Archive for the “Events” Category

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We had just seen John Cage recite his mesostic/theater work, James Joyce, Marcel Duchamp, Erik Satie: An Alphabet. My composition teacher, a tenured faculty member who had won many awards including a Pulitzer Prize, told us, “Everyone should see John Cage once.”

And then, as if to underscore the idea that one only needed to see Cage once, the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer added, “But of course, his ideas are much more important than his music.” At that time (the early 1980s), there weren’t many recordings of Cage’s music available, and I rarely encountered any performances of his music, so my professor’s utterance was a reasonable statement for many.

Three decades later, there are 279 recordings featuring one or more works by John Cage available on arkivmusic.com; my old teacher has under 30 listed. It isn’t just that Cage is the most-recorded member of the postwar avant-garde—he has more recordings than plenty of conservative composers. Here’s a list of the top 10 recorded composers born in the 20th century at arkivmusic.com

1. Shostakovich 1449
2. Britten 958
3. Bernstein 632
4. Barber 541
5. Rodrigo 461 (and 103 of those are the Concierto de Aranjuez)
6. Messiaen 431
7. Walton 413
8. Khachaturian 357 (138 of those are the Sabre Dance)
9. Cage 279
10. Arvo Part 239

Clearly, Cage’s compositions, as well as his ideas, are very important in the classical music industry. This year you’ll be hearing a lot of his music, as various cities and organizations celebrate the 100th anniversary of John Cage’s birth. The John Cage trust is a useful web site to learn about upcoming performances, but if you live in Southern California, you’ll want to consult this list I compiled for the LA Weekly of Cage events this year.

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Cory Smythe and Amy X Neuburg; Photos courtesy of Glenn Cornett

Amy X Neuburg/Cory Smythe
Roulette
Brooklyn, NY
Dec. 13, 2011

It’s East Meets West…coast, that is.

On the stage of the old-school charming Roulette in Brooklyn was yet another creatively edgy program, put on this time by the pairing of West-coast avant-cabaret artist Amy X Neuburg and New York’s own pianist-composer, ICE’s Cory Smythe. Presented without an intermission, the show was almost entirely electronic or electro-acoustic in nature (with the exception of a refreshing burst of Fats Waller’s “Handful of Keys” from Mr. Smythe), and most of the pieces were composed and/or arranged by both of them. Read the rest of this entry »

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Judith Berkson performing “Vor an Sicht” (Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Reddin)

Vital Vox: A Vocal Festival (Vital Vox 2011)
Roulette
Brooklyn, NY
Sat, Nov 5 & Sun, Nov 6, 2011

I guess there was no better way to kick off the Vital Vox Festival than with a primal scream. Gelsey Bell and her partner for this performance, composer/performer Paul Pinto, actually gave us several of them separate and together at the start of the song cycle Scaling, and they seemed to be the sound that signified both the power of vocal performance and the experimental nature of the festival as well.
In general, the festival is a huge emphasis on artists that recognize the human voice as an instrument, an instrument that has just as much range and capability as any great violin, piano or guitar, and works wonderfully as a duet with other instruments or other voices. These artists are all equally gifted as vocalists as they are composers or musicians of other instruments, and they all put on compelling performances. Read the rest of this entry »

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The following are extended versions of the interviews I had with Toby Twining and Iva Bittova, who are both appearing at the 2011 Vital Vox Festival (Both will be performing on Night 2: Vocals + Strings)

First up, Toby Twining talks about his beginnings and inspiration as well as the new and current material.

CM: How did you go from roots in country-swing to rock to the other-worldly music you’ve been making for various instruments, including voices and chamber ensemble?

TT: This is a long story—I’ll attempt a Reader’s Digest version.

I grew up in Houston and my maternal grandparents were both pro musicians—grandad played guitar, pedal steel, string bass; grandmother played gospel piano like Liberace/Debussy mix. As a teenager, I played guitars, bass, and keys in rock bands. All the kids played Texas blues as well. Read the rest of this entry »

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Last year, saxophonist Trygve Seim and pianist Andreas Utnem collaborated on Purcor, a recording for the ECM imprint (Seim’s sixth as leader). Drawing on material from a wide range of sources, including settings of the Mass, folk music, and Seim’s own compositions, it was among the recordings in frequent rotation when I got home from the hospital this past November. Needing a calm environment in which to regenerate and reflect, I found Purcor to be the perfect listening to accompany a healing respite.

