Fantasy for cello and guitar III (SoundCloud)

Program Note

Written in Autumn 2012, in Three Fantasies for Cello and Guitar I sought to explore various techniques for playing the guitar and ways that the cello might imitate or replicate them. There are sections highlighting harmonics, pizzicato (plucked strings), single-note melodies, arpeggiated and block chords, and rasgueado (flamenco style strumming). Descriptive terms like misterioso (mysteriously), dialogo (dialogue), birichino (mischievously), and solenne (solemn) locate the motivation for these technical etudes in the realm of character pieces.

Some MIDI demos below via my SoundCloud page.

Alisa Weilerstein Meets Elliott Carter (Video)

When I heard about Elliott Carter’s passing on Monday, many thoughts went went through my mind, including wondering whether the composer had gotten to hear cellist Alisa Weilerstein’s exquisite performance of his Cello Concerto. Her interpretation on a new disc from Decca is a distinctive one, rivaling previous interpreters Yo-Yo Ma and Fred Sherry in terms of technical acumen and bringing a dramatic heft to the piece’s solo part that is most impressive. I hadn’t yet seen the video (embedded below) of a meeting this past summer of Weilerstein and Carter, in which the composer coaches her through some of the concerto’s trickiest passages. Alex Ross posted it yesterday on The Rest is Noise and I’m grateful to see Carter in a convivial mood, wit undiminished and with musical insights aplenty to share.

If you haven’t heard the recording, I strongly recommend it. Not only is Weilerstein’s performance of the Carter noteworthy, she, along with the Staatskapelle Berlin conducted by Daniel Barenboim, also presents a beautifully vibrant performance of the Elgar Concerto and a supple rendition of Bruch’s Kol Nidre.

Saturday: Calloways perform Carey in Miami

I’m very pleased to report that mezzo soprano Rachel Calloway and cellist Jason Calloway will be, to my knowledge, the first musicians to perform my music in Florida. Tomorrow (Saturday 9/29) at 8 PM, they present a free concert at the Harold Golen Gallery in Miami.

Part of the Acoustica 21 series run by FETA (Foundation for Emerging Technologies and Arts), the program will include pieces by Peter Sculthorpe, Andrew Waggoner, and Carl Schimmel, and my own triptych of Jane Kenyon settings.

Maya Beiser at Sunday’s BoaC Marathon

We’re pleased to introduce cellist Maya Beiser performing Michael Harrison’s composition “Just Ancient Loops,” with film by Bill Morrison, which will receive its premiere at the Bang on a Can 25th Anniversary Marathon this coming Sunday in NYC.

Maya Beiser and Bill Morrison via Vimeo

This is just one of many performances that will occur over the marathon’s 12 hours of free live music-making: check out the complete schedule online here.

Congrats to the can bangers – may you have many more seasons of marathoning!

2/1: Beiser and Ziegler Tango at LPR

Cellist Maya Beiser and pianist Pablo Ziegler appear at Le Poisson Rouge on Wednesday, February 1st at 7:30 (doors open at 6:30). They are performing Canyengue, the Soul of Tango, a program that features the works of Astor Piazzolla.

From 1978-’88, Ziegler was a member of Piazzolla’s band. His arrangements for cello and piano translate Piazzolla’s compositions, such as Libertango and Adíos Nonino, to a more intimate medium, but retain the genre’s vibrant spirit. The duo will also perform several pieces by Ziegler, and Beiser will take a solo turn, performing Osvaldo Golijov’s Mariel.

Below, hear a stream from File Under ?’s Tumblr page of the duo playing Fuga Y Misterio, a somewhat lesser known piece by Piazzolla, arranged by Ziegler.

“Fuga Y Misterio”

Le Poisson Rouge is located at 158 Bleecker Street (between Thompson and Sullivan), in the West Village, NYC.  Tickets are $15, available through the club’s website,, or call 212/505-FISH (3474).

Gregson plays Gabriel Prokofiev (CD preview)

Out on 2/13 in the UK (and everywhere else on 3/6/12), “Jerk Driver” is the lead off single from Gabriel Prokofiev’s Cello Multitracks, a CD that is his latest genre-bending release for the Nonclassical imprint. It features cellist Peter Gregson, a noteworthy genre bender in his own right, playing all nine cello parts, creating a swath of overdubbed strings that is then subjected to remixes by Paul Miller (DJ Spooky), musician/producer MaJiKer, and composer Marcas Lancaster. Check out a sample embedded below.

As Jerry Bowles points out on the homepage, Gregson and Prokofiev will be presenting the piece at Joe’s Pub in New York on 2/10. More US events are listed below: some of them include Prokofiev’s concert music; others, his work as a DJ!

Gabriel Prokofiev + Peter Gregson – Jerk Driver (preview) by Nonclassical

Nonclassical US tour
9th February: Gabriel Prokofiev Bass Drum Concerto (World premiere) w/ Princeton Symphony – Richardson Auditorium, Princeton, NJ
10th February: Peter Gregson & Todd Reynolds (+ Gabriel Prokofiev DJ sets) – Joe’s Pub, NYC
11th February: Peter Gregson w/ Joby Burgess ( + Gabriel Prokofiev DJ sets) – Terrace Club, Princeton, NJ
15th February: Peter Gregson w/ DJ Madhatter, Joby Burgess ( + Gabriel Prokofiev DJ sets) – MOCT, Wilwaukee, WI
16th February: Peter Gregson w/ Joby Burgess ( + Gabriel Prokofiev DJ sets) – Brink Lounge, Madison, WI
18th February: Peter Gregson w/ Joby Burgess ( + Gabriel Prokofiev DJ sets) – Chicago, IL (Venue TBC)
21st February: Gabriel Prokofiev Bass Drum Concerto w/ Chicago Composers Orchestra – Ruth Page Theater, Chicago,IL