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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

Saturday, November 05, 2005
New Digs

Okay, the server transfer seems to have worked. Welcome to our new home. Stroll around the grounds until you feel at home. If you find anything that doesn't work, send us a note.
Sacred Gift

My review last month of the autumn festival at the Norwich, King of Hearts venue mentioned pianist Peter Hill's new co-authored book on Olivier Messiaen (right). Today's Guardian has an interesting article from Peter Hill which gives some fascinating background to the book, and some interesting tasters from Messiaen's previously unpublished notebooks, including this graphic analysis of the hoot of a tawny owl:

'The overall effect is astoundingly bright and wild. It suggests the voice of a woman or child calling for help, or super-amplified double-bass harmonics. The wail and final glissando are like the siren of a boat drawing away into darkness .....'

Appropriately Soleil des eaux composed by Messiaen's pupil Pierre Boulez plays live on BBC Radio 3 as I write, with the composer conducting his own 80th birthday concert with the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

Messiaen by Peter Hill and Nigel Simeone is published by Yale University Press
ISBN 0-300-10907-5
Picture credit -
Messiaen in five minutes
Report broken links, missing images and errors to overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk

For more stories like this click On An Overgrown Path
Good Morning and Good Luck

We've been having a lot of server problems lately so we--mainly Jeff Harrington--are moving Sequenza21 to a new service provider. Some time today or tonight, I will ask the nice people at Network Solutions to "point the DNS address" to the new server. It may take a little time for the site to "repopulate" so if we lose you for awhile, don't panic. Write this number down on a piece of paper somewhere: If nothing happens when you go you can find us at that address. The whole thing should resolve itself in a few hours but, of course, we all know that whatever can go wrong probably will.

Our buddy Pliable at On an Overgrown Path has some thoughts about Naxos and our new Naxos Blog.

UPDATE: It's easy for a music director to display "depth" by programming tested works from the past, it takes a lot more courage to program new works. Christina Fong writes that Marin Alsop is "one of a very small handful of conductors in the world who seems to have a genuine knowledge and passion for new music."

My first freelance writing gig in New York nearly 40 years ago was writing short reviews of upcoming shows for Art News magazine, an enterprise that involved climbing up miles of stairs into what were then illegal and often dangerous lofts in Soho for a sneak preview of what art lovers would be viewing the following month. At $5 a review, it didn't pan out as the road to riches but there were compensations. Artists like Jasper Johns, Sol LeWitt and Arakawa gave me pieces of their work (which I still have) and I met a lot of great people, including John Ashbury, who was an editor at Art News in those days. He was a great guy and magnificent talent even then and--as Blackdogred writes today--he still is.
John Peel's 'Private Passions'

DJ and broadcaster John Peel (right) was the champion of independent British rock music for nearly 40 years on his late-night BBC Radio 1 show. He led the way in promoting new acts, from David Bowie, through Joy Division to the White Stripes. During his schooldays one of his teachers wrote - �It's possible that John can form some kind of nightmarish career out of his enthusiasm for unlistenable records and his delight in writing long and facetious essays..." which kind of sounds familiar, doesn't it?

As well as his music programmes John Peel was an award winning current affairs presenter on BBC Radio 4 and World Service. His love of classical music was not widely known, but he chose it for the majority of the selections when he appeared on BBC Radio 3's Private Passions programme. Peel asked presenter Michael Berkeley to include something that would surprise him. Berkeley programmed Conlon Nancarrow's Study for Player-Piano No. 21, and Peel subsequently played it on his rock music programme on Radio 1.

John Peel died suddenly a year ago last week while on holiday in Peru, aged 65. Take An Overgrown Path to find out about his musical 'Private Passions', and to listen to audio files of more than eight minutes of Nancarrow's Player-Piano Studies.

Listen to the latest BBC Radio 3 Private Passions programme
with this link
Information reproduced from
Private Passions by Michael Berkeley, published by Faber ISBN 0-571-22884-4
Image credit:
Roger Waters Online

Report broken links, missing images, and other errors to overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk
Last Night in L.A. - Glory, Glory

If we use the standard metric of palm pain per person, the applause at last night�s piano recital by Gloria Cheng was the most enthusiastic of the year. Gloria is one of our favorite pianists anyway, and this PianoSpheres concert at Zipper Hall was a delight from beginning to end, from Terry Riley to George Crumb. Ravel�s �Sonatine� (1905) served as the answer to the musical question �Which of these pieces is not like the others?�

The concert opened with Riley�s �The Walrus in Memoriam� (1991/1993), written to commemorate John Lennon. This piece is also the (sample-available) first track on Cheng�s CD of the piano music of Riley and Adams and she has the shifting colors and styles and rhythms of Riley�s work well in hand (and fingers). She followed this with Messiaen�s �le Baiser de l�Enfant-J�sus� (1944) from his �Vingt Regards�; she made this a mystical experience. The Ravel then preceded Salonen�s �Three Preludes� (2005), whose demands probably made the change of pace with the Ravel a useful break for the pianist. Two of the three preludes were among those written for Paul Crossley�s celebratory 60th birthday concert last year, and �Invenzione�, the last prelude in the set, was particularly demanding, and interesting to hear.