Meditative yet soulful, earnest yet elegant, gently articulated yet substantively thoughtful, Seim and Utnem craft a series of duets that are spellbinding. Consistently succor supplying and diverse in mood and musical approach, the compositions on Purcor inhabit both jazz and an ecumenical kind of musical liturgy.

Given what they’ve crafted on the recording, I have no doubt that Seim and Utnem will provide an affecting evening of music this Sunday. Those seeking solace in artistic expression during this weekend’s commemoration of the September 11, 2001 attacks have many options from which to choose, including a marathon we’ve also mentioned as an excellent option. Seim and Utnem will doubtless provide calm in the midst of storms of media frenzy, terror alerts, and turbulent memories. Recommended.

In Concert
Trygve Seim / Andreas Utnem
September 11th, 7pm
Norwegian Seamen’s Church
317 East 52nd Street
New York, NY 10022-6302
(212) 319-0370

Free of charge

Trygve Seim: tenor and soprano saxophones
Andreas Utnem: piano, harmonium

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On September 11, 2011 the United States marks a decade since the deadliest terrorist attack on our soil, one that has left an indelible mark on the nation’s psyche as a whole. A number of musical tributes, from modest concerts to widely publicized record releases, will be taking place. One of the most unique and interesting is the marathon concert being curated/organized by composers Eleonor Sandresky and Daniel Felsenfeld at Joyce Soho, 155 Mercer Street in Manhattan. Music After, as the event is called, will begin at 8:46 a.m. on Sunday, September 11, 2011 and extend till just after midnight and will feature music by composers who were living in downtown Manhattan on September 11, 2001, a veritable “who’s-who” of the international new music scene including Philip Glass, Laurie Anderson, Joan LaBarbara, Phil Niblock, Michael Gordon, Phil Kline, Nico Muhly, Judd Greenstein, Morton Subotnick and Rosanne Cash, among many others.

Music After is as much a commemoration of community as it is a memorial for those lost on that morning ten years ago. “So many people I spoke with (after 9/11),” says Sandresky, “talked about how important it had been for them to join in their community and help out. It was definitely something that I had wanted to do as well but couldn’t. Living as I did then with the “pile”–as it was known–literally just around the corner, it was too overwhelming for me, but there were many that did volunteer.
“On the first anniversary [of 9/11],” adds Felsenfeld, “when so many large-scale memorials and commemorations were laid out, I remember thinking that the best way to actually acknowledge the event musically had less to do with ‘requiems’ and ‘threnodies’ and more to do with people. I was a few blocks from the World Trade Center that morning, I saw (and smelled and felt) everything. And I was certainly not alone. So I imagined a LONG concert where every composer or songwriter we could locate who either lived there or happened to be there would be represented with a short and modest work. Then the event becomes not about the fallen or the horror of the day, but about the sheer scope of composers–different kinds of composers, many of whom define what we think of in terms of various musical “scenes”–who were in the thick of the morning.” “This event,” says Sandresky, “is about bringing our community together to stand and sing and play together on this day. And we are coming together as a community and reaching out to our greater community with music.”

Felsenfeld adds that “it is the scope of the concert that makes its point: that so many were affected so directly. Even a four-hour concert would require us to leave out people, and we didn’t want to have to do that. Besides–and I will speak for myself here but suspect I’m not the only one who feels this way–every year September 11 is a difficult day to get through, and we liked the idea that there was a place where, from 8.46am, the moment the first plane hit, until the earliest moments of September 12, there would be somewhere for people in our own community to go. Even if they don’t come,–even if none of them come–it is just a good thing to have as an option.”

In this spirit of community, Music After is a completely grass-roots organized, produced and funded event. There are no corporate or institutional sponsors. Sandresky and Felsenfeld are, therefore, relying on the new music community to rally together to make this event happen, providing yet another avenue for participation for those of us who may not have been directly affected by the events of September 11, 2001 (because we did not live in New York or Washington) but who still bear the scars of this national tragedy. To that end, there are a number of ways to contribute: you can give to Music After’s IndieGoGo campaign or if you have a PayPal account and would like to contribute using that service, you can visit the event’s web site and click on the “give” tab; for large donations, please contact Eleonor Sandresky and/or Daniel Felsenfeld directly via musicafter911@gmail.com for further information on how to make your contribution. “As far as giving goes,” says Felsenfeld, “both Eleonor and myself are strictly volunteers–nothing is going directly to us–and the Joyce SoHo has generously donated their space for the day. All the money we need is going to pay for the people who are going to make the event happen that day: the performers, the crew, the tech, as well as the rental of the equipment. Almost everyone is working at a reduced rate, but with eighteen hours of music, over 50 composers, and somewhere around 75 performers as well as a full staff, you can see that we’ll need your help.”

