Archive for the “Orchestras” Category

LoC Orchestra in 2010, conducted by Louis Karchin. Photo: Ron Gordon

League of Composers/ISCM has their season finale tonight at Miller Theatre. Louis Karchin conducts a program of five recently composed works.

True to form, the evening is chock-full of premieres, including the US debut of Elliott Carter’s Concertino for Bass Clarinet. How many concerts can boast a new orchestra piece written by a centenarian? The concertino features longtime Carter associate Virgil Blackwell as soloist.

David Rakowski is also represented by a new concerto. His Talking Points, written at the behest of the League of Composers, features the estimable soloist Fred Sherry as its protagonist.

Shulamit Ran’s Silent Voices, written for the Israel Contemporary Players, receives its US premiere. The work includes an optional part for reader, who declaims “Draft of a Reparation Agreement,” a poem by Holocaust survivor Dan Pagis.

New Yorker Missy Mazzoli contributes Violent Violent Sea, her first orchestra piece in five years. Connecticut’s Arthur Krieger rounds out the show with Sound Merger, a new piece for orchestra and electronic sound. Krieger, in my opinion, is one of the most persuasive exponents of melding live instruments and electronics. I’m intrigued to hear this new piece for a larger cohort than this medium is often afforded.

As usual, WNYC’s Jon Schaefer is kind enough to serve as master of ceremonies. Brief onstage interviews of the featured composers will accompany the musical proceedings.

Going to the show? Live tweet with the hashtag #fileunder?: we’ll run these microreviews next week on the File Under ? blog.

Tickets are $20/$10 for students (details here).

LoC Orchestra in 2010. Photo: Ron Gordon

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Andrew Rudin is well known to the Philadelphia new music community, both as a composer and, for many years, as a professor at University of the Arts. One of his former students, Amanda Harberg, introduced me to Rudin some years back at a post-concert reception in New Jersey. I remember being struck by his piercing intellect and wide-ranging knowledge of music. I’ve greatly enjoyed interacting with him via Facebook in recent years. Although direct in his opinions, sometimes in irascible fashion, he’s a font of information about composers (particularly Ralph Shapey), opera, poets, and tasty baked goods.

On Tuesday, Rudin’s music is featured on a portrait concert at Symphony Space in New York (details below). The program features Celebrations, a recent piece for two pianos and percussion that’s also included on Rudin’s new CD on Centaur Records. Miranda Cuckson and Steve Beck play Rudin’s Violin Sonata, a lyrical and affecting work from 2004. Eugene Moye and Beth Levin tackle the composer’s new Sonata for Cello and Piano. For those closer to Philly, the program will be repeated on Thursday at Caplan Recital Hall (211 South Broad St.).

The aforementioned Centaur CD also features two concerti, a passionately expressive viola concerto for Brett Deubner and a rhythmically energetic and harmonically jagged piano concerto for Marcantonio Barone. Both soloists are accompanied by Orchestra 2001, conducted by James Freeman. This ensemble has long championed Rudin’s music. In fact, they also feature Rudin’s Canto di Ritorno on To the Point, their debut for the Innova imprint. At turns rhapsodic and fiercely passionate, it’s a score that’s likely to engage both traditional and contemporary audiences alike. Appearing with the fetching curtain-raising title work by Jennifer Higdon, as well The River Within, a fantastically vibrant piece by Jay Reise, Canto di Ritorno serves as the centerpiece for one of my favorite contemporary classical albums released this Spring.

Celebrations: Music of Andrew Rudin

Tuesday June 14, 2011 at 7:30 PM

Symphony Space,

96th and Broadway,

New York

Tickets: $25/$15 for students & seniors

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George Manahan

The American Composers Orchestra has been holding annual reading sessions for twenty years now: quite a milestone!

This weekend will see composers of concert music hearing their works read by the ACO, conducted by George Manahan, with one of the composers being awarded a $15,000 commission.

For the first time, there will also be sessions devoted to jazz composers.

The New Music Readings’ (June 3 & 4) participating composers are Janet Jieru Chen, Mukai Kôhei, Michael Djupstrom, Narong Prangcharoen, Jordan Kuspa, and Kate Soper.

The Jazz Composers Orchestra Institute Readings’ (June 5 & 6) participating composers are Harris Eisenstadt, Mark Helias, Adam Jenkins, Erica Lindsay, Nicole Margaret Mitchell, Rufus Reid, Jacob Sacks, and Marianne Trudel.

