Monday: NYNME features Foss

Foss NYNME


Monday at the DiMenna Center, New York New Music Ensemble presents a program of works by Lukas Foss (1922-2009). Lukas (with whom I studied in the 90s when I was at BU) was a man of many musical talents with a near-omnivorous interest in a host of musical styles. Rather than try to present a comprehensive portrait of them all (a tall order in a single evening!), NYNME will focus on pieces from the mid-sixties through the mid-eighties, the period during which he was in his most experimental phase. In Echoi (1963), Foss made use of vast swaths of serial-inspired charts – there are pictures of them taking up whole walls of his studio. However, his performance directions add a measure of postmodern theatricality and there’s more than a bit of aleatory at work too. These seemingly disparate elements come together in a piece that is a masterful melange. Paradigm (1968), is more ebulliently chaotic still. Incorporating clangorous percussion and vociferous shouts alongside quasi-rock riffs from electric guitar, it channels more than a bit of the cultural and political revolutions afoot in the year of its composition.

Rendezvous - Tashi


Solo Observed (1982), began its life as a virtuosic solo piano piece, Solo, which found Foss experimenting with minimalism and maximalism at the same time. Solo Observed (1982, in versions for both orchestra and chamber ensemble), adds additional instruments, who observe, comment on, and sometimes even obstruct the pianist’s solo. The last work on the program, Tashi (1986), written for the star-studded chamber ensemble of the same name, is one of my favorite of Foss’s chamber works. Abundantly virtuosic and sumptuously harmonically varied, it is one of the best syntheses of the various styles and varied materials that fascinated Foss. Hunt down Rendezvous, the group’s 1989 recording on which it appears. Better yet, catch it live tonight.


NYNME

Princeton Recital is Tomorrow – Join Us!

loadbang

Emerged:

 A Recital of Compositions

by Christian Carey

Saturday, September 28th at 2 PM

Prince of Peace Church,

Princeton Junction, NJ

free event

Performed by:

Righteous Girls

(Gina Izzo, flute; Erika Dohi, piano)

loadbang

(Jeffrey Gavett, baritone, Carlos Cordeiro, bass clarinet,

Andy Kozar, trumpet, Will Lang, trombone)

Peter Jarvis, drum set

Sara Noble, soprano

Megan Ihnen, mezzo soprano

Carl Patrick Bolleia, piano

Zheng Yuan, viola

                                                                                                                                                                         Natalie Spehar, cello

In One Week: Recital in Princeton

Christian Carey recital postcard

Emerged: A Recital of Compositions by Christian Carey

Christian Carey headshot

Saturday, September 28th at 2 PM

Prince of Peace Church,

Princeton Junction, NJ

Free Event

Performed by:

Righteous Girls

(Gina Izzo, flute; Erika Dohi, piano)

loadbang

(Jeffrey Gavett, baritone, Carlos Cordeiro, bass clarinet,

Andy Kozar, trumpet, Will Lang, trombone)

Peter Jarvis, drum set

Sara Noble, soprano

Megan Ihnen, mezzo soprano

Carl Patrick Bolleia, piano

Zheng Yuan, viola

Natalie Spehar, cello

Program

Prayer  (2011)    loadbang

3 Bagatelles (2006)    Righteous Girls

“He Wishes for the

Cloths of Heaven” (2009)   Megan Ihnen and Zheng Yuan

3 Flourishes (2008)            Gina Izzo

Solo for piano  (2013)            Erika Dohi   (World Premiere)

“Fuller Brush Music”    (2010)             Peter Jarvis

“Blue Symphony” (2013)   Sara Noble & Carl Patrick Bolleia

Two Miniatures  (2012)    Carl Patrick Bolleia

“Gloss on Guston”

“Fiery Sunset”

3 Kenyon Settings  (2009)    Megan Ihnen and Natalie Spehar

For Milton   (2011)     Righteous Girls

NY Virtuoso Singers Celebrate 25th Anniversary

When a musical omnivore such as Harold Rosenbaum declares that the concert you are about to hear is “the most diverse program I have conducted in my forty year career,” hang on to your seat! On Sunday March 3rd, Rosenbaum led the New York Virtuoso Singers in the aforementioned amply diverse program in a concert at Merkin Hall. A baker’s dozen of new pieces, part of an ambitious commissioning project: 25 pieces to celebrate the group’s 25th anniversary.