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Composers Daniel Felsenfeld and Eleanor Sandresky are organizing a free music marathon to commemorate the tenth anniversary of September 11, 2001. Music After will include a veritable who’s who of the New York new music scene, featuring performers and composers who were affected (and are still affected) by the terrorist attacks in Lower Manhattan on 9/11; see a list of some of the included composers below. The event will be at Joyce SoHo on September 11, 2011 from 8:46 AM until past midnight.

The organizers (and many of the participants) are donating their time; but it’s still proving a challenge to fund an event of this size. If you’d like to help out with a contribution of any amount, we’ve included some information below to facilitate that process.

1) Click here to give a small amount (even $2 or 3 helps)

2) Visit www.musicafter.com to give through Vision Into Art, who have generously offered to be our 510(c)3 fiscal conduit.  This is done through PayPal.

3) If you want to give a more substantial amount, send a check (made out to Vision Into Art) to: Music After, 336 Park Place #3, Brooklyn, NY 11238

 

Music After Composers: Annie Gosfield, Carter Burwell, Charles Waters, Dafna Naphtali, Daniel Felsenfeld, David Bowie, David Byrne, David Del Tredici, David First, David Lang, David Linton, David Soldier, Don Byron, Eleonor Sandresky, Elliott Carter, Elliot Sharp, Eve Beglarian, Hans Tammen, Harold Meltzer, Joan LaBarbara, Joanne Brackeen, John King, Jon Gibson, Judd Greenstein, Judy Nylon, Julia Heyward, Julia Wolfe, Julie Harrison, Justin V. Bond, LaMonte Young, Laurie Anderson, Laurie Spiegel, Lou Reed, Matthew Shipp, Meredith Monk, Michael Friedman, Michael Gordon, Mohammed Fairouz, Morton Subotnik, Nico Muhly, Patti Smith, Phil Kline, Philip Glass, Phill Niblock, Robert Ashley, Rosanne Cash, Rufus Wainright, Sarah Kirkland Snider, Steve Bull, Steve Reich, Steven Trask, Stewart Wallace, Sxip Shirey, Tim Mukherjee

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Art by Margaret Dolinsky, Copyright 2011

Dear Colleagues,

If you are in the vicinity of Bloomington,  Indiana, come join us at the premiere of the 2011 version of Don Freund‘s PASSION with Tropes, scheduled for May 20 and 21 at the Ruth N. Hall Theatre of Indiana University. Originally conceived as a monumental oratorio for large forces, it was adapted by Freund for an immersive and interactive multidisciplinary production. In this 80-minute version, PASSION with Tropes is cast for actors, dancers, and an ensemble of  approximately 40 voices and  instrumentalists who take multiple roles as soloists,  chamber groups and even as a jazz combo. It has been a fascinating process to see how the work has gained unexpected layers of meaning under the lens of the interdisciplinary artists. For more information, visit: http://blogs.music.indiana.edu/passionwithtropes/

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Once upon a time in 2000, there was a brand-new underground music collective in the San Francisco Bay Area, presenting a monthly concert series named “Static Illusion/Methodical Madness”.  The SIMM series is still going strong today, and its parent organization, Outsound Presents, now additionally puts on the weekly Luggage Store Gallery concert series and the Outsound New Music Summit.

Outsound acquired a Board of Directors and incorporated its bad self in 2009.  Now with a 501(c)(3) IRS determination in hand, it’s a stalwart provider of experimental music, sound art, found sounds, improvisation, noise, musique concrete, minimalism, and any other kind of sound that is too weird for a mainstream gig in the Bay Area.

The upcoming 2011 Outsound New Music Summit is the 10th annual, running from July 17-23, 2011. All events will take place at the San Francisco Community Music Center, 344 Capp Street, San Francisco. Eager listeners can purchase advance tickets online.

Sunday July 17: Touch the Gear Exposition
Outsound’s free opening event allows the public to roam among the Summit’s musicians and sound artists and their sonic inventions, asking questions, making noise and learning how these darn things work.

Monday July 18: Discussion Panel: Elements of non-idiomatic compositional strategies
Another free public event in which composers Krys Bobrowski, Andrew Raffo Dewar, Kanoko Nishi and Gino Robair will discuss the joys and pains of creating new works some of which to be premiered in The Art of Composition.  The public is invited to participate in a Q&A session.

