About Us
Essential Library
Read Past Issues Resources Composer Links
  January 20-27, 2003

Soul Garden
Derek Bermel is one of those musicians with so much talent in so many areas that he could easily be mistakenly labeled a dilletante. Afterall, he writes chamber, symphonic, dance, theater and pop works, and is a terrific clarinetist, pianist and conductor, who is just as comfortable with jazz and rock as he is with classical.

But, Soul Garden, a new CD of Bermel's chamber works, demonstrates just how serious a composer Bermel is and how well he has assimilated his varied musical experiences and made then uniquely his own.

Bermel has studied ethnomusicology and orchestration in Jerusalem, Lobi xylophone in Ghana, uillean pipes in Dublin and Thracian folk style in Bulgaria. He trained at Yale University and the University of Michigan, and later in Amsterdam, studying composition with William Albright, Louis Andriessen, William Bolcom and Michael Tenzer.

The eight works on Soul Garden are performed by Bermel on the clarinet, along with cellist Fred Sherry, pianist Christopher Taylor, the Borromeo String Quartet, violist Paul Neubauer and others, and lovingly recorded by producer Judy Sherman.  They present, for the first time, an overview of Bermel’s small-ensemble writing which, he has said, focus mainly on musical narratives and more conceptual pieces. 

The title piece, Soul Garden, was originally written for a dance company, but evolved into a piece showcasing Paul Neubauer on viola.  Two pieces, Turning and SchiZm, draw on specific musical styles he was studying.  A distinctive thread throughout is what he calls "gesture," his dramatic voice-like phrasing. 

Bermel has received many important awards, including the 2001 Rome Prize, Guggenheim and Fulbright Fellowships, and several ASCAP Awards, as well as residencies at the Lincoln Center Directors Lab, Tanglewood, Banff, Yaddo, Music Alive and American Symphony Orchestra League/Meet The Composer.

He has been commissioned by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the National Symphony Orchestra, WNYC Radio, Fabermusic’s Millennium Series (UK), Birmingham Royal Ballet (UK), the Westchester Philharmonic, American Composers Orchestra, Albany Symphony, the Pacific Symphony Orchestra, De Ereprijs (Netherlands), Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, New York International Fringe Festival, Jazz Xchange (UK), the New York Youth Symphony and St. Louis Symphony. His music has been featured at Huddersfield (UK), De Suite Muziekweek (Amsterdam), Gaudeamus Muziekweek (Amsterdam), American Guild of Organists (Washington and Los Angeles), Great Day in New York (Lincoln Center, NY), Interlochen (Michigan), Thunderclaps (The Hague), Tanglewood and Banff (Alberta, Canada). 

Soul Garden is a superb album of consistently winning chamber works that demonstrate how a brilliant musical vagabond has made the sounds of the world his palette to create a singular artistic vision.

Soul Garden
Composer: Derek Bermel
Performer: Paul Neubauer, Fred Sherry, et al.
 Composers Recordings - #895 

What's Recent

 Kaija Saariaho Wins Grawemeyer Award
The Pianist: The Extraordinary 
True Story of Wladyslaw Szpilman
A Bridge Not Far Enough
Turnage Signs With B&H
Rzewski Plays Rzewski
Praising Lee Hyla
David Lang's Passing Measures
Three Tales at BAM
Naxos at 15
On the Transmigration of Souls
Dead Man Walking
David Krakauer's The Year After
Steve Reich/Alan Pierson
The Good Solider Schweik
Neely Bruce Loves a Parade
John Cage's 90th Anniversary
Michael Gordon's Decasia
Bright Sheng's Silver River
 Earle Brown Dies
Oliver Knussen at 50
John Eaton's "...inasmuch" Debuts
Interview with Gloria Coates
Entering the 21st Century with
Kitty Brazelton
Julia Wolfe after minimalism
Philip Glass at 65
Interview with Poul Ruders
Our writers welcome your comments on their pieces.  Send your witty bon mots to jbowles@sequenza21.com and we might even publish some of them here.  And, don't forget--if you'd like to write for Sequenza21 (understanding that we have no money to pay you), send me a note. JB

