Happy 103rd Birthday Elliott Carter

Elliott Carter (lower left corner) takes a bow after 92nd Street Y’s 103rd Birthday Tribute Concert to Mr. Carter on December 8, 2011, which ended with the world premiere of his A Sunbeam’s Architecture, conducted by Ryan McAdams and performed by tenor Nicholas Phan and chamber orchestra. (Photo: Cory Weaver)

Elliott Carter is 103. The only composer who lived longer: Leo Ornstein. But Ornstein stopped composing at 97: Carter is still going.

On Thursday evening, in a concert at the 92nd Street Y organized by cellist Fred Sherry, seven works written since Carter’s 100th birthday were given their world or US premieres. Astounding.

Carter Giveaway #2: CDs and signed photos!

Courtesy of Boosey and Hawkes, Bridge Records, and Naxos Records, we have another special giveaway that will benefit those not able to attend Elliott Carter’s 103rd birthday party on Thursday in New York.

We’re giving away two signed CDs of “Music of Elliott Carter: volume 5” (Bridge 9128), and two of String Quartets Nos. 2, 3 and 4 (featuring the Pacifica Quartet; Naxos 8.559363), along with a signed 8×10 photo to accompany each.

Once again, I’ll be selecting the winners via a random drawing. If you’re interested, send me an email at: S21managingeditor@gmail.com. The contest will be open until noon on Thursday.

And the winners of the Carter Ticket Giveaway are…

Congratulations to Cheryl Pyle and Joe Barron, who’ve won our first contest in celebration of Elliott Carter’s fast approaching 103rd birthday.

You each win a pair of tickets to the concert this Thursday at 8 PM at the 92nd Street Y!

Check back on the blog this week for our second giveaway. The prizes: signed Carter photos and recordings!

Those of you on Twitter can wish Elliott a happy birthday using the hashtag #Carter103. The greetings will be collected and presented to him at Thursday’s birthday bash!

Guest blog: Fred Sherry on EC at 103 (plus a ticket giveaway)

Fred Sherry

Fred, I’m thinking of setting E.E. Cummings for tenor and chamber orchestra… That’s a wonderful idea, it goes along with your other settings of important American poets; which poems will you use?    Perhaps some of the early poems having to do with WWI.

Can you play these multi-stops:  C, G, C#, G#, E  and C, G, E#, D#, B, F#? I’ll try them out when I get home. [Later, on the telephone] Yes, they work.   Good, I’m putting them in my new Double Trio.

I’m working on a String Trio, do you think the viola can hold a high F-sharp for almost two bars?   What is the tempo?    Oh…it is half note = 60. (Knowing it will work, I answer) Let me try it out. Yes, the viola will be able to hold it.    Good, that’s the end of the piece!

Then the idea of the 103rd birthday concert for Elliott Carter came about. Last year, for his 102nd birthday, Charlie Neidich and the Camerata Notturna did a beautiful concert which included the Clarinet Concerto, Wind Rose and the slow movement of Carter’s Symphony No. 1. This year, I thought, let’s do all of Carter’s new music, most of which has not been heard in New York or anywhere. This concert is fated to succeed because of the music, and the people: Carol Archer, Nicholas Phan, Virgil Blackwell, Rolf Schulte, Gordon Gottlieb, and many more.

Elliott will be hearing five of his pieces for the first time. THIS IS GOING TO BE AN INCREDIBLE PARTY!

-Fred Sherry

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Elliott Carter’s 103rd Birthday Concert will be at the 92nd Street Y (Uptown; Kaufman Concert Hall) on December 8 at 8 PM (three days early, but we’ll give ‘em that!)

Ticket information can be found here.

Better yet, courtesy of 92nd Street Y and Boosey & Hawkes, Sequenza 21 is offering two pairs of tickets to the concert.

Here’s how to enter: send a short missive about Elliott Carter – your favorite piece, something about his music that interests you, etc. – to my email address: s21managingeditor@gmail.com

I will use a Cageian, rather than Carterian, method of selecting the winners (hint: put names in hat: draw out two).

Contest is open until Sunday at noon. I will announce the winners on Monday morning. Those entries that are particularly eloquent and non-trollish will be published on the site.

Those Carterians outside of New York  or unable to make the show – take heart. We will also be having a second giveaway – signed Carter memorabilia! Check back here later this week for details.

Brassland Celebrates 10 year Anniversary with a month of downloads!

Nico Muhly. Photo: Samantha West

It’s hard to believe, but one of the primary forces that fostered the “Indie Classical” phenomenon of the aughts is celebrating its tenth birthday. The Brassland imprint, which curates artists such as the National, Clogs, Doveman, and Nico Muhly, is celebrating their anniversary by sharing music: a different free download of a song from their catalog every weekday throughout November.

Thanks to the kind folks at Brassland, below we share a stream of tomorrow’s pick: Nico Muhly’s “Skip Town,” a bonus cut from his Mothertongue CD.

