Heads-up, listeners! WPRB‘s Classical Discoveries host Marvin Rosen has a couple nice treats through the day this Wednesday:
Wednesday, July 14, 2010 at 11:00am (EDT) Classical Discoveries Goes Avant-Garde will present the world premiere broadcast of Morton Feldman‘s 21-minute ‘lost work’ Dance Suite [For Merle Marsicano] (1963), recorded by Glenn Freeman, percussion and Debora Petrina, piano-celeste. This is ahead of its September limited-edition release on OgreOgress Records. Originally composed for the dancer and choreographer Merle Marsicano, it was the longest work Feldman had composed to date and provides insight into his upcoming 1964 solo percussion work The King of Denmark. This very unique and haunting sound world, created with various keyboards, mallet instruments and exotic percussion instruments, can later be heard in several of Feldman’s epic length works of the late 1970s and 1980s.
Then from 12:00pm till 2:00pm (EDT), world-renowned Israeli cellist and new-music champion Maya Beiser — whose latest and most excellent CD release Provenanceis riding high in the charts – will join Marvin live in the WPRB Studio to chat and perform.
As always, NYC’ers can tune in directly to WPRB at 103.3 FM on the dial; everyone else can head to the WPRB website and click the “Listen Now” link on the left side of the page.
I’m still reveling in the memory of So Percussion’s appearance with the Orchestra of the League of Composers last week. And here’s a new recording of music of another sort altogether!
So’s latest collaboration is with Baltimore electronica duo and frequent Björkcollaborators Matmos. On Treasure State, a recording for the Cantaloupeimprint, they create a patchwork quilt of found object percussion, glitchtronica beats, synthetic signatures, and complex rhythmic structures. Despite the multifaceted nature of the proceedings, the underlying groove remains eminently danceable.
Here’s a taste of their work: a YouTube clip from their recent show at Le Poisson Rouge.
Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela; Gustavo Dudamel, conductor
Deutsche Grammophon CD
True, Stravinsky’s Sacre du Printemps is a watershed work. It serves as many a classical listener’s jumping off point when first exploring Twentieth Century repertoire. But can a work, no matter how seminal, have too many recordings? Can it get programmed so often on concerts that it loses its zing?
I have several recordings of the piece myself, but I’d begun to wonder in the past couple years whether the Rite was in danger of being overexposed. And I’m not the only one…
Enter young conductor Gustavo Dudamel and his even younger colleagues from the Simon Bolivar Youth Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela. Their version of the Rite is viscerally powerful, rhythmically muscular, and impressively wide in its dynamic range. After getting a bit burnt out by the piece and its attendant folklore, I’m refreshed by hearing Dudamel’s rendition.
In a clever programming touch, the Stravinsky is paired with Silvestre Revueltas’ La Noche de los Mayas. Originally a 1939 film score, a concert suite of the work was only fashioned some two decades after Revueltas’ death. Latin dance signatures and melodic inflections are offset by virtuosic percussion writing, including some cadenzas that help to make evident the musical kinship between Rite of Spring and La Noche de los Mayas.
The sociocultural resonances are obvious as well. It might seem gruesome to pair works based on their common interest in human sacrifice, but Rite restores the vitality and bite of early modernism’s interest in still-earlier primitivism.
[Ed. -- After many years in NYC but fresh to my own stomping ground of Houston, Chris Becker has offered to write some semi-regular musings on the new-music scene down thisaway. His own introduction:
In its March 2010 Global Ear column, The Wire magazine described Houston as “the weirdest and wildest of (Texas) cities” with a “rich tradition of unofficial and DIY art.” Speaking as a recent transplant from New York City (where I lived for twelve years), I can confirm that our British friends were on point with their analysis of H-Town. I am in my third month as a native, and only just beginning to take in the breadth and variety of Houston’s cultural scene– especially its music. Although I’m also enjoying the city’s classical music (Houston Grand Opera, Mercury Baroque) each dispatch I bring to you from Houston will focus on contemporary composition, improvised idioms, and works that integrate theatre, the visual arts, and/or dance. Inevitably, my love for rock, folk, blues, country, zydeco, and all out noise (Red Krayola, anyone?) will creep into future writing, the overall goal being to expand peoples’ perception (including my own) of where one can find innovative forward-thinking music.]
