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.

Friday: Rebecca Brandt CD Release Party


 

Ostensibly, composer/pianist Rebecca Brandt has already released her album Number & Shapes. But with material as charming as the cinematic indie art songs found on this CD, this Friday’s release show at Galapagos in Brooklyn is well worth the wait (details here). At turns mathy & motoric and alluring & lush, Numbers and Shapes encompasses both the laptop electronica aesthetic and out chamber pop. You can purchase the release via BandCamp or, better yet, if you’re in town, pick up a CD in person at Galapagos on Friday (doors open at 7; show starts at 8).

 



Brassland Celebrates 10 year Anniversary with a month of downloads!

Nico Muhly. Photo: Samantha West

It’s hard to believe, but one of the primary forces that fostered the “Indie Classical” phenomenon of the aughts is celebrating its tenth birthday. The Brassland imprint, which curates artists such as the National, Clogs, Doveman, and Nico Muhly, is celebrating their anniversary by sharing music: a different free download of a song from their catalog every weekday throughout November.

Thanks to the kind folks at Brassland, below we share a stream of tomorrow’s pick: Nico Muhly’s “Skip Town,” a bonus cut from his Mothertongue CD.

Be sure to visit the label’s “song a day” giveaway site or their Facebook page to collect all the goodies (schedule below).

INTRODUCTION WEEK

Tu 1 Clogs — Lantern
We 2 Buke & Gass — Riposte
Th 3 The National “High Beams”
Demo (unreleased)
Fri 4 Nico Muhly “Skip Town” (iTunes bonus track) Mothertongue
DEEP CUTS WEEK
Mo 7 Baby Dayliner — High Heart & Low Estate
Tu 8 Pela — All in Time EP
We 9 Doveman “.…” > “Sunrise” (medley)
With My Left Hand I Raise
the Dead
Th 10 Erik Friedlander — Maldoror
Fr 11 Devastations — S/T (Devastations)
RARE + UNRELEASED WEEK
Mo 14 Bryce Dessner “Rose of Lincoln”
The Lincoln Shuffle (web
exclusive)
Tu 15 Baby Dayliner “When I Look Into Your Eyes” Demo (unreleased)
We 16 Doveman
“Honey” > “Only Love Can Break
Your Heart” (medley)
Live Session (unreleased)
Th 17 Clogs “Elevenses”
Live Session (unreleased)
Fri 18
Jujulele (Bryce & Aaron
Dessner side project) “Satie” Demo (unreleased)
GREATEST HITS WEEK
Mo 21 The National — S/T (The National)
Tu 22 Baby Dayliner — Critics Pass Away
We 23 Devastations — Coal
Th 24
Clogs (featuring Shara
Worden) —
The Creatures in the
Garden of Lady Walton
Fr 25
Doveman (featuring
Nico Muhly) — The Conformist
NEW BAND WEEK
Mo 28 Jherek Bischoff
“Secret of the Machines”
(Instrumental) TBA
Tu 29 This is the Kit “Spinney”
We 30 People Get Ready “Uncanny”

Nico Muhly: “Skip Town” by Brassland

yMusic: “Beautiful Mechanical” (CD Review)




yMusic

Beautiful Mechanical

New Amsterdam Records CD

Ever since the inception of the New Amsterdam imprint, we’ve been talking about the “indie classical” phenomenon: The genre cross pollination between contemporary classical artists informed by indie rock and indie rockstars who are interested in concert music. While there have been a number of significant releases on New Am and other labels, Beautiful Mechanical the debut release of yMusic, may be the most synergistic example of this fertile crossover domain’s musicking yet.


My Brightest Diamond & yMusic | A Take Away Show | Part 01 from La Blogotheque on Vimeo.

yMusic is a Brooklyn based sextet of classically trained yet versatile musicians (personnel: violinist Rob Moose, trumpeter CJ Camerieri, cellist Clarice Jensen, vlutist Alex Sopp, clarinetist Hideaki Aomori, and violist Nadia Sirota). All of them have performed conventional concert repertoire, more avant-garde material, and their fair share of pop gigs and recording sessions. As such, they’re an ideal collective to collaborate with both classically trained composers and indie musicians.

The contributors have similarly eclectic backgrounds. Son Lux, who composed the title track, is also a classically trained composer. But his motoric, electronica-inspired take on chamber music in the title track sizzles with chart-topping energy. And while it asks a lot of the musicians, it never puts them in the position of playing something unidiomatic. Annie Clark (better known in pop circles as St. Vincent) spread her wings for the first time in a chamber music context, but the results are most compelling; her composition “Proven Badlands” is one of the standouts on the album. It ranges in sentiment from pastoral Americana in a Copland-esque vein to jazzy brass riffs to post-minimal ostinatos: yet all of these styles cohere in a fascinating postmodern collage with considerable momentum.

Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond) not only works with yMusic on Beautiful Mechanical, contributing two cuts to the album; she also employs them on All Things Will Unwind her latest record for Asthmatic Kitty. We’ll be talking more about that record in another post, but you can check out a video below of one of Worden’s “indie art songs” that she performed with yMusic at last year’s Ecstatic Music Festival. Here, her instrumental compositions exude a fetching conflation of gentle whimsy and supple lyricism.

Gabriel Kahane’s “Song” does indeed lead with melody, which begins in conjunct fashion but gradually becomes more questing and wide ranging. Trumpet and winds are ultimately given long-breathed and intricately shaped lines that channel something of Les Six’s enigmatic use of an extended triadic vocabulary. Sophisticated stuff that belies Kahane’s succinct title.

