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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, April 22, 2006
More From Bloomington

From Carmen Tellez:
Dear Jerry:

I see that Daniel Gillam also shared the news of the devastating loss at the Jacobs School of Music. I wanted to add a few precise notes about Robert Samels and Garth Eppley, who had a special devotion for new music. As Cary mentioned, Robert sang and recorded with Aguava New Music Studio.

Robert Samels performed the bass-baritone solos in the Midwest premiere and firt university-based performance of Adams's "El Ni�o." He took the role of Creon in the NY premiere of John Eaton's "Antigone;" he sang the role of Marco in the premiere university production of Bolcom's "A View From The Bridge," and he was Dr. Gibbs in the world premiere of "Our Town"--among many other new music performances. Robert also composed, produced and conducted his own opera "Pilatvs". ...And he was only 24!

Garth Eppley was the tenor soloist with the Indiana University Contemporary Vocal Ensemble. This season he sang the role of Pilatus in Arvo P�rt's "Passio"; along with works by Sven-David Sandstrom, Murray Schaffer, and Eric Richards. He also sang in the world premiere of Rorem's "Our Town." With his wonderful instrument and excellent presence he was expected to develop a major operatic career.
From Cary Boyce:

Thanks for posting the news on sequenza21. Your readers can learn more at .

This is simply devastating for everyone concerned.

The following is also posted on

"Aguav� New Music Studio mourns the loss of five Indiana University School of Music students who lost their lives on Thursday, April 20th. They were our friends as well as our colleagues Chris Carducci, baritone; Garth Eppley, tenor; Georgina Joshi, soprano; Zachary Novak, tenor; and Robert Samels, bass-baritone. Robert sang with Aguav� frequently, and many of us had frequent performances together. Performers and listeners alike have been touched and enriched by their artistry. Our thoughts are with their family, friends, teachers, and all who have been touched by their lives ? too brief yet extraordinarily well lived. Their spirits and legacies to the art of music will live on. We are lucky to have known them." Learn More.
A Tragedy in Bloomington

Daniel Gilliam passed along some terribly sad news this morning. Five Indiana University music graduate students were killed Thursday when their light plane crashed in a dense fog as they returned from a rehearsal in West Lafayette. The students were Georgina H. Joshi, who was the pilot of the plane, Chris Bates Carducci, Garth A. Eppley, Robert Clayton Samels, and Zachary Novak. Chris Carducci had just made his Carnegie Hall debut. Most were involved in the recent acclaimed production of Our Town. Words fail. Requiescat in pace.

Now Playing:
Cadman Requiem
Gavin Bryars,
Hillard Ensemble
Point Music
Curses. Foiled Again.

The Great New York Building Workers Strike of 2006 has been averted thus thwarting my hopes of manning the front door and playing with the intercom buttons and demanding that neighbors I know perfectly well show me their building passes before letting them in. Gone, too, are my plans to take out the garbage for all the widows on my floor and winning the Floor Captain of the Year award. We all have our dreams.

A new cycle of all 15 of Shostakovich quartets gets underway at Baruch College's Engleman Recital Hall next Tuesday night under the steady and capable hands of the Alexander Quartet. Performances are April 25, 26, 28, 29 and May 1. A great opportunity to hear uptown music at downtown prices. The Alexanders have a splendid recording of the Shostakovich cycle available on FoghornClassics.

Where are all my bloggers? Where are my reviewers?

Update: Christian Carey has a review of the latest in the London Sinfonietta's "Jerwood" series.
Evan Johnson On the Record: Thomson and Still on Naxos

Synthetic Waltzes, Four Songs to Poems of Thomas Campion, Sonata for Violin and Piano, Two by Marian Moore, Praises and Prayers
Virgil Thomson
Naxos 8.559198

Piano Music: Three Visions, Seven Traceries, The Blues, A Deserted Plantation, Africa (arr. Arvey)
William Grant Still
Mark Boozer, piano
Naxos 8.559210

Virgil Thomson was born in Kansas City in 1896, but with only his music to judge you�d think he was breathing the air of Paris long before he actually went there at age 25. This is French music, plain and simple; the wit and high-minded aimlessness of Satie, the rhythmic play of Poulenc or Milhaud, the instrumentation of Debussy. The utterances here are fundamentally small-scale; no movement or song in the five works here breaks the six-minute mark, and profundity is not the goal.

