Archive for the “Women composers” Category
The following is the extended interview I had with singer/composer Judith Berkson, who will be appearing at the Vital Vox Festival this Saturday at Roulette in Brooklyn (She’ll be appearing on Night One: Vocals + Keys). Here she talks about her beginnings, and the preview of selections from her upcoming opera.
CM: Can you give sort of a small recap of how you got from your musical beginnings to your current status as a composer/performer? Was there a significant a-ha moment or was this something that was gradual?
JB: My father who is a cantor taught me to sing when I was very young by methodically teaching me Hebrew blessings which I would sing back by rote. He was demanding about precise pitch, I remember that. From about age 5 to 10 my family had a singing group/band where we played community centers and synagogues and we were required to be in it. It wasn’t really that fun since we had no choice and rehearsals were long and my father a perfectionist. But despite these conditions I was secretly compelled by music. I liked discovering how to do it. I started classical piano at age 5 and when I was 10 my father insisted on music theory lessons too. None of my friends had to do anything like that. I actually really enjoyed it though. I remember the circle of fifths blowing my mind. In high school I took singing seriously and started voice lessons. I reluctantly auditioned for conservatories not really wanting to go to college and ended up at the New England Conservatory. I thought I’d drop out and find people to play with and start a band but then I ended up falling in love with opera. Read the rest of this entry »
Comments Off on 2011 Vital Vox Festival: Interview with Judith Berkson
Posted by Polly Moller in Bass, Chamber Music, Composers, Concerts, Contemporary Classical, Experimental Music, Festivals, Improv, Interviews, Piano, Premieres, San Francisco, Women composers
San Francisco Bay Area composer/performer Kanoko Nishi wraps up our series of interviews with composers who are premiering new works at the 10th Annual Outsound New Music Summit in San Francisco on Friday, July 22nd. The Friday night concert, entitled The Art of Composition, starts at 8 pm at the Community Music Center, 544 Capp Street, San Francisco. Tickets are available online from Brown Paper Tickets, and you can also buy them at the door. Listeners who don’t want to wait that long can get up close and personal with the composers, and learn about their creative process, at a free Monday night panel discussion at 7 pm on July 18th.
Kanoko is classically trained on piano and received a BA in music performance from Mills College in 2006. Her recent interest has primarily been in performing 20th century and contemporary music on piano and koto, and free improvisation in a variety of contexts. SF Bay Area contrabassist Tony Dryer and guitarist IOIOI, visiting from Italy, will perform Kanoko’s graphic scores as a duo.
S21: How has your classical piano training prepared you – or not prepared you – for improvisation and composition?
I think that one very important element that is particular to musical improvisation as opposed to improvisation in other fields is the role of the musical instruments one performs and interacts with, and classical training for me was just a very deep way of building a relationship with my instruments. What has been helpful is not so much the technique, vocabulary or repertoire, but the time, energy and thoughts spent in the process of acquiring these more concrete skills and knowledge. For me, every improvisation I do is like a battle with the instrument I’m playing, in my case, either the piano or koto, and though I cannot really practice improvising by its definition, it’s only by practicing regularly that I feel I can enrich myself as a person, build my stamina and confidence enough to be a suitable match for my instrument to bring out its full potential. Read the rest of this entry »
Comments Off on Let’s Ask Kanoko Nishi
Posted by Polly Moller in Chamber Music, Composers, Concerts, Contemporary Classical, Electro-Acoustic, Experimental Music, Festivals, Improv, Interviews, Premieres, San Francisco, Sound Art, Women composers
Krys Bobrowski is up next in our series of interviews with composers who are premiering new works at the 10th Annual Outsound New Music Summit in San Francisco on Friday, July 22nd. The Friday night concert, entitled The Art of Composition, starts at 8 pm at the Community Music Center, 544 Capp Street, San Francisco. Tickets are available online from Brown Paper Tickets, and you can also buy them at the door. Listeners who don’t want to wait that long can get up close and personal with the composers, and learn about their creative process, at a free Monday night panel discussion at 7 pm on July 18th.
Krys is a sound artist, composer and musician living in Oakland, California. In addition to French horn she plays acoustic and electronic instruments of her own design. Her collection of original instruments includes prepared amplified rocking chairs, bull kelp horns, Leaf Speakers, Gliss Glass (pictured at left) and the Harmonic Slide. Krys received her M.F.A. in Electronic Music and Recording Media from Mills College and her B.A. in Computers and Music from Dartmouth College. In addition to performing her own work, Bobrowski plays with the Bay Area-based improvisation ensemble Vorticella.
