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

Jerry Bowles
(212) 582-3791

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

Friday, September 16, 2005
Happy Trails

Beata Moon reminds me that tomorrow is Kalvos & Damian's last broadcast. As usual, time and money are the culprits. They have served the new music community valiantly and well for many years...and they will be sorely missed. See the splendid tribute that Beata wrote about them over in NewMusicBox.
Cue the Dancing Girls

"Where are the dancing girls and the all night adventures where you end up in the morning sleeping in some rock stars' hotel tub," Lou Bunk wonders. I've been thinking about that a lot myself...Must be the genes, but music is often a family affair. Pianist Daniel Beliavsky and his father, violinist Yuri Beliavsky, are doing at concert this Sunday at 3 p.m. at Christ and St. Stephen's Church, located at 120 West 69th Street between Broadway and Columbus. Nothing new on this program but Daniel is a big champion of Lukas Foss' piano work...Tomorrow night The East Texas Symphony Orchestra will perform the world premiere of Kenji Bunch's "Double Concerto for Marimba, Trumpet and Orchestra," conducted by Per Brevig, with James Sims, trumpet and marimba soloist Makoto Nakura...The prolific writer William E. Grim makes his Sequenza21 debut on the CD Reviews page with a look at works by Wilhelm Peterson-Berger.

We need some new names and bios and MP3s over in the Wiki.
"die reihe" at ACF

I know a place where Webern song recitals sell out.

All right, so their hall is small and their concerts are free, but that certainly doesn�t make the Austrian Cultural Forum any less cool. Last night a dedicated crowd listened to the intense musicians from Vienna�s �die reihe� hack and pluck their way through works by Webern, Hanns Jelinek, Shih, Egon Wellesz, and John Cage. I had heard of only three of these composers, and one of the other two I�m not sure I want to hear from again. But nonetheless, listening to obscure twentieth and twenty-first-century chamber music at the ACF remains one of New York�s greatest musical pleasures. And the (free) wine afterwards doesn�t hurt either.

The concert opened with Webern�s short and spacious �Satz f�r Streichtrio� from 1925. Published without an opus number, the music�s constant melody floats from instrument to instrument as pizzicato exclamations bounce around, throwing the lied into high relief. Brief and poignant sighs bring the work to a close. Jelinek�s much more traditional �Trio from �Zw�lftonwerk� for Violin, Viola, and Violoncello� followed. Jelinek (1901-1969) taught composition for years at the University for Music and the Performing Arts in Vienna, and his music doesn�t always steer clear of the stiff and academic. But, while I still find something conceptually amiss about writing a twelve-tone work in sonata form, Jelinek�s piece really grew on me last night with its long singing lines, pungent harmonies, and sudden eruptions into ostinato. The program�s first half concluded with Shih�s �Ein Takt f�r Pi-Pa und Streichquartett� featuring Pei Ju Tsai on the Chinese fretted instrument. Languid, homogeneous textures dominate Shih�s work, and sometimes the results are cloyingly introspective and pretentious. But here he cuts loose and writes music that�s both brutally exciting and stunningly virtuosic. The crowd loved it.

The second half opened with two multi-movement works by Egon Wellesz (1885-1974). Wellesz, in addition to being a composer, was an active musicologist who did important research on Handel and Fux and was friends with Webern and Hugo von Hofmannsthal. But neither his �Suite for Clarinet Solo, Op.74" nor his �Four Pieces for String Trio, Op. 105" could command my attention. Both seemed structurally flat and the motivic material was limp and unimaginative. Much better was John Cage�s �Variations III� from 1963, scored for pi-pa, clarinet, and string quartet. While the texture is often restless and percussive, Cage�s piece finds a way, through tonal sonorities and good old fashioned tunes singing somewhere just out of sight, to convey a subtle yet resonant happiness. It brought the program to a wonderful close.

�die reihe� plays again tonight, but, if that�s not enough notice for you, fear not: the ACF�s �Mostly Modern� festival, of which this concert was a part, extends well into November.
Happy Webern Day

Everette Minchew reports that it's Webern Day on BBC3...Lawrence Dillon has rediscovered a lost treasure named Edwin Finckel...Anthony Cornicello is doing a Katrina Relief gig and Tom Myron takes a fresh look at the Cage-Myron Letters.

