Concert Announcement: Federal Hill Parlor Series on 1/21

Please join us for the Federal Hill Parlor Series’ January Open House: the enormity of small things.

Featured Performers:
Lydia Beasley, Soprano
Megan Ihnen, Mezzo-Soprano
Joe Kneer, Violin

Jordan Faye Contemporary Gallery
1401 Light St
Federal Hill
Baltimore, USA

Featured Composers:

Josh Bornfield
Doug Buchanan
Christian Carey

Vaughan-Williams ‘Along the Field’
Gustav Holst ’4 Sacred Songs’
David Lang ‘I had no reason’

Tickets available online (recommended) and at the door: $20.00.
Please also take a moment to thank our contributing composers by making a donation to the Composers Fund while purchasing your tickets.

Tickets can be purchased/donations can be made here.

Even if you are not able to make it to this performance, please consider making a donation to the Composers Fund so that the Parlor Series may continue to bring new and important contemporary works to our guests.

Program note for piece by Christian Carey:

I enjoy working with unconventional combinations. I’ve composed a number of pieces in recent years for solo voice and solo string player. The W.B. Yeats poem “He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven” was one of the readings that my wife and I selected for our wedding ceremony. For our first anniversary, I created this setting for vocalist and string instrument. The inscription on the score’s title page reads:

To my wife Kay Mitchell on the occasion of our first Wedding Anniversary (They say the appropriate gift is paper; I took the liberty of adding notes.)

-Christian Carey

Ljova’s Lost in Kino (CD Review)

Lost in Kino
Various Artists
Kapustnik Records CD

Probably most of us have sat through a film where the music seems to clash with the onscreen visuals; one that seems disconnected from the plot and just generally uninspired. Then there are film scores that, even without the movie playing, allow us to ‘see’ the scene; we’re transported. This is the kind of music one finds on Lost in Kino, the third CD release from the versatile Ljova. Violinist, violist, composer, and arranger Lev “Ljova” Zhurbin shares twenty-four musical sequences from film scores he composed in the years 2005-’11. Arranged programmatically to have a light music “A side” and a more serious “B side” (with the “obligatory” happy ending for a final “closing credits” cut), Lost in Kino draws upon many musical styles: all of them adroitly arranged and energetically performed by Ljova and a host of collaborators.

Ljova’s experience performing Eastern European folk music looms large. Romashka, a band devoted to the performance of Gypsy music, appears on a dozen of the CD’s selections and master cymbalomist Kalman Balogh provides a memorable guest turn on the track “Satul Dintre Noi.” Other styles represented include a country-inflected piece titled “Old Men,” with flourishes from banjo player Mike Savino, as well as a downright bluegrass hootenanny on “Pickle Porker Polka,” courtesy of Ljova fiddling alongside the alt-country band Tall Tall Trees. Asian music adorns the track “Doctor Wrong,” with guest appearances by my favorite pipa player, Wu Man, and shakuhachi player Kojir Umezaki. “The End (Baby you Got to Get Up)” is a rousing way to close the proceedings, featuring boisterous singing from Sarah Natochenny and a chamber orchestra sized cohort of musicians.

Forget those film scores supplied by racks of sythesizers. Ljova has got the right idea: capture the scene using live musicians as actors in sound. As the principal performer and as a composer/arranger, he shines on Lost in Kino. Recommended.

Guest post: Clarice Jensen and Nadia Sirota

Clarice Jensen and Nadia Sirota

Clarice: So, ahem, Nadia it was pretty remarkable when we switched from reading from the score to parts when we were working on Hayes’ piece (ed.: Steal Away by Hayes Biggs). It’s like the music took on a different meaning.

Nadia: I know!! I find that stuff so incredible. Sometimes I forget that a massive portion of our jobs as musicians (especially of the new music persuasion) is essentially translating visual material into sound. We’re kind of like professional map-readers. Do you have any notational pet peeves?

Clarice: Page turns of course… But other than that, just spacing in general. If notes look all bunched up, then it’s hard not to make them sound that way! What about you?

Nadia: My super-dork pet peeve is spelling; I hate it when chords are spelled out in ways that have little regard for traditional chord structures. It’s sometimes really hard to wrap your brain around a whole bunch of sharps and flats living together all higgledy-piggledy without regard for implied harmony. I know I know: super-dork. That having been said, I kind of love how notation is a kind of personal, no two alike sort of thing. It gives the performer so much insight as to how the composer may be thinking. Oh! And I can get kinda frustrated with things that are notated with very small durations (64th and 128th notes) which are then in a super-slow tempo. I understand a kind of freneticism may be what the composer is going for, but it just seems to add so much time to the rehearsal/parsing process.