Rufus Reid

20th Annual Underwood New Music Readings

Friday, June 3 at 10am (working rehearsal) & Saturday, June 4 at 7:30pm (run-through)
One Composer to Win $15,000 Commission, Another to Win Audience Choice Award

Jazz Composers Orchestra Institute Readings
Sunday, June 5 at 2pm (working rehearsal) & Monday, June 6 at 7:30pm (run-through)
Presented with The Center for Jazz Studies at Columbia University
Featuring Eight Jazz Composers Selected from the 2010 JCOI Intensive

Conducted by ACO Music Director George Manahan

All events free & open to the public, reservations: www.americancomposers.org
Miller Theatre | Columbia University | Broadway at 116th, NYC
More information: 212.977.8495 or www.americancomposers.org

Listen to audio samples from Underwood New Music Readings participants here.

Listen to audio samples from the JCOI Readings participants here.

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We’re saddened to learn of James Levine’s cancellation of the rest of his appearances this season at the Boston Symphony Orchestra and his resignation from the post of BSO Music Director. Levine has been in that position since 2004, but has had to cancel a number of appearances during his tenure due to a variety of health problems. In an interview published today in the New York Times, Levine indicated that he will retain his position as Music Director at the Metropolitan Opera. Apparently, conversations between Levine and the BSO about a possible future role with the orchestra are ongoing.

The BSO plans to keep its season underway with minimal changes apart from substitute conductors. They’re even going to premiere a new work this week under the baton of Assistant Conductor Marcelo Lehninger. In Boston’s Symphony Hall on March 3,4,5, and 8, and at Carnegie Hall in New York on March 15, the orchestra and soloist Christian Tetzlaff will be giving the world premiere of Harrison Birtwistle’s Violin Concerto.

It’s bittersweet that Levine is stepping down during a week when an important commission, one of several during his tenure, is seeing its premiere. I made a number of pilgrimages from New York to Boston (thank goodness for Bolt Bus!) to hear him conduct contemporary music with the BSO,  including pieces by Harbison, Wuorinen, Babbitt, and Carter. He helped a great American orchestra (with a somewhat conservative curatorial direction) to make the leap into 21st century repertoire and was a terrific advocate for living composers.

Many in Boston and elsewhere have complained that by taking on the BSO, while still keeping his job at the Met, Levine overreached and overcommitted himself. Further, when his health deteriorated, some suggest that he should have stepped aside sooner.

I’ll not argue those points. But I will add that, when he was well, Levine helped to create some glorious nights of music-making in Boston that I’ll never forget. And for that, I’m extraordinarily grateful.

***

I’ll admit that I was a bit surprised to hear that Birtwistle was composing a violin concerto, as it seemed to me an uncharacteristic choice of solo instrument for him. After all, the composer of Panic and Cry of Anubis isn’t a likely candidate for the genre that’s brought us concerti by Brahms and Sibelius (and even Bartok and Schoenberg!).

But then I thought again. Having heard his Pulse Shadows and the recent Tree of Strings for quartet, both extraordinary pieces, I can see why he might want to explore another work that spotlights strings. Perhaps his approach to the violin concerto will bring the sense of theatricality, innovative scoring, and imaginative approach to form that he’s offered in so many other pieces.

I’m hoping to get a chance to hear it when it the orchestra comes to New York. No pilgrimage this time. My next Bolt Bus trip to Boston will likely have to wait ’til next season to hear the BSO in its post-Levine incarnation.

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Sure, we all can complain about the Grammy Awards. For me, the lack of representation of classical music and jazz on the telecast is just one of many disappointments. But before the glitz of the runway and glamour of the broadcast, several artists were acknowledged for their achievements in these genres.

The Naxos Group nearly ran the table last night. Their artists and imprints picked up a total of nine Grammy awards.

Noteworthy among the winners were Michael Daugherty, recognized for his Deux Ex Machina, and the Nashville Symphony Orchestra; they garnered 3 awards for their Naxos All-Daugherty recording (Best Contemporary Classical Composition, Best Orchestral Performance, Best Engineered Album, Classical).

The NSO has had quite a challenging year; they were compelled to vacate their performance space, Schermerhorn Symphony Center, for several months due to the severe flooding that struck the city in May, 2010. Now, they’re back in their renovated home and they have much to celebrate!

