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: 

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

Mantra Percussion visits Lowes

NPR Music shares footage from Mantra Percussion’s recent visit to a Lowes in Alexandria, Virginia. An ad hoc performance of Michael Gordon’s Timber was involved.

Mantra will give the West Coast premiere of Timber on September 21-23 at the Carlsbad Music Festival.

Friday: Annie Gosfield at Moving Sounds Festival

From tonight until Saturday, the Austrian Cultural Forum sponsored Moving Sounds Festival takes place. Thursday saw the Mivos Quartet perform new works by Carl Bettendorf and Reiko Füting while Christian Meyer and Franz Hackl gave a lecture recital entitled “Schoenberg and the notion of Avant-garde.”

On Friday, composer Annie Gosfield appears in a portrait concert at the Czech Center as part of Moving sounds. It includes the premiere of “Phantom Shakedown”. The piece for piano accompanied by a broken shortwave radio, a cement mixer, and tube noise. It’s one of the pieces on Gosfield’s latest CD, the just released Almost Truths and Open Deceptions (Tzadik). Dynamic and captivating, both the concert and  CD embrace amplified industrial music and distressed chamber works, in a concoction that balances sonic seduction with formidable avant gauntlets.

Annie Gosfield in concert
September 14 and 9 PM
Bohemian National Hall at the Czech Center
321 E. 73rd St.
New York, NY 10021

For more Moving Sounds events on Friday and Saturday, check out the festival’s website here.

Ellen Highstein on Contemporary Music at Tanglewood (Video)

Musical America has an interview clip up on YouTube featuring Tanglewood Music Center Director Ellen Highstein discussing the important of contemporary music at the festival.

Highstein’s verbal articulation of this commitment was backed up by Tanglewood students and faculty over five days packed with committed and well-prepared performances at the 2012 Festival of Contemporary Music this past August. Let’s hope that when a new director arrives at the BSO, he or she continues with this commitment to repertoire from our time.

Instructions to composers

Gloria Cheng. Photo by Hilary Scott.

Friday August 10

LENOX – It was such a treat to have the opportunity to hear Gloria Cheng in recital at Tanglewood’s Festival of Contemporary Music. It included works by Birtwistle, Rands, Knussen, Benjamin, Harbison, and Salonen. I wrote the essay for her program and thus had taken the time to assiduously study all the scores in advance. But hearing them come to life in Cheng’s performance was still revelatory. Her accounts of the pieces were technically assured, meticulously detailed, and interpretively thoughtful. Those listeners who fear the post-tonal wing of contemporary repertoire, finding its dissonance forbidding, should make a point to hear her perform. She makes these works sing; your phobia will likely be cured before intermission.

There was a score that I hadn’t seen prior to the recital: her encore. To commemorate his 80th birthday Cheng commissioned a piece from John Williams. Mindful of the weighty program that listeners had already heard, the pianist made one request: that the composer write a short piece: one that could fit onto a single page.

After she explained this stipulation to the audience, Cheng unfurled the page of staff paper that Williams had delivered to her. His Conversations was indeed written on one page: one BIG page that could fill a grand piano’s entire music desk!

The audience certainly didn’t mind, and Cheng gave a stirring rendition of a work on which the ink was barely dry.

Those who know John Williams’s music from his film scores might assume that his concert music sounds similar. It doesn’t. Indeed, it fit right in alongside the formidable offerings already hear on the program. Who says one can only compose in one style?

And who said that a “single page” had to be 8″ 1/2 X 11″?

Thursday at Tanglewood

Picnicking - Tanglewood style!

August 9, 2012

LENOX, MA – Enjoyed the first evening of Tanglewood’s 2012 Festival of Contemporary Music. Got to hear Sean Shepherd’s “These Particular Circumstances,” for which I wrote the program notes, again, which was quite fine. Also Elliott Carter’s Double Trio, which has its moments, but is not one of my favorites from his late catalog. Still, if I can still write quarter notes when I’m over a hundred years old, I’ll count myself blessed; so I shouldn’t quibble too much.

Cantus Iambeus by Harrison Birtwistle, another one of his pieces dealing with imperfect synchronizations, was the standout of the evening, both in terms of the performance and the material. Nice orchestrations – some imaginative colors – in a set of songs for soprano and chamber forces from Luke Bedford.

Niccolo Castiglioni is known for writing almost exclusively above middle C. True to form, his “Quickly” is oriented toward altissimo registers and deconstructed sections, most for fragments of the orchestra. Given its propensity for piccolo solos and bristling bell work, it occasionally felt a bit like a dystopian Bolero designed to set hound dogs baying.

Friday’s itinerary includes a piano recital by Gloria Cheng, for which I wrote program notes, followed by an evening in Williamstown for dinner and a play. Lovely to be back in the Berkshires.

TMC Fellows perform Shepherd. Photo: Hilary Scott.

ACME at ATP (Video)

Our friends (and the performers on the last Sequenza21 concert) ACME appeared at All Tomorrow’s Parties last week. Quite a coup for the indie classical group, which is enjoying increased crossover success. Below check out video footage of them performing Gavin Bryars’s “Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet” live at ATP.

M. Ward at SXSW (Video)

Love ‘em for the accessibility they’ve supplied for many listeners to streaming music or doubt their advocacy for fair compensation of labels and artists, Spotify has fast become a force in the music industry. Thus, it is unsurprising to see them set up house at SXSW in Austin, painting a dwelling bright green and inviting artists over to jam. Below is M. Ward’s lanky acoustic session for ‘em.