Clarice: Totally agree on that one. Pretty amazing how this abstract system of symbols and lines and dots can be subject to so much scrutiny and discussion regarding interpretation. And how dots and lines paired with scrutiny and discussion results in beautiful music! Amazing!

Nadia: Yay! So, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the type of music and programming that translates well live vs. that which is great to listen to on the radio or on a recording. There are so many types of gestures which are fascinating to watch people achieve, which cannot be really understood in a recording. Like even a pregnant pause, for example.

Clarice: For sure – the physicality of achieving a musical gesture just can’t be heard in a recording, and sometimes seeing that gesture is what makes the music translate to the audience. However, would you say that there is any music that makes more sense recorded rather than live? What about music in the rock/pop world?

Nadia: Oh decidedly. Stylistically that’s an idea Classical peeps kind of “borrowed” from the pop world to begin with, even going so far back as Musique Concrète territory. Like, think about how many times we’ve heard the exact same performance of a song like “Louie Louie.” That performance IS the work itself. Everything else is a “cover.” This can seem like a weird, alien counterpart to the Classical model (like, do I only do covers???), but yeah, there’s a lot more of that type of thinking these days, from things like John Adams Light Over Water to Nico Muhly’s The Only Tune, a piece I’ve performed a lot. When that piece was conceived it was as a recorded collage. When we play it, we are trying our damnedest to approximate the recording. It’s sort of the opposite type of problem from what we were talking about above, the “why does this music lack the visceral impact it had live on this record” type of problem.

Well, I’m super into the diversity of voices on this program. I get to wear a lot of different hats! (Jagged hat, lyrical hat.)

Clarice: Yes, I think the variety of pieces we ended up with is pretty emblematic of the wide range of excellent writing and composition that’s happening now. And as a performer, it really is rewarding to wear all of these hats! I mean, I’ve always considered lyrical playing to be a personal strength of mine, but over the years I’ve worked so hard on rhythmic accuracy through playing intricate music, and now I consider that to be a strength as well. It’s amazing how all of this diverse writing is in fact shaping the performers who are often playing music in the contemporary world. Do you think your focus on new music has changed you intrinsically as a performer?

Nadia: Oh, totally. Whenever you work on some weird skill, it changes the kind of mental space in which you think about everything else, really. The rhythmic idea you bring up is super apropos; I also kind of came from a lyrical place as a kind of a default, but the more I work on concepts of groove and flow, the more these ideas end up creeping their way into even the most lyrical stuff. Knowing more things as time goes on rules.

Well, lovely to chat with you, C, I can’t wait for the show!!

Clarice: Yep yep, it’s gonna be a good one!


Tickets to the Sequenza 21 Concert are free (the venue charges a $12 food/drink minimum).

October 25 at 7 PM

Joe’s Pub in NYC

Tickets and Tables are still available by phone.

Call 212.539.8778 to make your reservation

Viola & is tonight!

Wendy performs Scelsi!

The Forge Festival presents

Wendy Richman: Viola &

with Levy Lorenzo, sound engineer

Monday, January 24, 2011, 8 p.m.

Tickets: $10

The Bushwick Starr, Brooklyn, NY (207 Starr Street; 1 block south of the Jefferson St. station on the L subway line)


*Cricket-Viol for singing violist                                             Arlene Sierra
Pronaos for viola and electronics                                            Hillary Zipper
Manto III for singing violist                                                    Giacinto Scelsi
*He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven for singing violist                                 Christian Carey


Vent Nocturne for viola and electronics                                     Kaija Saariaho
*Scelsi Frammenti for singing violist                                                     Lou Bunk
Birches for viola and pre-recorded tracks                                      Kevin Ernste
*world premiere

Wendy Richman has received praise for her “absorbing,” “fresh and idiomatic” interpretations with a “brawny vitality” (The New York Times, The Washington Post). Upon hearing her interpretation of Berio’s Sequenza VI, The Baltimore Sun commented that she made “something at once dramatic and poetic out of the aggressive tremolo-like motif of the piece.” Wendy’s notable solo and chamber music appearances include the international festivals of Edinburgh, Hong Kong, and Helsinki, New York City’s Lincoln Center and Mostly Mozart Festivals, Berlin’s MaerzMusik Festival of Contemporary Music, Darmstadt International New Music Festival, the American Academy in Rome, the Gewandhaus in Leipzig, and Boston’s Jordan Hall. She has recorded for Albany, BMOP/sound, Mode, Naxos, New Focus, New World, Tzadik, and more.

A graduate of Oberlin Conservatory and New England Conservatory, Wendy studied viola with Sara Harmelink, Peter Slowik, Jeffrey Irvine, Carol Rodland, and Kim Kashkashian, and voice with Mary Galbraith and Marlene Rosen. She is based in Ithaca, NY, where she performs and teaches privately at Cornell University. She is a member of the viola section of the Syracuse Symphony and is a founding member of the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), a collective of young musicians dedicated to reshaping the way music is heard and experienced in the United States and around the world.

