Thursday: Locrian Chamber Players

George Tsontakis

Locrian Chamber Players, staunch contemporary classical advocates who perform music less than a decade old, are giving a concert on January 31st at 8 PM. The program includes the New York premiere of George Tsontakis’s Gymnopedies, Sebastian Currier’s Quiet Time  and three world premieres: Luke Gullickson’s And the Trees of the Field Will Clap Their Hands, Anthony Donofrio’s IV and David Macdonald’s How Firm a Foundation. 

Concert Details
Jan. 31 at 8 PM
Riverside Church
10th Floor Performance Space

FREE event (No tickets required)

To reach Riverside Church by subway, take the 1 or 9 train to 116th Street. By bus, take the M4 or M104 to Broadway and 120th Street. Enter The Riverside Church at 91 Claremont Avenue (one block west of Broadway, between 120th Street and 122nd Street).

Friday: Miranda at Mannes

Miranda Cuckson

It is no secret that violinist, violist, and sometime vocalist Miranda Cuckson is one of File Under ?’s favorite contemporary music performers on the New York scene. An excerpt of her recent Nono recording can be heard on our December Mix (see embed below).

Miranda has started a new non-profit music presenting organization called nunc. On Friday at Mannes College of Music, nunc has its maiden voyage. Miranda is joined on an 8 pm concert by mandolinist Joseph Brent, percussionist Alex Lipowski, bassoonist Adrian Morejon, mezzo Mary Nessinger, and pianists Matei Varga and Ning Yu. The program includes music by Michael Hersch, Charles Wuorinen, Iannis Xenakis, Georges Aperghis, Sofia Gubaidulina, and more.

You can read read Miranda’s program notes here. Admission is free.

 

File Under ? December 2012 Mix by Christian Carey on Mixcloud

Anna Gourari: Canto oscuro

2255_Gourari_PF3.jpg

If you have not yet heard Canto oscuro pianist Anna Gourari’s recent debut for ECM Records, you are missing out.The CD’s program combines affecting performances of transcriptions by Ferrucio Busoni of chorales and the Chaconne in d-minor by J.S. Bach with modern repertoire by Paul Hindemith and Sofia Gubaidulina (another Chaconne). The recording shows Gourari capable of performing repertoire in a wide range of moods: from the brash Ragtime movement found in the Hindemith suite to the gravitas and grandeur required in the Bach/Busoni transcriptions. One through line: she makes technically demanding repertoire sound far too achievable by mere mortals.

I’d hoped to get a chance to hear her live tonight in a performance at the German Consulate in New York, but it was not to be. I’ll have to content myself with the luminous performances on Canto oscuro and hope she visits New York again soon.

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.

12/21: AME prepares for the “End of the World”

According to Mayan reckoning and eschatology, Friday, December 21st, 2012 will be the end of the world. Many of us hope that Mayan prognosticating proves overly pessimistic. But American Modern Ensemble and Talujon aren’t taking any chances. At 8 PM EST, they’re ringing in doomsday with a concert of clarion percussion works and other modern chamber music at the DiMenna Center in New York.

Below, check out program details and a video for Robert Paterson’s “Stealing Thunder,” one of the pieces on the program.

Program:

Daniel Iglesia – Hard Square
percussion quartet
Hannah Lash – Glockenliebe*
percussion quartet
Eric Nathan – Four to One
string quartet
Robert Paterson – Stealing Thunder**
percussion sextet & tape
George Rochberg – Contra Mortem et Tempus
flute, clarinet, violin, piano
Daniel Wohl – Slow Wave
percussion quartet

*World Premiere / **NYC Premiere
On-stage discussion with Selected Composers

Friday, December 21st, 2012, 8 PM
DiMenna Center – Cary Hall
450 West 37th Street, New York, NY
Ticket info here

(Re)New Amsterdam: an Interview with Doyle Armbrust

As many of you know, during Storm Sandy New Amsterdam Presents and New Amsterdam Records’s headquarters in Red Hook, Brooklyn was decimated by flooding. Ever since, the label’s staff, led by co-directors William Brittelle, Judd Greenstein, and Sarah Kirkland Snider, have been working on rebuilding. Not only have they been concerned with their own business, but the community minded folks at New Amsterdam have also been advocating for aid to help their neighborhood in Red Hook.