2009-2010 marks the sixth year that Houston’s contemporary ensemble and presenting organization Musiqa has presented its “loft” concert series at the Contemporary Arts Museum of Houston. Each concert program is produced in conjunction with and inspired by a different exhibition. In May, CAMH debuted the show Hand + Made featuring works that blur the lines between craft (crochet, pottery, glass blowing) and performance. As a composer who has collaborated with clay and crochet artists (often in combination with dancers and improvising musicians), I dug the curatorial concept immediately and looked forward to hearing what pieces the composer founded and led Musiqa would choose for Hand + Made’s corresponding May 20th concert.
The concert took place at CAMH with the musicians surrounded by the artwork on display – including several elaborately designed and decorated “sound suits” by artist Nick Cave (a former dancer with Alvin Ailey’s troupe, not the singer with the Bad Seeds). I was happy to see people of all ages and filled CAMH’s space for this concert, using up all of the available benches and much of the floor space.
The program – performed by three percussionists (Craig Hauschildt, Alec Warren, and Blake Wilkins) included Clapping Music by Steve Reich, Panneaux en acier by Marcus Maroney (a beautiful and relatively new work for percussion soloist on various metals), Vinko Globokar’s primal piece of solo performance art Corporal (bravely and convincingly realized by a half naked Craig Hauschildt who was required to – among other actions – slap and strike parts of his body), and Ohko for three djembes by Iannis Xenakis. The performances were incredible, blurring the lines between what was composed, what was improvised, and where “music” as one might define it begins and ends. Musiqua’s program illuminated the creative interzone that is “in-between categories” where many of Hand + Made’s artists (and many Houstonians) reside.
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Artist and performer Yet Torres is responsible for the handmade design and packaging of the new double CD Screwed Anthologies: improvised music under the influence of DJ Screw featuring David Dove (trombone) and Lucas Gorham (guitar, lap steel). David and Lucas celebrated this CD release Sunday May 30th at Resonant Interval – a concert series (“Sideways Shows For A Straight Laced City”) that features Houston’s experimental, electronic and improvising artists. David is the director of Nameless Sound, a presenting organization that, in addition to bringing experimental musicians from around the world to Houston, offers music instruction to young people in the public schools, community centers, and homeless shelters. Screwed Anthologies is a “disjointed exhibition” initially conceived at Labotanica (an experimental laboratory for art and performance located in the historic Third Ward) featuring music and mixed media performances inspired by the “screwed and chopped” music of the formidable DJ Screw. The venue for the Resonant Interval performance was an empty storefront located a few doors away from a cool wine and beer bar with its own show on its walls of lovely and haunting photographs of New Orleans. Once again, the space was filled with people ready to take in the music.
Throughout David and Lucas’ set, excerpts of DJ Screw’s music were cued and superimposed over the sometimes (but not always) heavily processed sound of David’s trombone and Lucas’ lap steel and guitar. “Under the influence…” is the tag to this project, but legacy or homage did not seem to drive the actual improvising in performance (although both David and Lucas created sounds that harkened to the slow tempos, shifted pitches and soulful timbres of DJ Screw’s mixes). The disparate qualities of each sound (including the stray transmissions of DJ Screw) hung in the air like parts of a mobile (or a collection of Duchamp ready-mades) creating an experience where one seemed to hear each component to the music as an individual entity sitting in its own time and space, even as the music unfolded in the context of a duo (trio?) improvisation. The influence of Houston-born Pauline Oliveros was apparent, along with the sounds of Houston’s birds, traffic, and weather. I am excited to hear (via bootlegging or perhaps another CD-R or two…) how this music develops on the road. David and Lucas are currently touring Screwed Anthologies throughout the South and East Coast. You can get the tour dates here.
I don’t normally quote press releases wholesale, but I don’t know what I could better in my own account (though be sure to read the last paragraph for some extra sweet deals). So…
On Thursday, May 20th,Metropolis Ensemble will present Home Stretch, in two performances featuring the compositions of composer/pianist Timothy Andres presented alongside two composers who have inspired his unique style: Wolfgang Mozart, and the father of ambient music, Brian Eno. Also featured will be the New York Premiere of Anna Clyne’s elegiac work for string orchestra, Within Her Arms. In keeping with Metropolis Ensemble’s mission to re-imagine the concert experience, each audience member will be handed a chair as they enter the Angel Orensanz Center and will be allowed to seat themselves where they like, giving them the opportunity to control their concert experience and to create a more social and interactive environment.