Two of New Am’s mainstays, Judd Greenstein and Sarah Kirkland Snider, each contribute a work as well. Greenstein’s “Clearing, Dawn, Dance” is lithe, airy, and fleet-footed; it’s played with mercurial grace by yMusic. Snider’s “Daughter of the Waves” likewise takes a delicate, almost Impressionist approach, with ebullient cascades of sound along the way.

Few albums with such a diverse array of participants can boast uniformly high quality. But Beautiful Mechanical is the exception: a case in which many cooks leaven and thicken the broth. It looks to be one of contemporary classical’s noteworthy recordings of 2011.


Jody Redhage album release party tonight

Jody Redhage has had a busy year touring as a member of Grammy award winner Esperanza Spalding’s band. But she still found time to prepare Of Minutiae and Memory (New Amsterdam digital and CD), an album of eight electroacoustic pieces for singing cellist. The disc features works by Joshua Penman, Anna Clyne, Paula Matthusen, Wil Smith, Missy Mazzoli, Ryan Brown, Stefan Weisman, and Derek Muro.

Tonight at DROM, Jody celebrates the release Of Minutiae…, performing selections from the recording. Her opening act is sterling as well: Corey Dargel and Cornelius Dufallo perform a set of art pop songs for voice and violin.

CD RELEASE SHOW
JODY REDHAGE’S Of Minutiae and Memory
with Corey Dargel and Cornelius Dufallo
Monday, September 12, 2011
doors 6:30, show 7:30 pm
DROM
85 Avenue A (@ E. 6th St.)
New York, NY 10009
www.dromnyc.com
$10 cover

Short Chat with Elizabeth Ziman

Elizabeth and the Catapult

Brooklynite singer/songwriter Elizabeth Ziman is probably best known for her work with the indie pop band Elizabeth and the Catapult. But Ziman, a trained pianist who studied film scoring, was recently involved in composing music for a crossover “art song” project. The commission was premiered last Thursday at New Sounds Live, a concert hosted by John Schaefer at Merkin Hall in New York City. Elizabeth and the Catapult,Gabriel Kahane, and Ed Pastorini all appeared, performing new works that demonstrated their own particular takes on the ‘art song’ concept. After the gig, Elizabeth was kind enough to share some thoughts about creating crossover art songs at the behest of WNYC.

CC: How did you get involved with the New Sounds Live project? Have you been on the show in the past?

EZ: I first met John Schaefer when I was commissioned to write a piece for the Young People’s Choir of NYC about 5 years ago, and ever since he’s been really super supportive of all Elizabeth and The Catapult ventures- he’s featured us on Soundcheck a number of times. But this was our first appearance on New Sounds. We were all very excited.

CC: Tell us about the commissioned work that premiered at the Merkin Hall event.

EZ: Around the time John gave me the assignment to write the song cycle, I was reading a book of poems Leonard Cohen wrote while spending time in a Zen monastery in California: ”Leonard Cohen’s Book of Longing”.The general theme of these poems are not so much about religion/sex/depression/politics as is per usual with him, but more personal- mostly about being human and flawed and trying to succumb to it. He’s constantly searches for peace but when he can’t reach it, he laughs at himself. So there’s a good dark humor to the poems. Something about this really struck a chord with me and ended up writing my own poems mirroring this sentiment.  Musically speaking, it was just the normal setup plus string quartet.

CC:  Merkin Hall is generally known as a classical and jazz venue. Has Elizabeth and the Catapult performed in similar halls in the past?

EZ: We performed at Carnegie Hall two years ago; otherwise the closest thing to Merkin Hall we’ve played is probably a club like Joe’s Pub in the Village. But we welcome all theatre/art spaces- they usually sound the best anyway.

CC:  The concept for this New Sounds program was showing how ‘art songs’ – songs in the concert music tradition – are being affected by influences of pop, jazz, and other kinds of music. How did you respond to this?

EZ: I really just tried to do exactly what I do – but because there was some kind of budget I was lucky enough to be able to hire a string quartet for the occasion as well.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-Ved2Jq4Yk[/youtube]

CC: A lot of indie pop artists seem increasingly interested in incorporating classical influences into their work. Conversely, classical artists are blending pop influences into their compositions. Can you comment on this trend and how, if at all, it affects your songwriting and arranging?

EZ: I went to school for film scoring- so I’ve always been very interested in arranging cinematically, and using a broader scope of instruments- but I feel like bands like Sufjan, The Dirty Projectors, David Byrne, St Vincent and Antony and the Johnsons(to name a few) have been really pushing the envelope with their arrangements in a very hip way.

CC: How did your approach the ‘art song’ compared to the other artists > on the show – Gabriel Kahane and Ed Pastorini? Was there any communication about the music you were composing ahead of time?

EZ: I love Gabe, I actually wrote one of the songs for the cycle on his piano at his house while he was on tour and I was house-sitting! But no, the night was pretty much a happy surprise for all of us.

CC:  Is this type of project something you’d like to explore further with Elizabeth and the Catapult?

EZ: Sure, it was an absolute honor to perform in such a beautiful venue for such a great program. I’m always psyched to be involved in new random projects, especially those being sponsored by NPR.

CC: What’s next for Elizabeth and the Catapult? Are you touring/recording this summer?

EZ: We’re recording this summer and hopefully touring very, very soon!

Those interested in hearing the Merkin Hall concert, stay tuned! It will be broadcast as part of a future New Sounds program on WNYC.