With the exception of the Violin Sonata, these are all pieces of classical refinement, understatement, and unavoidable charm. It�s simply impossible not to like them. Synthetic Waltzes for two pianos, dated 1925, is the earliest work here; its slanted evocation of the dance is straight from Satie, and its considerable rhythmic dislocations and bitonal bite can�t get rid of that damned charm. This is a thoroughly obscure work, but would � yes � charm audiences everywhere. Duo pianists take note.

The Violin Sonata was written only five years later, but seems to have come from another part of Thomson�s brain. Satie is still quite markedly present, especially in the non-repetitive, wandering but always engaging melodic peregrinations, but there is a wider dynamic and emotional range, a twinge of angst even � some compromising of the debonair half-smile of the Synthetic Waltzes. Mia Wu�s violin tone here is a tad thin; perhaps she was expecting Thomson�s other music instead of the relatively meaty fare here.

The remaining three pieces, all cycles of vocal works, are from much lthe 1950s and 60s, in Thomson�s full compositional maturity. They are economical, light, and � dare I say it? � charming. Slight of substance, maybe, but who cares? Thoroughly entertaining, varied within their relatively narrow expressive range, blindingly French in influence (note the Debussyan ensemble of clarinet, viola and harp in the Campion Songs), and of course masterfully crafted, as one can always expect from Thomson. The new music ensemble Continuum�s performances of this music, which in typically French fashion sounds transparent while inevitably posing treacherous difficulties, are fluent and convincing.

If, in the end, Virgil Thomson is a more important figure for his pioneering criticism and Gertrude Stein operas than his smaller-scale music, the latter should certainly not be totally forgotten.

I�m not sure I can say the same, on the evidence of Mark Boozer�s performances, of the piano music of Thomson�s near-exact contemporary William Grant Still. Still�s historical place is assured, of course, by his status as a pioneering African-American in a field that was, and is, astonishingly white. Despite his ultraminority status and the general social conditions of the 1920s, Still studied at the New England Conservatory, privately with Edgard Var�se, and received prestigious fellowships and performances.

Although their titles vary from the concrete (Africa, The Blues) to the more abstract (Seven Traceries, Three Visions), all of these pieces are meant to be a reflection on some facet of African history or on religious African-American experience. Musically speaking, though, they are fairly thin. There are lots of atmospheric added-note chords and pentatonic melodies, and it is occasionally clear that Still knows his Debussy and other modern harmonists, but in the end Still�s blend of African-American and contemporary European influences leaves only a fleeting impression. There is a lack of backbone, of both structural inevitability and harmonic fluidity. Furthermore, Boozer often seems unsure of the degree to which his performance should be informed by the blues, jazz, and other vernacular traditions with which Still�s idiom continually flirts. The pianism is too stiff and too loose in alternation, and never seems to settle on just the right combination.

Perhaps this music needs a more secure or more daring advocate than Boozer, but, while Still�s importance in American cultural history is not in doubt, the lasting importance of his work seems less certain.
Free Stuff

Seth Gordon tipped us to the fact that Bob Ostertag has made all of the albums to which he owns the full rights available for free download at his website. "Bob's one of the real pioneers of sound manipulation, and counts among those who've worked for/with him a practical "who's who" of avant luminaries," Seth writes. "Just off the top of my head there's Kronos, Fred Frith, Anthony Braxton, Otomo Yoshihide, William Winant, Joey Baron, Phil Minton, Gerry Hemingway... the list is pretty long. Anyway, how can anyone possibly resist checking out an album that features broken tapedecks fitted with helium balloons?"

I couldn't resist. You probably can't either.

The Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra is making its concerts available on the radio and the Internet, beginning on May 4, and will start offering them available in a downloadable archive in September. The first concert to be broadcast on the web, live from the Helsinki University Hall on 4 May, is the first in the Sibelius series celebrating the centenary of the Finnish Parliament. There will be a link on the FRSO website making it possible to listen to all the FRSO concerts broadcast on YLE Radio 1.

