Lander, Smooke, and Spangler at the Highwire

This week, composer David Smooke (faculty, Peabody Conservatory) will be visiting Westminster Choir College on Thursday to talk about his music. In addition to his work as a composer, Smooke is active as an avant improviser, employing a somewhat unlikely instrument: the toy piano.

Here he is in a video excerpt of a recent trio outing with Bonnie Lander and Erik Spangler at the Highwire Gallery in Philadelphia.

Stuart Deaver Talks Torke, Plays Adams in Princeton


Stuart Deaver, a professor of piano at the University of Tulsa, is visiting Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey this week. On Thursday, February 10 at 11:30am in Talbott 1, he will present a lecture entitled “Musical Equivalency of Alphabetical Order in Michael Torke’s Telephone Book” at MCHaT Forum.

On Friday, February 11 at 7:30pm, Dr. Deaver will perform a piano recital on campus in Bristol Chapel. The program includes John Adams’ China Gates and Phrygian Gates, as well as works by Mozart and Portuguese composer Vianna da Motta. The recital is free and open to the public.

Premieres on the Horizon

On November 29 (7:30 PM), the New Jersey New Music Series will present the premiere of my Duo (for alto saxophone and piano) at William Paterson University.

On January 24 (8 PM) Wendy Richman will be presenting “Viola Plus,” a solo recital at the Bushwick Starr Theatre in Brooklyn, New York. Wendy will be performing both voice/viola and viola/electronics pieces. Premieres by Smooke, Carey, and others TBA.

Immortal: the Gilgamesh Variations runs January 21-30, 2011 at the Bushwick Starr. I’ve composed incidental music for the play that features John Cage’s Sonatas and Interludes preparation (courtesy of the John Cage Trust).

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If you need more information about any of the above performances, please feel free to contact me.

Parker from Orpheus to WQXR

Graham Parker, VP of WQXR

For the past eight years, Graham Parker has been the Executive Director of Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. Now, he’s going to work for New York’s classical music radio station.

It was announced today that Parker will be the new Vice President of Classical WQXR 105.9 FM and WQXR online. It appears that he’s been tasked with helping the station to develop its brand identity. For those who aren’t “New Yawkers,” this may require some explanation.

In 2009, New York’s National Public Radio Station WNYC acquired WQXR from the New York Times. WQXR’s frequency, 96.3 FM, was in turn traded to Univision’s WCAA, moving the classical station further up the bandwidth to 105.9. For those of us out in the ‘burbs, this has made it more difficult in many areas to get the station. Coverage routinely goes in and out on my commute down to Princeton as I get further from the city.

While signal weakness has been a concern for many listeners, there have been other growing pains associated with the move as well. Some of the music programming previously on WNYC, which was considered the station for more cutting edge fare, has been moved over to WQXR. Some longtime DJs from WQXR were kept on; others were let go to make room for their counterparts on WNYC. As a public radio station, WQXR also jettisoned commercials and religious programs.

The marriage of mainstream classical and public radio’s eclecticism has been a challenging balance to negotiate. The station’s 2009-’10 programming doubtless left a number of longtime WQXR listeners unhappy at the increased incorporation of new music into its mainstream broadcasts. WNYC listeners who hoped for the eclectic and innovative types of music heard on programs such as Soundcheck and New Sounds to be writ large on the rest of the schedule have probably been bummed out too. They’ve been subjected to far more Vivaldi and Telemann than they consider healthy!

A bright spot has been the station’s online new music programing at Q2. This week, they’re spotlighting the music of Xenakis. While one understands that this probably isn’t their best bet for “drive-time” fare, its too bad that more of Q2 hasn’t infiltrated the airwaves.

One hopes that enlisting Mr. Parker helps the station to find its footing and reassert the importance of classical radio – contemporary music and repertory favorites alike – in New York.

So, Sequenza 21 readers, its your turn. What should Parker focus on to make WQXR a better station?

A) Better signal quality/range/accessibility.

B) A more coherent vision for music programming.

C) Local identity and live events.

D) Limiting the amount of Vivaldi bassoon concerti played during any given four-hour period to no more than three.

E) More Nadia Sirota, all the time.