SF Opera Cuts Concerts, But Not Brain Cells The San Francisco Opera, forced by budget constraints to trim its season, unveiled the revised schedule of performances this week, and the results are at least somewhat encouraging, says Joshua Kosman. While the number of productions may be down, the company "has refused to compromise on some of [its] more adventurous programming decisions. The season will open Sept. 6 with the company premiere of Virgil Thomson and Gertrude Stein's 1947 collaboration The Mother of Us All, and will also include productions of Busoni's Doktor Faust, Shostakovich's Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk and Janacek's The Cunning Little Vixen." San Francisco Chronicle 01/16/03 

In Search Of The Center Of Music "New music right now — and in fact, or so I'm thinking, most likely the entire music world—is best described with the old story of the blind people and the elephant. You know the drill. The blind people approach the noble beast. One touches its tail. "This is a rope," he says. The next one reaches out a hand, and finds the elephant's trunk. 'It's not a rope,' she says. 'It's a snake!' And so on, till they're lost in confusion." NewMusicBox 01/03 

Classical Action - This Year's Grammys The Grammys have not enjoyed a good reputation among classical music critics. But there are a few encouraging trends developing with this year's nominations - The influence of independent labels continued. "Across 12 categories, independent labels garnered 32 nominations this year and the majors 29, versus 31 for independents last year and 29 for the majors." Also, writes Bradley Bambarger, this years nominees reflect "an impressive percentage of modern and rare repertoire figures across the field." Andante 010/08/03 

Why Women In The Vienna Phil Matter The Vienna Philharmonic has admitted its first woman musician as a member. American musicologist explains why it's important to protest the orchestra until its policies about admitting women improve. "There has never been a more important time for all people to realize that chauvinism is a bottomless pit of hatred, violence and death. Every time we protest violence against human dignity, whether physical or cultural, we help make the world a better and more peaceful place for everyone." MSNBC 01/13/03 

Opera Babes - Music Vs Image Sony is counting on big sales by the Opera Babes to revive its classical division. "The act carries an us-against-the-world whiff of female empowerment. Some might think the message is undercut by the chests and cheekbones poking out from the CD booklet, and the slinky skirts and animal-print outfits they model in the many photos." Perhaps the marketing is overwhelming the music? The Globe & Mail (Canada) 01/18/03 

Rethinking Prokofiev "I think we're on the threshold of a renaissance in Prokofiev's reputation. Five years after his death, there was a Prokofiev memorial evening at the Moscow Conservatory where they spoke of his work only in superlatives. After that, his reputation came to be overshadowed somewhat by that of Dmitri Shostakovich. Now it's coming to be understood that Prokofiev and Shostakovich were equally important; that if Shostakovich was Michelangelo, Prokofiev was Leonardo da Vinci." The Guardian (UK) 01/17/03 

Opera Companies Go Back To The Tried And True In response to a tighter economy, more and more opera companies are turing away from adventurous fare and returning to audience favorites. "You have to consider what the public wants, because they have every opportunity to choose not to go. This isn't a court theater – this is populist entertainment. We're trying to appeal to a broad general public." Dallas Morning News 01/19/03 

The Myths Of Dying Orchestras Yeah, there are gloomy stories about symphony orchestras these days. But "as we enter this new age of musical anxiety, let's not lose sight of the many signs of health in the orchestra world - the surprisingly widespread commitment to developing new repertoire, the sense of ownership listeners feel, the renewed awareness of the value of arts education. We've been down this road many times before: expansion, contraction, repeat. So let's equip ourselves for the coming neurotic convulsions by shooting down some oft-recited but mistaken beliefs." Philadelphia Inquirer 01/19/03 

Preserving A Voice In The International Machine "The extent to which musicians from a particular ethnicity involve themselves with Western producers and Western tastes has sometimes led to hysterical fear, fear in the musical realm akin to that of the anti-globalization forces in the political and economic realms. The fear is of the obliteration of the world's indigenous peoples, languages, economic and political independence, culture and, yes, music. All that will remain will be a faceless, gray, corporate anonymity, McDonald's meets Orwell in the land of synth-pop. Except, at least in music, it hasn't worked that way at all." The New York Times 01/19/03 

