Archive for the “Music Instruments” Category

LightSoundLogoLight & Sound Concerts presents The Unusual Universe of Rob Schwimmer, two programs featuring theremin, continuum and piano virtuoso Rob Schwimmer on Friday, March 15 at 8:00 PM and Sunday. March 17 at 3: 00 PM at The Old Stone House, Washington Park, 336 Third Street (bet. 4th & 5th Avenues) in Brooklyn, New York. The park entrance faces 4th Avenue. This is presented as part of Light and Sound’s Spring 2013 series.

Rob Schwimmer is an internationally known composer, pianist, theremin and LightSoundRSchwimmercontinuum player. As a founding member of the highly acclaimed Polygraph Lounge he performs regularly with his duo partner, multi-instrumentalist Mark Stewart, of Bang On A Can All Stars. Schwimmer is one of the top theremin virtuosos in the world. As an original member of The NY Theremin Society he has appeared as soloist with The Orchestra of St. Luke’s at the prestigious Caramoor Festival and with The Little Orchestra of New York at Lincoln Center. Much more about him at http://www.robschwimmer.com/.

Tickets for the March 15 and 17 performances are $20 at the door, and are also available at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/347890. Also on March 17, at 2:00 PM Light & Sound will present a special 40 minute Family Concert & Conversation with the Artist – $15 for first adult, $5 for each additional family member. For more information, call 718-768-3195 or visit http://julianneviolin.com/LandSBlog/?page_id=249. A reception will follow each event.

Light & Sound, curated by its founder/director, violinist Julianne Klopotic, is a full spectrum performance series. Unique in its approach, the 2013 season includes performances informed by New/Experimental Music, Classical, Jazz/Rock and World Music.  Other Light & Sound Spring 2013 Old Stone House Series presentations are The Klopotic-Pierce-Zoernig Trio performing Schubert Piano Trios on April 5 and 6, David Hykes & The Harmonic Choir on April 19 and 21 and Glass Music Master Miguel Frasconi on May 17 and 19. More about the series at http://www.lightandsound-concerts.org.

The Old Stone House, a Historic House Trust of New York City site, commemorates the Vechte-Cortelyou House’s unique place in Brooklyn and American history. Through exhibits, programs and events, they preserve the House’s rich past while contributing to Brooklyn’s contemporary cultural community. Visit them at http://theoldstonehouse.org/.

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Dialogue between the Traditional and the Modern
Chinese Hua Xia Chamber Ensemble
Tsung Yeh, conductor
Zhang Weiliang, Artistic Director and xiao soloist
Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, NY
May 7th. 2012

The biggest thing I can say about the Hua Xia Chamber Ensemble‘s program at Alice Tully is this: For the first 5 minutes or so when they came out and played the first piece Lang Tao Sha, which was a traditional piece, I couldn’t write a thing. It was an incredible rush that made me more fully appreciate not only the music of China, but music at its best, for its organic healing abilities, and for sounds that force you to take the time to consider them.

This concert, titled Dialogue between the Traditional and the Modern was very much what it describes, very prominent-sounding folk music that served as Eastern statements from the Chinese ensemble that were alternated with their take on the music of living American composers, Victoria Bond and John Mallia, whose works were being premiered on this occasion. The notation of the Chinese instruments being different from our system, it made me wonder how they were going to pull it off. I believe they did.
Chinese-American composer Wenhui Xie also had a traditional sounding piece titled Less, but More that had its World Premiere at this concert.

Mallia’s piece titled Nodes was a very Schoenbergian cacophony of a work whose atonal identity revealed itself even through the Chinese instrumentation, but the debut of an updated version of Victoria Bond’s Bridges was a marvelous treat not only for its brightness and upbeat presence on its own terms, but also because even the Chinese are quite capable of playing orchestral Gershwin Jazz, as evidenced in the final section of the piece! I very badly wanted to isolate the erhu from the rest of the ensemble just to hear how bluesy this instrument suddenly sounded.

It should be noted that Chai Shuai, who played both the erhu and erxian in this concert, played marvelously and passionately. I remember when I saw Hilary Hahn once playing a piece, I used to remark that I saw smoke coming from the fiddle in a way of describing the intensity of her performance, but Ms. Shuai’s erhu was indeed producing smoke. You can make of that what you will.

