Drummer, composer, and web radio star Chris Cutler
Radio Web MACBA is a radiophonic project from the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA) website that explores the possibilities of the internet and radio as spaces of synthesis and exhibition. The programs are available on demand, and as a podcast subscription.
Beginning with a program called Probes #1, drummer extraordinaire Chris Cutler (one of the founding members of the legendary band Henry Cow) examines the side-effects of the collapse of tonality in the 20th century, and intriguingly addresses the idea of Western music notation and modern recording as “memory technology.” As Cutler explains, “Different forms of memory will engender different forms of music.”
“In the late nineteenth century two facts conspired to change the face of music: the collapse of common practice tonality (which overturned the certainties underpinning the world of Art music), and the invention of a revolutionary new form of memory, sound recording (which redefined and greatly empowered the world of popular music). A tidal wave of probes and experiments into new musical resources and new organizational practices ploughed through both disciplines, bringing parts of each onto shared terrain before rolling on to underpin a new aesthetics able to follow sound and its manipulations beyond the narrow confines of ‘music’.”
“This series tries analytically to trace and explain these developments, and to show how, and why, both musical and post-musical genres take the forms they do. This first program sets the scene and investigates early reconsiderations of pitch: probes that postulate new scales to be constructed through the ever-greater subdivision of the inherited intervals of equal temperament.”
Probes #1 is a fascinating podcast, just one of several on the RWM website. Special thanks to composer and sound artist Douglas Henderson for bringing this site and Culter’s podcasts to my attention.
Stephen Gosling and Blair McMillen will be throwing-down on works for two pianos by John Adams (Hallelujah Junction), John Corigliano (Chiaroscuro), Mary Ellen Childs (Kilter), Amanda Harberg (Subway), Doug Opel (Dilukkenjon), Frederic Rzewski (Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues), and the world premiere of Deep Blue Ocean by AME founder and Artistic Director, Robert Paterson.
There will be limited seating over at Faust Harrison so you might want to save a couple bucks over the price at the door by ordering online (or ordering by phone at 800.838.3006). They are even throwing in a free CD for every ticket purchased online.
You can also listen to short interviews with Blair McMillen and Robert Paterson about their experiences working with composers here (Blair) and here (Robert).
I recently spent some time with three amazing pianists who are all based on the West Coast: Sarah Cahill, based in the San Francisco; Vicki Ray, based in Los Angeles; and Cristina Valdes, based in Seattle. As usual, I asked each of them about their experiences working with composers, and you can listen to what they have to say here: Sarah, Vicki, Cristina.
It’s great to hear what these ladies have to say, but trust me, it’s even better to hear them perform live. All three of them they will be performing (separately) across the country during March and April…
Go see Sarah Cahill:
Saturday, March 27 at Miller Theatre, NYC – performing with trombonist Monique Buzzarte in Pauline Oliveros’ improvisational The Gender of Now.
Sunday, March 28 at Caramoor in Katonah, NY – performs the premiere of Annie Gosfield’s Five Characters Walk Into a Bar, along with Annea Lockwood’s Ear-Walking Woman and Ingram Marshall’s Authentic Presence.
Those of you who are familiar with the contemporary arts scene in Seattle know that there are two organizations which have been dedicated to presenting new and interesting works from around the world for over 20-years: On the Boards and the Seattle Chamber Players. And those of you who are familiar with me know that I have a special love for Seattle and all the interesting musical and artistic projects that are embraced there. So, if you are in Seattle I would encourage you to check-out some upcoming SPC performances at OtB (especially since I can’t be there!).
February 26-28: SCP will be performing five concerts in three days featuring new music from Italy, Hungary, Russia, Ukraine, Denmark, and Iceland. It is all part of their Icebreaker series and this set of concerts is subtitled “Love and War” – all the details can be found here.
March 4-6: SCP return to On the Boards for special collaboration with Pacific Musicworks in a theatrical production of “Songs of War I Have Seen” by German composer and director Heiner Goebbels. More information about these performances can be found here.
There is no question that the Seattle Chamber Players founder and flutist, Paul Taub, has been one of the most influential figures in Seattle’s contemporary music scene for a long time. I was able to get Paul on the phone for a few minutes back in June and I’m happy to finally share it with all of you now. Like most of my interviews with musicians, we talked about composer-performer relationships, but it’s also interesting to hear him speak a little about the Seattle Chamber Players’ dedication to contemporary music from Eastern Europe and countries of the former Soviet Union. You can download or listen to the audio here.
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Amanda Palmer is a bona fide rock star. She first made her name as half of The Dresden Dolls, and has since struck out on her own with a solo album called “Who Killed Amanda Palmer.” In June of 2008 she teamed up with the Boston Pops for two nights, and this December they’re doing it again for a New Year’s Eve concert. Amanda has also been pioneering new models of how the rock music industry can work (staying in nearly constant contact with her fans via Twitter plays a key role), and I wanted to see if that ingenuity could be translated into advice for the classical scene. I interviewed her by phone last week, and we talked about the upcoming Pops show, her musical background and training, and her impressions of the classical music industry:
Amanda is performing in Singapore right now, and when she returns she has a series of shows along the Eastern Seaboard which culminate with the Pops concert on December 31.
P.S. Here’s the link to the Shadowbox repertoire discussionAmanda mentions.
