Archive for the “Video” Category

This was inspired by Alvin Lucier’s classic and still awesome work I am sitting in a room.

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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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Back last December the New York Times highlighted the Stanford Mobile Phone Orchestra. The first link goes to the NYT video of the ensemble, but here’s a nicely quiet work from the actual concert:


But that’s not quite the earliest reference to this new ‘instrument’ and kind of ensemble. Michigan actually brought their own Mobile Phone Ensemble to last November’s SEAMUS proceedings,  and there’s a video of (admittedly much less musical) a group of London tech geeks taking on the theme from Dr. Who much earlier in the year, at the Yahoo Open Hack Day.

Not that you need the halls of academia to get this creative; here’s the Hong Kong band RedNoon taking right to the subway:


Just a few weeks after the NYT feature with Stanford, CNN got into the act, also in Hong Kong, interviewing my composer-pal Samson Young about his own iPhone Orchestra. Samson, a Princeton grad student, put together his own performance at the January Hong Kong/Shenzhen Biennale. This one’s my personal favorite:


It may seem very queer, but it’s here — get used to it!

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Making the classical aspects of the burgeoning indie classical movement abundantly clear, crossover albums are now crossover marketing musical scores. Via his website, composer Owen Pallett has released a limited edition score for the music on Heartland, his latest Domino recording.

Owen Palletts Heartland

Joined by the Czech Symphony Orchestra and a host of guests (including composer Nico Muhly) Pallette has crafted his most consistently engaging music to date. In some critical circles, indie classical has, rightly or wrongly, been under the microscope for making pop into a ‘longhair’ genre, robbing it of its immediacy in favor of overt sophistication. I’d submit that this vantage point doesn’t give enough credit to indie audiences, who seem to be just fine grappling with orchestral arrangements by Pallett and electronic experiments by Animal Collective alike.

What’s more, recordings like Heartland amply demonstrate that one can, if they’re talented, craft sophisticated music that has just as many catchy hooks as a three-chord, three-minute anthemic single. A case in point is the loop-laden and jaunty “Lewis Takes off his Shirt;” the music, and the video below, suggest that pop can indeed combine sophistication with immediacy, and that its orchestral incarnation can be downright cheeky!



For those of your with a case of ‘artifact avarice,’ the full orchestra score for Heartland is $46 and has been printed in a limited run of 300. In addition to the music it also provides lyrics and a chart of diagrams of patches for the ARP 2600.

Owen Palett’s touring a bunch in support of Heartland. Here are some dates:

04-08 Toronto, Ontario – Queen Elizabeth Theatre
04-10 Chicago, IL – Lincoln Hall
04-11 Minneapolis, MN – Varsity Theater
04-12 Milwaukee, WI – Turner Hall
04-13 Columbus, OH – Wexner Center
04-14 Pittsburgh, PA – Andy Warhol Museum
04-15 Washington DC – Black Cat
04-18 Indio, CA – Coachella Festival
04-20 Boston, MA – Institute of Contemporary Art
04-22 New York, NY – Webster Hall
04-24 Baltimore, MD – Metro Gallery
04-25 Philadelphia, PA – First Unitarian Church
04-27 Atlanta, GA – The Earl
04-29 Dallas, TX – Granada Theater
04-30 Austin, TX – The Mohawk
05-05 San Francisco, CA – The Independent
05-08 Seattle, WA – The Crocodile
05-09 Vancouver, British Columbia – The Vogue Theatre
05-10 Victoria, British Columbia – Alix Goolden Hall
05-11 Portland, OR – Aladdin Theater
05-13 Salt Lake City, UT – Kilby Court
05-14 Denver, CO – Larimer Lounge

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Champ pianist Sarah Cahill performing Henry Cowell’s Tiger and Lou Harrison’s Largo Ostinato, from the December 2008 Other Minds “New Music Seance”:


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A new year finds our roving reporter/virtuoso violinist (there’s a movie idea in there someplace) Hilary Hahn back with the next round of her self-made interviews with composers various and not-so-sundry. Definitely in the non-sundry camp, David Lang has been firing on all cylinders the past few years; snagging the Pulitzer Prize in 2008 for his Little Match Girl Passion (the recording of which is also up for a performance Grammy this year) is likely keeping gas in that tank for a good while to come. Hilary and David have a nice long chat about his life & work in this three-part interview (yes, I know it looks like she caught up with David some where out on Moonbase III, but the conversation’s all there, and perfectly interesting. Just close your eyes if the video quality reminds you too much of a David Lynch scene):


And here’s part two and part three.