The meeting of Chinese and Western instruments was something that provided great insight into two different camps of hard-working musicians. There was such pungency and intensity of both the Western cello and Chinese instruments such as the zheng and the pipa, and all of these at times provided a clearer folk-sense that Western classical music doesn’t always capture fathfully.

Although it had only been happening in the second half, Tsung Yeh, the ensemble’s conductor, gave the audience some wonderful and thoughtful introductions to the works and had the composers present walk up to the stage for bows.

Zhang Weiliang, who is both the Artistic director of the ensemble and a soloist of the xiao (vertical-end-blown flute), came out and performed Wild Geese in The Sandbank as if it was a field recording of the species. It was a very natural performance that won Mr. Weiliang gracious appeal.

Another memorable moment was the ensemble’s reading of the Peking Opera piece Deep Night, which featured both erhu and Beijing erhu, which had a much higher-end sound, and the two together created this incredibly tasty ethnic harmony in what was an exciting traditional piece that received the biggest reception of the night.

To have seen this beloved event where we were given the opportunity to hear the most exciting music from China played on the instruments of their country was something to be extremely proud of, and I have to say that seeing an erhu being played alongside a Western violin is something akin to seeing two living kindred spirits meeting for the first time and bonding for life.

Tsung Yeh’s listing on ArtsEverywhere.com

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The orchestrion is a fairly old instrument, going back to the mid-19th-century.  Pat Metheny and the mad scientists at the League of Electronic Musical Urban Robots have teamed up to create a 21st century version of an orchestrion.

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I’ve spent the past few days listening to Metheny’s new CD, Orchestrion.  If you’ve been following his work for the past few years, it’s no big surprise musically or harmonically: lush diatonic harmonies and sweetly melodic improvisations. What makes this disc so special, though, is his interaction with a robot ensemble, one which is completely controlled or programmed by Metheny.  There is a surprising richness and warmth in these robot-played instruments that one does not find in MIDI accompaniments, and if you like Metheny’s music or you’re interested in seeing/hearing a mechanical instrument out of Jules Verne’s wildest dreams, do pick up the CD or catch Metheny and company on the road with this.

Lots of demos and explanations on Metheny’s web site.

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It’s hard to imagine a percussionist that you would want to perform your music more than Alex Lipowski. Alex has a passion for the new, the challenging and the unusual and I find him to be one of the most inspirational musicians I’ve ever met. He spent much of our time together explaining how important it is to take risks and to find new and innovative sounds – good advice. You can see Alex and the Talea Ensemble on April 28 at the Players Theatre, 115 Macdougal Street, NYC.

Looking ahead, there will be three episodes in May and I’ll be devoting the month to violists. Check back on May 3 and see what Beth Weisser of the iO Quartet has to say.

Not sure where to find the podcast?

- Subscribe in iTunes here

- Subscribe with your RSS reader here

- Find it on InstantEncore here

P.S., If you were not able to make it to the bake sale then you missed out on a very special event. Even if you don’t care for all the music it’s hard to deny the sense of community from having so many different groups all in the same room – we are all in this together! Tip of the hat to Newspeak and Ensemble de Sade for making it happen.

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Various Artists - the language of

QUIET DESIGN RECORDS


the language of is a compilation CD of ten pieces by eight emerging composers in NYC, many of whom are associated with the Wet Ink Ensemble.  Released by Quiet Design Records in Austin, TX, this compilation is a forward-thinking treatise on a constantly evolving new music scene.  The production, recording, and design chores were undertaken by the composers and their colleagues, thus comprising a very personalized aesthetic. the language of is an essential purchase, not only for its DIY approach, but because it contains a variety of exciting, well executed compositions.  And due to the wobbly legs of the music industry, resourceful composers could do well by using this CD as a business model.

