Jonathan Harvey Review in Musical America

Dissonance Meets the Divine

My review of last Thursday’s Jonathan Harvey Composer Portrait at Miller Theatre, featuring Ensemble Signal conducted by Brad Lubman, was published today in Musical America.

You can read it here (subscription required, but the magazine offers a short term free trial – why not kick the tires?)

Kronos Quartet at Zankel (Musical America)

“From the Sublime to the Ridiculous”

My review of Kronos Quartet’s concert at Zankel Hall ran this past Friday on Musical America. The program featured a “one night only” reunion with former Kronos cellist Joan Jeanrenaud, performing music by Vladimir Martynov, which was marvelous, and “Secret Word,” a piece dedicated to Pee Wee Herman, which was not so marvelous…

If you missed the concert (or even if you didn’t!), I strongly suggest checking out Kronos’s latest Nonesuch CD, a Martynov portrait.

NY Phil’s “Contact!” Leans Away from US (Musical America)

My article today in Musical America reviews the NY Philharmonic’s Contact! Concert on 12/16 at the Met Museum. While I enjoyed the music – hearing HK Gruber perform Frankenstein!! was a particular treat –  I took issue with the announcement at the event of Alan Gilbert being awarded Columbia University’s Ditson Prize, which recognizes a conductor for his advocacy for American composers. This season, the Contact! series includes only one American: Elliott Carter. It’s a far cry from their inaugural season just two years ago, when they featured Sean Shepherd, Nico Muhly, Arlene Sierra, and others. Perhaps Maestro Gilbert will take the opportunity of being acknowledged for past programming decisions to reinvest future seasons of Contact! with a commitment to emerging American composers.

Sirota premiere tomorrow at Merkin

Robert Sirota (photo: Richard Frank)

Robert Sirota may be most familiar to New Yorkers as President of the Manhattan School of Music. But despite that job’s myriad demands, he’s kept active as a composer.

Tomorrow night, his latest work, Assimilations will be premiered by the Washington Square Contemporary Music Society at Merkin Hall. I’ll be writing about the concert for <strong>Musical America.

Of Assimilations Sirota says, “On the surface it would appear that I am the most “assimilated” of Jews. My paternal grandparents left the shtetl almost a century ago: my maternal grandparents were already in America well before that. I have been married to a Christian woman for forty years, and I myself converted to Christianity some twenty-three years ago. I embrace my Christian faith with conviction and enthusiasm. So why the deep pull back to a past about which I know very little, and from which I essentially walked away? While my Jewishness is defined by many things (culture, food, mysticism, among others), one strong personality trait that I have always had is a distinctly Jewish sense of urgency – of preparedness. Psychologically, my bags are always packed. As I grow older, I realize that I have always been seeking to escape the cattle cars, to stay one step ahead of the persecutors, all of my life. While this makes me very effective in a crisis, it also haunts my sleep, and makes a mockery of my so-called assimilation. This piece is an attempt to express the poignant beauty and the sadness linking the world of my heritage with the person I have become.”

The concert also features world premieres of works by Lou Karchin and Laurie San Martin, and NY premieres of works by Fabio Grasso and Richard Festinger.


Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 8pm
Merkin Concert Hall
The Kaufman Center
129 W 67th Street, NYC

Tickets: $20 | $15 seniors | $8 student
Available from the Merkin Hall Box Office
Call 212.501.3330 or visit

Program also includes:
Richard Festinger: Concerto for Piano and Nine Instruments (NY Premiere)
Fabio Grasso: Blumentraum (NY Premiere)
Louis Karchin: Chamber Symphony (World Premiere)
Laurie San Martin: Two Pieces for Piano and Percussion (World Premiere)