Archive for the “Click Picks” Category

…Though it never really closed… Started around 1998 in upstate New York by a small group of musicians including Benjamin Boretz, Mary Lee Roberts and Arthur Margolin, The Open Space was conceived as print and online magazine venture and CD publisher dealing with contemporary music as “…output from a community for people who need to explore or expand the limits of their expressive worlds, to extend or dissolve the boundaries among their expressive-language practices, to experiment with the forms or subjects of thinking or making or performing in the context of creative phenomena. We want to create a hospitable space for texts which, in one way or another, might feel somewhat marginal — or too ‘under construction’ — for other, kindred publications.”

Given that they may have jumped into the pool just a tad early web-wise, and given the loose nature of of the project along with the busy and evolving schedules of the editors, The Open Space has tended to offer up things in spurts; the print magazine’s last issue was from late 2009, and the website languished for quite a while. Still, as befits an “open space” there has always been a very interesting accumulation of various article, scores, recordings and sound files available on their site, well worth a contemporary musician’s time to sift through. You can order CD recordings and back copies of the print magazine right from the site, as well.

Just last year, composer Dean Rosenthal signed on to get the purely digital webmagazine up and running again, and Dean’s happy to announce the first “issue” is online and available. The current form is a collection of contributions from various composers, of streaming recordings/video of selected works, some coupled with notes and scores of the piece. First offerings include such outside-the-mainstream luminaries as Michael Pisaro, Henry Gwiazda, Richard Coldman and Howard Skempton and others. And of course Dean is always happy to recieve submissions from you composers/performers out there, so why not give it a shot and help populate that open space with even more art and exploration!

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S21 blogger (and right nice composer) Tom Myron passes along word that the Centro Studi Luciano Berio has just launched their new website, in what would have been Luciano Berio’s (1925-2003) 85th year. The Centro is busy conserving and spreading the legacy of this 20th-century giant, cataloging/digitizing his personal papers, maunuscripts and sketches, organizing concerts and symposia, sharing news, information and sound right from the site. As it grows this great resource can only get greater, so it’s definitely worth a bookmark from composer, fan and scholar.

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Thanks to Paul Bailey for the tip:


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Saturday, March 27th at 7:30pm CDT, anyone in driving range of Birmingham, Alabama should be paying UAB’s Hulsey Recital Hall (950 13th Street South) a visit. Back last year, Meet the Composer’s Met Life Creative Connections Program gave some funding for a program of new compositions by three composers (Connecticut-based Alphonse Izzo, Aleksander Sternfeld-Dunn from Washington State, and Alabama resident Craig Biondi), all written for the fantastically able chops of cellist Craig Hultgren.

What’s that, you say you’re not going to be anywhere near Birmingham just then? Why son, you’re as close as that little screen in front of your face! That’s because the concert will be streamed live courtesy of USTREAM; all you have to do is click that link I just gave you and you’re there (they’ll also be streaming the pre-concert discussion, slated for 6:00pm CDT).

The program’s title is Listen Out Loud, and what made the run-up to this one so interesting is that for the past few months, each of the composers has been blogging about their experiences while composing their respective piece. At the blog Composing Out Loud, you can follow the genesis and fruition of each of the composer’s ideas.

Each composer will present a work for solo cello, and a work for cello with ensemble. Izzo’s solo cello piece The Madcap Laughed is the composer’s surrealist tribute to Syd Barrett, the late founder of Pink Floyd. Hultgren is joined by Katherine Fouse on piano and Denise Gainey on clarinet for the premiere of Izzo’s Memory Theater.

ASO English horn player Erica Howard and Hultgren engage in an intimate dialogue in Aleksander Sternfeld-Dunn’s “...and I will love the silence…”. Dramatic contrast follows with the premiere of the light hearted solo work Snap! Crackle! Pop!

Biondi will present a haunting work for solo cello, Adrift.  Then Fouse and Hultgren are joined by Soprano Kristine Hurst-Wajszczuk and percussionist Gene Fambrough for the premiere of Biondi’s improvisatory Two Psalms.

So between all of the great, intimate  background information, brand-spanking new works and a concert itself brought close no matter where you may live, here’s beautiful example of what a concert in this century can be. I know I’ll be in the ‘audience’, even here in Houston!

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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.

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Full of food and drink, playing with those presents, a couple days now to relax… How about capping the holiday huddled around the warm, cozy glow of the old ‘puter?

Because this Sunday the 27th, beginning at 1900 (7pm) EST and running all the way until Monday evening at 1900 (7pm) EST, our new-music radio host-with-the-most Marvin Rosen is having his annual Viva 21st-Century – Women Composers Edition 24-hour broadcast marathon. We’re talking all-women, all-the-time, and all things written only from 2000 ’till today! You’re bound to be enlightened, and possibly even amazed, with much of what you’ll hear. Your geography doesn’t matter either, because wherever you’re at you only need click to WPRB’s live stream and you’re good to go.