Thanks again, Hilary! — who we should mention is just releasing her latest CD, an all-Bach excursion through works for violin and voice (with soprano Christine Schäfer and baritone Matthias Goerne). Busy woman!

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It’s high summer, which of course means baseball… which of course means Annie Gosfield… Or at least her 1997 piece Brooklyn, October 5, 1941. You can read about it over at the NewMusicBox archive; seems to me that it’s still the only piano piece out there using two baseballs and a catcher’s mitt (though if you know more I’m happy to hear about it). I just wanted to share this lively performance by Jenny Q Chai, taped live at The Stone.  Afterwards head to Jenny’s YouTube channel; you’ll find a lot of other wonderful performances of things off the beaten track.


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Oakland Museum of California exterior

Making the pronouncement, “Oakland is to San Francisco as Brooklyn is to Manhattan”, is the quickest way to start an argument on either side of the Bay (or in the Big Apple, probably).  Over-simplified as that statement may be, there are times when I can see why people believe it.  I moved to Oakland for two reasons — one, to join the community of artists there; and two, because for the price of a room in San Francisco, I could have my own one-bedroom apartment in Oakland.

But I digress. We’ve got our own free weekly paper, the East Bay Express, and in honor of their 2009 “Best Of” issue, they’re throwing a party at the Oakland Museum of California on Friday, August 7th.  Centered as it is around the theme of “Subcultures”, they were nice enough to invite a new music and intermedia contingent to represent that segment of the East Bay’s sprawling underground.

The party itself goes from 5:00 p.m. to midnight, but perhaps you are fashionably late everywhere you go? If so, wait until 8:39 pm to show up. This is when the live cinema, experimental music, and intermedia happenings start. Full details of who and what’s involved can be found here, but I would go just to see Citta di Vitti perform new soundtracks to Monica di Vitti films…and David Slusser make his live audio collage…and Damon Smith mistake his contrabass for his BMX bike.

The Oakland Museum of California is located at 1000 Oak Street in Oakland. It’s conveniently located near Lake Merritt BART, but complete travel advice is available here.

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Michael Gordon‘s huge and hugely wonderful, 50+ minute riff- and throb-fest Trance, composed in 1995, is being dusted off for what promises to be a memorable performance by the ensemble Signal, 7:30pm April 22nd at Le Poisson Rouge.

The fun and games begin at 6:30 pre-concert in the bar, however; Gordon himself, along with Ronen Givony (from Wordless Music and Le Poisson), Signal director Brad Lubman, bandmate/composer Ken Thomson (who also does duty in Gutbucket) and others, will talk about producing and performing new works with emphasis on the whys and whats of a piece after their first presentation. Trance was premiered at Bang on a Can in 1997, and hasn’t been played in New York since. Who owns the problem of presenting new works after their premiere?

Not only that, but S21’s own fearless leader Jerry Bowles will be moderating, and the whole roundtable will be videotaped and YouTubed shortly after for your viewing pleasure. Space in the bar isn’t huge, so come early to catch the conversation or join in.

Last but not least, we’re actively soliciting questions and comments for the panel from you, our loyal readers. Something you want to know or share about the perils of performance, premieres, getting that work into a second or third production… Just pass them along to, and we’ll try and add you to the dialogue.

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After the split, there’s been plenty of attention paid to Prague and the Czech Republic; far fewer take notice of Slovakia and its capital, Bratislava. Strange, when you consider that the city is less than 40 miles from Vienna. That should tip you off that there just might be some serious music-making happening in Bratislava, and thanks to a young web-savvy musician we can confirm it with our eyes and ears.

Andrej Gál is a cellist in Bratislava, member of the Slovak Chamber Orchestra, Zwiebel String Quartet, Veni Ensemble, Melos-Ethos Ensemble, Ostravská banda and newly established Quasars ensemble (whew!). Luckily for us, he’s also a happy YouTube user. Gál has made available a number of performance videos that happen to include him as a member, and the collection features a unusually choice selection of contemporary composers and stellar performances: Bartók, Grisey, Murail, Lachenmann… and this great piece by a Slovak composer I’d never heard before, Vladimír Godár (b. 1956 / The embedded video is part one; you’ll find part two at the link above to the whole collection). Bravo Andrej — not only for your fine playing, but for taking the simple step of using the web to bring us the news half a world away.

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