9/28: Composition Recital in Princeton

CBC July 28 2013

Emerged: A Recital of Compositions by Christian Carey

Saturday, September 28th at 2 PM

Prince of Peace Church, Princeton Junction, NJ

Free event (Directions here)


Performed by:


Righteous Girls

(Gina Izzo, flute; Erika Dohi, piano)


(Jeffrey Gavett, baritone, Carlos Cordeiro, bass clarinet,

Andy Kozar, trumpet, Will Lang, trombone)

Peter Jarvis, drum set

Sara Noble, soprano

Megan Ihnen, mezzo soprano

Carl Patrick Bolleia, piano

Zheng Yuan, viola

Natalie Spehar, cello




Prayer (2011)      loadbang


3 Bagatelles (2006)      Righteous Girls


“He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven” (2009)      Megan Ihnen and Zheng Yuan


3 Flourishes (2008)      Gina Izzo


Solo for piano (2013)      Erika Dohi


________________ Intermission ______________________


“Fuller Brush Music” Peter Jarvis


“Blue Symphony” (2013) Sara Noble & Carl Patrick Bolleia


Two Miniatures (2012)      Carl Patrick Bolleia

“Gloss on Guston”

“Fiery Sunset”


3 Kenyon Settings (2009)      Megan Ihnen and Natalie Spehar


For Milton (2011)      Righteous Girls

David Felder’s Inner Sky (Review)


David Felder

Inner Sky

Albany Records Blu-ray Audio/CD Troy1418


When I wrote about Felder’s flute concerto Inner Sky (1994, rev. 1999)) in a concert review of Tanglewood’s 2011 Festival of Contemporary Music, I mentioned how much I looked forward to hearing the piece again on its (then in preparation) recording. What I didn’t mention at the time: my concern that it would be difficult to capture the many details of the piece on record. Enter blu-ray audio.


Indeed, David Felder’s music is perfect to demonstrate the capacities of blu-ray audio. Musical climaxes feature piercingly fierce highs and rumbling lows. Elsewhere, shimmering diaphanous textures, frequently blending electronic and acoustic instruments, surround one immersively in this multi-channel environment. By the way, if one doesn’t have access to blu-ray, the recording package also includes an audio CD.


One of the magical things about Inner Sky, not just as a demonstration of an audio platform but as an expertly crafted composition, is the use of register to delineate the structuring of the three main facets of the piece: its solo part, the orchestra, and the electronics. Over the course of Inner Sky, flutist Mario Caroli is called upon to play four different flutes: piccolo, concert flute, alto flute, and bass flute. Moving from high to low, he negotiates these changes of instrument, and the challenging parts written for each of them, with mercurial speed and incisive brilliance. Even though all of the orchestra members are seated onstage, we are also treated to a spatialization of sorts through the frequent appearance of antiphonal passages. This ricochet effect is more than matched by the lithe quadraphonic electronic component. Featuring both morphed flute sounds and synthetic timbres that often respond to the orchestration, it is an equal partner in the proceedings.


Tweener (2010) a piece for solo percussion, electronics, and ensemble, features Thomas Kolor as soloist. Kolor is called upon to do multiple instrument duty too, using “analog” percussion beaters as well as a KAT mallet controller. An astounding range of sounds are evoked: crystalline bells, bowed metallophones, electronically extended passages for vibraphone and marimba. The percussionist’s exertions are responded to in kind by vigorous orchestra playing from University of Buffalo’s Slee Sinfonietta Chamber Orchestra, conducted by James Baker. The Slee group flourishes here in powerful brass passages, avian wind writing, and soaring strings. The brass pieces Canzonne and Incendio are also played by UB musicians in equally impressive renditions. These works combine antiphonal writing with a persuasive post-tonal pitch language that also encompasses a plethora of glissandos.


The Slee Sinfonietta again, this time conducted by James Avery, gets to go their own way on Dionysiacs. Featuring a flute sextet, the piece contains ominously sultry low register playing, offset by some tremendous soprano register pileups that more than once remind one of the more rambunctious moments in Ives’s The Unanswered Question. What’s more, the flutists get to employ auxiliary instruments such as nose whistles and ocarinas, adding to the chaotic ebullience of the work (entirely appropriate given its subject matter).


Clarinetist Jean Kopperud and pianist Stephen Gosling are featured on Rare Airs, a set of miniatures interspersed between the larger pieces. These works highlight both musicians’ specialization in extended techniques and Kopperud’s abundant theatricality as a performer. Pianist Ian Pace contributes the solo Rocket Summer. Filled with scores of colorful clusters set against rangy angular lines and punctuated by repeated notes and widely spaced sonorous harmonies, it is a taut and energetic piece worthy of inclusion on many pianists’ programs.