Wednesday July 20: FACE MUSIC
This concert is devoted to the voice, the world’s oldest instrument, and artists who expand its horizons: Theresa Wong, Joseph Rosenzweig, Aurora Josephson, and Bran…(POS).

Thursday July 21: The Freedom of Sound
A night of operatic free expression, and power of spontaneous sound from Tri-Cornered Tent Show featuring guest vocalist Dina Emerson, Oluyemi and Ijeoma Thomas’ Positive Knowledge, and Tom Djll’s “lowercase big band”, Grosse Abfahrt with special guest Alfred Harth (A23H).

Friday July 22: The Art of Composition
Gino Robair
premieres his Aguascalientes suite based on scenes captured by Jose Guadalupe Posada, Andrew Raffo Dewar’s Interactions Quartet performs Strata (2011) dedicated to Eduardo Serón, Kanoko Nishi premieres her graphic scores along with bassist Tony Dryer, and Krys Bobrowski offers Lift, Loft and Lull, a series of short pieces exploring the sonic properties of metal pipes and plates and the use of balloons as resonators.

Saturday July 23: Sonic Foundry Too!
In a sequel to the first Sonic Foundry performance in 2006, 10 musical instrument inventors are paired up in 5 collaborations: Tom Nunn, Steven Baker, Bob Marsh, Dan Ake, Sung Kim, Walter Funk, Brenda Hutchinson, Sasha Leitman, Bart Hopkins, and Terry Berlier.

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Director Robert Geary and Volti

One of the most exciting areas for new music in recent years has been in the field of choral music. In the next two weeks, two choirs devoted to new music—one a veteran organization, the other an exciting, young rookie—will be presenting important programs of new choral works in both coasts.

The rookie is Baltimore’s Anima Nova Chamber Choir, which will present a concert of works by Eric Whitacre, Tarik O’Regan, Michael Rickelston, Sean Doyle, and Anima Nova founder and director, Jake Runestad. The concert, at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 8 at St. Ignatius Church, 740 North Calvert Street in Baltimore, will benefit the Peabody Preparatory’s “Jr. Bach” scholarship, which provides opportunities for underprivileged students to attend the Peabody Prep.

The veteran ensemble is San Francisco’s Volti, which for the past 32 years has been at the vanguard of new choral music in the United States under the direction of its founder, Robert Geary. Their season finale will be presented three times (Friday, May 13 at 8:00 p.m. at the Berkley City Club; Saturday, May 14 at 8:00 p.m. at First Lutheran Church in Palo Alto; and Sunday, May 15 at 4:00 p.m. at the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco’s Presidio) and features works commissioned by Volti, two of which, Matthew Barnson’s Genesis and Elliot Gyger’s voice (and nothing more), are world premieres.

Barnson composed his Genesis, a re-interpretation of the biblical story of creation through poetry, at Volti’s Choral Arts Laboratory, its annual commissioning and residency program where composers under 35 work with Volti’s singers, Artistic Director Robert Geary and Composer in Residence Mark Winges to create a new work for choir in a workshop setting, culminating in its premiere at the end of a given season. Barnson describes Genesis as “three tableaux that are independent of one another but dependent upon the Book of Genesis to give them meaning. Each is a subversive exegesis upon the original story of creation and posits a slight, but vital alternative in the narrative, affecting the outcome of the myth in ways that are sometimes insignificant (but poignant) and sometimes darkly different. Each of the poets whose work I set refracted my original intentions. For instance, the outer movements of the triptych actually retell stories from the book of Genesis. In the second, middle movement I set Richard Siken, a poet whose ecstatic and anxious book, Crush is replete with Biblical images. Beyond the images of apples (knowledge but death) is the feature that the last two poems share: death deferred.”

Elliot Gyger’s voice (and nothing more) reflects the composer’s interest in “language and communication in their own right.” The original germ for what would become voice (and nothing more) was planted ten years ago, when Gyger was a graduate student at Harvard University, where he heard a lecture by musicologist Mauro Calcagno. “Occasionally as a composer,” one encounters by chance a piece of text (or other extra-musical stimulus) for which one may have no immediate use, but which makes such a strong impact that one files it away for future reference. Among the many fascinating sources which Calcagno discussed was a passionate diatribe on the transience of the voice from Emanuele Tesauro’s La metafisica del niente (The Metaphysics of Nothing). Read the rest of this entry »

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