Friday – Saturday: Viva 21st Century Marathon

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From Friday 2 PM to Saturday 2 PM (EST), broadcaster Marvin Rosen will be hosting “Viva 21st Century,” a marathon of recent classical music on Princeton’s WPRB 103.3 FM (also on the web at The broadcast will include over eighty composers.

Marvin has informed me that my “Gilgamesh Suite EP” (out now on BandCamp) will be featured sometime between 7 and 9 PM on Friday.

More details below.

Viva 21st Century

Classical Discoveries will present the 10th Annual program and the 6th 24-Hour Marathon totally devoted to music composed in the 21st century.



starts: Friday, December 28, 2012 – 2:00pm
ends: Saturday, December 29, 2012 – 2:00pm.

Approximately 80 composers will have their works aired during this marathon.
Milosz Bembinow, Thomas Blomenkamp, Sylvie Bodorova,Christian Carey, Jennifer Castellano, Daniel Dorff, Hugues Dufourt, Rosemary Duxbury, Ivan Erod, Vladimir Godar, Ola Gjeilo, Jennifer Higdon, Matthew Hindson, Mary Ann Joyce-Walter, Lei Liang, Michel Lysight, Peter Machajdik, Franco Antonio Mirenzi, Andrew Rudin, Carl Ruttl, Somei Satoh, Ravi Shankar, Ylva Skog, Allan Stephenson, John Tavener, Giel Vleggaar, Joelle Wallach and many, many others.

For Internet listeners link to excellent Time Zone Converter:

Facebook event page here: RSVP and invite your friends!

Today: 60X60 Radio Request Extravaganza

In 2012, 60X60 celebrates a decade of presenting minute long works. This afternoon, there will be a  “Radio Request Extravaganza” broadcast, featuring works submitted to the 2012 60X60 Call for Recordings. Tune in to 98.7 WFMT for the “Relevant Tones” show from 4-5 CMT (and call in your requests to 773-279-2017).

If any are so inclined, my “Gilgamesh Variation 1″ is one of the works on offer.

Sunday at Roulette: New Music Bake Sale III

Bake Sale Committee (L-R): Ross Marshall, Eileen Mack, David T. Little, Lainie Fefferman, Matt Marks. Photo by Isabelle Selby.

Cookies (and other Goodies) for a Cause

On Sunday March 11, 2012 from 4 PM to Midnight, a plethora of organizations gather at Roulette in Brooklyn for the Third Annual New Music Bake Sale.

Ten bucks gains you entry to the event plus a raffle ticket. There’s music being performed every hour on the hour by artists such as Newspeak, Gutbucket, the Janus Trio, and more. Check out the event’s website for a complete listing of performers, sponsors, and organizations manning the tables.

Dessert, plus music, plus prizes? Sounds like this third installation of the Bake Sale is triply pleasurable!

Roulette is on 509 Atlantic Ave in Brooklyn.

Girls does first Nationwide Instore at Grimey’s

Girls released their third LP this past Tuesday. Father, Son, and Holy Ghost (True Panther) is probably the strongest heavy rock record to date in 2011. F,S, & HG is filled with hazy neo-psych touches such as wafts of organ harmony and blurred rhythm guitars; material that would be equally at home in the early 1970s but is so sincerely delivered that it reads sincere rather than self-consciously retro. But it’s Christopher Owens’ understated delivery juxtaposed against roaring guitar solos that make the album an out-of-the-park homerun. Even songs as unpleasantly titled as  the seven minute long epic “Vomit”  and its companion rocker “Die” will win you over with their incredibly solid arrangements and unerring pacing.

Girls. Photo: Sandy Kim.

To celebrate the album’s release, Girls is on tour (see dates below). They are also making a high profile stop at Grimey’s in Nashville, Tennessee on Friday, September 16 at 5 PM. Billed as a “Nationwide Instore,” Girls’ performance will be broadcast live to over 75 independent record stores nationwide. What a great way to support local record retailers. If you can’t find a store that’s participating in your area (or you just need to be a couch potato at the end of the work week) you can even check out the show from your computer, via a live stream on Facebook.