Requiescat (2010), performed by guitarist Magnus Andersson and the Slee Sinfonietta, again conducted by Baker, is another standout work. Harmonic series and held altissimo notes ring out from various parts of the ensemble, juxtaposed against delicate guitar arpeggiations and beautifully complex corruscating harmonies from other corners. Once again, Felder uses register and space wisely, keeping the orchestra out of the guitar’s way while still giving them a great deal of interesting music to play. Written relatively recently, Requiescat’s sense of pacing, filled with suspense and dramatic tension but less inexorable than the aforementioned concerti, demonstrates a different side of Felder’s creativity, and suggests more efficacious surprises in store from him in the future.



Puppet Opera does well at Box Office


Composer David Smooke’s “nonopera” Criminal Element will be performed in Brooklyn on Thursday and Saturday at JACK (ticket info here).

Apparently, the Thursday performance is already sold out (there’s a waiting list for tickets). Smooke is a wonderful composer and Rhymes with Opera has a devoted following – Add the presence of puppets, and you’ve got the recipe for an avant opera sellout!

Monday – League of Composers at Miller Theatre


Leon Kirchner

Leon Kirchner


Last week, I learned that I have been elected to the Board of Directors of the League of Composers – ISCM. I am honored and excited to be working with this organization. Thus, what follows is some cheering for the “home team.”


On Monday, June 17, the League’s finishes its 90th season with an orchestra concert at Miller Theatre. The program includes premieres of two works commissioned by the organization. Keith Fitch’s In Memory is written in memory of Frederick Fox, with whom Fitch studied at Indiana University. Wang Jie’s Oboe Concerto for the Genuine Heats of Sadness, which is co-commissioned by the Koussevitsky Foundation and Aspen Festival, is written for the extraordinary oboist Liang Wang. This past year, I’ve heard Wang assay the stratospheric tessitura of Poul Ruders’ concerto and the beautiful Oboe Quartet by Sean Shepherd; I’m eager to hear what he does with Wang Jie’s work.  Recent pieces by Eve Beglarian and Bruce Adolphe will also be performed.


Commemorating longtime League member Elliott Carter, who passed away last year, the concert includes his brief fanfare Call. Highlighting the work of another recently deceased elder statesman, the concert will conclude with Leon Kirchner’s Suite from Lily. There will be an onstage discussion of Kirchner’s life and work.

Having just recently finished editing the entry on Kirchner for the forthcoming new edition of Grove’s Dictionary of American Music, I am particularly keen to hear this work live!


Event Details

League of Composers Season Finale

Monday, June 17 at 8 PM

Miller Theatre


Hosted by John Schaefer, WNYC
Orchestra of the League of Composers

James Baker, Louis Karchin, conductors; Liang Wang, oboe;

Sharon Harms, soprano



Bruce Adolphe                Crossing Broadway (2007)
Eve Beglarian                   Waiting for Billy Floyd (2010)
Wang Jie *                       Oboe Concerto for the Genuine Hearts of Sadness (2013)
Elliott Carter                     Call (2003)
Keith Fitch*                      In Memory (2013)
Leon Kirchner                  Lily, version for Soprano and Chamber Ensemble (1978)

* World premiere, League-ISCM commission

Joshua Redman: “Final Hour”

Walking Shadows, saxophonist Joshua Redman’s new Nonesuch CD, is a real pleasure to hear. The core quartet of Redman, pianist Brad Mehldau, bassist Larry Grenadier, and drummer Brian Blade are abetted by a chamber orchestra, which is given lush and spacious arrangements by Redman, Mehldau, Patrick Zimmerli, and Dan Coleman.

The recording features a number of standards, both old (“Easy Living,” “Lush Life,” and “The Folks Who Live on the Hill”), and new (John Mayer’s “Stop that Train”). When interpreting pop in a jazz orchestral context, there’s always the danger of “gilding the lily,” over-adorning the charts or the solos. Of course, it is impossible with tunes by Hammerstein and Kern, or by Lennon and McCartney (“Let it Be”), not to have their iconic stature and myriad interpretations set the bar very high for a new take on an old chestnut. Happily, this is that relatively uncommon recent release that leaves you enjoying what Redman and company have wrought, rather than immediately comparing it to the original.

The originals here, contributed by Redman and Mehldau, don’t pale in comparison to the “hit tunes” either. Mehldau is a known quantity as a persuasive musical creator; his “Last Glimpse of Gotham,” given supple strings and chiming pitched percussion backing, is, from an arranging standpoint, a standout track. It also contains one of Redman’s most potent ballad solos, arcing skyward and plumbing poignantly chromatic passageways in a contemplative cadenza. Redman’s own compositional language has become quite distinctive as well. His “Final Hour,” featuring a limpidly undulating accompaniment from Mehldau and the saxophonist unfurling one seamless legato line after another, is my favorite of his tunes to date. The album closer, Redman’s “Let Me Down Easy,” a ruminative minor key excursion with a haunting melody and impassioned solo playing from both Redman and Mehldau, is a memorable tune that is begging for a vocal rendition.

Final Hour is a compelling addition to the saxophonist’s discography.