Works by George Crumb closed the concert after intermission. First was the 1980 �A Little Suite for Christmas�, which has had several recordings, one of which is available here. The seven movements in the suite involve a wide range of piano colors and extended techniques with the piano strings, as you would expect of Crumb. The closing work was Crumb�s best work for piano (at this stage in a great career!), �Eine Kleine Mitternachtmusik� (2002). This �A Little Midnight Music� was written as one of a set commissioned to compose �short� piano piece to commemorate Thelonious Monk�s ��Round Midnight�; Crumb gave much more than asked for. One of the commissions, a short work by John Harbison was played first to establish the theme; Harbison�s �Monk Trope� (2001) is a direct variation of the Monk, so it established the base for Crumb�s inventive exploration. Over the course of nine variations Crumb explored Monk�s work and his own reactions to it, often with a Monk variation leading to thoughts about a theme from another composer. One movement, for example, is a midnight version of a rather unfriendly golliwog, on what is definitely not a cakewalk. How can you not like Crumb? The audience wanted more, but Cheng gracefully declined.
New Stuff

Lawrence Dillon on Arvo Part's deconstruction of Mozart; Blackdogred on why he hates Mozart...and Lynryd Skynyrd...and Jim Morrison; new contributor Eric C. Reda on why he loves Marie-Nicole Lemieux's new CD L�heure Exquise. (Money quote: "I haven�t enjoyed a CD of art song this much since the 1997 Dawn Upshaw and James Levine recording 'Forgotten Songs: Dawn Upshaw Sings Debussy.'")

Couple of interesting comment threads going--one under the Another New Blog post just below; the other following Evan Johnson's review of David Lang's Elevated on the CD Review page. With any luck, the gal composer thread will fall off the bottom of the page today.

UPDATE: Busy day. The Naxos Blog has information about the world premiere of Jos� Serebrier�s Symphony No. 3 by the American Composers Orchesta on November 11. And our indie man Blackdogred has discovered Postclassic Radio and is wondering who the hell is Peter Garland and why does he get played every fifth cut? He's also looking for essential Frank Bridge. Get on over there and help him out.
Another New Blog

No record company has been more supportive of living composers than Naxos. Over the past year alone, the company released William Bolcom�s Songs of Innocence and of Experience, named by music critics from The New York Times, Boston Globe, and the Chicago Tribune as one of the best classical music releases of 2004, as well as the first two CDs of Peter Maxwell Davies� Naxos Quartets�a series of ten quartets that Naxos itself commissioned�performed by the Maggini Quartet. There were also new releases of Joan Tower, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, Graham Koehne, Kenneth Fuchs, Kamran Ince, among others, and a new Sean Hickey CD is coming out this month. Naxos has proven that you don't have to charge a fortune, lower your standards or ignore contemporary music to make a profit. For its efforts, Naxos was named "Label of the Year" in the most recent Gramophone Awards.

I thought it might be useful and fun to take a look at the inside workings of Naxos so I invited Naxos publicist Mark Berry to start a blog about what the company is doing in contemporary music. The Naxos Blog is now up and running.

Elsewhere, don't miss Tom Myron's really, really scary Halloween picture. Elodie Lauten highlights a neat-sounding upcoming show. And Blackdogred has some freaky-looking indie picks for the week.

UPDATE: Many thanks to the nice folks at who have made us their featured site of the month.
New Music in New York

'Audiences are prepared to damn a new work before hearing it... If a person hears such a work and doesn't like it he is entitled to his opinion. But just to stay away when one is programmed certainly does not help the promoter or the conductor in their efforts to give new music a proper chance.'

The problem may sound familiar, and the city is New York. But the year is not 2005, it is 1938, and the spirited defender of new music was John Barbirolli.

The English conductor was the surprise choice to take over the famed New York Philharmonic from the legendary Arturo Toscanini. The begining of his seven year span as Music Director was a honeymoon period. Barbirolli's reputation was built on the romantic repertoire, but he was also unstinting in his advocacy of new music. The US based composers that he programmed included Daniel Gregory Mason, Joseph Deems Taylor (excerpts from his comic opera Peter Ibbetson), Abram Chasins, Samuel Barber, Ernst Toch, Arkady Dubensky, Charles Wakefield Cadman, Quinto Maganini, Gardner Read, Charles Griffes and Quincy Porter. From further afield came first New York performances of compositions from Ibert, Gossens, and Britten.