New Amsterdam’s plight hasn’t gone unnoticed by the broader new music community. And not just in New York. On December 16th, Chicago musicians are presenting (Re)New Amsterdam (ticket info here), a benefit to raise money for the organization. One of the concert’s organizers, Doyle Armbrust, violist, writer, and curator of the (Un)Familiar Music Series at Chicago’s Empty Bottle, spoke with Sequenza 21 about the show.

Christian Carey: Hi Doyle. Thanks for taking the time to tell us about the upcoming benefit for New Amsterdam Records. How did the idea emerge for musicians to give a concert in Chicago to help out a record label that’s based in Red Hook, Brooklyn?

 

Doyle Armbrust: The idea for a New Amsterdam fundraiser came from the generous brain of Marcos Balter, whose scores have been recorded on the New Am label. This year, I’ve launched a new-music series, (Un)familiar Music, with the sole purposes of artist advocacy and breaking the new-music scene out of the concert hall setting. With its policies of allowing artists to retain the rights to their music as well as 80% of an album’s proceeds, the philosophies of New Am and (Un)familiar are wonderfully congruous. It was an obvious fit as Marcos and I saw it. Much more important than all of that, though, the Chicago new-music scene is a far more collaborative than competitive one. We believe in this often quixotic and illusory career path, and specifically the music being written today, and when we hear that our colleagues in another state are suffering, our hearts break. I moved back to Chicago after living in Los Angeles and Miami in large part because I missed this compassionate spirit of my home city. I’m grateful that the passionate response by the new-music community here has proved the point for me once again.

 

 

CC: How did you go about assembling the artists putting on the show? Which groups are participating?

 

DA: Once we secured the date with The Empty Bottle, (Un)familiar’s home base, calls and emails went out to just about every new-music ensemble in Chicago…and just about every new-music in ensemble immediately agreed to play. In some cases we have members of ensembles performing solo works, or smaller chamber pieces, due to availability and the size of the venue, but the program is an absolute knockout. Performers include: Abominable Twitch / Access Contemporary Music / Can I Get An Amen / Chicago Q Ensemble / CUBE / Dojo / Eighth Blackbird / Ensemble Dal Niente / Ensemble Vulpine Lupin / Fifth House Ensemble / Fulcrum Point / Gaudete Brass / Grant Wallace Band / Searchl1te / Spektral Quartet / Third Coast Percussion.

 

 

CC: Was there a collaborative or thematic aspect to selecting the program? Any highlights among the selections you’d like to preview for us?

DA: When programming (Un)familiar shows, my aim is to have the ensembles perform whatever they are most amped about. Marcos and I have continued that trend here, and I’m happy to report there will be no filler anywhere in this 4-hour show. I can’t possibly pick a most-anticipated entry, because the setlists are so dynamite. That said, as a Beat Furrer fanatic, I’m looking forward to hearing Ensemble Vulpine Lupin (a recent addition to the Chicago family) dig into “Invocation VI” and because this is a Cage year, I can’t wait to see Third Coast Percussion destroy with “Third Construction.”

CC: Any chance that the concert will be recorded?

WFMT will be recording the concert.

CC: What ways would you suggest non-Chicagoans help New Amsterdam and others affected by Storm Sandy?

 

DA: I wouldn’t presume to tell folks specifically how to donate, but I will say that I did have a wrestling match in my cranium over the often fraught issue of aid. There will always be someone in more dire need of assistance, as there is in the case of now-homeless victims of Sandy. I can also return from a record-buying binge and realize that someone won’t eat today, but I HAD to have that Harry Partch first-pressing. It’s a constant hypocrisy that most of us deal with on a daily basis. In the case of this event, I see an opportunity to help in some small way fellow musicians with whom I share similar artistic struggles. I have resources to magnify that aid, through my series and the generosity of my friends here in Chicago. We can rally together and throw a monster of a concert that people will excitedly pay to come witness. Together, through this incredible music we’ve dedicated our lives to championing, we can effect some tiny degree of relief.

 

 

12/10 Premiere at Connecticut College

Monday, December 10
Percussion and New Music Concert.
Peter Jarvis, director
7:00 pm Evans Hall
Tickets $5; Students & Seniors $3, free to CC Students, Staff & Faculty

Program includes works by Elliott Carter, John Cage, David Saperstein, Gene Pritsker, and James Romig.

Program Note: Fuller Brush Music - Christian Carey

Fuller Brush Music for drum set is an etude for playing with brushes and for playing in a prevailingly soft dynamic range. The performer employs various brushes and dampening techniques to balance the kit for this more delicate sound world. Commissioned by Calabrese Brothers Music, it is dedicated to Peter Jarvis.