As usual, the Composers Forum is buzzing. Thanks to all of you who read and contribute there. You've made it one of the most lively postclassic music forums on the web. And, don't miss Galen Brown's roundup of classical music media just below.

UPDATE: I missed noting this morning Christina Fong's splendid post called On Glen Gould and the Death of Performance.
Classical Media Roundup

For day-to-day updates on what the media thinks is going on in the world of Classical music (and other fields, too) can't be beat. But if you don't make it over there consistently, or need some analysis, or just enjoy the occasional cheap shot at the legit media, we've got what you need right here.

1. The Chicago Tribune reports that Chicago's "Blockbuster Weekend" of free outdoor concerts by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Lyric Opera of Chicago brought out crowds of 10,000 for the CSO on Saturday and 12,000 for the Lyric Opera on Sunday. Barack Obama narrated Copland's "Lincoln Portrait." I remember when the BSO staged a huge outdoor concert to celebrat Seiji Ozowa's 25th year at the helm, to similarly great effect. Funny how classical music looks like it's dying when the masses are accused of being uncultured for lack of interest in the music, but are then asked to pay exorbitant ticket prices for the privilege of sitting next to the very snobs who said they were uncultured in the first place; but a free concert where most of the rest of the audience are fellow non-snobs draws huge crowds. (And what sponsor wouldn't rather reach an audience of that size than the shrinking group of regular concert-goers.)

2. The Christian Science Monitor seems to find it newsworthy that Daniel Anker's new documentary "Music from the Inside Out" about musicians of the Philadelphia Orchestra presents those musicians "as regular people." The documentary may well be excellent -- I haven't seen it, and might well think the CSM has it all wrong if I had -- but that regularness seems, according to the CSM, to be illustrated through the portrayal of the musicians as human in the face if the Ineffable Greatness of Classical Music. I suspect the VH1 "Behind the Music" model would better serve the Classical community than the "In Awe Of The Music" model the CSM describes and endorses.

3. The Metropolitan Opera has found a "majority share" of the $6 Million per seasion it needs to continue Saturday radio broadcasts for a few more years. Long-time sponsor ChevronTexaco ended its support in 2003, and now luxury home builders Toll Brothers have agreed to pick up the slack for at least another 4 years. This is great news for the Met, great news for Opera lovers, wonderfully generous of Toll Brothers, and, if it's the beginning of a trend in construction companies' support for the arts, great news for arts fundraising in general. At the same time, however, the extent to which Toll Brothers is trading on Classical Music as a currency of cultural elitism is quite troubling. Toll Brothers Chairman and CEO, while himself an opera fan, explained the reasoning behind his company's support: "There's an image to be overcome that's negative" Toll told the New York Times, describing the home construction business. "One thinks of a guy in a flannel shirt in a pickup with a gun rack. . . What more perfect marriage for a branding effort than to associate yourself with the Met Opera?. . . It's got to be one of the classiest products you could think of." One is reminded of. . .

4. . . . an August 11 article in Slate explaining that scandal-beset Tom Delay and Jack Abramoff are secret opera buffs. According to Slate's Timothy Noah "Abramoff is a huge opera buff, and�until now this has been a closely guarded secret�so is DeLay. The only previous public hint of this mutual enthusiasm was the revelation in June by Associated Press reporter Adam Nossiter that Abramoff persuaded the Coushatta tribe to put up $185,000 in 2000 so DeLay could treat some of his biggest donors to a concert by the fabled Three Tenors . . . I guess he must work overtime to keep that knowledge a tightly held secret lest his good-ole-boy constituents in Sugar Land, Texas, conclude the Hammer is putting on airs." Maybe Delay has, fearing political liability, kept his love of opera secret as Noah suggests, or maybe, as others have suggested, Timothy Noah underestimates DeLay's constituents and is speculating wrongly -- either way the story is illustrative of the "Classical Music is the music of the cultural elite" script.

5. Newsweek's recent Fall Arts Preview (no link) drew fire from some people in the Classical music world for not previewing any classical music. Count me as neither surprised nor upset. If Time's coverage of Marin Alsop or the handful of other Newsweek articles dealing with classical music are any indication, any coverage would serve primarily to reinforce the notion of Classical Music as Elitist. Time and Newsweek cater to the cultural mainstream, which is the cultural middle class -- and Classical Music is not currently viewed as the music of the middle class. (Plus, weelky news magazines have far less space available than most other popular mainstream media, so they have to focus extra intently on mainstream news.) Organizations like NPR, the New York Times, and the New Yorker, cater to the cultural upper class � the "elite" as some would say -- and so they do cover classical music. That Newsweek didn't include Classical Music in its Arts Preview is a symptom, not the disease.