I thought it might be nice to close out the month of interviews from Chicago by featuring a couple musicians from dal niente. The ensemble has some great concerts planned for October, but I caught violinist Austin Wulliman and flutist Shanna Gutierrez back in June.
Austin’s episode is worth listening to just to hear him say, “I love me some Scelsi”. You don’t hear that very often, but it’s true, oh so true. Shanna talks a little in her episode about interesting experiences with composers, but the real value is in the seemingly endless list of resources she mentions if you are writing for flute, or are just thinking about writing for flute.
Listen to Austin’s interview here and Shanna’s here. Subscribe to the podcast here.
Ensemble dal niente begins their season on Friday with what they are calling OKTOBERFest. You can find all the details on their website. How many groups are pairing Franco Donatoni with John Luther Adams, or Bach with Rihm, or Helmut Lachenmann one week and Arvo Pärt the next week? They are doing it all in October – I wish I could be there!
Friday, October 2 – 7:30pm ($10/5)
Columbia College Concert Hall, 1014 S. Michigan Ave.
Sunday, October 4 – 3 pm ($5)
Sherwood Conservatory of Music at Columbia College, 600 S. Michigan Ave.
Sunday, October 18 – 2:00pm ($5)
Green Mill Cocktail Lounge, 4802 N. Broadway Ave.
Sunday, October 25 – 3:00pm (FREE!)
Preston Bradley Hall at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington St.
Last week on the podcast: Cliff Colnot (download Cliff’s interview here). This week: Nicholas Photinos, cellist in eighth blackbird (download Nick’s interview here).
Turns out that 8bb was just finishing up some studio sessions at the end of last month for Reich’s Double Sextet. Unfortunately, we will need to wait over a year until we actually get to hear it. (Incidentally, Galen has some commentary about how frustrating it is that we have to wait so long for these recordings here.) Anyway, I don’t know how many ensembles think about their programming in terms of a five-course meal, but these guys do, and Nick tells us a little bit about that process. More beer!
Check-in next week for the first of two interviews with members of the Chicago based new music ensemble, dal niente.
As always, you can subscribe in iTunes here, on the web here, or just click here to download Nick’s episode.
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One of the simple rules for the podcast is that there is a new episode every two weeks. That rule was broken in July when all four members of ETHEL were featured. And, that rule is being broken again in September when four musicians based in Chicago will be featured.
The month starts out with conductor Cliff Colnot (best known for his work with Contempo, Chicago Symphony’s MusicNow, ICE, and others). Cliff is a unique person in that he feels so strongly about notation and rehearsal efficiency, that he has produced documents outlining the way he likes to see things as a conductor–and gives them away to anyone who asks. Some of his thoughts on the topic are rather controversial, but anyone who has met him knows that it is hard to find a more appropriate word to describe him than “efficient”. Even if you disagree with him on some of his points of view, it’s hard to argue with the fact that composers should be preparing scores and parts in a way that doesn’t waste rehearsal time. Cliff describes how to get these documents for free at the end of his episode.
As always, you can subscribe in iTunes here, on the web here, or just click here to download the episode.
Let’s just say that “life” has distracted me a bit lately from my updates here. But, for those of you who have been following, you know that the good times never ended and that podcast episodes have been arriving on schedule.
So, where were we?
July wrapped up Parts III-IV of interviews with the members of ETHEL. What did we learn here? Perhaps the cliché that a quartet is more than the sum of its parts? Am I the only one who is continually amazed that ensembles like string quartets even work? Can you imagine committing yourself to playing for years and years with three other people whose attitudes about music are seemingly totally different? Maybe that’s where the special magic comes from: the coming together of opposites.
All four interviews are still available by clicking here:
With August upon us, what’s next? This month is devoted to two international musicians, conductor Paul Hillier and violist William Lane. Paul’s episode is now available, and William’s will be up August 23rd. I really want to thank Paul Hillier for agreeing to be part of this project; I have so much respect for him and the amazing musicians he works with. The big take-away from his episode is, basically, to think global and act local. He has great advice for composers considering sending their music to musicians in other countries—especially musicians you have never met! You can listen to Paul’s interview here.
Before I sign off, let’s take a quick look ahead into the fall and winter – I can’t resist! You might remember or notice that the podcast is making an effort to engage with musicians outside of New York City. September will feature musicians from Chicago, and October will feature California. January will feature Boston, and February will feature Seattle!
You can subscribe to the podcast here and here. You can send comments or suggestions here.
As promised, today is Part II in my series of podcast interviews with the members of ETHEL.I’m happy to announce that violist Ralph Farris gets the My Ears Are Open “prize” for not only providing us with the longest episode to date, but I think it’s fair to say that he also has the most opinionated episode to date.It will be a 30-minutes well spent.
If you would like to subscribe to the series you can do so here and/or here.And, as always, feel free to send comments, suggestions, and recipes to firstname.lastname@example.org
If you missed Part I with violinist Cornelius Dufallo you can listen now by clicking here.Next up is Part III with cellist Dorothy Lawson on July 21 and Part IV with violinist Mary Rowell on July 26.
Is there a person or ensemble you’d like me to interview for the show?Over the next several months I’ll be featuring more musicians from places OTHER than New York so please send along your wish lists and don’t be shy.