Archive for the “Broadcast” Category

“Classical Discoveries” host Marvin Rosen (WPRB, 103.3 FM, or always streaming online, too) reminds us that he’s got a special added edition of the show Tuesday morning from 5:30 to 8:30 AM EDT. The program will include the Symphony No. 5, “Western Hemisphere” by American composer William Grant Still (1895-1978) , Pipa Concerto by Chinese composer Xiaogang Ye (1955- ), Concierto para violonchelo y orquesta by Mexican/American composer Samuel Zyman and much more.

On Marvin’s regular Wednesday show (same early-bird hours) you’ll hear the American broadcast premiere of From Ancient Times for wind ensemble (2008) by Belgian Composer Jan Van der RoostRiver of Sorrows (2006) by the young American Composer Todd Goodman, and The Phoenix (2002) for voices and chamber ensemble by American Composer Patricia Van Ness. There will also be music by Latvian composer Rihards Dubra, Portuguese composer Joly Braga Santos, and many others.

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Apropos our earlier news about the cutbacks to Marvin Rosen‘s “Classical Discoveries” and “Classical Discoveries goes Avant-Garde” programs on WPRB radio:  I’ve just received the good word from Marvin himself that — due in large part to all your messages of support —the station has decided to keep “Classical Discoveries goes Avant-Garde” in the schedule, each Wednesday from 11AM until 1PM ET. Marvin also writes: “I’ve been asked by the Classical Director to let you all know how WPRB feels. Please see her quote to me below”:

“Please thank your listeners for me and for the whole of WPRB management, for letting us know what they think and for showing support for the programming they love. It’s well-deserved.”

“P.S. – I would like to remind you all that the WPRB Listeners Survey is still on until the end of this month.  This is your opportunity to express your preferences in the programming and give your opinion. I would like to thank Sequenza 21 readers for overwhelming  support.  It is incredible to see the power of the written word. These 2 extra hours for more modern works is exciting news for me and hope for everyone else!” — Marvin Rosen

Go team go! Way to make a difference. (The show resumes next week, and remember that even if you can’t listen through the air you can still catch it anywhere in the world with WPRB’s live internet audio stream.)

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Wasn’t it just a couple weeks ago we were singing praises to WPRB’s Marvin Rosen for his annual all-day, all-modern radio marathon — not to mention how great his year-round advocacy for promoting new and lesser-known music in general was?

So imagine the shock to learn just this week, that WPRB is suddenly cutting Marvin’s regular Wednesday 5:30AM to 11:00 “Classical Discoveries” show to run only from 6:00 to 8:30, and deleting his afternoon “Classical Discoveries Goes Avant-Garde” program altogether!

For more than a decade Marvin has been sharing his wide listening experience and deep enthusiasm with all kinds of listeners; not only in New York, but through internet streaming with fans from Seattle to Singapore to Seville. And with some room in the airspace to be able to range fairly freely, offering up things like guest composers in the studio, and deeper explorations of everything from “Music of Jewish Insipration” to “The Negro Speaks of River – Music for Kwanzaa” to “Spotlight on Women Composers”. His own connections with the classical community are strong; this is the guy after all, that just two days ago spent the morning with composer Derek Bermel, and that afternoon had George Crumb in the studio for an 80th-birthday celebration! To think that a public radio station would trim all that good work connecting living music with its audience to little more than a shadow seems more than misguided.

I know there are a lot of you out there, who at some time or other have encountered something truly wonderful thanks to a regular or even chance listen to Marvin’s show. WPRB is still a public radio station, reliant on your opinions (and your dollars). If you’re one of those many who’ve been on the receiving end of the good that Marvin spreads, maybe make a little effort on his behalf and write directly to the station and make your voice heard: whether to the Program Director ( or to the Station Manager (, let them know how you feel.