Who says there's no such thing as a free lunch?
You Heard It Here First

A note from Larry Bell:

Hi Jerry,

I got a call this morning from Yehudi Wyner, this year's Pulitzer winner. Last year he had read my review of his Piano Concerto, "Chiavi in Mani" in Sequenza21. He called from Florence, Italy to say "you got it right!"

Two new CDs of mine have been released in the past month. One is on Albany Records and is called Larry Bell: Going Home Solo Piano Music, played by yours truly. The other is a recording by the guitarist John Muratore that includes one of my pieces, "Celestial Refrain." His new recording called Shadow Box is of 20th century pieces that have a certain cross-over aspect and might be of interest to your readers. I suggested that John get in touch with you. It would be great to have both of these recordings reviewed together.

I trust that you are well and thriving. Alas, I don't get in to the Big Apple as much as I would like to and I do miss it.

All the best for now,
Here Come the Jesters 1-2-3

Friend of mine--drummer/accountant--always dreamed as a teenager of playing with the Allman Brothers or Yes. Now, at 50, he's about to live out his dream, at least in part, by jamming with Dickey Betts and Jon Anderson at a Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp here in Neuva York in August. The whole thing is kind of a con, really, since you don't actually have to play an instrument or sing to get in. Even I could do it. The only real requirement seems to be that your check doesn't bounce. But, hey, today's music ain't go the same soul.

So, if there were a Contemporary Classical Fantasy Camp, who would the stars be?

Alex Ross has a review of Kaija Saariaho's new opera, Adriana Mater, which had its premi�re in Paris...Belated condolences to Kyle Gann, whose father Marvin died a week or so ago. I just got around to reading Kyle's lovely tribute this morning and was greatly moved, partly because we aren't making Americans like his dad anymore and probably won't ever again and partly because it reminded me of my own father, who died of a heart attack when he was only 52. My dad served in Patton's Army and arrived on Omaha Beach not long after Marvin Gann.
Stop Presses!

Yehudi Wyner has won the Pulitzer Prize for his piano concerto, Chiavi in mano, which was premiered by soloist Robert Levin and the BSO on February 17, 2005. NewMusicBox has details.
20th Century Fox Meets 21st Century Schizoid Woman

Okay, gang, here's a concert we don't want to miss. Elodie Lauten will be the focus of the next installment of Frank J. Oteri's 21st Century Schizoid Music series at the Cornelia Street Cafe next Monday night, beginning at 8 pm. The conceit of the schizoid series is composers who produce radically different streams of music over their careers which is perfect for Elodie whose work ranges from the even-tempered to the just-intonated and most stops in between.

Elodie hasn't performed on piano in five years but she assures us that she plays daily. She will perform her lost tango, the unreleased Sonate Modale and a new premiere, Ghost of John Cage, plus excerpts of the Variations on the Orange Cycle and some other tunes from the current Piano Soundtracks CD (4Tay). Jonathan Hirschman will join her later for a microtonal duet (synth and electric guitar).

The Cornelia St Caf� is conveniently located at 29 Cornelia Street. Admission is $10. (The painting was done by artist Kristen Copham as part of the 1000 faces project.)

And, here's a great topic for discussion--musical instruments I have loved. Elodie kicks it off with a paean to the pianos in her life.
The Postman Rings Twice

From Matthew Cmiel:

Hi Jerry,

Thank you for the fantastic mention in Sequenza 21, it certainly got a lot of attention! We had almost 100 people at the concert, made almost $500 for Amnesty International and I'm going out to dinner tonight with the girl with the thumbs up on the far left side of the photo you ran.

This week, I am a guest artist on From the Top, a national public radio program that showcases excellent high school age musicians. The program features a performance of my Sonata for Lou Harrison (which was also done on the Formerly show) performed by San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra musicians Leonard Chiang, violin and Preben Antonsen, piano as well as a discussion the three of us have with host Christopher O'Riley. You can listen over the internet to either the 12 minute segment featuring Matthew, Leonard and Preben or the entire one hour show including performances of Leonard Bernstein's Serenade, Bach's Italian Concerto in F Major and an exquisitely talented German accordion player.

