lin, Jay Gottlieb, Alarm Will Sound, and the US premiere of Ferneyhough's Shadowtime (see advert above).
Lumina String Quartet at Europe/Asia 2005 Festival of Modern Music in Kazan, Republic of Tatarstan, Russia - Part IV

Well, hello again. This is surely one of the slowest trip diaries on record, but I hope it's reasonably entertaining.

Anyway, a short entry this time - and some news. We finally have photos online of both the city of Kazan and the Lumina Quartet and clarinetist Philip Bashor in performance at the Europe/Asia Festival. Take a look.

So, back to the festival.

May 27 at 5 PM - back at the lovely Agro Hall of the Kazan State Agricultural Academy for an evening of a "Panorama of Styles".

One thing that added to the evening's offerings was watching the progress of large and exceptionally panoramic thunderstorms that moved over the city (and by extension the theater) and dumped a tremendous amount of rain in a very short time, but really did nothing to cool the still-high temperatures. However, great counterpoint to the evening's bill of fare.

Things began with Tatar composer Ilham Baitiryak's "From the book Kisek Bash" for basset horn and chamber orchestra. This is a beautiful tone poem that was wonderfully performed by young Tatar hornist Alexander Vintilin, with fine orchestral playing by the Ensemble of New Music and especially sensitive leadership from conductor Tatar Anna Gulishambarova. The Ensemble is loaded with good young players with a few experienced ringers thrown in. Especially lovely work by the concertmaster and the principal horn, in duets with the solo horn.

Next up was the Lumina Quartet, this time presenting a marvelous quartet by Dan Cooper and Ron Mazurek's terrific Chants for String Quartet. This part of their evening's offering was also highlighted by Tatar composer Almaz Monasypov's lovely arrangement of Ave Maria for violin, cello, clarinet and piano. Next came Rezeda Ahiyarova's marvelous "The Witness from New York" for the same instruments. I think we could all use a bit more of this kind of witnessing.

This was followed by a domra trio with piano, performing "Event" by Tatar composer Rif Ilyasov. Well, Rif gave us plenty of good riffs along with some well-placed dissonance and rhythms that made this music more fun than a barrel of Moscow Circus monkeys. Fine ensemble from the three young domra ladies. More about domras.

After this came Russian Leonid Rezetdinov's Five Pieces for clarinet, violin and piano. Some nice moments, but not much more. The third of the pieces was the most interesting, with a nice gimmick at the end of having the non-pianists play the last two notes.

Lumina ended this wide-ranging concert with Gershwin's delicate and ethereal Lullaby in its string quartet incarnation and Gene Pritsker's curiously named but great "Falls to with an Appetite" - a serenade for clarinet and string quartet. This young composer has a great ear for string sonorities and made the most of this instrumental combination. Some truly exceptional music here that the quartet and Philip Bashor really made the most of. We'll have a review of this piece by Kazan writer and composer Oleg Lubivetz in a future report.
And Now, Right Here on Our Stage...

I'm taking a mini-summer break at an undisclosed location so S21's fairhaired boy wonder David Salvage will be providing you with daily pointers and amusing bon mots for awhile. David is a remarkable young man, who started playing the piano at 4 and composing at 7, and still manages to seem fairly normal. He's working on a Ph.D at City University of New York and starts teaching next month at Brooklyn College. He has a bunch of comp tickets in the next couple of weeks so he'll also provide you with lots of provocative reviews. I will be checking in from time to time.

In the blogs today, David Thomas finds that concentrating on improving his technique is one way of beating the summer pops blahs...Everette Minchew has some new CD reviews...Lou Bunk warns against blogging while drunk.
Kiss a Frog Day

Since most composers think the work of most other composers sucks, who gets to decide if someone is good enough to be a member of a Composers Union? More deep thoughts from our new resident provocateur, Lou Bunk, and--as usual--there's madness to his method...Check out some of Jenece Gerber's photographs from Summer at Brevard...Elsewhere, new medical research suggests that if you hear music in your head you may not be a composer; you might be suffering from musical hallucinations.
Klein and Martinu headline in new Philadelphia recordings