In Marvin’s own words from his website:

“I try to prove on every show that there is much beautiful music of our time that deserves to be heard. Composers are working hard today. Their works deserve to be presented to the public. Listeners often tell me that they didn’t know that new music could be so melodious and beautiful. Although I play recent works by well-known composers I emphasize the little-known ones that are recorded on the small record labels. I will periodically invite various composers to be guests on my program. Sometimes a program will have a particular theme as, for example, ‘Music by Turkish Composers’ or ‘Music composed in the 1990s’. ‘Classical Discoveries’ seems to be the answer for all who are just simply tired of the boredom that appears on so much classical radio today. Personally, I feel, that this type of programming may be the answer if classical radio is to survive in the future. Classical music is a great thing. It should not be allowed to go to pot.”

No it shouldn’t Marvin, no it shouldn’t.

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Yes, it’s Proms season again here in the UK/GB (see link for the differences.) The “worlds greatest music festival” kicks off on Friday and I thought I would put together a vaguely ‘contemporary’ programme for those so inclined.

Included are composers who are still alive regardless of ‘style’, and a few 20th century composers I thought relevant (excuse my subjective and rather fuzzy criteria; Stravinsky and Bartók are included for instance, Debussy, Ravel and Shostakovich are not; feel free to berate me in the comments section.)

All the concerts listed will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 and will be archived a week or so later on their website (for seven days only).  Also, the BBC normally broadcasts quite a few live on TV (usually on BBC 2); these will be archived on their ‘iPlayer‘ but unfortunately this is not accessible by those outside the UK (if you are not a native get your British friends to set their VCRs or whatever newfangled device people are using these days).

If you fancy making a personal appearance, most of the concerts will be on at the Royal Albert Hall in London with those from the ‘Proms Chamber Music’ series occurring at Cadogan Hall in Chelsea (listed below with the prefix ‘PCM’, Chelsea is also in London if you didn’t already know.) The festival runs from Friday the 17th of July to Saturday the 12th of September.

If you are visiting from outside the UK this might be a good year given how weak the pound is currently (against the US Dollar and the Euro at least.) To buy tickets and to check availability please visit the Royal Albert Hall’s tickets page.

Rather than list each Prom I thought composers in alphabetical order might be more helpful (taken from this page on the BBC site where you can access the full list, including Debussy, Ravel and Shostakovich et al), please click on the links to each piece to get more information about the specific concert.

A couple I am looking forward to are Prom 63 featuring two Xenakis pieces (Aïs and Nomos Gamma) and Prom 65 featuring Ligetis Atmospheres and Schoenbergs Five Orchestral Pieces (in it’s 100th year) conducted by Jonathan Nott. Also it will interesting to see/hear some of the pieces by younger composers I have never heard anything from before such as Anna Meredith, whose piece Left Light is premiered at Prom 32 and Ben Foskett whose From Trumpet has its first outing at Prom 24.

Anyway, without further ado, here is the list… [EDIT: I’ve now added a link to a Google calendar with the dates and details of all the Proms in the list plus a few more I think, thanks very much to Jamie Bullock for putting it together.]

Read the rest of this entry »

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Michael Gordon‘s huge and hugely wonderful, 50+ minute riff- and throb-fest Trance, composed in 1995, is being dusted off for what promises to be a memorable performance by the ensemble Signal, 7:30pm April 22nd at Le Poisson Rouge.

The fun and games begin at 6:30 pre-concert in the bar, however; Gordon himself, along with Ronen Givony (from Wordless Music and Le Poisson), Signal director Brad Lubman, bandmate/composer Ken Thomson (who also does duty in Gutbucket) and others, will talk about producing and performing new works with emphasis on the whys and whats of a piece after their first presentation. Trance was premiered at Bang on a Can in 1997, and hasn’t been played in New York since. Who owns the problem of presenting new works after their premiere?

Not only that, but S21’s own fearless leader Jerry Bowles will be moderating, and the whole roundtable will be videotaped and YouTubed shortly after for your viewing pleasure. Space in the bar isn’t huge, so come early to catch the conversation or join in.