Her new work, Lift, Loft, Lull, is a series of short pieces exploring the sonic properties of metal pipes and plates and the use of balloons as resonators, performed by the composer and Gino Robair. The compositions have their origins in Bobrowski’s recent instrument prototyping work for the Exploratorium.
S21: Do your pipes, metal plates, and balloons come with any sound-generating history? Is there any “tradition” behind their use in music?
During my artist residency at the Exploratorium, I began experimenting with alternative resonators for musical instruments. I wanted to create an experience that would allow the listener to hear the ‘sonic bloom,’ the moment a resonator comes in tune and couples to a vibrating object.
As part of this project I started researching resonators in traditional and experimental instruments. I came across an interesting photo from the 1950s of someone playing an instrument made of glass rods attached to a series of inflated plastic cushions. The cushions were acting as the resonators for the glass. Later, I learned that the Baschet brothers, Francois and Bernard Baschet, invented this instrument along with dozens of other beautiful sound sculptures, including an inflatable guitar!
This started my exploration of using balloons as resonators, mostly for instruments made out of various kinds of metal: plates, pipes, bars, odd-shaped scraps. I also came across references to Tom Nunn’s and Prent Rodgers’ work with balloons and balloon resonators in a book by Bart Hopkin, ‘Musical Instrument Design.’ This led me to make a version of the ‘balloon gong’ instrument shown in the book.
The results of my sonic explorations and the ‘balloon gong’ will be featured in my composition, Lift Loft Lull. Read the rest of this entry »
Comments Off on Let’s Ask Krys Bobrowski
Posted by Polly Moller in Chamber Music, Composers, Concerts, Electro-Acoustic, Events, Experimental Music, Festivals, Improv, Music Events, News, Premieres, San Francisco, Sound Art, Women composers
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.
1 Comment »
Posted by Christian Carey in Chamber Music, Concerts, Contemporary Classical, Festivals, File Under?, New York, Video, Women composers, tags: Cutting Edge, Laurie Anderson, multimedia, Symphony Space
Thus far, 2011 seems to be the year of the festival. From Tune Up to Tully Scope and beyond, a wide variety of adventurous outings have been offered in New York. Starting tonight, Symphony Space joins in the fun with their Cutting Edge Concerts New Music Festival.
If each festival has had its own identity – Tune Up reveling in the Park Avenue Armory’s generous space and acoustics, Tully Scope celebrating the diversity of its offerings and its newly remodeled digs – the emphasis of Cutting Edge seems, like so many events at Symphony Space, to be outreach and interaction.
All of the composers will be present at the concerts featuring their music. Each program will include onstage discussion between the featured composers and Victoria Bond. One hopes that meeting composers “in the flesh” and learning about their works firsthand will encourage audience members to approach their works with open minds and ears.
Tonight’s concert includes a world premiere by talented up and comer Hannah Lash, as well as a New York premiere by perennial audience favorite Peter Schickele. Kathleen Supove performs a work by Randy Woolf . Topping it all off is Hidden Inside Mountains, a new multimedia work by downtown luminary Laurie Anderson.
Cutting Edge Concerts New Music Festival is on four Monday evenings at 7:30 pm on
March 28, April 4, April 11 and April 25, 2011 at the Leonard Nimoy Thalia Theatre in
Peter Norton Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway at 95th Street in New York City.
More information about the Festival, including program notes, performer and composer bios, and
Tickets are $20 ($15 for students and seniors).
Program for Monday, March 28, 2011
Hannah Lash: Folksongs (world premiere)
MAYA: Sato Moughalian, flute; Bridget Kibbey, harp, John Hadfield, percussion
MAYA’s appearance is supported by the Jarvis and Constance Doctorow Family
Peter Schickele: Music for Orcas Island (NY premiere)
Renee Jolles, violin; Daniel Panner, viola; Maxine Neuman, cello; Kathleen Supove,
Jon Deak: Bye Bye
Sato Moughalian, flute; Kathleen Supove, piano
Randall Woolf: Righteous Babe
Sato Moughalian, flute; Kathleen Supove, piano
Laurie Anderson: Hidden Inside Mountains
Laurie Anderson, video and music
Comments Off on Cutting Edge Concerts Kicks Off Tonight
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).