Gideon Klein's 1944 Partita for String Orchestra and Bohuslav Martinu's 1943 Memorial to Lidice are among the works to be recorded in the Philadelphia Orchestra's new recording contract with Ondine. On An Overgrown Path has details of the first two new recordings, and in the article Philly's profit share fillip explores the financial deal behind the new recordings, and what it means for the musicians themselves.
Evan Johnson's On the Record - My Dear Siegfried

My Dear Siegfried
David Behrman
XI Records XI 129

I used to really dislike going to concerts � they were stodgy, uncomfortable, inconvenient, and as often as not terminally boring. Except for truly exceptional events, I�d rather put on a CD at home. As a matter of fact, I still dislike going to concerts. But at the same time, especially as my own compositional work evolves towards unrecordability, I treasure the human interactions they involve, the performative tensions and the aura of presentness that recordings can never capture.

I mention this because I wanted to like a lot of the things on this two-disc set of electroacoustic music by technological pioneer David Behrman; his background as an acoustic explorer and associate of the likes of Gordon Mumma and Alvin Lucier promised an extremely interesting experience, and I had never before heard any of his work. Unfortunately, with a couple of exceptions, I still feel like I haven�t heard it. Most of these pieces just don�t show up on record; the sounds are there, but the music seems to depend no more on sound than on the human presence and the performative experience.

The title work is the centerpiece of the record, filling the first of the two discs. It features readings of letters and other correspondence of World War I poet Siegfried Sassoon and one S. N. Behrman, presumably a relative of the composer although no further information is given. The texts, which are straightforwardly delivered, are accompanied by a �performance environment� in which live performers (here an ensemble of voices, shakuhachi, and keyboards featuring the composer and well-known experimental vocalist Thomas Buckner) improvise and interact with a responsive computer system.

The result is a spare, beautiful, often compelling sort of simultaneously �futuristic� and deeply personal accompanied recitative. It is clear why Behrman found the texts, prominent among which are Sassoon�s pacifist reactions to the First World War, particularly relevant for today�s geopolitical climate; sentences like �On behalf of those who are suffering now, I make this protest against the deception which is being practiced on them� are certainly heard differently today than they would have been three years ago.

But there is a sense of occasion, ceremony and ritual inherent in this work � as if the performers were genuflecting at the altar of pacifism � that makes the recorded presentation at least as frustrating as it is compelling. It is not just the spontaneity of live interactivity that is missing, but also a sense of purpose shared between performers and audience. I felt the need to have been where the performers� bodies were. That having been said, Dear Siegfried is a major work by an important figure in American experimentalism that should be heard, and what comes across on record is not easily forgotten.

The second disc holds smaller pieces that trace the development both of the technology of electronic computation and sound reproduction and of Behrman�s relationship to it. The most compelling pieces are the simplest, the purest, and technologically the most primitive: Touch Tones and Pools of Phase Locked Loops, both of which involve the interaction of live performers with audibly experimental computer systems � �audibly experimental� not in the sense that the resulting sounds are particularly complex or outr�, but that there is a strong sense of struggle communicated by the presence of complex electronic systems that today would be nearly trivial MSP patches. It is hard to imagine computer-generated sounds conveying an impression of difficulty, but Behrman manages, particularly in Touch Tones, a modest five-minute work that I found to be the most independently compelling music on the disc. Noisy sounds, produced by Katharine Morton Austin and the composer with objects like sandpaper and electric drills, are �heard� by a computer, which then responds with an irregularly descending arpeggio of detected harmonic peaks; the disjunction between humans� music and the attempts of electronic devices to respond to it has never been as poignantly obvious. Touch Tones is an allegory of the constitutive failure of electronics when faced with art.