Last but not least, we’re actively soliciting questions and comments for the panel from you, our loyal readers. Something you want to know or share about the perils of performance, premieres, getting that work into a second or third production… Just pass them along to, and we’ll try and add you to the dialogue.

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One of our English connections (and good S21 pal), Edward Lawes sent along a note reminding us that György Ligeti is BBC3’s Composer of the Week, so be sure to check the schedule for lots of good listening on the menu. Not only that, but This Tuesday (10 March) evening brings us a great allXenakis broadcast on the Beeb’s Performance on 3 program.  That feast includes Tracees, Anastenaria, Sea-Nymphs, Mists, Nuits, Troorkh, and Antikhthon. This stuff is generally archived for a week or so, meaning you can be fashionably late yet still not miss a note.

Ed’s own blog, Complement.Inversion.Etc., is always a good read, which is why it’s now listed over on the right sidebar. Stop by and read up, say hi, have a spot of tea… (or whatever it is they’re drinking over there these days).

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Just imagine the impression you will leave with your guests, as you drop sparkling bon mots on combinatoriality, pitch accumulators, harmelodics, and gradual phase shifting!… If they haven’t fled for the door yet…

I’m really just reminding you that the American Music Center, as part of its absolutely wonderful and essential web-service Counterstream Radio, has the first four podcasts in their “Crash Course” series available. Each gives you a quick, expert-led introduction to some facet of American contemporary music: Matthew Guerrieri on American serialism, Kyle Gann on minimalism, Tom Lopez on acousmatic music, and Lara Pellegrinelli on post-jazz jazz. If you’ve ever had a twinge of curiousity about any of these but just never knew where to start, what better way than to let one of these pros start you down the path?    (photo: Charlie White, “Cocktail Party”)

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clockwise from top left: John Rea, Claude Vivier, Emily Hall, Aaron GervaisMaybe it’s all that cold, dark and ice; stuck inside with nothing else to do for a lot of days must be conducive to composition. At least it feels that way with regard to Canada, since this huge but relatively sparsely-populated space has what seems a disproportionate number of composers that I just love.

And now the Canadian Music Centre has made it awfully easy for YOU to love them as well; at their site you’ll now find a service called CentreStreams, which offers streaming access to the Ann Southam Audio Archive. This comprises a huge number of concert and radio recordings made by the CBC, of Canadian composers A to Zed. Not only that: where else could you find 41 (!) archival recordings of seminal Canadian composer Claude Vivier‘s music — with no less than 6 (!!) different versions of Pulau dewata — all at your computer’s beck and call? They also have a nifty feature that can give you a random paylist by genre (piano, orchestra, vocal, etc.), so your listening experience is never the same twice. Many composers even have the scores of works freely available as PDF files.

You do have to register (free) to get the streams, but it’s quick and painless. CentreStreams is accessible from the CMC homepage, but even easier is heading to the “find a composer” section and browsing the alphabet. Besides the established names there’s also a fair collection of the young guns as well, so you can be right expert on contemporary Canadian music in no time! Personal favorites old and new, that I can pretty well guarantee for excellence, are John Rea, Claude Vivier, Emily Hall, Aaron Gervais (all four pictured above), José Evangelista, R. Murray Schafer, Melissa Hui, John Mark Sherlock, Linda Catlin Smith, Allison Cameron, Rodney Sharman, Monique Jean, Gyula Csapo, Louis Dufort, Gilles Tremblay, John Kosrud, Chiyoko Szlavnics… the list goes on and on. What better way to pass a little of your own closed-in winter days, than discovering some new favorite piece or composer?

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What better way to ring in the year than to take in a couple ensembles, from opposite ends of the spectrum, showing in much the same way what the whole point of playing is?