But ultimately Barbirolli's programming and performances fell foul of both the New York critics and audiences. His last concert as Music Director was in March 1943, then he departed for wartime England and Manchester's Hall� Orchestra. He excelled there and continued working with the Hall� to the end of his life in 1970. He also held the position of conductor-in-chief of the Houston Symphony for seven years. In 1959 he returned to guest conduct the New York Philharmonic, and it is appropriate that the first concert he played included Vaughan William's Eighth Symphony which he had premiered in Manchester just three years earlier.

For the full story of Barbirolli's years in New York, and the new music he played, including links to many 20th century composers, take An Overgrown Path to 'Glorious John' in New York.

It's a Boy, Mrs. Minchew. It's a Boy.

The Sequenza21 family has grown by a factor of one over the weekend. It's a boy for the Minchews. Mazeltov, as we used to say down in West Virginia...Elodie Lauten has a new take on the Get Rich or Die Trying meme. Her version: Stay Poor and Survive...Brian Sacawa pays us a visit with some thoughts on and what it has done for composers and performers...Lawrence Dillon, a pretty recent father himself, takes on Arnold the Elder...Stephanie Lubkowski weighs in on the topic of women in music in the Composers Forum. Gee, we haven't done that one for awhile. By the way, the Ensemble Sospeso folks have promised a response to William Osbourne's polemic in the next few days.

Bob Shingleton, who doesn't have any new kids to report as far as I can tell, has some lively posts over at On an Overgrown Path and one not so lively--about a new shopping mall that engulfs a historic cemetery. Naturally, he calls it Over My Dead Body. Perfect for Halloween.

UPDATE: Make that grown by a factor of two. Alan Theisen got married on Saturday. At this rate we'll be able to stage Mahler's Eighth in a few years.
Last Night in L.A. - Messiaen Marathon

Paul Jacobs is still young enough to undertake physical challenges and make them musical events. (Remember? He�s the one who did the complete organ works of Bach in an 18-hour marathon.) In the past two years he�s visited cities to perform the complete organ music of Messiaen; a mere sprint that lasts only 9 hours. Yesterday he returned to Los Angeles to perform the Messiaen marathon in the new Cathedral on the new Dobson organ. The Cathedral�s web site describes the organ, under the music tab, as well as the architecture by Moneo and the art. The organ isn�t the spectacular instrument or work of art of that in Disney Hall, but the cathedral�s organ seems right for its role, and the sound fills the space quite well.

Jacobs�s survey of Messiaen�s organ music was presented in six parts; we were there for the first half. The climax of the first half was Jacob�s performance of the 1951 Livre d�Orgue (Organ Book) with its famous �Birdsongs� fourth work. This BBC site has a soundclip of this work; the dry sound on this recording is far from what we heard yesterday. In the reverberant space of the cathedral, with the power of this new organ, and (to a degree) with Jacobs� playing, the work changed from a simple imitation of birdsong to an evocation of the spirits of birds. At times, seated in the center of the space, we lost the sense of location of the source of the sound. Instead we were immersed in a meadow of sound, sound from all directions, sometimes lifting us, sometimes pressing, sometimes caressing like a breeze.

Several professional musicians were seated near us: among them were the organist who performed with the Phil last Spring, the concert pianist who studied with Messiaen�s wife, and a student were there with scores, smiling when Jacobs gave a felicitous reading of a particular challenge, one or two frowns or head-shakes when Jacobs did something they didn�t like or didn�t understand, and many sections when they stopped following the score and merely sat in the pew, listening to the glorious music.

Two nights earlier, REDCAT (CalArts at Disney Hall) had a fresh, creative evening of cello music: eight works, six of which were for multiple cellos, four of which were world premieres, all of which were written in our time, and only one of which was a work for cello and piano. The evening showcased the students and recent alumni of CalArts. Particularly noteworthy were Rachel Arnold, who played in six of the works and whom we first heard play the kithara in a concert of Harry Partch works, and Aniela Perry, who played the solo cello in the closing work, Pierre Boulez� �Messagesquisse� (1977) for solo cello and six cellos. The premieres were works by Arthur Jarvinen (Tango Incognito, for four cellos), William Roper (Not Yet Saved --- What Shall I Do? What Shall I Do?, for eight cellos), Mark Menzies (Excerpts from Candenczonada Fire, for eight cellos and a double bass), and Emily Corwin (The Femur Quartet, for cello quartet). The other works were by Arvo Part, Earle Brown (a work of �classical� high modernism), and Bruce Broughton, the composer for film and video. I wish REDCAT had a more active music program, because what they do is certainly worthwhile.


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