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Happy Birthday Already

Jean BergerYep, Elliott Carter has gotten (and is getting) his proper due, so time to jump ahead and perpare for some 2009 action… Though it’s a little sparse for 100th-year blockbusters, there’s always Elie Siegmeister, Grazyna Bacewicz, Harald Genzmer, Rodolfo Cornejo, Robin Orr, John Raynor, Thorleif Aamodt, Paul Constantinescu, Gianandrea Gavazzeni, Georgi Aleksandrovich Mushel, Sergius Kagen, Arwel Hughes, Ādolfs Skulte, Henk Bijvanck, and Vagn Holmboe. And the one I want to give a little shout out for, Jean Berger. One eventful (and as nearly long) life, that touched a lot of places and people. I’m pretty sure almost every kid in middle or high school choir remembers singing his “The Eyes of All Wait Upon Thee“. But far fewer tackled something like his “The Good of Contentment”, and far, far fewer still as part of such a stellar high school choir as the 1962 kids at Sanford H. Calhoun High in New York, under S. Talbot Thayer’s direction. Not a bad piece at all, for somebody to plan working up for next fall…



Comment from john Mclaughlin Williams
Time: December 15, 2008, 12:32 pm

I vote for Paul Constantinescu (1909-1963). In the late ’90’s I heard a performance of his fantastic Harp Concerto, amazingly, in Erie,PA, with Grammy nominee Sarah Ericsson as soloist. This is the time of year when I always break out his oratorio The Nativity, which is a Byzantine-influenced setting of the story of Christ’s birth. Definitely worth hearing.

Comment from Seth Gordon
Time: December 15, 2008, 3:40 pm

I’m a little disappointed that with so much focus on Carter no major events were planned for the Raymond Scott Centenary this past year. Oh well.

We may be short of centenaries for ’09, but there’s a few musical birthday milestones: Tom Waits and Fred Frith will both be turning 60. The big 7-0 will hit Louis Andriessen and Tom Johnson, and would have hit John Fahey. And there’s a number of 75ers – Wolff, Tenney, Globokar, Birtwistle…

Comment from Jeffrey Biegel
Time: December 15, 2008, 10:20 pm

Tal Thayer was one of the best choir directors of all time–I had the honor to accompany his Calhoun Choir once–what an inspiration!

Comment from Mell
Time: December 16, 2008, 7:51 pm

Thanks for the reminder about Harald Genzmer. My wife has played his charming Sonatina for Viola. I’ll have to figure a way to get something of his learned this coming year… (I say that, but I’ve never learned any of the Carter pieces, yet…)

Comment from Jonathan Milton
Time: March 3, 2009, 11:51 pm

I was lucky enough to sing in that 1962-63 choir at Calhoun High School that did “The Good Of Contentment”. Given my age, I was around for the Motown Years, and even sang a version of few of those tunes in a rock & roll band in the 60s. But believe me, in its’ own way, songs like “Contentment” were as much soul music as anything coming out of Detroit!!