YouTube Preview Image

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Errollyn Wallen

Following up on Alex Ross’ post about the New York Philharmonic’s 2011-’12 season, which mentioned the lack of representation of American composers on the Contact! series and women composers throughout the schedule, we asked Sequenza 21 readers to share their lists of American women composers that the Philharmonic should consider programming (more comments/lists welcome).

Angelica Negron

Here’s my own take. I’ve compiled three chamber orchestra programs for the Contact! concerts and one for the regular subscription series: all consisting entirely of living women composers. One features American music and the other programs have a more diverse array of nationalities. I hasten to add that this just scratched the surface: one could do many, many more of these!

Amy Williams

Program 1

Jennifer Higdon – Soliloquy

Sarah Kirkland Snider – newly commissioned work

Hannah Lash – A Matter of Truth

Amy Williams – Sala Luminosa


Helen Grime

Program 2

Angélica Negrón – Fulano

Errolyn Wallen – Concerto Grosso

Du Yun – Impeccable Quake

Helen Grime – Clarinet Concerto

Program 3

Alexandra Gardner – Tamarack

Unsuk Chin – Akrostichon-wortspiel

Tansy Davies – Residuum (After Dowland)

Vivian Fung – newly commissioned work

Lera Auerbach

Subscription Series Program

Augusta Read Thomas – Ceremonial

Lera Auerbach – Concerto No. 2 for Violin and Orchestra

Kaija Saariaho – Orion

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Yesterday, Alex Ross wrote a short essay on The Rest is Noise about next season’s offerings at the New York Philharmonic. After discussing several highlights, including Stockhausen’s Gruppen at the Park Avenue Armory, the NYPO’s first presentation of a piece by Philip Glass (!), and a new work by John Corigliano, he pointed out some curious omissions.

Ross wrote,”The Contact! series will elicit new works from Alexandre Lunsqui, Yann Robin, and Michael Jarrell. The series has no American music this year, nor is there any music by women in the entire season.”

Like Ross, I’m very excited by some of the other programs the NY Phil has in store for audiences, but I can’t help but wish that both Contact! and the season in general were more diverse.

Let’s help them out: a list of American women composers that should appear on Contact! and subscription concerts at the NY Phil.

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The job requirements of a working composer are elusive, perhaps especially for composition students enrolled in University degree programs that fail to provide graduates with the interpersonal and business skills necessary for survival outside the walls of academia. One student composer told me recently: “We are all being trained to teach.”Woody Allen famously said: “Those who can’t do, teach. Those who can’t teach, teach gym.” But those who compose and don’t teach do find ways to sustain themselves and their passion for music through a variety of collaborative and creative means, some perhaps less “traditional” than others. With this in mind, let’s have a chat with my friend composer Tom Myron.

The range of Tom Myron’s work as a composer includes commissions and performances by the Kennedy Center, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Portland Symphony Orchestra, the Eclipse Chamber Orchestra, the Atlantic Classical Orchestra, the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra, the Topeka Symphony, the Yale Symphony Orchestra, the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, the Bangor Symphony and the Lamont Symphony at Denver University. He works regularly as an arranger for the New York Pops at Carnegie Hall, writing for singers Rosanne Cash, Kelli O’Hara, Maxi Priest and Phil Stacey, the Young People’s Chorus of New York City, and the Quebec folk ensemble Le Vent du Nord. Le Vent du Nord’s new CD Symphonique featuring Myron’s orchestra arrangements is receiving an incredible amount of positive press throughout Canada and will be available for purchase in the U.S. soon. A video preview of the recording is included in this interview.

His film scores include Wilderness & Spirit; A Mountain Called Katahdin and the upcoming Henry David Thoreau; Surveyor of the Soul, both from Films by Huey. Individual soloists and chamber ensembles that regularly perform Myron’s work include violinists Peter Sheppard-Skaerved, Elisabeth Adkins and Kara Eubanks, violist Tsuna Sakamoto, cellist David Darling, the Portland String Quartet, the DaPonte String Quartet and the Potomac String Quartet.

Myron’s current projects include commissioned work for the Eclipse Chamber Orchestra and creating arrangements for Joe Jackson’s music-theater piece Stoker
inspired by the life of Bram Stoker author of 1897 Gothic novel Dracula.

Tom (I’ll call him Tom now) graciously took time out of his schedule to answer a handful of questions including several having to do with the “business” of making music.

Chris Becker: You arrange and orchestrate music for a variety of artists and have a career composing concertos, string quartets, and various settings for voice. Are these two separate careers that you have to juggle? Or do they intersect providing you with even more musical opportunities than if you were focused only one or the other?