Composed 2010 in South Amboy, NJ and New York, NY.

 - Christian Carey


Dan Visconti’s Lonesome Roads (CD Review)

Dan Visconti
Lonesome Roads
Scharoun Ensemble Berlin; Horszowski Trio
Bridge Records CD

 

Lonesome Roads is Dan Visconti’s first solo disc.  Just thirty, the composer certainly has lots of talent and relishes the challenges posed by projects inspired by disparate musical styles. In particular, Visconti loves to combine American traditional music with various strains of concert music. When his postmodern magpie approach works, as it abundantly does on the title piece, a seven-movement suite at turns rhapsodic, folksy and hypermodern, the results are affecting. Similarly, Low Country Haze mixes clarinet in Coplandesque Americana mode with flute rasps and bends, punctuating percussion, and neo-romantic string swoons.

 

Elsewhere, there’s some inconsistency. While the individual sound schemes are the most adventurous assayed by the composer, the juxtapositions found in Fractured Jams feel forced, and the results, particularly in the closing ragtime movement, underwhelm. “Remembrances,” a post-romantic piano ballad, in places is overly sentimental; even schmaltzy. Black Bend, a piece for amplified string quintet that’s a showcase for the first violin, is even more problematic. It is an object lesson for one of the challenges facing polystylistic creatives: if you transplant a highly identifiable element into another medium, it may not work out well. So, all emerging crossover composers repeat after me: bluesy box riffs and Berlin-based string ensembles do not, based on the evidence supplied here, appear to mix well. If the accompaniment doesn’t swing it doesn’t matter how fiery the fiddle hoedown is down front.

 

Like Black Bend’s tale of two dissimilar demeanors, one sizzling and another mawkish, the Lonesome Roads CD leaves a decidedly mixed impression of Visconti’s work.

 

 

Monday: Jenny Q Chai gives Stroppa lecture recital

Dissecting Stroppa

On Monday December 3rd, pianist Jenny Q Chai is giving her DMA lecture recital at my old stomping grounds: Manhattan School of Music. Chai has become a persuasive advocate for a wide range of repertoire, but, after meeting him in Darmstadt some five years ago, the piano music of Marco Stroppa has become one of her keenest passions. Her lecture recital, which she plans to give in a lab coat (!), will focus on Stroppa’s Innige Cavatina. Below, check out a recording of the work from Jenny’s SoundCloud.

Composer Concordance Festival Starts Friday

Celebrating the “Growing Diversity of Music,” Composers Concordance, a new music consortium and record label, presents its second festival from Nov. 30 – Dec. 7. Over the course of five concerts, one will get to hear works in a variety of styles and different forces: electroacoustic, chamber music, amplified ensemble music, and works for chamber orchestra.

On Friday the 30th, CC joins forces with Vox Novus, presenting a “60X60″ mix of one-minute electroacoustic works. I just learned on Monday that my “Gilgamesh Variation” is one of the pieces in the mix. The show is at Spectrum (details below).

Festival Details

Concert #1: 60 x 60
Instrumentation: Electronic Music / Multimedia
60 Electronic Composers
Friday, November 30th at 8pm at Spectrum
121 Ludlow Street, 2nd floor, NYC – Tickets $10

Concert #2: Soli
Instrumentation: Solo
Kathleen Supové, Eleonor Sandresky, & Jed Distler
Saturday, December 1st at 7pm at Faust Harrison Pianos
207 West 58th Street, NYC
Free Event – Note: seating is limited. RSVP: info@faustharrisonpianos.com 

Concert #3: Composers Play Composers Marathon
Instrumentation: Solo, Duo, Trio
30 Composer-Performers
Sunday, December 2nd from 3pm to 7pm at Drom NYC
85 Avenue A, NYC
Tickets $15 (includes one drink)

Concert #4: Nine Live
Instrumentation: Ensemble
Composers Concordance Ensemble
Tuesday, December 4th at 7:30pm at Shapeshifter Lab
18 Whitwell Place, Brooklyn
Tickets $10

Concert #5: Legends
Instrumentation: Chamber Orchestra
Composers Concordance Chamber Orchestra (CCCO), Lara St. John – violin, Valerie Coleman – flute, Thomas Carlo Bo – conductor
Friday, December 7th at 8pm at DiMenna Center – Mary Flagler Cary Hall
450 West 37th Street, NYC
$20 day of performance, $15 students and advance tickets
Tickets: http://ccco_evolution.eventbrite.com/