Our weekly listen and look at composers and performers that you may not know yet, but should… And can, right here and now, since they’re nice enough to offer a good chunk of listening online:
Larry Polansky (b. 1954 — US)
Larry Polansky’s been a one-man compositional exploratorium for at least thirty years now. Audiences may not be too familiar with him or his work, but composers of all stripes are. He’s always moved easily between east-coast rationalism, digital-electro-geekdom, “downtown” experiments, and west-coast looseness, any and all of which can show up in his next piece. A happy champion of others’ work as well, besides performing he’s also known for his efforts to focus serious attention on such neglected 20th-century women composers as Ruth Crawford Seeger and Johanna M. Beyer. Polansky’s humble, no-frills website may look plain, but it hides a wealth of information, articles, scores, and recordings. (Speaking of recordings, just to make your life easier I’ll give you the direct link to the large sound archive. You’ll find not only individual pieces, but entire out-of-print CDs available for downloading, as well as a number of MP3s of works by friends and colleagues.)
Clicking the link above will actually take you to the second festival, held in 2004, but there are also links to the first and third editions, too. One of the great things about the web is that it doesn’t have to all be about New York, London, Paris, Amsterdam or Darmstadt; people are working hard at every bit as hard creating vital scenes in many more out-the-way places. A great case in point is the yearly festival of Peruvian and other Hispanic new-music happening the last few years in Lima. If you think new-music has it hard in the States, it’s got to be nothing compared to the tough row these folks have to hoe. And yet here they are, not waiting for you to hop a plane down their way, or read a half-paragraph in some journal. They’ve taken the initiative to bring the concerts straight to your living room. The only excuse you have now for not being aware is simply that you’re too lazy to click your finger once on a link; you don’t want to fall into that camp, now do you?… The list of composers from these three concerts is long and mostly completely unfamiliar. But don’t let that stop you; there’s a lot of wonderful muci here. Some favorites of mine from this second festival are Jimmy Lopez’s La caricia del cuchillo, Marco Antonio Mazzini’s Imprevisto, and Cesar Villavicencio’s Mundos. The files are indentified by title only; for the composers’ names look for the JPG image of the concert poster, or a PDF file also on the same page. Google can help you out a bit, too. The best link to start with is the Peruvian new-music collective Circomper. The link takes you to their blog, where you can find information on the festival, composers and works, as well as a number of other articles (Spanish only, though).
Monique Buzzarté (b. 1960 — US)
Fearless wild-woman of all things trombone! ….O.K, that’s my own shameless blurb-bomb; for something a little more considered, Monique herself sums it up perfectly in her own bio: — “Monique Buzzarté is an avid proponent of contemporary music, commissioning and premiering many new works for trombone alone, with electronics, and in chamber ensembles. A former student of Stuart Dempster and Ned Meredith, she holds B.A. and B. Mus. degrees from the University of Washington and a M.M. from the Manhattan School of Music and is certified to teach the meditative improvisation practices of Deep Listening. She has been a guest artist at the International Trombone Festival (2005) and the Eastern Trombone Workshop (2004). Ms. Buzzarté composes and performs electro-acoustic chamber music for Zanana, and is also is a member of the New Circle Five with Pauline Oliveros and Ekko!, a contemporary music quartet of mixed instrumentation. She can be heard on Zanana’s Holding Patterns (Deep Listening 30), John Cage’s Five3 with the Arditti Quartet (Mode 75: John CAGE: Vol. 19 – The Number Pieces 2), and Dreaming Wide Awake with the New Circle Five (Deep Listening 20). Sorrel Hays’ Wake Up and Dream and John Cage’s Thirteen and Cornelius Cardew’s The Great Learning with Essential Music are forthcoming. Since 1983 her New Music from Women: Trombone project has supported the expansion of the trombone repertoire by commissioning new compositions from women composers in a variety of genres. An author, activist, and educator as well as a performer/composer/improvisor, Ms. Buzzarté has published research on the brass music of women composers and coordinated advocacy campaigns for women in music, including efforts that led to the admission of women members into the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra in 1997.” — Whew! What all this means for your ears is generously illustrated by following the “clips” link at the top of her homepage. (Though it says “clips”, a lot of these MP3s are full-length recordings of complete pieces.)