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!
Jennifer Higdon – Soliloquy
Sarah Kirkland Snider – newly commissioned work
Hannah Lash – A Matter of Truth
Amy Williams – Sala Luminosa
Angélica Negrón – Fulano
Errolyn Wallen – Concerto Grosso
Du Yun – Impeccable Quake
Helen Grime – Clarinet Concerto
Alexandra Gardner – Tamarack
Unsuk Chin – Akrostichon-wortspiel
Tansy Davies – Residuum (After Dowland)
Vivian Fung – newly commissioned work
Subscription Series Program
Augusta Read Thomas – Ceremonial
Lera Auerbach – Concerto No. 2 for Violin and Orchestra
Kaija Saariaho – Orion
11 Comments »
Posted by Christian Carey in American Music Center, Composers, Contemporary Classical, File Under?, Media, Orchestras, Women composers, tags: Contact!, John Corigliano, New York Philharmonic, Philip Glass, Stockhausen
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.
2 Comments »
Gabriela Lena Frank
When the 2010 Composer Collaboration Awards call for proposals went out on May 10, 2010, music presenters, ensembles, and composers all over the San Francisco Bay Area called, paged, and emailed one another, then got together to put their dream projects down on paper in time for the deadline.
Today the staff and Boards of six organizations, their chosen composers, and their artistic collaborators are popping champagne corks and dancing around their offices. They’ve received $75,000 each from the Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, to make six world premieres.
Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music – Laura Karpman and Independent
Producers/Authors, The Kitchen Sisters
The Cabrillo Festival is one of the leading festivals dedicated to contemporary classical music. The work brings together Emmy award-winning composer Laura Karpman together with The Kitchen Sisters (authors and radio producers Nikki Silva and Davia Nelson) to create a multi-media, full evening length symphonic production titled The Hidden World of Girls. The Hidden World of Girls will focus on stories of lives shaped by the secrets girls carry with them into adulthood. The premiere is scheduled for July 28 & 29, 2012 at the 50th anniversary season of the Cabrillo Festival.
Corporation of the Fine Arts Museums (FAMSF) – Sarah Wilson and Aerial Dance Company, Catch Me Bird
Inspired by the incredible architecture, landscape and visual arts collections of the de Young Museum, Off the Walls will be a new jazz composition for aerial dance, which will be performed at assorted locations outside, inside and on the sides of the museum. It will be an evening length, site-specific work performed by composer Sarah Wilson, Catch Me Bird Aerial Dance Company, and an ensemble of 12-18 Bay Area musicians and dancers. The premiere is scheduled for March 2013.
Jewish Community Center of San Francisco – Mark Izu and Choreographer, Kimi Okada
The JCCSF’s Friend Center for the Arts aims to create a forum for innovative projects in multi-disciplinary and multicultural contemporary and traditional performance. It will commission a multi-media, multi-disciplinary work composed by Mark lzu and choreographed by Kimi Okada entitled Mu. Incorporating Korean, African, Indian, Japanese, and Hawaiian traditional music and dance, the piece heralds the end of the Mayan calendar and uses the legend of Mu, an ancient empire of blessings and noble values destroyed by materialism and greed, as a parable for today. The premiere is scheduled for December 2012.
Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana de San Jose Incorporated (MACLA) – Guillermo Galindo and Chamber Ensemble, Quinteto Latino
MACLA is a San Jose-based contemporary arts space grounded in the Chicano/Latino experience. The company incubates new visual, literary and performance art in order to engage people in civic dialogue and community transformation. Guillermo Galindo and Quinteto Latino will create Voces del Desierto, a piece that will explore the journeys of unnamed immigrants who cross the Mexican-American border in search of a better life. The premiere is scheduled for late 2011 or early 2012.
San Francisco Girls Chorus – Gabriela Lena Frank and Librettist, Nilo Cruz
One of the premier girls’ choruses in the U.S., the San Francisco Girls Chorus will commission Gabriela Lena Frank to create a cantata for treble chorus, chamber orchestra, and vocal soloists in collaboration with librettist Nilo Cruz. Marrying Western classical music tradition with Latin American folk music, Holy Daughters (working title) examines the cultural clash and interchange between European colonialism and indigenous tradition, and the role and perception of women in both worlds. The premiere is scheduled for June 2013.