There is an immediacy and yearning to the music featured on this CD.  The emotional content (which, of course, varies from piece to piece) is enhanced by the recording techniques used to create the myriad sound-worlds, an approach that is both startling and engaging.  There is not one ounce of sonic sterility that one might find on pristinely recorded chamber music CDs.  Many of the recording techniques used are in-your-face, close mic’d, compressed, and manipulated to each pieces’ ambient requirements.  Some of the pieces that most represent traditional chamber music are ambient mic’d, a representation that provides a bird’s-ear-view (sorry about that one) for the listener, or an aural realism, if you will.   The variety of production from piece to piece is therefore more akin to the world of rock, jazz, and experimental music.  The packaging, designed by composer Clara Latham, is an attractive and environmentally friendly cardboard cover that features nothing in the form of liner notes (this may be one of my only complaints, but it definitely adds a veil of mystery to the release).

A brief overview of each piece follows after the break: Read the rest of this entry »

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Anne-Sophie Mutter latest cdViolinist Anne-Sophie Mutter is continually creating something new – from concerti by Krzysztof Penderecki and Andre Previn to works by Sebastian Currier and Henri Dutilleux.

Mutter’s latest project is a recording of Sofia Gubaidulina’s In Tempus Praesens, written in 2006-07 and premiered with the Berlin Philharmonic in August 2007. Selke Harten-Strehk has more background here on Mutter’s website.

I spoke with Mutter about the new concerto recording and about working with composers, and even if she composed herself. Listen to our conversation here.

That morning it was very difficult to get an international connection, and then about 10 minutes into our talk, the line went dead, and to my horror, it was another 3 minutes until I could connect again. (She now has my number as well, hahaha) Despite that, we had a great talk – this version (without our disconnect) also leaves out our talk about period bows (which she uses for the Bach concerti on the disc) as well as some talk about technology. You can hear the longer version over at ClassicallyHip.

I did leave out our talk about politics, which she was very interested in, and said Europe is watching the election closely.

Mutter performs very soon in New York City on October 13th, and you can find the rest of her schedule here. She’ll be back at Carnegie Hall in April 2009 to premiere a Piano Trio by Previn with Lynn Harrell, and a celebration of Previn’s 80th birthday with the orchestra of St, Luke’s including his Violin Concerto and a Concerto for Violin and Viola.

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A few picks ago I introduced you to my new Houston friend, pedal-steel guitarist Susan Alcorn. She’s off to Argentina just now, but before she left she sent me a YouTube link to her performing in her studio just a week or two ago:

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Absolutely fascinating to see and hear.

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For the full story on the new aleatoric work seen being performed above on a Bösendorfer at the Two Moors Festival in the UK, take An Overgrown Path. Image credit BBC News 

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From the entry on “Musical bow” (p. 351) in Sybil Marcuse, Musical Instruments: A Comprehensive Dictionary (New York: W.W. Norton, 1975).

See also: adingili, adungu, aeolian bow, andobu, arpa-che, bagili, bajang kerek, balu, bandingba, barikendikendi, bawa, bazombe, bendukudu, benta, bentwa, berimbao de barriga, beta, bikefe, bobre, bogonga, bombo, bucumbumba, bumba-um, bum-bum, burum-bumba, busoi, caramba, carimba, chizambi, chunga, cora, darkun, dende, didilavy, dingba, dongeldongel, dumba, egoboli, ekitulenge, elem, elingingile, enanga, fengcheng, gabus, gamakha’s, ganza, gedo, goaramba, gora, goukha’s, gourd bow, gualambo, gubo, gubuolukhulu, gulutindi, gunga, guru, gwale, gwaningba, hade, h’onoroate, hunga, hungo, ibigumbiri, igongs, ikoka, imvingo, inkinge, inkohlisa, ipiano, isankuni, isiqwemqwemana, isitntola, itikili. itumbolongonda, jejilava, jul, kabarome, kakulumbumba, kaligo, kalirangwe, kalove, kalumba, kambaua, kambili, kandiri-kandiri, kandiroe, kan’gan, kanutitsunanikoya, kashane, katungu, kedondolo, kha’s, kidrigo, kijonga, kilibongo, kilingbindiri, kilingilam kinanga, kitingbi, kitingi, koali, kodili, koh’lo, kongo, konko, kpwokolo, kudungba, kumbili, kimguleme, kinkulkawe, kupu, kwadi, kwendibe, lalango, lekope, lengope, lesiba, ligubu, lingongo, lipombo, lontana, lugube …”

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