This is a record worth acquiring, especially at the bargain price of less than a single full-priced CD. The packaging is elegant, the booklet exemplary (it includes an interview with Behrman and full texts of My Dear Siegfried), and the music rarely heard and important, even if more often than not it makes the listener miss the concert hall.
Where the Humuhumunukunuku�pua`a Go Swimming By

Psst. Want to hear some great ukelele? Lawrence Dillon has a pointer...If trumpet is more your thing, Everette Minchew recommends the late Lucia Dlugoszewski...Lalo Schifrin is writing a concerto for Jeffrey Biegel...Elsewhere, nice review by Kyle Gann in the Village Voice of Corey Dargel and Eve Beglarian's recent show at Opia Lounge...New policy at the Wiki; you'll need to create a user name and log in in order to edit pages. We haven't had a problem with teenage pychopaths yet but in these matters it's better to be preemptive. There are cookies (and milk) so you just have to log in once.
Karl's Coming Down

Is it fair that a handful of composers get all the gigs just because they work harder? Lou Bunk doesn't think so and he has a solution--a Composers Union for the lazy and underachieving...Elodie Lauten worries that Postclassic (I've decided to adopt Kyle's description) music, already a subculture, is being marginalized even more...Alan Theisen has a list of overlooked masterpieces by master composers...Tom Myron has put together a tres amusesant picture book of his move...Lawrence Dillon writes about how to select, or not, a composition teacher. The Wiki is yours for the taking.
Oh Canada

Mazeltov to our cyberfriend Alex Ross on tying the knot. Alex is taking a blogging hiatus for a couple of months and we'll miss him...We're not taking a hiatus, just fighting off a slight case of the summer doldrums. Stay with us, though, we've got a lot of stuff on order. There are some new CD Reviews; we always have a terrific and civilized discussion going on over in the Composers Forum, and it is a great day to Wiki yourself.
New music feast at BBC Proms

In London the show goes on despite last Thursday�s terrible atrocities. And the world�s biggest music festival, the BBC Promenade Concerts, starts on Friday (15th July). In a nine week season there is a veritable feast of new music. No less than twenty-one new works are being premiered, and the composers include Thomas Ades, Mark-Anthony Turnage, Henri Dutilleux, James MacMillan, John Corigliano, Thea Musgrave, and John Woolrich.

On An Overgrown Path has a full listing of all the new works together with details, and broadcast dates. The great news is that all the commissions are being broadcast live over the net, and many of them will be available 'on-demand' for seven days after broadcast. The ever connected overgrown path also has all the links to the BBC web cast resources.
Hey, Kids. Let's Put on a Show

The annual Lincoln Center Festival--which begins Tuesday and runs through Sunday, July 17--is the funkiest and most adventuresome programming LC does all year. It's almost as if somebody says, it's July, the town's empty, we've got the Mozart crap coming up next month, let's do something edgy and fun.

The Merce Cunningham Dance Company�s piece Ocean, the final collaboration between Cunningham and John Cage, will be performed in the round at the new Rose Theater at Time Warner Center, 60th Street and Broadway. Cage is listed as co-creator, with Cunningham, but the orchestral component (Ocean 1-95) is by his long-time assistant Andrew Culver. Scored for 112 instrumental soloists in the round, and lasting 90 minutes, the piece consists of 32,067 events spread over 95 compositions in five continuously overlapping layers. The electronic music (Soundings: Ocean Diary) is by the late David Tudor. Ocean was premiered at the first Lincoln Center Festival back in 1996.

If that sounds too intense, you can take in the New York premiere of avant-garde puppet master Basil Twist�s production of Ottorino Respighi�s rarely-performed puppet opera La bella dormente nel bosco, yet another version of Sleeping Beauty, this one written for orchestra, chorus, soloists and puppets. On Thursday, comes the US premiere of Robert Wilson's I La Galigo, a music theatre work inspired by Sureq Galigo, an epic poem from South Sulawesi, Indonesia, with music by Rahayu Supanggah. Sunday is the US premiere of Le Dernier Caravanserail, a re-working of Homer's Iliad and Odyssey based on letters written by detainees who were held in recent years in refugee camps, created "collectively" by Th��tre du Soleil, directed by Ariane Mnouchkine, with music by Jean-Jacques Lem�tre

In addition to Festival�s many performances, opening week also offers numerous symposia and additional special events. Take a look at the schedule here.

Next week--Shadowtime by Brian Ferneyhough. With some luck, we'll be getting an advance report from the London premiere this week.


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