Andres‘ piano concerto, Home Stretch, was written as a companion piece to Mozart’s K. 465. He explains that, “My last attempt at a piano concerto was when I was 15, and since then, I’ve mostly lost interest in the typical “virtuosity for its own sake” soloist versus orchestra dynamic of the genre. Luckily, the Mozart-sized forces led me to approach Home Stretch as chamber music, allowing for more subtle gestures and interplay between musicians.”
For the concert Andrew Cyr, Metropolis Ensemble’s Artistic Director/Conductor, asked Andres to write music to pair with Home Stretch, which led to Brian Eno: Paraphrase on themes of Brian Eno. Andres remarks that, “I immediately thought of the spacious, static opening section of Home Stretch and the huge debt it owes to Eno’s harmonies and timbres. The result is a 19th-century style “orchestral paraphrase” on the subject of Eno’s music, focusing on the albums Before and After Science and Another Green World, with some Apollo by means of an introduction.
Much of the solo part of, Piano Concerto No. 26 “Coronation”, one of Mozart’s most popular concertos, was left unfinished by the composer. Inspired by the conception of music as a living art form, Metropolis Ensemble has commissioned Andres to compose new music for the left hand part as well as an entirely new solo cadenza to be performed on the evening concert by Andres.
Anna Clyne‘s Within Her Arms was a 2009 commission from Esa-Pekka Salonen as part of the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Green Umbrella series. Metropolis Ensemble presents the New York Premiere of this work for string orchestra. Within Her Arms, dedicated to Clyne’s mother, brings to mind the English Renaissance masterpieces of Thomas Tallis and John Dowland.
Also, only on the afternoon concert’s bill, Andrew Norman‘s work for eight virtuoso violins, Gran Turismo. Norman writes: “Rewind my life a bit and you might find a particular week in 2003. I was researching the art of italian Futurist Giacomo Balla for a term paper, watching my roommates play a car racing video game called Gran Turismo, and thinking about the legacy of Baroque string virtuosity as a point of departure for my next project. It didn’t take long before I felt the resonances between these different activities, and it was out of their unexpected convergence that this piece was born.”
Remember now, we’re talking two concerts, both on Thursday, May 20: at 1pm, Trinity Wall Street (79 Broadway), and again at 8pm at the Angel Orensanz Center (172 Norfolk Street). The afternoon gig is FREE, but click here for an RSVP or tickets to the evening gig. And that’s not all, folks: “This project has been in the works for two years and coincides with the Nonesuch release of Andres’ new CD Shy & Mighty. We will be running a promotion at Timo’s CD launch event at Le Poisson Rouge on Monday, May 17. Anyone who buys a ticket for the Thursday night concert at the event on Monday will receive a free copy of Shy and Mighty. We would also like to extend a special offer to readers of Sequenza21: we would like to offer 2 for 1 general seating tickets with the code sequenza21“.
For those who think that DG’s days of deluxe packaging are over, one only need check out one of today’s releases, Osvaldo Golijov’s La Pasión segun San Marcos to realize that, given the right project, the imprint is up for going all out. The box includes the debut 2xCD studio recording of a revised edition of the work alongside a handsomely filmed semi-staged version on DVD. (A trailer for the film is below).
Premiered in 2000 (a live recording was released by Haenssler), La Pasión is an ebulliently eclectic composition. Golijov blends a number of styles: Latin American, Afro-Cuban, and postmodern contemporary classical. Catholic iconography, liturgical dance, and Yoruba rituals all play a role in the work’s visual and aural melange.