Sep 14 Atlanta, GA – Variety Playhouse

Sep 15 Asheville, NC – Orange Peel

Sep 16 Nashville, TN – Mercy Lounge

Sep 17 Carrboro, NC – Cat’s Cradle

Sep 19 Washington, DC – 9:30 Club

Sep 20 Philadelphia, PA – Theatre of Living Arts

Sep 22 New York, NY – Bowery Ballroom

Sep 23 New York, NY – Bowery Ballroom

Sep 24 Boston, MA – Paramount Center

Sep 25 Montreal, QC – Corona Cabaret (POP Montreal Festival)

Sep 27 Toronto, ONT – Mod Club Theatre

Sep 29 Chicago, IL – Lincoln Hall

Sep 30 Madison, WI – Majestic Theatre

Oct 01 Minneapolis, MN – First Ave Nightclub

Oct 04 Vancouver, BC – Biltmore Cabaret

Oct 05 Seattle, WA – Neptune Theatre

Oct 06 Portland, OR – Wonder Ballroom

Oct 08 San Francisco, CA – Great American Music Hall

Oct 09 San Francisco, CA – Great American Music Hall

Steve Reich’s WTC 9/11 (CD Review)

Revised cover artwork for Reich's new CD

Steve Reich

WTC 9/11, Mallet Quartet, Dance Patterns

Nonesuch CD

Now that we’ve gotten the cover art discussion out of the way – and Nonesuch has acquiesced to the concerns of those who felt the artwork exploitative and inflammatory – let’s consider the music on Steve Reich’s latest recording.

An interest found throughout Steve Reich’s output concerns spoken word recordings, which he has employed in a number of pieces, from his early phase compositions to his most recent multimedia works. One of his watershed pieces from the 1980s, “Different Trains,” was written for the Kronos Quartet.  It juxtaposes spoken word recordings detailing train travel in the US in the 1940s (Reich was frequently traveling from coast to coast to visit his estranged parents) with spoken word accounts of the treatment of deported victims of the Holocaust in transit to concentration camps.

“WTC 9/11” (2011), also for Kronos, employs similarly emotionally charged taped material, this time referencing the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers. Scored for three quartets (using overdubs), field recordings, and electronics, the piece’s outer sections are propelled by the jarring sound of a telephone’s “dead wire” signal, and also incorporate alarmed shouts of air traffic controllers and emergency first-responders. These are woven into the gestural fabric of the quartet’s music, which outlines each utterance with a melodic motif. Also incorporated are snippets of 2009 interviews with lower Manhattan residents, recalling their reactions to the tragedy and reflecting on how it has changed them.

The central passage is particularly evocative: the voices of Jewish officiants chanting and singing psalms over the remains of victims in the months following 9/11 interweaves with angst-filled sustained passages of string writing. One wishes that this area of the piece had been allowed more time to develop and register. Instead, Reich cuts it short, returning to the pensive and dramatically charged material of the opening to close out the work in portentous fashion.

In comparing it to its predecessor Different Trains, I would say that this piece takes a similar approach to the treatment of material. That said, its affect is entirely different. At around fifteen minutes long, “WTC 9/11” is a terser utterance than one might imagine as a response to an event with such far-reaching consequences. But in so crafting it, Reich has recaptured some of the blunt force trauma to our nation’s psyche in the days following the initial event. He’s also avoided some of the overt sentimentality that other artworks commemorating 9/11 have been unwilling to forgo.  It is this quality that gives “WTC 9/11” a potent dramatic heft that, though jarring at times, proves taut and unflinchingly eloquent.

