Concert Review: Sean Shepherd at Advent Lutheran

Sean Shepherd with the Claremont Trio. Photo: Michael Lutch

In the Kaleidoscope: the Music of Sean Shepherd

April 23, 2012

Music Mondays at Advent Lutheran Church

NEW YORK – Sean Shepherd’s music was featured in last week’s Music Monday concert at Advent Lutheran Church on New York’s Upper West Side. One of the fast rising stars of contemporary classical music’s thirty-something set, Shepherd has already been performed by the New York Philharmonic, on their Contact contemporary music series, and is currently in residence with both the orchestras Cleveland and Reno. Upcoming performances of his works are this summer at the Tanglewood Festival of Contemporary Music and in the Fall with the National Symphony (both under Oliver Knussen). His publisher – a little house you may have heard of – Boosey and Hawkes.

Although the aforementioned accomplishments indicate that Shepherd is making a name for himself as a composer of orchestral music, the concert at Advent Lutheran demonstrated that he’s also creating compelling works for chamber forces. The centerpieces of the program were two oboe quartets – Mozart ‘s K. 370 paired with a new piece by Shepherd. In discussing the work in an onstage interview, the composer mentioned his undergraduate degree in bassoon performance as an entry point into composing for winds and as a reason for his selection of the Mozart work as a companion piece to his own music on the concert. Another inspiration surely was oboist Liang Wang (of the New York Philharmonic), whose superlative control in the Mozart buoyed a supple performance with many lovely dynamic shadings.

Shepherd’s Oboe Quartet (2011), which received its New York premiere, takes inspiration from the Mozart; but not in any direct or referential sort of way. Rather, the graceful balance of elements found in the earlier piece serves as a totemic point of reference, allowing Shepherd’s postmodern language to be imbued with large-scale formal clarity. Wang adopted a more mysterious tone quality here, befitting the arcing filigrees that characterized his more virtuosic passages. His collaborators, violinist Miranda Cuckson, violist Jessica Meyer, and cellist Julia Bruskin were also impressive in the work’s darting counterpoint and frequent tightly coordinated entrances.

Cuckson, joined by pianist Aaron Wunsch, gave a performance of Shepherd’s Dust (2008) that underscored its variegated moods, ranging from diaphanous Impressionist verticals to fierily angular melodic ricochets. Dust encompasses both Shepherd’s flair for the dramatic and his capacity for fetching lyricism.

The Claremont Trio was on hand to give the New York premiere of a brand new piano trio, written for them by Shepherd. Some of the signature elements found in the evening’s earlier pieces were here too: quickly rendered angular passages in rhythmic sync, wide contrasts of mood between more ruminative sections and those busily attired with nervous energy, and a varied harmonic palette that encompasses passages that, while not exactly tonal in orientation, provide a sense of lyricism and centricity, as well as places where the pitch language is replete with dissonance. But more heightened here than elsewhere on the concert was the sense of multiple time streams and a catalog of metric shifts that I presume may be architectural in design (I hope to get my hands on a score to verify this presumption). Regardless, it’s one of Shepherd’s most thoughtfully constructed works to date. The Claremont Trio plays it throughout with assuredness and enthusiasm. Collectively and as soloists, Shepherd has given them many places to shine: and shine they do. Dare we hope that a studio recording is forthcoming?

Incidentally, Music Mondays hosted a packed crowd for this event. While it doesn’t hurt that admission is free, whatever they are doing to get out the word is working!

5/2: Kronos Quartet at the PEN World Voices Festival

Photo by Jay Blakesberg.

Tomorrow, at the PEN World Voices Festival’s featured event at the Met Museum, Kronos Quartet will provide musical accompaniment to writers Tony Kushner, Marjane Satrapi, and Rula Jebreal as they read from selections of their own work. The authors will then listen and respond to pieces in which recorded voices are juxtaposed with music. It promises to be an intriguing colloquy of literary and musical leading lights.

The Kronos Quartet: Exit Strategies

The Kronos Quartet (David Harrington, violin; John Sherba, violin; Hank Dutt, viola; Jeffrey Zeigler, cello) in performance with Tony Kushner, Marjane Satrapi, Rula Jebreal.