Be sure to visit the label’s “song a day” giveaway site or their Facebook page to collect all the goodies (schedule below).

INTRODUCTION WEEK

Tu 1 Clogs — Lantern
We 2 Buke & Gass — Riposte
Th 3 The National “High Beams”
Demo (unreleased)
Fri 4 Nico Muhly “Skip Town” (iTunes bonus track) Mothertongue
DEEP CUTS WEEK
Mo 7 Baby Dayliner — High Heart & Low Estate
Tu 8 Pela — All in Time EP
We 9 Doveman “.…” > “Sunrise” (medley)
With My Left Hand I Raise
the Dead
Th 10 Erik Friedlander — Maldoror
Fr 11 Devastations — S/T (Devastations)
RARE + UNRELEASED WEEK
Mo 14 Bryce Dessner “Rose of Lincoln”
The Lincoln Shuffle (web
exclusive)
Tu 15 Baby Dayliner “When I Look Into Your Eyes” Demo (unreleased)
We 16 Doveman
“Honey” > “Only Love Can Break
Your Heart” (medley)
Live Session (unreleased)
Th 17 Clogs “Elevenses”
Live Session (unreleased)
Fri 18
Jujulele (Bryce & Aaron
Dessner side project) “Satie” Demo (unreleased)
GREATEST HITS WEEK
Mo 21 The National — S/T (The National)
Tu 22 Baby Dayliner — Critics Pass Away
We 23 Devastations — Coal
Th 24
Clogs (featuring Shara
Worden) —
The Creatures in the
Garden of Lady Walton
Fr 25
Doveman (featuring
Nico Muhly) — The Conformist
NEW BAND WEEK
Mo 28 Jherek Bischoff
“Secret of the Machines”
(Instrumental) TBA
Tu 29 This is the Kit “Spinney”
We 30 People Get Ready “Uncanny”

Nico Muhly: “Skip Town” by Brassland

Happy 75th Birthday Steve Reich!

Steve Reich in 2011. Photo: Jay Blakesberg

Steve Reich turns 75 today. One of the premiere maestros of minimalism continues to dazzle us with thought-provoking and musically moving creations.

This morning, I introduced some of my undergraduate BA students to Reich, playing excerpts from Piano Phase, Music for 18 Musicians, and Different Trains. Some of them were unfamiliar with his music, but one student piped up,”What about Four Sections? I like that one too!”

If our students, particularly our student musicians, are picking out favorites and learning to perform Reich’s music, that is indeed a promising sign for the future of his works. As a small online musical offering, below are three student performances of Reich. The first is the trailer for Grand Valley State University’s Music for 18 Musicians recording. It was released a couple years ago, but has remained in heavy rotation in these parts! The second is an excerpt of Six Marimbas by students at the University of Kentucky. The third I’ve shared before, but can’t resist posting again: a pianist playing both parts of Piano Phase - at once!

And, just for my morning class, a video of a dance performance of Four Sections.

Happy Birthday Mario!

Composer Mario Davidovsky turns 77 today. The International Contemporary Ensemble and soprano Tony Arnold are celebrating his birthday with a Portrait Concert at Miller Theatre tonight at 8 PM (details
here). They’ve also recorded a birthday greeting for the composer (video below), adding a bit of angularity and jocular dodecaphony to a more traditional number.


Mario Davidovsky Birthday Toast from Miller Theatre on Vimeo.

Happy 102nd Birthday Elliott Carter

Elliott Carter at Miller Theatre. Credit: Jon Simon

Boulez's 85th celebrated - a bit late - at Miller. Photo: Jon Simon

Elliott Carter turns 102 today! He was at Miller Theatre this past Monday night at the all Pierre Boulez concert put on by the Talea Ensemble. This was the last of many concerts celebrating Boulez’s 85th birthday (which occurred back in March).

The group played the US premiere of the latest version of Dérive 2: a work composed in 1988 to celebrate Carter’s 80th birthday. 22 years later, Boulez, now 85 himself, has expanded the piece to well over double its original length!

Talea Ensemble at Miller. Photo credit: Jon Simon.

As Raymond Bisha wrote on the Naxos Blog, Elliott Carter is planning to spend his 102nd birthday in Toronto, at a concert comprised entirely of works he’s written in the past two years!

Happy 90th Birthday Dave Brubeck! (Video)

Dave Brubeck turns 90 today! What’s your favorite Brubeck composition? (Don’t say Take Five – that one’s by Paul Desmond!)



I’ve been fortunate to see Mr. Brubeck live on several occasions: even in his eighties, he still played imaginatively and with assuredness. When I got the chance to talk with him after a gig at the Iron Horse in Northampton, Massachusetts, he was gracious and generous with his time: eager to talk about classical composition projects.

Here’s hoping his tenth decade is just as prolific!