Tom Myron: From a purely logistical point of view it’s a juggling act. Both types of work tend to lead to more opportunities within their respective areas, but there isn’t a lot of overlap. That said, they DO intersect for me on a more personal, creative level. I love getting to know all kinds of musical idioms in a very practical, mechanical way. I also love just about everything that goes into handling, preparing and rehearsing music for live performance. My training in composition and the orchestral repertoire has benefited my commercial work by giving me the flexibility to consider (and rapidly execute!) multiple solutions to specific problems. The commercial work in turn informs my composition by instilling a disciplined work ethic and keeping organization and clarity of intention foremost in my mind.

Read the rest of this interview.

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Congratulations to Alan Pierson. Effective immediately, the conductor, composer, and director of Alarm Will Sound will join the Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra as their new Artistic Director.

It’s no secret that the Brooklyn Phil has been facing significant challenges of late. During the recession, they’ve endured straightened finances and had to curtail their programming. Pierson is part of an effort to reboot it as a lithe unit, an “urban orchestra.”

The ongoing plan is that the Phil will reconnect with the community and widen its reach by having a presence in a number of different locales throughout the borough. This seems similar in some ways to the recent model of the New Jersey Symphony, which gives concerts throughout the Garden State and has made educational outreach and community engagement a significant part of its profile.

Let’s hope that this approach helps the Brooklyn Philharmonic to remain lively in its programming and solvent in its finances! Oh, and lest any new music devotees are concerned, fear not: Pierson will still remain in his current position with Alarm Will Sound.

Yesterday, Pierson released the following statement about his new appointment:

Dear friends, supporters, and fans of the Brooklyn Philharmonic,

It is a great honor to be given an opportunity to help build the future of the Brooklyn Philharmonic. This is an extraordinary time to be making music here, with Brooklyn’s ever-increasing cultural richness and diversity fostering a fantastically fertile artistic environment. In re-imagining the role of the Brooklyn Phil, we want the orchestra to connect with the Borough’s population through events that celebrate and reflect its diverse communities.

The Philharmonic’s 2011-12 re-launch will see us performing in communities throughout the Borough, rather than at one single venue. Each program will bring the Phil together with artists of the community in original and exciting collaborations. My hope is that this work will be stimulating not only to people living in these neighborhoods, but to the broader New York concert-going public and the larger musical community as well.

The Philharmonic has an exceptional history of groundbreaking music-making over more than 50 years, and I’m excited to help lead it into this next era. While plans for our new season are already underway, we’re always looking for new ideas — please feel free to contact us at info@brooklynphilharmonic.org if you have programming ideas you’d like to share. And keep watching this website for news and updates as plans progress for the Brooklyn Phil’s re-launch this fall.

With warm wishes,
Alan Pierson
Artistic Director
Brooklyn Philharmonic

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As Daniel Wakin reported today in the NY Times, Alan Gilbert has been announced as the incoming Director of Conducting and Orchestral Studies at the Juilliard School. He replaces James DePriest, who will remain on the faculty as Principal Conductor and Director Emeritus. Gilbert will also get some help from James Ross (currently at the University of Maryland), who will serve as his assistant, providing a “more permanent presence” than that of a frequently touring maestro.

Gilbert plans to integrate his work at the New York Philharmonic, where he assumed the post of Music Director in 2009, with his teaching duties at Juilliard. According to the Times article, he will require conducting students to attend rehearsals and will allow them opportunities to meet with members of the orchestra and undertake internships at the Philharmonic.

I’m of two minds about this. I think it will be a tremendous opportunity for Juilliard students, both conducting and performance majors. Gilbert has already shaken things up at the Phil, frequently in ways that have benefited contemporary music. Juilliard may grow in as yet unforeseeable ways as a result of Gilbert’s energetic presence and vision.

On the other hand, as we’ve seen recently with James Levine’s experiences at the Boston Symphony and the Metropolitan Opera, spreading oneself too thin can create problems at both of one’s organizations. While conductors routinely juggle multiple appointments, both of these are high profile and demanding positions. I’m not saying Gilbert can’t manage them, but it’s at least cause for concern. Also, I’d imagine that aspiring orchestra musicians attending graduate school at NEC, Eastman, and other major conservatories are gnashing their teeth at what they may perceive to be too cozy a relationship going on at Lincoln Center.

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