While the selections were stylistically diverse, there was a unifying thread. All of the composers had done their homework, and composed with the formidable capabilities of NYVS in mind. The ensemble lived up to its reputation for peerless preparation, assaying all of the pieces with fortitude and an almost intimidating level of technical skill. Intonation and rhythm, regular pitfalls for mortal choirs, proved scarcely to be hurdles for the singers, even in the thorniest of passages. And there were plenty of those provided to them on Sunday afternoon.

Particularly impressive were works by David Felder and Augusta Read Thomas, which pushed at both the harmonic fabric with daring chromatic writing and at the capacities of the voices with parts written in punishingly high tessitura. Others, such as Roger Davidson, opted to revel in the group’s sound and suave divisi in a more straightforward setting.

One of the challenges in being part of a bouquet of occasional works: how expansive should one’s piece be? Both Thea Musgrave and Richard Danielpour opted for aphoristic yet attractive tributes, while Richard Wernick and Joseph Schwantner created evocatively atmospheric works that probably overstayed their welcome a bit. David Lang created a slowed down spiritual for the singers, poking fun at the perky arrangements of doleful texts by choral mainstays such as Alice Parker and Robert Shaw. For all of her protestations that setting text doesn’t suit her, Joan Tower’s memorial tribute to her recently departed sister was eloquent and unforced.

Sadly, I found another of the memorial works on the program, Memorial by Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, more problematic. In the midst of snatches of the requiem mass’ text, the use of children’s choir intoning the names of Sandy Hook victims is heavy handed and borderline exploitative. No doubt, some will argue that the work’s topicality and pacifistic message is moving. Indeed, it was moving, but, to me, manipulatively so. One could have gotten the subtext from a more subtle use of forces and an approach to the topic that was sensitive and less opportunistic.

Most of the works hewed to the celebratory mood of the occasion. William Bolcom provided a puckish setting of a Blake poem about Cupid; a footnote to his mammoth Songs of Innocence and Experience project, but a savory and supple one. Mark Adamo contributed the only work with piano accompaniment, in which the singers and instrument nimbly dance around the subtext of a grimly jocular Stoic postmortem. Aaron Kernis was on hand not only to introduce his piece (as did several of the other composers) but also to substitute as a “clapper” (hand percussionist) for his jubilant setting of the translation of a Hebrew spiritual poem.

All in all, it was a fine afternoon of singing. The commissions are being recorded for release on Soundbrush Records. Hopefully more choirs will hear them and want to program them.

 

Deep Sea Diver on KEXP

DEEP SEA DIVER ON TOUR

w/ Hey Marseilles

27-Feb Wed Vancouver, BC @ The Media Club
2-Mar Sat Portland, OR @ Aladdin Theatre
5-Mar Tue San Francisco, CA @ The Chapel
6-Mar Wed Los Angeles, CA @ Satellite
7-Mar Thu San Diego, CA @ Soda Bar
9-Mar Sat Denton, TX @ Denton 35 Festival
11-Mar Mon Houston, TX @ Fitzgerald’s Downstairs
12- Mar Tues Austin, TX SXSW (tba)
13- Mar Wed Austin, TX SXSW (tba)
14- Mar Thu Austin, TX SXSW (tba)
15- Mar Fri Austin, TX SXSW (tba)
16- Mar Sat Austin, TX SXSW (tba)

With Pickwick:

18-Mar Mon Aspen, CO @ Belly Up Tavern
19-Mar Tue Denver, CO @ The Bluebird Theater
20-Mar Wed Telluride, CO @ Sheridan Opera House
22 Mar Fri Boise, ID @ Treefort Music Festival

Saturday: Frank J. Oteri at Tenri

Photo: Jeffrey Herman.

This Saturday at 8 PM, composer Frank J. Oteri has a portrait concert at Tenri Cultural Center. Many of you know Oteri from his regular contributions, editing, and advocacy at New Music Box. He puts just as much thought and imagination into his own original works.

Vocalist/pianist Phillip Cheah and pianist Trudy Chan present two world premieres by Oteri. Versions of the Truth (2012) is a song cycle dealing with the poetry of Stephen Crane (1871-1900). Setting the World at Five and Seven (2008) is a solo keyboard work that will be performed by Chan. The program also features the solo piano piece Palindrome (1984), performed by Cheah, and the first complete rendition of another song cycle: the nurturing river (1982), settings of sonnets by James R. Murphy. You can hear a partial performance of the latter work here. You can also hear Oteri’s work as part of our latest Mixcloud mix.

