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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 30, 2005
Live From the Fallout Shelter

Well, it's not the MacArthur award but we're not complaining. Rumor has it that Sequenza21 will be getting an ASCAP Deems Taylor Award for website excellence at Rose Hall on December 15. This comes as something of a surprise since we didn't apply but our thanks to whoever nominated us and, of course, to all you little people who visit us daily. In the past the award has gone to such luminaries as Kyle Gann and Alex Ross so we're delighted to be in good company.

Meanwhile, the anticipation�some would say, hype--surrounding tomorrow night�s premiere of Dr. Atomic has diverted attention from other worthy new music ventures, including Orpheus and Euridice, the latest work by Ricky Ian Gordon, which will have its world premiere next Wednesday at 8 PM in the Rose Theater at the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle.

Gordon is a charter member of a new generation of Sondheim-influenced composers who write brainy art songs that are too complex to be pop but closer to Broadway than traditional opera. Orpheus and Euridice is a song cycle with Elizabeth Futral as Euridice and clarinetist Todd Palmer as Orpheus. The production will be directed and choreographed by Doug Varone.

Gordon's My Life with Albertine, a musical adaptation of Proust's In Remembrance of Things Past, ran at Playwrights Horizon in 2003. Gordon's work can be heard on two CDs; Only Heaven features his settings of Langston Hughes poems, while Bright-Eyed Joy comprises some of the Hughes pieces as well as settings to the words of Dorothy Parker, Edna St. Vincent Millay and others. Orpheus and Euridice is a co-presentation of Lincoln Center�s Great Performers� New Visions and American Songbook series and will open the 2005-2006 seasons for each.
The Fire Next Time

Just got a note from Robert Jordahl, one of our regulars, who was chased out of his home by Hurricane Rita. He and his family are fine and staying in Austin. His home back in Lake Charles, Lousiana was destroyed. Our sympathies, Bob. Alan Theisen and Everette Minchew were run out of Mississippi earlier by Katrina. It's tempting to say all this is God's wrath on Red States but that would be too flip and we would never indulge in such mean-spirited flippancy.

Stefanie Lubkowski was working on a chamber piece based on �I Put a Spell on You� by Screamin� Jay Hawkins and it was going great and then....wham, composer's block. I'm sure it's never happened to anyone who frequents these pages.

Finalment, as we say back in West Virginia, counter)induction is having its 1st annual counter)induction composition competition for young American composers. The winning work will be performed on "Message in a Bottle," c)i's final concert in the 2005-2006 season (June 10 at the Tenri Cultural Institute in New York); the composer will receive a $500 cash prize. A runner-up will also receive a performance on the same concert. The hard part is you have to be under 35 to enter.
Doctor Atomic tonic

Leonard Bernstein wrote his music for J.M.Barrie's play Peter Pan in 1949. The new production starred Jean Arthur and Boris Karloff as Peter and Captain Hook respectively, and Bernstein was commissioned to write the incidental music. Lennie was larger than life, and always delivered more than he was asked for. His final score for Peter Pan contains music and lyrics for five songs, as well as two choruses for the pirates. The show opened in 1954, was a critical success, and pulled in the audiences on Broadway. The score is certainly not juvenilia (he was 31 when he wrote it!). On An Overgrown Path offers a Doctor Atomic tonic, and asks why isn't Peter Pan better known? as well as giving an audio file taster of this overlooked music in Serendipity, Synchronicity and Bernstein.
Last Night in L.A. - Channeling Carlos Ch�vez

The Southwest Chamber Music ensemble offers our favorite music in the summer, with four Sunday evening concerts outdoors at the Huntington, adjacent to the gardens in San Marino. During the season they offer concerts at the Norton Simon in Pasadena and at Zipper Hall in the Colburn School downtown, across the street from the Disney, where the acoustics are among the best for small venues around the city.

One of their objectives is to record all of the chamber music written by Carlos Ch�vez, and their first two CDs in the series received consecutive Grammy awards. Last night was the first of two concerts continuing their presentation of this music.

Ch�vez lived in two worlds, physically and musically. Last night�s selection of chamber music comprised works firmly in styles of international modernism, not musical nationalism. The earliest works on the program, the three Sonatinas (for piano, piano and cello, piano and violin) were written at the request of his friend Copland and premiered in 1928 at the first of the famous Copland-Sessions concerts presenting classical modernism to New York.

The most unusual work on the concert was his �Trio for Flute, Viola, & Harp�, commissioned for a Philadelphian in 1940. The four-movement work is an orchestration of two songs of de Falla surrounded by two piano pieces by Debussy, ending with �Golliwog�s Cakewalk�. It�s a strange trifle, with its own charm. The evening ended with more distinctive and substantial work. �Variations for Piano and Violin� was commissioned for the first performance of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in 1969. �Three Spirals for Violin and Piano� was premiered at a 1937 Town Hall concert by Joseph Szigeti and Chavez at the piano.

The concert closed with his second string quartet, a work for violin, viola, cello, and double bass; is there any other string quartet with this instrumentation? It was hard for my ears to get adjusted to the sound; at first it sounded as if someone had over-amplified the bass in a sound system. But the work rapidly claims acceptance of its approach, largely because Ch�vez used the bass as a melodic equal to the violin rather than as the mere bass note in a chord.
We'll Meet Again, Don't Know Where, Don't Know When

It was so quiet you could hear a paradigm shift. Charles Downey has a piece today about Alex Ross's great article in this week's New Yorker about the making of Dr. Atomic. The New Yorker piece is not online but buy a copy; you'll see why Alex gets the big bucks.