Works by Laurie Anderson, Hamza El Din, Morton Feldman, Ram Narayan,

Terry Riley, Omar Souleyman, and Ramallah Underground

When:   Wednesday, May 2, 2012 at 7pm

Where: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium
1000 Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street
4, 5, 6 trains to 86th Street, walk west

Tickets: $30/$20 students and available at www.metmuseum.org/tickets or (212) 570-3949

Forma: Live on WBAR 4/1/12 (SoundCloud)




Last week, one of our favorite Brooklyn-based indie/electronica collectives, Forma, played on Barnard College Radio. They’ve been kind enough to share the set on their SoundCloud page (embed below).

Forma also has several shows coming up (dates below). The band’s self-titled debut has been released via Spectrum Spools (Editions Mego), and is for sale at Boomkat.






UPCOMING SHOWS:

Saturday, April 14, 2012 – 9pm:
Auditorium
Acme Studio
63 North 3rd Street
Brooklyn, NY

Wednesday, April 25, 2012 – time TBA:
with Gary War, Ancient Ocean & Plexxus Dor
Big Snow Buffalo Lodge
89 Varet Street
Brooklyn, NY

Saturday, April 28, 2012 – 2-10pm:
WBAR-B-Q
Barnard College radio
Free summer concert and barbecue
Lehman Lawn, Barnard College
117th and Broadway
New York, NY

Friday, May 11, 2012 – 8pm:
with SSPS, Keith Fullerton Whitman & Pete Swanson
285 Kent Ave
Brooklyn, NY

Monday April 2: Too many concerts


Mohammed Fairouz. Photo: Samantha West.

It’s one of those evenings when you wish you could be at two New York concert venues at once!

Mohammed Fairouz’s opera, Sumeida’s Song, will be performed at Zankel Hall on 4/2 at 7:30. The work is based on playwright Tawfiq El Hakim’s Song of Death. Presented by the Mimesis Ensemble (conducted by Scott Dunn), the cast features soprano Jo Ellen Miller, mezzo Rachel Calloway, tenor Robert Mack, and baritone Mischa Bouvier. (Ticket info here).

Victoria Bond

Also on Monday at 7:30 PM, Cutting Edge Concerts Festival kicks off its fifteenth season at the Leonard Nimoy Thalia Theater at Symphony Space. Monday nights in April will feature concerts and composers in conversation with the festival’s curator, composer and conductor Victoria Bond (ticket info here).

Jazz pianist Jim McNeely joins the Danjam Orchestra perform two works inspired by Paul Klee paintings. They will also perform the world premiere of a new work by saxophonist Daniel Jamieson. The program also features the premiere of N. Lincoln Hanks’ Monstre Sacre, assayed by pianist Paul Barnes. Finally, tenor Rufus Muller and pianist Jenny Lin perform a work by Bond entitled Leopold Bloom’s Homecoming, based on a portion of James Joyce’s Ulysses.

The program on Monday April 9th includes works by Roberto Sierra, Judith Shatin, and Tania Leon. And Sequenza 21 readers should be sure to mark their calendars for the Cutting Edge show on April 16. Washington DC’s Great Noise Ensemble, led by S21′s own Armando Bayolo, visits the Big Apple to present a program that includes violinist and composer Cornelius Dufallo in a new piece for amplified violin and ensemble.

Cornelius Dufallo

C4 at a Loss for Words

New York-based C4 Ensemble is a choir that specializes in new music. Most of its members are composers or conductors, or both!

On Thursday March 1 and Saturday March 3, the group is performing a program entitled “A Loss for Words: An Evening of New Choral Music on Alternative Texts” (info and tickets here). Since I’m away this weekend at a conference in Dayton, C4 was kind enough to let me sit in on one of their recent rehearsals.