Besides helping out here at S21, composer Chris Becker has been racking up some excellent interviews at his own blog. One I wanted to share with you is his recent chat with brilliant, hard-to-classify musician Lawrence Sieberth. For the full interview just head to Chris’s blog (where you’ll also find a link to buy the Arkipelago CD, and a list of upcoming Sieberth concerts), but here’s the introduction and a sample:
After moving from New Orleans to New York City, I managed to stay connected to keyboardist/composer Lawrence Sieberth thanks to the Internet and email, keeping him posted on my music activities. My first memory of Larry is hearing him on piano performing his 1995 tribute concert Booker and Black at the Contemporary Arts Center which celebrated the music of New Orleans musicians pianist James Booker and drummer James Black with projected visuals by artist Jon Graubarth (Jon created the artwork for my CD Saints & Devils). More recently, Larry emailed to say he thought I might dig his latest CD Arkipelago and could hear the whole thing streaming on his website www.musikbloc.com. I downloaded the mp3 version, eventually got a copy the CD, and for several weeks listened to Arkipelago at least once a day. I just couldn’t get enough of the music and the production which reminded me of Peter Gabriel’s So, Jon Hassell’s City: Works of Fiction, and other recordings that artfully combine (to quote writer musician Michael Veal): “…the traditional conception of “note-based” music and the potentials of sound recording as an aesthetic medium on its own terms.” Larry is firmly grounded in the piano playing traditions of New Orleans. And Arkipelago will surprise some fans of that music and expand their perception of what “New Orleans” music is and has the potential to be.
Chris Becker: Your CD Arkipelago combines synth programming, extended through-composed compositions that include sudden unexpected breaks and rhythmic changes, and real-time “in the moment” improvisation. The title track (featuring Joo Kraus on trumpet) and the track ‘Le Serpente Volant’ (featuring Ed Peterson on saxophone) are two examples of what I’m describing. Can you talk about how you recorded those two particular tracks? Did you provide any specific instructions to Joo or Ed before tracking their performances? Or was that not necessary given your familiarity with their each musician’s approach to improvising?
Lawrence Sieberth: If I can backtrack a bit it will help help explain the way this project materialized. Over the last couple of decades I’ve been part of ‘free’ improvisational collaborations with other musicians, dancers and visual artists – the driving force of these performances has sometimes been spontaneous, a response to visual imagery or prerecorded tracks. There is a range as to what the word ‘improvisation’ implies – playing ‘changes’, manipulating the form, responding to the moment, etc. are all ways of perceiving the options inherent in improvisational music – all idioms and musical combinations of personalities have a built in set of expectations, manifest as compositions, styles, forms, tonal centers, etc. even when it is not predetermined. When the musician is faced with the option to create something new without preconceptions the creative mind is opened, allowed to connect with a communal state of being as opposed to reaching into the bag of tricks that our intellect builds – not to throw away that bag of tricks but to transcend it – for me, these situations have been some of the most joyful musical experiences of my career. This is not to say that I haven’t enjoyed arranging and composing in the traditional sense. I like the balance between the two extremes – in truth, however, it can be self-indulgent and not something I want to listen to all the time. The ‘quality’ of the music, albeit quite subjective, can range from ‘totally happening’ to ‘totally boring’ whether I’m a musical participant or just a listener – it’s hard to convey why some ‘noise’ can be inspirational.
Arkipelago is the result of many performances of an ever changing group I assembled over several years called VooDooTek – the objective was to start with a blank canvas and draw upon the talents of the musicians assembled at the time – the idea was for everyone to contribute musical ideas to the direction of the music – responding and being open to the unexpected – whenever I felt the music had run its course I would abruptly change the musical context or mood. With electronics it is easier to cut through the volume of sound. The one prerequisite of the musicians was listening – for me a most important quality of musicianship. All the tracks on the CD started off as through composed synth soundtracks – soundscapes might be a better analogy – a combination of textures, industrial loops, otherworldly sounds – sometimes empty space – very sculptural – the charts are diagrams with emotional directives, sometimes a bass line, sometimes a tonal center – an integral part was the click that signaled sections and tempos that was removed – the core group, myself on more synths, Doug Belote on drums, Nori Naraoka on bass and Makuni Fukada on guitar, played with the prerecorded tracks – it was important for them to perceive those tracks as part of the improvised structure rather than a composition – since I was also incorporating more synth sounds and textures it was naturally impossible to separate what was virtual and what was live – so the whole track seems improvised but compacted due to its composition directives – most takes were the second take. Joo Kraus added his part in Germany and sent it back to me in New Orleans – I had played with him at a jazz festival and we really hit it off. I gave him no directions and the track you hear is virtually edit free.
