Archive for the “Bass” Category




Breaking news from Cuernavaca, Mexico–Stefano Scodanibbio has passed away, a tremendous bassist, a fearless improviser, and a gifted composer. Faced with ALS, he decided to spend his last days in Mexico, a country he loved. I haven’t found any reports in English, but for those of you who speak Spanish, here’s the report. Google translation (not too bad) here.

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San Francisco Bay Area composer/performer  Kanoko Nishi wraps up our series of interviews with composers who are premiering new works at the 10th Annual Outsound New Music Summit in San Francisco on Friday, July 22nd.  The Friday night concert, entitled The Art of Composition, starts at 8 pm at the Community Music Center, 544 Capp Street, San Francisco. Tickets are available online from Brown Paper Tickets, and you can also buy them at the door.  Listeners who don’t want to wait that long can get up close and personal with the composers, and learn about their creative process, at a free Monday night panel discussion at 7 pm on July 18th.

Kanoko is classically trained on piano and received a BA in music performance from Mills College in 2006.  Her recent interest has primarily been in performing 20th century and contemporary music on piano and koto, and free improvisation in a variety of contexts. SF Bay Area contrabassist Tony Dryer and guitarist IOIOI, visiting from Italy, will perform Kanoko’s graphic scores as a duo.

S21: How has your classical piano training prepared you – or not prepared you – for improvisation and composition?

I think that one very important element that is particular to musical improvisation as opposed to improvisation in other fields is the role of the musical instruments one performs and interacts with, and classical training for me was just a very deep way of building a relationship with my instruments. What has been helpful is not so much the technique, vocabulary or repertoire, but the time, energy and thoughts spent in the process of acquiring these more concrete skills and knowledge. For me, every improvisation I do is like a battle with the instrument I’m playing, in my case, either the piano or koto, and though I cannot really practice improvising by its definition, it’s only by practicing regularly that I feel I can enrich myself as a person, build my stamina and confidence enough to be a suitable match for my instrument to bring out its full potential. Read the rest of this entry »

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Rova Saxophone QuartetSan Francisco is famous for its innovations, its open minds, and its spirit of protest.  In 2005, according to Rova Saxophone Quartet member Larry Ochs, “our government was committing all sorts of crimes against humanity in all of our names. I wanted to create some art that flew in the face of those acts – but not overtly political because that’s not what we do.”

Rova dreamed up an international collaborative work in honor of the visionary genius of Buckminster Fuller and his “Spaceship Earth” global perspective.  “Good works by people brought together from different countries – if only to point out that it was possible for people to meet for the very first time and in a week of collaboration, create something positive for the spirit, and something that was more than any one of the collaborators could create on his/her own,” Ochs explains.  Berlin-based multimedia artist Lillevan, Swedish-born percussionist Kjell Nordeson, Canadian contrabassist Lisle Ellis, cellist and Kronos Quartet alumna Joan Jeanrenaud, and violinist rock star Carla Kihlstedt make up the international dream team that will join Rova in presenting Fissures, Fixtures: for Buckminster Fuller.

The set of pieces combines live music and digital animation in a continuous feedback loop, with the music influencing the creation of the film in real time, and the film images inspiring the music.  Improvisation, as Larry Ochs declares, will ensure that the piece transcends the individuals involved and becomes more than the sum of its parts.  Rova and friends offer up the piece to honor “someone who over 40 years ago was stating categorically that mankind had to find a way to work together to create a one world-system that benefitted everyone.”

Since both performances will be recorded for future DVD release, this is your chance to immortalize your own applause for contemporary music posterity.  The concert happens twice, on May 22 and 23 in Kanbar Hall at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco located at 3200 California Street.  Tickets are $24.00 general, $21.00 for JCCSF members, and $16.00 for students.  Get them online at www.jccsf.org, and by phone at (415) 292-1233.

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The International Society of Bassists wanted a new concerto for their favorite instrument, and they wanted orchestras to play the work rather than merely filing its name in the list of new works that they might think about some future year.  With help of their members they formed a consortium of 15 orchestras to back the work, enabling each participating orchestra to list themselves as a co-commissioner, giving each a “premiere” (even if merely a local one) at a bargain price.

John Harbison was commissioned to write the concerto, and yesterday the Los Angeles Philharmonic performed his “Concerto for Bass Viol and Orchestra” (2005), performed by our principal of 30-some years, Dennis Trembly.  This is a fairly short concerto; its three movements require a little less than 20 minutes.  Harbison used a slightly reduced orchestra, and in Disney Hall Trembly’s bass was audible throughout the work’s range of pitch and technique.  The work was particularly successful in having the bass become a singer, with several long, lyric melodies.  Less successful was exploration of the top notes.  The work could have used more fire, perhaps, or more emotion to add some force to the pleasant sounds.  The work didn’t have a single consistent musical style, having elements from a wide range of musical history, so it did have color and interest.  It was played as the center work between Janacek’s “Vixen” suite and the Dvorak 7th, and the Harbison worked with its companions.  Salonen is away all month and we’ve had a series of bland concerts with a series of guest conductors, but yesterday’s conductor, Carlos Kalmar, was a pleasant surprise.

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