Wojciech Kilar is a Polish composer from the same 60’s group that gave us Penderecki and Gorecki, but is notable for his detour into film music (Like Coppola’s Dracula). This is his utterly simple/hard 1988 piece Orawa (there are a bunch of other video performances of this on YouTube, but this one with Agnieszka Duczmal conducting the Chamber Orchestra “Amadeus” has them all beat for pacing and enthusiasm. Just ignore that couple-second blast of other music at the start):



For all his jazz-lite leanings, David Sanborn (with Hal Willner’s savvy music coordination) has always had my eternal gratitude for hosting one of the most phenomenal major-network music offerings, NBC’s Night Music, which ran between 1988 and 1990. Not least for this wonderful clip of Sun Ra and the Arkestra taking us all to a higher plane:


Two really different approaches perhaps, but both seem to work some of the same ground and head to the same place in the end. May what we attempt in the coming year get lucky enough to find that place too, at least once or twice…

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The Prom Concert on August 10, given by the BBC Symphony, conducted by Edward Gardner, included two first performances, both of them commissioned by the BBC for this season of the Proms.  These were among the 13 first performances and 7 UK first performances on the Proms this season.

Michael BerkeleyMichael Berkeley’s Slow Dawn is a revision and reorchestration of a work written three years ago for wind band, which had been commissioned by the British conductor and horn player Tim Reynish as a memorial piece for his son William.   Berkeley intended it as a depiction of dawn in Wales where he lives, and follows the deliberate and inexorable tread of the sun from the first hints of light through its early appearance with to its full presence with stabbing rays of daylight.   This sunrise is a long way from Daphnis and Chloe (or, for that matter, from Sibelius’s Night Ride and Sunrise, which preceded this piece on this program).  Here the focus is on the tread of ‘the kind old sun’ (as Berkeley says, quoting Wilfred Owen) in its endless recurrence and its complete disregard for more transient human concerns. Starting with deliberate slow dirge rhythm in the percussion, which recurs periodically over the its course, the tonalish work builds, via lines which are increasingly quicker and more agitated, over a dense, very closely spaced harmonic texture to a violently rhythmic climax; it leaves a dramatic and satisfying impression.

Stuart MacRaeGaudete by Scottish composer Stuart MacRae is an almost half hour long piece for soprano and large orchestra, setting poems from the book of the same name by Ted Hughes.   The piece begins with very arresting ferociously clattering music for the full orchestra which gradually clears to reveal the soprano singing stratospherically high without words.   All of this is very effective and it all lands with something of a thud as soon as attention is turned to words, when the voice part, along with everything else, becomes labored and constricted, in terms of both rhythm and tempo.

This actually seemed to me to set the pattern for the piece, with instrumental music in what might be described as a high modernist style, managed in a very dramatically effective and masterly way, is cut short and undercut by vocal writing which is much less skillful, much less effective, and as a result, tends to come off much more as merely dealing in cliches of that same high modernist style, with endless jagged lines covering enormous registral stretches in jerky rhythms.  At one point, when the text says “He never stops trying to dance, trying to sing,” when the singer launches into long melissmas of a sort of new music yodelling, one could imagine that the idea was to depict the failed effort described by the words, but the music is so much like all the rest of the voice part that it’s not possible to be completely sure whether that might be the composer’s intentions.   It wasn’t clear to me exactly what the subject matter of the Hughes, as represented by the texts used or as discussed at some length in MacRae’s program notes, might be (and further rereading after the fact didn’t make things any clearer).

As the piece progressed I began to wish that MacRae had simply written a completely instrumental piece, somewhat shorter, that evoked whatever it was we were supposed to get out of the texts, and left the words out altogether.   Had he done that, and had that meant leaving out the soprano (as opposed to having a wordless voice part, which could have been very effective), on the other hand, it would have been a loss, since it would have meant not having heard the really wonderful singing of Susanne Andersson, who always sang beautifully, and managed to make practically all the words comprehensible, despite all the obstacles MacRae had put in her path. Read the rest of this entry »

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