The group’s dynamic is a lesson in exceeding expectations. The member’s take turns leading warmups and rehearsing pieces, allowing for several conductors to direct works on each concert. I was impressed that, despite the occasional oneupmanship that’s inevitable to find when having that many conductors in a room, they do quite a good job of sharing and passing authority from one person to the next. Indeed I’m so glad that C4 is around: They seem to revel in the challenges that other choirs avoid like the plague. One person to a part in polytonal divisi? No problem. Finding your pitch out of nowhere after clouds of clusters? Sure! Singing in three different meters at once? What else you got?

For music without conventional texts, these pieces have a lot to say. The program features guest soloist Toby Twining, performing with the choir in a beautiful piece of his from the late 80s, “Hee oo oom ha,” a multicultural essay featuring Twining’s flexible countertenor scatting, African polyrhythms, and sepulchral shamanic incantations from bass Hayes Biggs. A new piece by Tim Brown juxtaposes spoken word clips from adverts and news headlines that overwhelm a chorus resembling a Sondheim waltz, seeking desperately to blot out the chatter.

“The Blue of Distance,” by Zibuokle Martinaityle, is a beautiful and intricately woven score with many divisi humming lush polychords, set against keening ostinatos. I was quite taken with Martha Sullivan’swork on the program, which features earthy melismas and folk music references.In addition, C4 will be singing John Cage, Huang Ro, Thomas Stumpf, Jaako Mantyjarvi, David Harris, and Karen Siegel. If you’re in town, this promises to be an exciting and varied concert program.

Thursday, March 1, 2012 @ 8pm Church of St Luke in the Fields 487 Hudson Street (south of Christopher St.)
Saturday, March 3, 2012 @ 8pm Tenri Cultural Institute 43A West 13th Street (bet. 5th & 6th Aves)


So Percussion goes Maverick: gets Remixed, Celebrates Cage!




So Percussion recently released remixes of tracks from Amid the Noise, their recording of music by Jason Treuting. You can grab it for free via their Bandcamp site (embed below).

Treuting recently released sheet music for Amid the Noise, which can be purchased at Good Child Music.





This year, a great number of artists and ensembles are celebrating John Cage’s centenary – even Jessye Norman and Meredith Monk are getting in on the act as part of Michael Tilson Thomas’s revival of the American Mavericks series with the San Francisco Symphony. While it will be fascinating to see that some of these “out of the box” Cage performances will be happening, it’s also nice to hear that groups like So Percussion, who have a long track record performing Cage’s music, are celebrating the centenary in style. On 3/26, they are taking part in the American Mavericks series at Carnegie Hall (details here).

The concert will be the culmination of a tour by the group featuring Cage’s Third Construction as the centerpiece of Cage-themed program entitled We Are All Going in Different Directions.

There’s an equally imaginative recorded component So’s feting of the maestro of indeterminacy. On 3/27, Cantaloupe will release So Percussion’s “John Cage Bootleg Series.” The release includes a blank LP (the better with which to perform 4’33″!), a CD sampler, and a card with download codes that will enable listeners to obtain all of the group’s Cage bootlegs online. And the audio artifact lover in me delights in the handsome homemade feel of its handsome packaging. Top to bottom, Cage’s aesthetic is well manifested in So Percussion’s activities this Spring!


We Are All Going in Different Directions: So Percussion Celebrates Cage
Feb 28: Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee (Cage’s Third Construction)

March 2: The Royal Conservatory, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada

March 6 + 7: The McCullough Theatre, University of Texas, Austin

March 10: Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin (Cage’s Third Construction)

March 26: Zankel Hall, Carnegie Hall, NYC

Program

John Cage: Credo in US (1942)

Sō Percussion / Matmos: Needles (w/ Matmos) (2010)

John Cage: Imaginary Landscape #1 (1939)

John Cage: Quartet for Percussion, from She is Asleep (1943)

Cenk Ergün: Use (w/ Cenk Ergün & Beth Meyers) (2009)

Dan Deacon: “Bottles” from Ghostbuster Cook: The Origin of the Riddler (2011)

John Cage: 18’12”, a simultaneous performance of Cage works

-Inlets (Improvisation II) (1977)
-0’00″ (4’33″ No.2) (1962)
-Duet for Cymbal (1960)
-45’ for a speaker (1954)

Jason Trueting: 24 x 24 (w/ special guests) (2011)

John Cage: Third Construction (1941)


2/25 & 2/26: Ne(x)tWorks at Greenwich House

Many of us love to see musical works created to accompany choreography performed with dancers involved. But this weekend finds musicians approaching these pieces from another vantage point. Ne(x)tworks, Greenwich Music House’s ensemble-in-residence, presents “Music Without Dance,”  a festival of works originally written for dance that are abstracted from movement and performed as absolute music.

