Steve Reich’s latest Nonesuch CD recently arrived, sans artwork in a little cardboard case. The disc features Double Sextet and 2×5, his collaborations with Eighth Blackbird and Bang on a Can. The former piece won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize in Music. The latter is his most explicit use of rock instrumentation to date.
According to the Nonesuch site, it’s still in the “pre-order” phase of activities, so we’ll be good and hold off on a proper review ’til it’s closer to the actual release date (9/14).
Suffice it to say, if you’re a regular visitor to Sequenza 21, you’re likely going to want one, possibly three, copies of this recording. An intergenerational summit – minimalist elder statesman meets post-minimal/totalist ace performers – that, in terms of importance, is more or less the Downtown version of Duke Ellington and John Coltrane.
Our friends at Chamber Music America would like you to know that the deadline for their Classical Commissioning Program deadline is fast approaching. Applications must be received no later than Friday, April 9, 2010, 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time.
CMA is offering support to U.S.-based classical/contemporary ensembles, presenters and festivals for commissioning American composers to create new chamber works. The program provides funding for the composer’s fee, the ensemble’s rehearsal honorarium, and copying costs.
For these purposes, chamber music is defined as music for small ensembles (2–10 musicians) whose members perform one to a part, generally without a conductor. Compositions may represent a diverse musical spectrum, including contemporary art music, world music, and works that include electronics.
New works created through this program must be performed a minimum of three times in the U.S.
Guidelines and application forms, in MS Word and Adobe formats, can be downloaded and printed from the CMA website. (Applications must be submitted in hard copy.)
Musical America is honoring Louis Andriessen as their 2010 Composer of the Year. Seems a fitting tribute in his seventieth birthday year.
That said, there’s been much activity in the contemporary classical arena in 2009. Who would the Sequenza 21 community like to see getting lauded for their achievements? The comments section is open for nominations.
It’s hard enough delivering an orchestra commission when you’re hale and hearty; but despite losing most of his vision during the course of its lengthy gestation (2001-06) York Höller managed to complete his work Sphären. His efforts amidst considerable adversity have garnered him the 2010 Grawemeyer Award.
Although now almost completely blind, Höller continues to compose. Abetted by assistants, samplers, and a new software called Jaws, he is soldiering on. One hopes that the Grawemeyer’s $200,000 prize will assist in this endeavor.
So, composers, next time you’re planning to tell your commissioner why the piece isn’t done, you’ll need a pretty good excuse: Höller has upped the ante!
Bit of a streak for American composers: this time last year we were congratulating Huck Hodge for winning the Netherland’s Gaudeamus Composition Prize. Now it’s Ted Hearne‘s turn, for his Katrina Ballads. From the press release:
This prize is € 4,550 and is meant for writing a new composition to be performed in the Gaudeamus Music Week 2010.
The Gaudeamus Prize and the honorable mention were awarded by jury members Huba de Graaff (Netherlands), Anne La Berge (Netherlands), and Akira Nishimura (Japan). For this year’s International Gaudeamus Music Week, which was open to composers under 31, the Gaudeamus Foundation received almost 400 scores from all over the world; the jury subsequently selected fifteen works to compete for the Gaudeamus Prize 2009.
Ted Hearne received the prize for a selection from Katrina Ballads, performed on September 10, 2009 at the Conservatory of Amsterdam by `the ereprijs with Wim Boerman conducting. Hearne himself was vocal soloist in this piece.
Hearne’s own website (linked above) has audio of some of the Ballads and a number of other works. We talked about these pieces here at s21, back in September last year; good to see this recognition as well.
This year’s honorable mention went to young Japanese composer/performer Toru Nakatani, who sounds like he’s persuing some interesting work:
In 1996 Nakatani built a microtonal guitar with movable frets. Two years later he began to play with rock groups, jazz orchestras and improvisation groups. He subsequently went to both northern and southern India and Sri Lanka in 2000 and during his stay in New Delhi studied dilruba, a classical bowed Indian instrument. He has built original instruments such as a 19-stringed guitar with jawari, an instrument consisting of resonating strings only, and a guitar based on just intonation. He has had solo performances with these instruments since 2001. In 2008 his piece (16_1/32_1) was awarded the third prize at the Toru Takemitsu Composition competition.
Nakatani’s website is more placeholder than anything else; still a name to watch for in the coming years.
Congratulations to PAULINE OLIVEROS. Columbia University announced today that she is the recipient of the 2009 William Schuman Award: a $50,000 prize which recognizes “the lifetime achievement of an American composer whose works have been widely performed and generally acknowledged to be of lasting significance.” The previous award-winner was John Zorn in 2006.
Columbia will celebrate Oliveros with a concert and reception at 8 PM on March 27, 2010 at Miller Theatre.
A couple quick bits passed along by S21 compadres:
Ed Lawes wants to remind every classical afficionado to take a gander at the Gramophone’s online archive. Literally every issue of the magazine is there, from 1923 (!) until today. If that doesn’t count as a fabulous resource, I don’t know what does.
And our favorite crusty uncle, Seth Gordon, has word on a new-music Oscar tie-in that you may not be aware of: Yeah, yeah, we all know that the best score is headed to one of the semi-usual suspects: Alexandre Desplat,James Newton Howard, Danny Elfman, A.R. Rahman, Thomas Newman… But the producer of Werner Herzog’s Encounters at the End of the World is none other than one of the deans of modern experimental guitar, Henry Kaiser. Poke around his site and you’ll see that Henry has had a life that could qualify for an Oscar on its own. Here’s hoping…
Hahn. Hilary Hahn. The violin superstar is about to premiere a new work by Jennifer Higdon tomorrow (Friday) night, attend the Grammy Awards this Sunday with two chances to win for Best Classical Album and Best Instrumental Performance with Orchestra, and then go on a recital tour playing Ives and Ysaye. She took out a few minutes to talk about the new piece and about the Grammys. Part 1 (having a piece tailor made for her) Part 2 (attending the Grammy Awards)
She has also just updated her YouTube Channel with Schoenberg’s grandson Randy:
She mentioned that she’ll interview Higdon on her website, will perform at the Grammy Awards preshow and can be seen online, and if you haven’t seen it, her violin case twitters!
He’s been on my list for a while now, to make famous (ha ha) as an S21 “click pick”. But before I get the chance to feature him, Huck Hodge goes and wins this year’s Gaudeamus Prize:
At the final concert of the International Gaudeamus Music Week 2008, which took place in Amsterdam from 1 to 7 September, the Gaudeamus Prize was awarded to the American composer Huck Hodge (1977).
The Gaudeamus Prize, an award of 4,550 Euros, is intended as a commission for a new work to be performed at the next edition of the International Gaudeamus Music Week. Hodge received the prize for Parallaxes, a composition for ensemble, performed on September 3 at the “Muziekgebouw aan ’t Y” by the Asko|Schönberg Ensemble conducted by Bas Wiegers.
His site will fill you in on his work, with plenty of good listening. From his C.V. it looks like he’s taking a post up in my old hometown of Seattle, teaching composition at the University of Washington. Bully for them, and bravo to Huck.