Rhythmic drive and insistent pulsation underpin most of Reich’s music. A signature aspect of his style is the incorporation of polyrhythms, which he learned from his studies of African drumming. Reich has created a number of pieces for percussion ensembles or featuring percussion as a strong component. But the Mallet Quartet (2009) is a nod towards the continuing evolution of pitched percussion instruments; it’s his first work to incorporate the largest member of the mallet family: the five-octave marimba. Two of these populate the piece with layers of ostinato repetitions and thrumming, resonant bass thwacks. Meanwhile, two vibraphones supply shimmering chords and sustained lines. The piece juxtaposes these forces of wood and metal, pulsation and sustain, demonstrating that these two instruments can provide abundant variety and color. Engaging in nimble interplay, So Percussion’s rendition of this piece is informed by their years-long association with Reich’s music; they’ve also release an excellent rendition of his earlier work Drumming. When I saw them perform Mallet Quartet live at Carnegie Hall, they did so from memory. This intimate and comprehensive knowledge of the piece is reflected in its authoritative recording.

Reich himself appears, as part of the Steve Reich and Musicians ensemble, in the recording of Dance Patterns (2002). It was originally written for Ictus to accompany Thierry de Mey’s film Counterphrases of Anne Terese de Keersmaeker’s Choreography. Here, mallet instruments are joined by pianos. While the limpid counterpoint and fulsome polyrhythms found in the Mallet Quartet prevails here, the addition of concert grands adds richness to the harmonies; some of the piano writing takes on a positively jazzy cast. Vibrant and accessible, it may not be a watershed work like his pieces for Kronos, but it’s the perfect way to introduce Reich to a new audience. Maybe a passel of foreign film buffs will catch the minimalist bug!

A Moving Requiem for 9/11

Trinity Requiem
Robert Moran
Innova CD

Trinity Wall Street, the “Ground Zero Church” in New York City, commissioned a work from Robert Moran to commemorate the 10th Anniversary of September 11, 2001. The result, Trinity Requiem, is one of the most moving musical settings I’ve heard associated with 9/11.

Set for children’s choir, harp, cellos, and organ, it utilizes an elegantly simple, yet abundantly appealing musical language, combining soaring vocal lines, sumptuous pan-tonal harmonies, and flowing ostinati accompaniments to create a comforting, contemplative mass setting entirely appropriate to this occasion. The forces assembled by Trinity Church are uniformly excellent: recording a subdued, poignant performance of considerable musicality.

Respectful of those still in mourning, yet preferring an affirmative demeanor to doleful lament, Trinity Requiem is a beautiful piece that one hopes will remain in the repertoire. It transcends the nature of many occasional pieces to speak with an eloquence and sensitivity that is truly special.

Robert Moran Trinity Requiem CD by innova Recordings

A Playlist Free Zone

“Despite the blogosphere’s increasingly energetic efforts, I don’t think there is “appropriate” or “ideal” music for the upcoming “anniversary.” Whatever helps one to heal and displaces the din of hyperactive media frenzy in favor of the reflective will be right. And that’s a very personal choice.” – Christian Carey

Music After Marathon

Daniel Felsenfeld

Composers Daniel Felsenfeld and Eleanor Sandresky are organizing a free music marathon to commemorate the tenth anniversary of September 11, 2001. Music After will include a veritable who’s who of the New York new music scene, featuring performers and composers who were affected (and are still affected) by the terrorist attacks in Lower Manhattan on 9/11. The event will be at Joyce SoHo on September 11, 2011 from 8:46 AM until past midnight.

The organizers (and many of the participants) are donating their time; but it’s still proving a challenge to fund an event of this size. If you’d like to help out with a contribution of any amount, we’ve included some information below to facilitate that process.

1) Click here to give a small amount (even $2 or 3 helps)

2) Visit to give through Vision Into Art, who have generously offered to be our 510(c)3 fiscal conduit.  This is done through PayPal.

3) If you want to give a more substantial amount, send a check (made out to Vision Into Art) to:

Music After

336 Park Place #3

Brooklyn, NY 11238

Eleanor Sandresky