 Last Week's News

Advertising and Sponsorship Info

Record companies, artists and publicists are invited to submit CDs to be considered for our Editor's Pick's of the month.  Send to: Jerry Bowles, Editor, Sequenza 21, 340 W. 57th Street, 12B, NY, NY 10019  Also, feel free to nominate your favorite composer-- even if it's you--for Spotlight of the Week.
Cedille Records Releases Final CD 
In African Heritage Symphonic Series
Over the past three years, Cedille Records, part of the not-for-profit  Chicago Classical Recording Foundation has  released three splendid albums of neglected works by African-American composers.
Volume I in the African Heritage Symphonic Series focused on early Black composers like Samuel  Coleridge-
Taylor, Fela Sowande and William Grant Still.
Volume II featured compositions by exceptional Black composers from the 1940s to the 1980s. Including Ulysses Kay, George Walker, Roque Cordero, Hale Smith, and Adolphus Hailstork.
Four leading contemporary Black American composers comprise the third and final installment of  the acclaimed series. 
Volume III features compositions from the last quarter of the 20th century performed by the Chicago Sinfonietta led by maestro Paul Freeman.
Freeman spearheaded the landmark Black Composers Series of Columbia LPs in the 1970s, which inspired the new undertaking. 

"The quartet of composers represented here have a particular distinction in common: Each displays remarkable stylistic versatility, working not just in concert idioms, but also in film music, gospel music, and jazz," writes Professor Dominique-René de Lerma. 

  David Baker (b. 1931) performed and recorded as a jazz trombonist with Quincy Jones, Maynard Ferguson, and Lionel Hampton. He later became enamored of the cello but never abandoned his jazz roots, as his evocative and highly virtuosic Cello Concerto (1975) beautifully demonstrates. Soloist on the CD is the noted young Chicago Symphony Orchestra cellist Katinka Kleijn.

Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson (b. 1932) studied with Earl Kim at Princeton and with expatriate African American conductor Dean Dixon in the Netherlands. He co-founded New York's Symphony of the New World and composed a tribute to Charlie Parker for the Alvin Ailey dance company. Perkinson's Generations: Sinfonietta No. 2 for Strings (1996) draws on a wide range of influences, displaying the composer's musical wit and uncommon ability to transform familiar melodies.

William Banfield (b. 1961) is probably the most noted figure among the younger generation of African American composers. His music echoes his belief that the juxtaposition of styles in pop music has prepared listeners for similar explorations in art music. That credo is particularly evident in his eclectic, percussion rich Essay for Orchestra (1994). One conductor called the piece ". . . a huge, Wagnerian Jazz Romp." 

A genuine rising star, Los Angeles-based composer Michael Abels's (b. 1962) Global Warming (1990) has multiple meanings. Its opening passage suggests a vast, arid desert, but it soon moves on to lively Irish and Middle Eastern sounding themes. The jaunty congruence of these culturally disparate sounds connotes a very different kind of "Global Warming." The piece has received more than 100 performances and was the first work by a Black composer to enter the repertory of South Africa's National Symphony. 

Cellist Katinka Kleijn is a native of The Netherlands. At age 16 she won the Dutch national Princess Christina Competition. Following studies in Germany and the U.S. with Andy Lim, Laurence Lesser, and Lynn Harrell, Kleijn joined the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1995. Kleijn has appeared as a soloist with The Hague Philharmonic Orchestra, Chicago Sinfonietta, Sheboygan Symphony, and with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on CSO Youth Concerts. This is Kleijn's first recording for Cedille Records. She has also appeared on a CD for Boston Records with former CSO principal flutist Donald Peck.

Cedille Records was founded in 1989 by James Ginsburg, then a law student at the University of Chicago. Dedicated to making distinctive classical recordings featuring excellent Chicago-area musicians, Cedille immediately filled an important niche as the only Chicago-based classical label since Mercury Records' Living Presence line in the 1950s. 

Cedille's catalog currently contains 50+ critically-acclaimed recordings. Cedille focuses on important music overlooked by the major labels. Cedille rarely records mainstream classical masterworks, and only in the context of innovative programs by artists who have enlightening and distinctive interpretations. Music of the 20th century makes up a significant portion of Cedille's catalog.

