Posts Tagged “Schoenberg”

Noe performing Drunken Moon with the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble

Kevin Noe performing Kieren MacMillan’s Drunken Moon with the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble

Last Tuesday, April 16, I trekked to Snyder Hall on the campus of Michigan State University in East Lansing, MI to see a performance by the Musique 21 ensemble, an immersive ‘Theatre of Music’ Production entitled Drunken Moon. The piece was conceived and created by conductor Kevin Noe and composer Kieren MacMillan, and features the merger of MacMillan’s eponymous monodrama for two voices with an English version of Arnold Schoenberg’s legendary Pierrot Lunaire.

Drunken Moon is more than a concert performance, it is a theatrical unfolding where the music and storyline are deeply intertwined and overlap on many occasions. I chose the descriptor ‘immersive’ deliberately, because Drunken Moon is more inviting to its audience than standard chamber operas. This is the touch of Kevin Noe, who has become renowned for his innovative programming with the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble. In fact, Drunken Moon began as a PNME production, one of that group’s many fully staged programs, which push the boundaries of traditional concert presentation to create an audience experience that is undeniably memorable and powerfully meaningful.

Even though he was armed with students from MSU’s College of Music, Maestro Noe’s designs hit their mark Tuesday night. The show began immediately as the audience entered the theatre, in that the performers and actors were dancing, drinking and chitchatting in an imagined bar, ‘La fin bleu’, set up on the stage. Walking in on the onstage commotion like this set a refreshing and relaxing tone, at least compared to the prescribed ceremony of most Classical or Contemporary music concerts. Although the ‘Fourth Wall’ was not manipulated to any extreme, the attitude of the performance made observing Drunken Moon feel like being a part of it in some small way.

The intimate audience experience I enjoyed Tuesday night was not only a product of the small theater, sets, costumes, lighting and music. My compatriots in the audience and I were drawn into the performance by the stellar acting and singing of soprano Lindsay Kesselman and baritone Robert Peavler who brilliantly portray the main characters in Drunken Moon – dubbed only “she” and “he”. The couple’s interaction is the focal point of the performance’s narrative and the link that connects MacMillan’s Drunken Moon with Pierrot Lunaire.

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Music/Words
presents
Inna Faliks (piano)
Clarice Assad (piano and vocals)
Samantha Malk (soprano)
and Irina Mashinski (poet)
Cornelia Street Cafe, NYC
April 22nd, 2012

Written by Kyle Lynch

Last Sunday evening, pianist Inna Faliks closed the fourth season of her Music/Words series at the West Village institution, Cornelia Street Café, in New York City. It was an intimate affair in the Café’s cozy basement theatre, and Inna was joined by soprano Samatha Malk, Brazilian pianist and singer Clarice Assad, and poet Irina Mashinski. The potpourri of solo piano, songs, and poetry readings hearkens back to old European salons of the turn of the century. Yet the evening was thoroughly enjoyable and modern.

Irina Mashinski set the mood of the first half of the concert with the opening poem “The Room” preceding piano works by Ludwig van Beethoven and Arnold Schoenberg. In the poem, a lady carefully furnishes and arranges a room—only to prepare for “an explosion.” Beethoven’s Fantasia in G minor, op. 77 presents a loose set of variations that continually drifts abroad to far reaching keys, different tempos and moods. If Beethoven was preparing later generations of composers to push the limits of tonality, then Schoenberg set the explosion of tonality with the early atonal work, Three Pieces for Piano, op. 11, when he “emancipated the dissonance” the year before in 1908. Read the rest of this entry »

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Music/Words, an interdisciplinary series founded and curated by NYC-based pianist Inna Faliks, continues its fourth season on Sunday, April 22, 2012, at 6 PM with a performance at New York’s Cornelia Street Cafe featuring Faliks and guest pianist Clarice Assad at the piano along with soprano Samantha Malk and poet Irina Mashinski. The program will explore the sensuousness of early Schoenberg (with the Stefan Georgy poetry used in the songs), along with the passion of Mashinski’s poetry and Assad’s Brazilian music. The program includes Schoenberg’s Drei Klavierstucke, opus 11, his songs from Book of Hanging Gardens, and various improvisations by Ms. Assad based on Brazilian piano music. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Avant Music Festival, a 5-night event being held at The Wild Project in NYC between Friday, Feb 10th and Saturday the 18th, promises to be a compelling series of shows of music in the vein of avant-garde. Along with music by living composers Randy Gibson (whom you are about to hear from), Eve Beglarian (Songs From The River and Elsewhere) and Jenny Olivia Johnson (After School Vespers), there is a performance of Schoenberg‘s ground-breaking work Pierrot Lunaire and a 2-part show on Saturday the 11th celebrating the 100th Birthday of John Cage at 4 PM and 8 PM respectively (This concert, by the way, features Vicky Chow performing the great Sonatas and Interludes on prepared piano). Randy, who is one of the curators of the event, spoke briefly about the festival as well as himself. Read the rest of this entry »

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Kyle Gann reports that more than twice as many students have signed up for his 12-tone Analysis seminar than for his Beethoven class, and then in the comments he expresses concern that some of those students may think the course is a 12-Step program.

Coincidentally, our crack musicological research team has recently uncovered the following from Serious Composers Anonymous:

A Method Of Ensuring the Supremacy of German Music for the Next Hundred Years Using Twelve Steps Related Only To Each Other

1. We admitted we were powerless over free atonality, and that our compositions had become unmanageable.

2. Came to believe that a Method greater than our own intuition could restore us to sanity.

3. Made a decision to turn our will and our music over to the care of The Twelve Tone Method as we understand it.

4. Made a searching and fearless inventory of the ways in which our music does not live up to the Great German Tradition.

5. Admitted to our professors, to ourselves, and to another Serious Composer the exact nature of our compositional failings.

6. Were entirely ready to have The Method remove all these defects of aesthetic.

7. Humbly asked The Method to remove our shortcomings.

8. Made a list of all twelve pitches in the octave, and became willing to treat them all as equals.

9. Made direct amends to dissonant intervals which we had heretofore enslaved with outdated rules of resolution to consonance.

10. Continued to strive to write music that is technically complex and antithetical to popularity, and when we discovered that we had written something pretty promptly admitted it.

11. Sought through practice and analysis to improve our appreciation of and facility with The Method as we understand it, praying only for knowledge of combinatoriality and the power to employ it effectively.

12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to those useless composers who have not yet come to feel the necessity of the dodecaphonic language, and to practice these principles in all our musical affairs whether the audience likes it or not.

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Hilary Hahn
Hahn. Hilary Hahn. The violin superstar is about to premiere a new work by Jennifer Higdon tomorrow (Friday) night, attend the Grammy Awards this Sunday with two chances to win for Best Classical Album and Best Instrumental Performance with Orchestra, and then go on a recital tour playing Ives and Ysaye. She took out a few minutes to talk about the new piece and about the Grammys.
Part 1 (having a piece tailor made for her)
Part 2 (attending the Grammy Awards)
She has also just updated her YouTube Channel with Schoenberg’s grandson Randy:
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She mentioned that she’ll interview Higdon on her website, will perform at the Grammy Awards preshow and can be seen online, and if you haven’t seen it, her violin case twitters!

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