6. On a final, more humorous note, don't miss FEMA's rap song on the Kidz section of its website. This has been making the rounds on liberal blogs, and while it�s not really fair to claim a relationship between this song and the Katrina response, it�s certainly hilariously awful. Marketers of the world take note: packaging your message to appeal to your target audience is fine, but if you do it badly you will only get laughed at.
This is Just a Drill

Alas, a computer crash and a root canal prevented me from making my appointed rounds yesterday. But, all seems to have worked out--if you call losing six months worth of e-mail and discovering I need another five grand or so in dental repair--working out. At the ripe old age of 62, I'm not sure teeth are a good investment. But, I whine.

Couple of our regulars have gigs tonight. Meet The Composer is launching a new four-concert series; the first showcasing Eve Beglarian and our amigo Corey Dargel, joined by the flutist Margaret Lancaster for a program of "electro-cabaret" and art songs. That's 6:30 p.m. sharp at the Mercantile Library, Second Floor Reading Room, 17 East 47th Street, Manhattan, (212) 755-6710, Admission is $15.

For the night owls, Ian Moss and Capital M are at the Bowery Poetry Club, beginning around midnight. That's 308 Bowery. Take the 6 to Bleecker, F to 2nd Ave, D to Broadway-Lafayette. It's part of the CMJ Music Marathon. Plenty of time to do a double feature.

More updates later.
Music from the Inside Out

Daniel Anker's documentary Music From the Inside Out, which follows the musicians of the Philadelphia Orchestra as they explore music in their lives inside and outside the concert hall, opened to splendid reviews in New York. I haven't seen it yet but if you have, leave us some impressions.

Lawrence Dillon picks up on Cary Boyce's "sentimentality of despair" conceit on the Composers Forum page and Elodie Lauten points us to an upcoming La Monte Young mini-festival.

Lots of our bloggers seem to have disappeared. Time for some housecleaning. Anyone who doesn't post something in the next couple of weeks without a note from their mother is history. Fair warning.
Music will rise from the wreckage....

It was a dark night, but as we came over the brow of the hill the sky was lit up by an orange glow, with a trial of thick smoke. If this was dramatic, seen from close to it was positively theatrical. Above our heads the black shell of the Maltings loomed like the flank of a stricken liner..... In the foreground, silhouetted against the bright lights, members of the English Opera Group chorus were collapsing into each other's arms. It was a devastating event, of course, but one whose aftermath - the triumphant rescue of the Idomeneo premiere at Blythburgh, and the Maltings rebuilding for the very next Festival - swiftly became part of the Aldeburgh legend.

Continuing with the theme of finding inspiration and renewal from events of the past Music Will Rise From The Wreckage looks at the 1969 and 1970 Aldeburgh Festivals, and the devastating fire which destroyed the newly built Snape Maltings concert hall on the first day of the 1969 Festival. (Picture to right shows Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears surveying the wreckage of the concert hall. The eyewitness account above is by pianist and accompanist Roger Vignoles from Autograph Books' Time & Concord - Aldeburgh Festival Recollections).

Through superhuman efforts by Britten and the Festival Committee not only did the 1969 Festival go ahead with the loss of only one concert, but the concert hall was completely rebuilt for the 1970 season. The vintage programme for that Festival included two performaces of a new production of the Rape of Lucretia, and three of Curlew River.

The rebuilt Maltings that year was also the venue for the first performance of Shostakovich's Fourteenth Symphony outside Russia. It was conducted by its dedicatee Britten, and performed with the two soloists for whom it was written, Galina Vishnevskaya and Mark Rezhetin. Other Festival concerts included the world premiere of Hans Werner Henze's vivid theatre piece about a runaway Cuban slave, El Cimarron, conducted by the composer. Guitarist and composer Leo Brouwer continued the Cuban theme with a concert of music from his native Cuba featuring a political sub-text.

On An Overgrown Path has the full story of those two extraordinary Aldeburgh Festivals, and tells how Music Will Rise From The Wreckage.

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