Apropos this week's apocalypse revisited theme, Elodie Lauten has some intriguing thoughts about music and context--more specifically, about music written in response to specific events and ideas. Elodie is one of our best, and most prolific, bloggers and she could use some bucking up. I want everyone over there now and make some noise.
640/1240 Conolrad

With Dr. Atomic opening this week in San Francisco and Philip Glass� Symphony N. 6 �Plutonian Ode�, based on the Allen Ginsberg poem, scheduled for November, Elodie Lauten wonders if we're entering some sort of Cold War time warp. Are those mushroom clouds on the horizon or have we finally stopped worrying and learned to love the bomb?

Love the music, hate the culture? Lawrence Dillon has some thoughts about music and ambivalent cultural attitudes...Alan Theisen has some notes on invention.

Speaking of Dr. Atomic, Alex Ross has a great piece about it in this week's New Yorker. Alas, it's not available on line so you'll have to spring for a copy.

UPDATE: Don't forget that tonight at 8 pm at NEC's Jordan Hall, Stephen Drury of the NEC faculty will lead the premiere performance of an evening-length work by our friend John Luther Adams, For Lou Harrison, scored for string quartet, two pianos, and string ensemble.
Is Classical Music Too Fast?

A lot of people are starting to think that classical music needs slowing down, and some of them are putting their money where their mouth is.

Longplayer is a 1000 year long piece of music which started to play on the 1st January 2000 and will continue, without repeating a single phase, until the 31st December 2999. Then it will come back to the point at which it started - and begin again. Longplayer was developed and composed as a computer programme between October 1995 and December 1999 by Jem Finer. The source music is primarily Tibetan singing bowls of various sizes, and gongs. Is classical music too fast? has the full story of Longplayer, including a real time audio feed. So you can listen to the complete work over the next 994 years....

And read how the good folks in Halberstadt, Germany have taken a different path to try and answer the same question, how slow is slow? as John Cage�s Organ2/ASLSP plays for 639 years on a specially built 'Cage organ' in an 11th century church (See photo to right)

Meanwhile, elsewhere in Germany, there is a move to make 'authentic tempi' the next big thing after 'authentic instruments'. Is classical music too fast? has audio samples of Mozart and Beethoven keyboard sonatas played at speeds you've never ever dreamt of.

Join On An Overgrown Path as it takes a long, slow look at the question Is classical music too fast?
Dr. Atomic Countdown - T Minus 5

Is the universe of composed music expanding too fast for its own damned good? Arnold Rosner thinks the sheer quantity of new music means that most of it will inevitably disappear into a black hole from which it never emerges...Everette Minchew has a funny encounter with Helmut Lachenmann at Wal-Mart...Alan Theisen has come to praise dead heroes and William Grim has a terrific review of the obscure Japanese symphonist Saburo Moroi.

We need a new topic for the Composers Forum and some fresh bios over in the Wiki. We're in the market for a few good new bloggers. Don't volunteer unless you plan to update at least once a week.
Last Night in L.A. - Hooray for Bollywood

The evening was billed as �Kronos Quartet & Asha Bhosle: India Calling: Songs from R.D. Burman's Bollywood�, but this turned out to be just the second half of the concert at UCLA�s Royce Hall. "Bollywood" is yet another truck stop on the Kronos Quartet�s stimulating and seemingly inexhaustible quest for new music thrills. And, of course, the program helps promote their newest recording, �You�ve Stolen My Heart� with Bhosle singing the music of famed Indian movie composer Burman accompanied by the Kronos. This Amazon page provides clips from all but one of the tracks, so you can get a feeling for the sound. The Kronos on stage is supplemented by a pipa and the tables and by lots of tape and amplification.

I am quite unfamiliar with Indian music in general and Indian film music in particular and I must confess that I had never heard of R. D. Burman. Nor had I heard of Asha Bhosle, although a recording or two might have been background music at an Indian restaurant; I certainly had no idea that she was the most recorded vocalist in the world. But David Harrington of Kronos had, and felt that exploring this music would be right for Kronos in their 32nd year.

Harrington said he thought Burman could be compared with Stravinsky. While I wasn�t convinced of that, I certainly felt last night that Burman could be compared to Gershwin. Being present with Asha Bhosle singing Berman songs was like being at a concert with Ella Fitzgerald singing Gershwin: a consummate musician, fully in control of her material and her sound, even with a cough from foggy San Francisco, with a voice, at 72, that might have lost some of its upper register but was still right on pitch unless she purposely wanted to use microtones. This Asha Bhosle site includes a number of complete Bhosle recordings, with several composers as well as R. D. Burman, for those interested in further exposure to her voice; the site also includes an essay worth reading by her daughter.

While this was interesting, and fun, for me the highlight of the concert was the first half and the performance of Terry Riley�s new work, The Cusp of Magic, a piece written for the Kronos to perform with the extraordinary Wu Man on pipa. The Chinese lute has more than a 3-octave range of pitch and, with an artist like Wu Man, a great range of sound color. The work is one of Riley�s great works, rich, textured, well-conceived. Forty years ago Terry Riley was able to express one powerful concept with amazing clarity in a work called �In C�. His work still has great clarity while it now has a much wider range of expression. (He isn�t a minimalist any more, of course.) KQED has an excellent video of Riley and the Kronos working on the composition and practice of �Magic�, and it�s well worth watching, here. There is also a good summary of the work. Wouldn�t it make a fine festival to have someone reprise the now-sixteen works written by Riley for Kronos?

Kronos performed this program at Yerba Buena in San Francisco two nights ago. It will also be performed in London at the Barbican, and, in March, at Zankel Hall at Carnegie. You New Yorkers should try to go. And there are still a few tickets left to hear the Phil�s Minimalist Jukebox festival at the end of March.


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