So pay a visit; your ears will thank you. And if inclined give a shout to Marvin himself for pushing himself to push this music, and so push you into a greater awareness of all the wonderful stuff being written by women composers in the here and now. (Marvin sez: “Wake up phone calls during this marathon will be welcome“…)

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WNYC’s acquisition of New York radio’s stalwart WQXR was a win/lose proposition. Win, in that a major classical station would stay alive; lose in that the new assigned frequency (which can conflict with a powerful Connecticut station on the same frequency) and reduction in broadcast power (from 6,000 watts to only 600 watts) reduces its reach by some millions of potential listeners. Not that it matters much to me, parked on my hiney here in Houston; I and so many others simply go online to hear the station’s stream, anywhere and anytime.

And a further win: Besides the station’s main — and predictably staid — broadcast stream, WQXR also carries another, different  internet-only stream called Q2. The music there reverses the current classical-radio standard: i.e., instead of mostly old and safe with a few tiny nuggets of the new, Q2 plays quite a bit new with far fewer chestnuts from classical music’s Ancient Dead Guys Club.

In the past few hours of this morning you could have been listening to Glass, Rautavaara, Ter Veldhuis, Torke, Greenstein, Part, with a just bit of Falla, Palestrina and Chopin sprinkled through for good measure. I know this because they have a great real-time updated playlist page, so you’ll never have to wonder what that work you just heard was. Q2 is just finishing a week-long Steve Reich celebration, and while you’re a bit late for the music you can still read and hear all kinds of interviews about the music from a range of artists, as well as tons from the “old man” himself.

Q2 also has a blog, “Do You Q2“, where you can learn about what’s on any number of musicians minds, and generally stay abreast of upcoming features.

Perfect? No; the new music programmed generally skews closer to the middle of the new road, while I — and I’m sure quite a few others — might like a veer toward the edge more often (or occasionally even off the path altogether!). But still, Q2 should definitely be a daily stop for new-music lovers.

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On those longer, cooler, grayer days, stuck inside with a little time on our hands, one of the nicer pastimes for the music buff is to wander through the Flickr music photo pools. Two especially for the contemporary musician: the Classical Music pool and the Experimental Music pool. Between them, with some thousands of amateur-to-pro photographers clicking away in all corners of the world, you can get a feel for the people, activities and concerns that make our music live and breathe today. Often, a striking image will mention a name or two that will get me started googling (or is that “binging” now?), and lead me to some wonderful composer, performer or event that I might otherwise have never encountered. But more than anything it’s just that glimpse of all the people in that bigger world, who have our same shared passion and work at it every day, that puts a little smile on my lips while browsing.

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Well, that is if the time happens to be this Tuesday September 08 from 7:00pm EDT, ’till 7:00pm EDT Wednesday September 09, and you pin your ear to Princeton’s WPRB (103.3FM). I’m just reminding you of what Elodie Lauten has already so nicely plugged a little while back on her own blog: that it’s once again time for radio host Marvin Rosen to serve up his annual Classical Discoveries Marathon.

And by “all new”, I don’t mean just the stock & standard 20th-century stuff; this year’s adventure is titled “Viva 21st Century – American Edition” — music by almost 100 composers alive and working in the here and now! It’s safe to say that there’s just about nothing else on the airwaves that can match that achievement, so you’ve got every reason to be there and not be square.

If that’s not enough, on Wednesday September 16th Marvin is hosting an 80th birthday celebration of George Crumb. From 11:00am till 3:00pm Crumb himself will join Marvin, along with Orchestra 2001 conductor James Freeman. And just prior, from 8:30 am until 11am, Marvin’s guest will be composer Derek Bermel.

Tune in and hang on; your crash-course in what’s been happening the last 8.5 years is about to begin! Infinite thanks to Marvin and his commitment to the cause of our new music.

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Up and running for a few weeks now, The Cereal List blog/website attempts to goose the arse of the always-just-a-little-too-sacrosanct classical music world. Run by the shadowy “Milton Blabber”, “Randall Scandall” and “Miss Information”, the blog’s posts have their share of flats mixed with a few good sharps. Though some jabs have veered just this side of awful or even libel, when they get it right, with such gems as “Generate a New York Times Review of your Work“, they’re pretty spot on. My current fave though, has to be “How to Design a Classical Music CD Cover”:


Whoever they may be, and as low as they may occasionally go, it’s obvious that these are people who are definitely active  in “the scene” and know their target intimately. It may not be the first place I’m going to check each morning, but I don’t see much wrong with trying to knock a few bricks off the Temple of Art.

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