Archive for the “Choral Music” Category

One of the grand things about teaching at Westminster Choir College is simply walking across campus. A choral ensemble always seems to be rehearsing – sometimes more than one. Last year, I got to hear some absolutely thrilling rehearsals of Estonian composer Arvo Pärt’s music: both the Te Deum and Berlin Mass. Above is one of my favorite movements from the piece. A bright E major essay that’s both zesty & syncopated, its guaranteed to help turn the corner from bleak Winter to blossoming Spring, and, for church goers, from the stations of Passion Week to the hopeful promise of Easter. Whether one is of a secular or spiritual bent, Pärt here seems to be a postmodern corollary to that other piece in E major that signifies Spring, by Antonio somebody… (grin)

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New and specialized ensembles, groups of composers and performers banding together, DIY concerts and record labels… All the stuff of now. But let’s pay a little respect to New York’s Composers Concordance, who’ve been DIY-ing it for a good 25+ years now.

Their latest outing is a marathon show, Jan. 31st (6:00 pm doors, 7:00-10:00pm performance time at the club Drom, 85 Avenue A, between 5th & 6th, New York, NY. 212-777-1157)

No less than 23 composers are on the bill: Roger Blanc, Thomas Bo, Luis Andrei Cobo, Charles Coleman, Dan Cooper, Larry Goldman, David Gotay, Patrick Grant, Franz Hackl, Don Hagar, Arthur Kampela, Alon Nechushtan, Daniel Palkowski, Milica Paranosic, Akmal Parwez, Joseph Pehrson, Gene Pritsker, Paola Prestini, Jody Redhage, Kamala Sankaram, William Schimmel, Andrew Violette, and Theodore Wiprud.

Gene Pritsker, Composers Concordance co-director, talks about the concept for this presentation:

“We are exploring the relationship composers have with their instruments and how they go about writing music in which they know that they will be the performer. Dan Cooper and I talked about assembling a large group of composers and requesting a four minute composition from each. We are programming them back-to-back in a marathon setting and constructing a performance that highlights the composer as a performer: short compositions as vehicles for direct expression, from the composer’s mind to body to the audience.

We selected 150 composers and e-mailed them all on a secretly chosen day and time. The first 23 to respond to this e-mail were programmed for the event. We created a random criterion as opposed to a competition for choosing the participating composers, though all 150 candidates were composers whom we, the Composers Concordance directors, knew and respected.”

Tickets are $10, but there’s a two-drink minimum, so the later pieces are likely to start sounding all warm and fuzzy…


If you really want to make Jan. 31st a full-music day in the city, at 3pm prior you could head to St. Ignatius of Antioch Episcopal Church (552 West End Avenue at 87th Street) to hear The New York Virtuoso Singers, The Raschèr Saxophone Quartet and conductor Harold Rosenbaum take on a concert of works for winds and choir. On the program is the US premiere of BMI Young Composer Award recipient Rafael Nassif ‘s piece for for three choirs and three trombones [wait, I thought we were talking saxes here?…], and a world premiere by our own S21 contributor and great pal Rob Deemer, plus works by Stefan Thomas and Jouni Kaipainen.

Tickets: $20; Students and Seniors: $15 TDF vouchers accepted. Tickets available at the door one hour and 15 minutes before concerts, or call Ticket Central at 212-279-4200. And there’s a 2pm pre-concert talk for you earlybirds, with the Raschèr Quartet.

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A little palette-cleanser to shift our focus away from stimulating discussions of academe – after all, school is only out for a short while – what ‘holiday’ music do you admire?

This week, I’ve been listening to Anonymous 4’s Wolcum Yule around the house, enjoying both the Renaissance pieces and Maxwell Davies’ “A Calendar of Kings.” A ‘guilty pleasure’ is Vaughan Williams’ Hodie.

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The King’s Singers are celebrating 40 years of performances and alot of new music for voices! They’ll perform holiday music this Friday and Saturday with the NY Pops and are nominated for a Grammy Award for their Simple Gifts album. Coming up is a new release of Valentines including composers like Libby Larsen.
I spoke with two members about their outreach in schools as well as premering new works by Larsen, Eric Whitacre and Paul Patterson.
Interview with David Hurley

Interview with Paul Phoenix

King\'s Singers

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Jean BergerYep, Elliott Carter has gotten (and is getting) his proper due, so time to jump ahead and perpare for some 2009 action… Though it’s a little sparse for 100th-year blockbusters, there’s always Elie Siegmeister, Grazyna Bacewicz, Harald Genzmer, Rodolfo Cornejo, Robin Orr, John Raynor, Thorleif Aamodt, Paul Constantinescu, Gianandrea Gavazzeni, Georgi Aleksandrovich Mushel, Sergius Kagen, Arwel Hughes, Ādolfs Skulte, Henk Bijvanck, and Vagn Holmboe. And the one I want to give a little shout out for, Jean Berger. One eventful (and as nearly long) life, that touched a lot of places and people. I’m pretty sure almost every kid in middle or high school choir remembers singing his “The Eyes of All Wait Upon Thee“. But far fewer tackled something like his “The Good of Contentment”, and far, far fewer still as part of such a stellar high school choir as the 1962 kids at Sanford H. Calhoun High in New York, under S. Talbot Thayer’s direction. Not a bad piece at all, for somebody to plan working up for next fall…


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