Elliott Carter (lower left corner) takes a bow after 92nd Street Y’s 103rd Birthday Tribute Concert to Mr. Carter on December 8, 2011, which ended with the world premiere of his A Sunbeam’s Architecture, conducted by Ryan McAdams and performed by tenor Nicholas Phan and chamber orchestra. (Photo: Cory Weaver)
Elliott Carter is 103. The only composer who lived longer: Leo Ornstein. But Ornstein stopped composing at 97: Carter is still going.
On Thursday evening, in a concert at the 92nd Street Y organized by cellist Fred Sherry, seven works written since Carter’s 100th birthday were given their world or US premieres. Astounding.
We’re giving away two signed CDs of “Music of Elliott Carter: volume 5” (Bridge 9128), and two of String Quartets Nos. 2, 3 and 4 (featuring the Pacifica Quartet; Naxos 8.559363), along with a signed 8×10 photo to accompany each.
Once again, I’ll be selecting the winners via a random drawing. If you’re interested, send me an email at: S21managingeditor@gmail.com. The contest will be open until noon on Thursday.
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Fred, I’m thinking of setting E.E. Cummings for tenor and chamber orchestra… That’s a wonderful idea, it goes along with your other settings of important American poets; which poems will you use? Perhaps some of the early poems having to do with WWI.
Can you play these multi-stops: C, G, C#, G#, E and C, G, E#, D#, B, F#? I’ll try them out when I get home. [Later, on the telephone] Yes, they work. Good, I’m putting them in my new Double Trio.
I’m working on a String Trio, do you think the viola can hold a high F-sharp for almost two bars? What is the tempo? Oh…it is half note = 60. (Knowing it will work, I answer) Let me try it out. Yes, the viola will be able to hold it. Good, that’s the end of the piece!
Then the idea of the 103rd birthday concert for Elliott Carter came about. Last year, for his 102nd birthday, Charlie Neidich and the Camerata Notturna did a beautiful concert which included the Clarinet Concerto, Wind Rose and the slow movement of Carter’s Symphony No. 1. This year, I thought, let’s do all of Carter’s new music, most of which has not been heard in New York or anywhere. This concert is fated to succeed because of the music, and the people: Carol Archer, Nicholas Phan, Virgil Blackwell, Rolf Schulte, Gordon Gottlieb, and many more.
Elliott will be hearing five of his pieces for the first time. THIS IS GOING TO BE AN INCREDIBLE PARTY!
It’s hard to believe, but one of the primary forces that fostered the “Indie Classical” phenomenon of the aughts is celebrating its tenth birthday. The Brassland imprint, which curates artists such as the National, Clogs, Doveman, and Nico Muhly, is celebrating their anniversary by sharing music: a different free download of a song from their catalog every weekday throughout November.
Thanks to the kind folks at Brassland, below we share a stream of tomorrow’s pick: Nico Muhly’s “Skip Town,” a bonus cut from his Mothertongue CD.
Be sure to visit the label’s “song a day” giveaway site or their Facebook page to collect all the goodies (schedule below).
Steve Reich turns 75 today. One of the premiere maestros of minimalism continues to dazzle us with thought-provoking and musically moving creations.
This morning, I introduced some of my undergraduate BA students to Reich, playing excerpts from Piano Phase, Music for 18 Musicians, and Different Trains. Some of them were unfamiliar with his music, but one student piped up,”What about Four Sections? I like that one too!”
If our students, particularly our student musicians, are picking out favorites and learning to perform Reich’s music, that is indeed a promising sign for the future of his works. As a small online musical offering, below are three student performances of Reich. The first is the trailer for Grand Valley State University’s Music for 18 Musicians recording. It was released a couple years ago, but has remained in heavy rotation in these parts! The second is an excerpt of Six Marimbas by students at the University of Kentucky. The third I’ve shared before, but can’t resist posting again: a pianist playing both parts of Piano Phase – at once!
And, just for my morning class, a video of a dance performance of Four Sections.
Daniel Wolf’s appreciation is better than anything I need to muster, so I’ll just say Happy Birthday Alvin Lucier, wonderful milestone, and thanks for some of the most beautifully pure musical and sonic revelations ever conceived.
Update: While I still don’t have much to add, I will point you to this wonderful discovery… In 1972-3, When (now long & well-established) experimental composer/performer Nicolas Collins was a fresh-faced freshman in college, he took Lucier’s Introduction to Electronic Music class. Good student he was, Collins also took copious notes on what Lucier taught them during those two semesters. Collins has gone ahead and scanned this unedited notebook to PDF files, and he shares it on a special page at his website. As Collins writes, “I am no Ned Rorem — this notebook does not reflect a particularly interesting life — but I think it provides a rare window into Lucier’s teaching and the musical culture of the day, both of which are very interesting indeed, and — secondarily — it documents my gradual conversion from student to acolyte.“
Virtually thumbing through this document is definitely worth any composer’s time.
Composer Mario Davidovsky turns 77 today. The International Contemporary Ensemble and soprano Tony Arnold are celebrating his birthday with a Portrait Concert at Miller Theatre tonight at 8 PM (details here). They’ve also recorded a birthday greeting for the composer (video below), adding a bit of angularity and jocular dodecaphony to a more traditional number.
Elliott Carter at Miller Theatre. Credit: Jon Simon
Boulez's 85th celebrated - a bit late - at Miller. Photo: Jon Simon
Elliott Carter turns 102 today! He was at Miller Theatre this past Monday night at the all Pierre Boulez concert put on by the Talea Ensemble. This was the last of many concerts celebrating Boulez’s 85th birthday (which occurred back in March).
The group played the US premiere of the latest version of Dérive 2: a work composed in 1988 to celebrate Carter’s 80th birthday. 22 years later, Boulez, now 85 himself, has expanded the piece to well over double its original length!
Talea Ensemble at Miller. Photo credit: Jon Simon.
As Raymond Bisha wrote on the Naxos Blog, Elliott Carter is planning to spend his 102nd birthday in Toronto, at a concert comprised entirely of works he’s written in the past two years!
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