Thanks again,

P.S. From the Top is broadcast in New York City on Saturdays at 7 PM on WQXR-FM 96.3
The program can be heard on approximately 250 public radio stations around the United States. You can get a complete listing at their web site.
Improv Heaven: Rami Khalife & Kinan Azmeh in Berkeley

We tend to forget that music is first and foremost physical sound. Raw, sweet, strenuous, or relaxed, it gets us where we live -- in our bodies, minds, and hearts. And we should never forget that sitting in a room -- in this case, Berkeley's La Pena Cultural Center April 7th -- with strangers is the best way to hear it. As when the house lights dimmed and Rami Khalife came in, bowed, went to the piano, and Kinan Azmeh took his clarinet and went to the other side of the small stage. The first percussive sound emerged from Khalife's keyboard, then Azmeh's dulcet answer in the half darkness, the audience listening hard, captured.

But how could you not be when the music -- all of it improvised but utterly shapely -- was of such a high order? And though both artists are elaborately educated -- Khalife ( yes his father's the renowned composer-oud master- singer Marcel Khalife ) largely in France, and at Juilliard with Bartok's last pupil, Gyorgy Sandor, and Azmeh in his native Syria, and at Juilliard, where he met Khalife, with Charles Neidich -- you weren't being lectured, but enlightened through sound. And the range of those sounds was immense, never flashy, and certainly never superficial or self-conscious, which is strange, and certainly inspiring, coming as it does from 2 musicians who are 24, and 29 respectively.

Khalife, as evidenced on his solo CD, Scene From Hellek ( Nagam ) has devised a unique musical language, as has Azmeh, on his Syrian group out of Damascus's self-titled one, Hewar [ Dialogue ], on La CD -- Theque , and their mastery was on full display here. Khalife coaxed lots of percussive sonorities from his Kawai baby grand, not by treating it ala Harrison and Cage, with inserted objects, but by laying things like a book, or papers on its strings, or hitting them with his bare hands ( there was precious little pedalling here ), while Azmeh's approach to his instrument tended to be more melodically driven, his technique -- did he ever breathe ? -- effortless yet total.

The duo conjured many moods in their 9 pieces, from anxiety or obsession -- Khalife's fond of ostinati and unpredictably interrupted moto perpetuo -- perhaps in Khalife's dry, industrial house music harshness, his use of a Reich like sequence of augmented / diminished chords had quiet ineluctable drive; passages in 9/16 surprised; a liquid clarinet phrase against pulsed keyboard patterns had dramatic heft; and an almost fandango -- inspired by a picture of Buenos Aires both looked at beforehand -- had duende , Garcia Lorca's term for inner fire -- to burn. The lack of titles made this already distinctive music even more so, and both artists were entirely immersed in their completely different yet completely complementary sound worlds. As in the long, deeply felt and highly lyricl closing piece, which seemed to peak halfway through when Azmeh, eyes always closed approached the 2 mikes positioned above the piano's insides, to meditate , in that moment, with Khalife's touch impressionist tender, for the rest of its duration. Come to think of it, just like life -- something happens, and we spend out lives accomodating it, or trying to.

This piece was also like Schonberg's Accompaniment To A Film Scene, which has no written or visual scenario. He saw it with his ears, as did Khalife and Azmeh -- there were no images but many inner landscapes, -- here. These are 2 supremely gifted young artists -- Khalife's playing of Brahms' 3 Intermezzi Op. 117 , on his Live In Beirut double CD ( Nagam ) gets inside this elusive piece as few artists ever have -- and certainly not Richard Goode on his all Brahms Nonesuch CD -- whose feelings seem well beyond their years. And Daniel Barenboim doesn't hire just anyone.

Azmeh played the clarinet part in the attributed to Mozart Sinfonia Concertante with the Barenboim and Edward Said-founded West East Divan Orchestra in Palestine's West Bank capital, Ramallah, several years ago, which caused a sensation -- even internationals from the EU were there. But where are they now as the Palestinians' suffering goes through the roof? Acting pc for sure. Thank God we have musicians like Khalife and Azmeh who by simply making music heal the world's soul, if only for a moment. Or a breath. 7 -- 16. iv. 06


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