Vox/Viola combines Wendy’s past vocal training and current viola career. The project involves commissions of over 20 young composers, who will write pieces for simultaneous singing and playing. Upcoming concerts include Oberlin Conservatory and Strathmore Mansion in Washington, D.C.

Levy Lorenzo is a percussionist and electronics engineer based in New York. He performs contemporary music in solo and chamber settings across the U.S. and Europe. As an engineer, he currently designs new electronic musical instruments intended for live performance. His electronics design work has been featured at the 2007 Geneva Auto Show and BBCEcuador. Levy has worked professionally as a firmware engineer and holds B.S. and M.Eng. degrees in Electrical & Computer Engineering from Cornell University. He also earned a M.M. degree from SUNY Stony Brook, where he is a D.M.A. candidate, studying percussion Eduardo Leandro and electronic music with Margaret Schedel. You can see and hear Levy’s work at

To learn more about tonight’s composers, please visit the following websites:

Lou Bunk:

Christian Carey:

Kevin Ernste:

Kaija Saariaho:

Giacinto Scelsi:

Arlene Sierra:

Hillary Zipper:


The Forge:

Time Out NY makes Viola & a “Critic’s Pick”

I was so pleased to see that Wendy Richman’s upcoming “Viola &” recital (1/24 at 8 PM at the Bushwick Starr in Brooklyn) got a very nice mention in this week’s issue of  Time Out NY. The program includes premieres by Arlene Sierra, Lou Bunk, and yours truly, and features works both for singing violist and viola plus electronics. Thanks very much to Steve Smith for listing the show.

Thanks too to Armando Bayolo for taking the time, amidst packing and preparing for a big trip to Europe, to interview Wendy on the Sequenza 21 homepage. And ICE for plugging the show too.

This Friday, also at the Bushwick Starr, is the opening of Gilgamesh Variations. The play is an adaptation by eleven playwrights of the stone tablets depicting the ancient Mesopotamian tale the Epic of Gilgamesh. I’ve contributed the incidental music: a score featuring electronics, prepared piano, percussion, and singing.

The show runs for two weeks – you can grab tickets here.

Wendy Richman plays Forge Festival on 1/24

Wendy Richman. Photo: Chad Evans Wyatt

Time: Monday, January 24, 2011 8pm | Cost: $10
Location: The Bushwick Starr, 207 Starr Street, Brooklyn, NY 11237
Info Line: 201-875-8573

Violist Wendy Richman will present “Viola &,” a program one-woman duos for viola & electronics and singing violist. The concert is the first installment of Ms. Richman’s “vox/viola” commissioning project and will feature premieres of works by Christian Carey, Arlene Sierra, and David Smooke. A founding member of the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), Ms. Richman has been praised around the world for her interpretations of new music. She lives near Ithaca, New York and has a large studio of private students at Cornell University. Ms. Richman is a member of the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra.

*Lou Bunk: Scelsi Frammenti
*Christian Carey: He Wishes for Cloths of Heaven
Kevin Ernste: Birches
*José-Luis Hurtado: Palabras en alto
*Everette Minchew: Gakka
Kaija Saariaho: Vent Nocturne
Giacinto Scelsi: Manto III
*Arlene Sierra: Cricket-Viol
*David Smooke: Extraordinary Rendition
Hillary Zipper: Pronaos

*world premiere

Another kind of minimalism

Luc Ferrari

Didascalies 2

Sub Rosa LP

Obsessive, unpublished, etched in vinyl

Composer Luc Ferrari passed away in 2005. One of his last – unpublished – works, Didascalies 2 for two pianos and viola was premiered posthumously in 2008. This Sub Rosa LP includes both the dress rehearsal and premiere performance by pianists Jean-Philippe Collard-Neven & Claude Berset, and violist Vincent Royer.

Didascalies 2 is a fascinating piece in that it combines the repeated notes and ostinato passages of minimalism with passages of spiky dissonance and, towards its climax, an obsessively sustained, loud held note (courtesy of the viola). Ferrari’s use of repetition here presents at first like process music. But the angst of overlaid crunches and sudden blurs of chromaticism destabilizes any sense of the pattern being supported in the musical texture. Rather, it serves as a pugnacious and unrepentant irritant; an obsessive, nagging worry that won’t go away.

Eventually, when repeated notes give way to sustain in the piece’s last section, one hears a further level of defiant insistence. While one can trace affinities between this and the works of Louis Andriessen and Charlemagne Palestine, Didascalies 2 is a riveting message sent from beyond. Ferrari hasn’t gone gently into the night, and for that we should be abundantly grateful.