Cedille Records

Miller Theatre: 
2002-03 Season at a Glance
Classical Grammy Winners

Previous Interviews/Profiles
Simon Rattle, Michael Gordon,Benjamin Lees, Scott Lindroth, David Felder, Mark-Anthony Turnage, Erkki-Sven Tüür,John Luther Adams, Brett Dean, Judith Lang Zaimont, Meyer Kupferman, Evan Chambers, Poul Ruders, Steven R. Gerber, Gloria Coates

Previous Articles/
Busoni The Visionary
The Composer of the Moment:  Mark-Anthony Turnage
Electronic Music
Voices: Henze at 75
Henze Meets Emenim
On Finding Kurtag
Charles Ruggles:  When Men Were Men
Ballet Mécanique
The Adams Chronicles

             EDITORS PICKS - JANUARY 2003

Music of Our Time
Composer(s): Karlheinz Stockhausen, John Cage, György Ligeti, Wolfgang Rihm
Performer(s): Gottfried Michael Konig, Karlheinz Stockhausen, et al.
Wergo - #6921 
The Big Box of 20th century modernism.  Four disks--one each devoted to the music of Stockhausen, Cage, Ligeti, and Rihm--to celebrate Wergo's 40 years at the cutting edge.  An outstanding collection and a must have for the serious collector of contemporary music--even if you have some of the pieces on other recordings. 

Rapture / An American Abroad / Jasper
Composer: Michael Torke
Performer(s): Currie, Alsop, Royal Scottish Nat'l Orch
Naxos - #8559167 
Michael Torke is among the most talented of the younger generation of American composers. In the past few years he has risen to international prominence with an exciting series of orchestral and ensemble works that explores a unique fusion of jazz, rock, and more traditional classical influences Captured beautifully here are three pieces Torke wrote while serving as composer in residence at the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Jasper, An American Abroad and the energetic percussion concerto, Rapture, with Colin Currie, soloist. 

Footprints in New Snow
Composer:  Christos Hatzis
 Cbc Enterprises - #1156-2 
Footprints in New snow is an electroacoustic composition for tape  based on prerecorded katajjaq, the vocal games of the Inuit by the Greek-born, Canadian composer Christos Hatzis. The material was recorded on location at Iqaluit and Cape Dorset at Baffin Island from June 15-26 along with interviews with throat singers, respected elders of the community and various environmental sounds of the north. This extensive material was subsequently edited and incorporated in the composition using digital sampling and digital audio technologies.  The results are fascinating, often mesmerizing.

Bram Stoker's Dracula
Composer: Wojciech Kilar
Performers: Cracow Philharmonic Chorus, Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra (Katowice), Antoni Wit (conductor). Marco Polo
Wojciech Kilar is best-known for his film music although he is also an outstanding composer of orchestral works.  Few people alive are better are capturing musical moods and creating a sound world that perfectly matches the images they illustrate.   Born in Poland in 1932, and having studied at the Katowice State Music School, he eventually arrived in Paris as a student of Boulenger. He had composed for over one hundred Polish films before moving into the Hollywood industry.

New American Piano Music
Composer(s): David Rakowski, Henry Martin, et al.
  Performer: Teresa McCollough
innova 552
 Pianist Teresa McCollough reviewed more than 300 original piano compositions by American composers.  and  picked the best seven to include on her recital programs and national tours.  The result is a exciting and adventuresome program of contemporary music in a variety of approachable styles and of uniform high quality. 

String Quartet No. 3
Composer: Arnold Bax
 Performer(s): Maggini Quartet
Label: Naxos - #8555953 
 The last and longest of Bax's published quartets sounds like a combination of  his earlier two, although that's not bad. Outdoorsy, English cow patty music that sounds best after a spirited day afield, in the company of a big slobbering dog, blowing the heads off small game with a James Purdey, London, shotgun, followed by a good cigar and  an Irish whiskey by the fireplace.  Ah, sweet motherland. 


Lo the Full Final Sacrifice & Other Choral Works
 Composer: Gerald Fenzi
 Performers:  Choir of St John's College, Cambridge / Christopher Robinson, conductor
Of Italian Jewish ancestry, Gerald Finzi was among the most English of composers, spending much of his life in the countryside of Hampshire and later near Newbury. His interest in earlier English music and in English literature is  reflected in these settings of choral works performed splendidly by the Choir of St. John's College. 


Fall of Berlin / Unforgettable Year 1919 
Composer: Dmitry Shostakovich
Performer: Ellena Alekseyeva, piano / Moscow Capella & Youth Chorus / Moscow Symphony Orchestra / Adriano, conductor 
Marco Polo - #8223897 
Shostokovitch was so often in trouble with the authorities that often the only music he could get recorded was zippy patriotic anthems to accompany propaganda films.  Fortunately, he had a great knack for creating a hook and his film work was well-known to a populace that had never heard his more important modernist pieces because they had been supressed.  The pieces heard here are fine examples of Shostokovitch ability to walk the fine line between blarney and satire.