Making the classical aspects of the burgeoning indie classical movement abundantly clear, crossover albums are now crossover marketing musical scores. Via his website, composer Owen Pallett has released a limited edition score for the music on Heartland, his latest Domino recording.
Joined by the Czech Symphony Orchestra and a host of guests (including composer Nico Muhly) Pallette has crafted his most consistently engaging music to date. In some critical circles, indie classical has, rightly or wrongly, been under the microscope for making pop into a ‘longhair’ genre, robbing it of its immediacy in favor of overt sophistication. I’d submit that this vantage point doesn’t give enough credit to indie audiences, who seem to be just fine grappling with orchestral arrangements by Pallett and electronic experiments by Animal Collective alike.
What’s more, recordings like Heartland amply demonstrate that one can, if they’re talented, craft sophisticated music that has just as many catchy hooks as a three-chord, three-minute anthemic single. A case in point is the loop-laden and jaunty “Lewis Takes off his Shirt;” the music, and the video below, suggest that pop can indeed combine sophistication with immediacy, and that its orchestral incarnation can be downright cheeky!
For those of your with a case of ‘artifact avarice,’ the full orchestra score for Heartland is $46 and has been printed in a limited run of 300. In addition to the music it also provides lyrics and a chart of diagrams of patches for the ARP 2600.
Owen Palett’s touring a bunch in support of Heartland. Here are some dates:
04-08 Toronto, Ontario – Queen Elizabeth Theatre
04-10 Chicago, IL – Lincoln Hall
04-11 Minneapolis, MN – Varsity Theater
04-12 Milwaukee, WI – Turner Hall
04-13 Columbus, OH – Wexner Center
04-14 Pittsburgh, PA – Andy Warhol Museum
04-15 Washington DC – Black Cat
04-18 Indio, CA – Coachella Festival
04-20 Boston, MA – Institute of Contemporary Art
04-22 New York, NY – Webster Hall
04-24 Baltimore, MD – Metro Gallery
04-25 Philadelphia, PA – First Unitarian Church
04-27 Atlanta, GA – The Earl
04-29 Dallas, TX – Granada Theater
04-30 Austin, TX – The Mohawk
05-05 San Francisco, CA – The Independent
05-08 Seattle, WA – The Crocodile
05-09 Vancouver, British Columbia – The Vogue Theatre
05-10 Victoria, British Columbia – Alix Goolden Hall
05-11 Portland, OR – Aladdin Theater
05-13 Salt Lake City, UT – Kilby Court
05-14 Denver, CO – Larimer Lounge
The tremendously devastating earthquake in Haiti has brought forth a wonderful outpouring of donations from all corners, to a lot of fine organizations dedicated to helping these folk through the weeks and months ahead. Sometimes though, it takes a little extra prod to dislodge those few more dollars that, while so small here, can make an enormous difference in the survivor’s well-being.
That’s why musicians (including some of the regulars from around here) who regularly meet up on various sites around the web decided early on to make up an online CD of works, the proceeds from which will virtually all go to buying basic food relief for the survivors. Using the innovatory music platform BandCamp, The CD was created and made available literally within days of the disaster; BandCamp also provides an easy and efficient way for folks to pay online, and to get that money back and out to Food for the Poor. Each $20 donated buys 100 pounds of rice and beans, basic staples every Haitian needs now. 96% of all the money goes directly for food purchases; the artists involved aren’t making a dime.
There are 19 musicians who have donated contemporary/experimental/improvisational tracks for the CD; not only from the U.S. but the other sides of both oceans as well. The minimum amount to purchase and download the tracks is a mere $5.00, but you’re more than welcome to make your payment any higher amount, too. So far in just the first two days of its release a couple hundred dollars have already been raised, but of course they’d like to keep it coming.
Those of you have have already given directly to this and other relief organizations, we salute you. But if perhaps someone’s been a little slow, maybe this might help motivate them to part with just a little cash. Whatever it takes, if it brings in even a few more dollars then good things can happen.
In the old movies, when someone needed help the scrappy kids always said “let’s put on a show”! Think of this as the 21-century version of the same idea, except with scrappy new-music composers and performers.