Tickets are $15 at the door (venue details here).

Sunday in LA: Eagle Rock Music Festival

Mak Grgic

I’m hoping to beat the blizzard out of town and make it to the premiere of my Three Fantasies for Cello and Guitar in Los Angeles. This Sunday, it will be heard twice during a day filled with concerts of American works at the Eagle Rock Music Festival. Cellist Jay Campbell and guitarist Mak Grgic are performing at 1 and 6 PM and JACK Quartet gives a concert at 3:30 PM. If you are in sunny southern California, instead of facing down winter storm Nemo, I hope you’ll consider attending.

Ticket info may be found here.

Guest Post: Hayes Biggs

Edwin London (1929-2013)

 

I was saddened to learn of Ed London’s passing this week. My association with him was limited, but it also was important to me as a composer. I first met him in 1978 when I was an undergraduate at what was then Southwestern at Memphis (now Rhodes College). I was helping to coordinate a mini-festival of new music there, and he had been engaged as the guest composer. He had at that juncture been teaching at the University of Illinois for some years. The members of the music faculty at Southwestern, many if not most of them quite conservative in their tastes, didn’t quite know what to think of him, but it was fascinating to hear his perspectives on contemporary music, and rather exciting for a young and impressionable composer to see the discomfiture it induced in some of my elders at our little school. I had only been studying composition formally for about two years with Don Freund, who at the time was teaching at another eventually renamed institution, Memphis State University (now the University of Memphis). Don already had begun opening up my ears to a wide range of contemporary musical styles, techniques, and composers, so I was primed, so to speak, to take in what Ed had to offer. A year earlier, in fact, Don had brought Ed to Memphis State for their annual New Music Festival.

 

Among the works that Ed shared with the musical community at Southwestern was a work for spatially-deployed multiple choirs and electronic tape (that’s “fixed media,” for you youngsters), called Wounded Byrd Song, a deconstruction of William Byrd’s “Wounded Am I,” in which each chorus, with its own “sub-conductor,” sings Byrd’s piece, each beginning at a different time, while the recorded sounds are heard, all under the supervision of a “master” conductor. His music seemed intriguing and rather outrageous then, but that piece also was quite haunting and in its own way a moving homage to Byrd’s original. During this residency Ed also talked to me about my vocal music, and seemed deeply concerned, to my surprise, with traditional concepts of prosody and declamation, at the same time that he was touting the use of extended vocal techniques that went far beyond traditional bel canto standards, by such artists as Joan LaBarbara and the Extended Vocal Techniques Quartet. In later years I came to realize that shock value was far from being the primary driving force in his aesthetic. Behind the often startling gestures and stylistic juxtapositions was a strain of genuine lyricism and a gentle sense of humor, the latter frequently displayed in his punning titles, such as that of the Psalm of These Days series.

 

I got to know Ed a little better during the 1990s, when I began working as Associate Editor at

C. F. Peters in New York, which had begun publishing his music. By then he had moved to Cleveland State University and founded the justly celebrated Cleveland Chamber Symphony, responsible for so many premieres and recordings of music by deserving composers at all stages of their careers, representing a broad array of styles. I was a beneficiary of his kindness. In 1995 I was asked by him to compose a piece for the Cleveland Chamber Symphony, and was able to get a wonderful first performance by that ensemble of To Becalme His Fever, my first purely orchestral music, a piece that I am very glad to have written, and an opportunity that might not have presented itself without Ed’s initiative.

 

A measure of Ed’s generosity is the fact that on YouTube you can find exactly one piece of his, “Recitativo Stromentato,” from Scenes for Flute and Chamber Orchestra. (At least that’s the only one my friend and colleague James Primosch could locate, and I was no more successful than he. See Jim’s tribute here.) You can, however, find a significant number of Ed’s recordings of the works of a wide variety of his contemporaries and younger colleagues, performed by him conducting the Cleveland Chamber Symphony, including — among many others — Libby Larsen, Salvatore Martirano and Bernard Rands. As we bid farewell to a model musical citizen, let us hope that Ed’s music will find a more prominent place in our musical culture. His unstinting championing of his fellow composers’ music deserves no less. Rest in peace, Ed.