What’s revealed about these pieces by listening to them while imagining (or even avoiding thinking about) the dances to which they were originally attached? Curation by subtraction: I like it!

Ne(x)tworks Presents the “Music Without Dance” Festival

Saturday, February 25th: 7:30PM concert

Sunday, February 26th: 6:00PM free panel discussion, 7:30PM concert

at Greenwich House Music School

(46 Barrow Street at Bedford, 212-242-4770)

Concert tickets: $15 at door, Students/Seniors $10 (no advance sales)

Event Link

“Music Without Dance” Program:

Saturday, Feb. 25, 7:30PM

Concert program:

Moving Spaces (2002)  by Christian Wolff

Migrations (2008) by Miguel Frasconi

Future Sight (2010) by Shelley Burgon

Relative Calm (1981) by Jon Gibson

Sunday, Feb. 26, 6:00PM

FREE panel discussion on the relationship between music and dance.

With choreographers Yoshiko Chuma, Katherine Beyar, Nai-Ni Chen, Erica Essner,

and composers Joan La Barbara, Miguel Frasconi, John King, Annea Lockwood.

Sunday, Feb. 26, 7:30PM

Concert program:

Stuplimity No. 3 (2007) by Christopher McIntyre

Desert Myths (2006) by Joan La Barbara

Jitterbug (2007) by Annea Lockwood

DELTA (dreamdeepdown) (2002) by John King

Ne(x)tworks is: Joan La Barbara (voice), Shelley Burgon (harp & electronics), Yves Dharamraj (cello), Miguel Frasconi (glass instruments & electronics, Director), Ariana Kim (violin), Christopher McIntyre (trombone), and special guest Jenny Lin (piano). Learn more on the Ne(x)tworks website  www.nextworksmusic.net.

Rouse named NY Phil’s Composer in Residence

Congratulations to Christopher Rouse, who will be the New York Philharmonic’s Composer in Residence in 2012-’13. The orchestra will be reviving his Phantasmata as well as Seeing (with piano soloist Emmanuel Ax). Rouse has also been commissioned to write a new work for Spring 2013. Here is the composer discussing this collaboration with Alan Gilbert, the NY Phil’s Music Director.

Here’s a clip of Gilbert conducting Rouse’s Rapture  (2000).

2/27: A Viola in Red Light New Music’s Life




On February 27 at 8 PM at Symphony Space, Red Light New Music is performing a program that demonstrates the influence of Morton Feldman’s music on 21st century composers. Feldman is represented by The Viola in My Life 1 & 2. The latter group includes Keeril Makan, Ted Hearne, and Scott Wollschleger. If you can make it a bit early, composer and Feldman scholar Nils Vigeland will lead a preconcert talk at 7:20. Check out the preview video below.


Julia Holter: “In the Same Room” (Video)

On March 6th, Julia Holter is having a release party for her new release Ekstasis (out 3/8 on RVNG Intl.) at Le Poisson Rouge (show info here).

Check out the video for lead off track “In the Same Room” below.

Opening the show is Sequenza 21 friend and modern music pianist extraordinaire Sarah Cahill. Sarah’s performing a solo set entitled “The Mystical Tone,” -’exploring the work of composers who were inspired by Theosophy, Rosicrucianism, astrology, and Transcendentalism, among them Scriabin, Dane Rudhyar, Ruth Crawford, Henry Cowell, and Erik Satie.’ Indeed,that’s good curating:  its mystical tone will be an excellent complement to Julia Holter’s otherworldly out pop.