Z Space Studio (Z Space) – Marcus Shelby and Co-Creator, Margo Hall
Known nationally as a premier performance development lab for artists, Z Space will create a new work by composer/musician Marcus Shelby and actor/director/singer Margo Hall. The new musical performance piece will explore the journey of a young black woman growing up in Detroit during one of the most exciting times for music and one of the most turbulent for civil rights. Loosely based on Ms. Hall’s life, Detroit represents a link to her childhood where her father was a well-known Detroit musician and as a child, she sang with her “aunties,” who were members of the Supremes band. The premiere is scheduled for January/February 2013.
Comments Off on Composers get big nods from Gerbode and Hewlett Foundations
Posted by Chris Becker in Composers, Contemporary Classical, New York, Opera, Performers, Premieres, Women composers, tags: Andrea Liberovici, Apollo Theater, Helga Davis, Jeffrey Zeigler, Mephisto's Songs, multimedia, paola prestini, Robert Wilson, Salon Series
This Friday and Saturday October 22 and 23, Andrea Liberovici’s multimedia work Mephisto’s Songs premieres a part of the Apollo Theater’s Salon Series. I’m not familiar with Liberovici, but I am familiar with Mephisto’s featured performer singer Helga Davis. In addition to Ms. Davis’ amazing vocals, the piece includes recorded narration by Robert Wilson and cello improvisations by The Kronos Quartet’s awesome Jeffrey Zeigler. Live musicians for this performance include Clarice Jenson (cello), Fred Cash Jr. (bass), and Abe Fogle (drums).
Some of you may be familiar with Helga Davis as a host of WQXR’s Overnight Music. She works frequently with composers Paola Prestini and Bernice Johnson Reagon who, in collaboration with Robert Wilson, created the critically acclaimed opera The Temptation of Saint Anthony with Davis singing the role of Hilarion. And some of you truly hip folks may know that she sings on two scores I composed for dance, Like Dirt for Racoco Productions and La Spectra for Movement Pants Dance. Davis is also a distinctive and powerful composer. Her solo shows combining song, spoken word, theater, and video at venues that include New York City’s Whitney Museum or Galapagos are not to be missed.
Check out the Apollo Theater website for ticket information for their Salon Series. An article about another one of Liberovici’s recent projects can be found here.
3 Comments »
Posted by Chris Becker in Contemporary Classical, Electro-Acoustic, Experimental Music, Flute, Houston, Improv, Percussion, Performers, Sound Art, Women composers, tags: Avant Garden, Doggebi, Flute, Houston, improvisation, Labotanica, Michelle Yom, sound installation, Women composers
Pyramid and Michelle Yom at Labotanica (Houston, TX)
This Friday, October 1st at 7pm, Michelle Yom will present her sound performance installation Back To Imagined Spaces at Houston’s alternative arts and music venue Labotanica located at 2316 Elgin Street. This is a part of Labotanica’s ongoing Hear/Her/Ear series spotlighting women in experimental music.
I got a chance to hear Michelle last month in a solo vocal set at Avant-Garden where she recorded and looped her singing in real time to additively build a series of haunting chorales. Michelle is perhaps best known as a flautist with a strong classical technique and the skills and imagination of a great improviser. Her flute and drums duo Doggebi features Michelle with drummer Spike The Percussionist – a musician I name checked in my Houston Mixtape #3: The Epicenter Of Noise – freely and (almost) breathlessly improvising music that is somehow stark yet filled with a minutiae of details.
Back To Imagined Spaces imagines the human body as a collection of cells that sing and are heard in a “self-imposed timeless space” contained within the pyramid Michelle has constructed inside Labotanica. Regarding the music she will perform, Michelle writes: “The first set is a series of staccato vocalizations with syllables from the mantra, Asato Ma Sad Gamaya, processed through seven delays. The second set will be a live performance of tonal pieces titled Heart, Ears, Kidney, and Stomach, also using vocal sounds. The pieces are intended to capture a version of imaginary but prudent sounds, much like taking a microscope and focusing the lens into singing, living cells.”
Also on Friday’s program are performances by artist, vocalist and electronic composer Melanie Jamison and Labotanica’s tireless curator, visual and sound artist Ayanna Jolivet McCloud.
There is a $5 cover charge for the show. All proceeds go to the musicians. Michelle Yom’s installation will be up October 1st through October 9th, 2010.
2 Comments »