Frankie and Johnny
Composer: Jerome Moross
Performer(s):  Barrick, Edds, Kesling, Rosenberg
 Naxos - #8559086
"But, he was her man, nearly all the time..."  Wonderfully atmospheric rendering of the complete ballet-- Frankie and Johnny--commissioned by Ruth Page of the Chicago Ballet. To the degree that he is remembered at all,  Moross is best-known for the film score of The Big Country but even bigger things were expected of him. Born in New York on August 1, 1913, Morass began piano lessons at age five and composing by age eight. In 1924, he became the youngest child ever to graduate from a New York City Public School up to that time.

Piano Concerto Nos. 1 & 2; Rhapsody on Ukranian Themes
Composer: Sergey Mikhaylovich Lyapunov
 Conductor: Martyn Brabbins
Performer: Hamish Milne
Hyperion - #67326 
Another terrific piano concerto by a composer you never heard of in Hyperion's huge and indispensible 
catalog of romantic piano concerti.  Continuing proof that there is piano music of worth beyond Rachmaninoff and Grieg.

Symphonies Nos. 3 & 9
Composer: Heitor Villa-Lobos
Conductor: Carl St. Clair
Cpo Records - #999712 )
Villa-Lobos has undergone a resurgence in recent years as more of his symphonic and chamber work has appeared in first-rate performances.  The result has been a much-deserved elevation in stature from composer of charming little tunes for the guitar to major composer in virtually all genre.  Fabulous and committed playing.

All Rivers at Once
Composer: Phillip Schroeder
Performer: Duo Savage
Capstone - # 8709)
Hints of Mahler and the late Romantics run through these lovely pieces performed by Duo Savage, consisting of Susan Savage (oboe and English horn) and Dylan Savage (piano and synthesiser). This is haunting, beautiful, music that transports the listener to a world that is considerably more genteel than one in which we live. 


Violin Sonatas
Composer: Sergey Prokofiev
Performer(s): Andrey Bielov
 Naxos - #8555904
Another brilliant prodigy making kid's play out of pieces that many adult players find gnarly, indeed.  This could be the start of something big.

Eric Stokes
Composer: Eric Stokes
 Performer: Michael Lowenstern, Heather Barringer, et al.
New World Records - #80596
"Music is for the people," Eric Stokes once wrote. " For all of us: the dumb,the deaf, the dogs and jays, handclappers,
dancing moon watchers, brainy puzzlers, abstracted v whistlers, finger-snapping time keepers, crazy, weak, hurt, weed keepers, the strays. The land of 
music is everyone’s nation—her tune, his beat, your drum—one song, one vote." Once mentioned in the same breath as Ives and Cage, Stokes has  fallen off  the charts in recent times. 
This is the first recording devoted entirely to his work and its shows a lively musical intelligence that deserves further listening.

Piano Music Vol. 4
Composer: Olivier Messiaen
Performer: Hakon Austbo
Naxos - #8554655
Messiaen is this year's flavor of the month as record companies continue to  turn out dozens of  versions of his works both large and small.  This Naxos series is the best bargain of the lot, with wonderful, well-recorded performances that reflect the growth of Messiaen's reputation as one of the giants of 20th century music.

Orchestra Music
Composer: Silvestre Revueltas
Conductor: Enrique Barrios
Aguascalientes Symphony Orchestra
Naxos - #8555917
All the greatest hits of Mexico's  best dead composer, performed marvelously by a sympathetic orchestra, at a bargain basement price.  If you don't know Revueltas' work, shut down the computer immediately, run to the nearest CD store, plop down your money and prepare to be amazed.

SEQUENZA21/is published weekly by Sequenza21/, 340 W. 57th Street, 12B, New York, NY 10019
Publisher:  Duane Harper Grant  (212) 582-4153
Editors:    Jerry & Suzanne Bowles   (212) 582-3791
Contributing Editor: Deborah Kravetz 
(C) Sequenza/21 LLC 2000

Search WWW Search www.sequenza21.com 
Sequenza21/The Contemporary Classical Music Weekly is part of
Classical Music Web Ring
The free linking service provided by Classical Music UK
[ Previous 5 Sites | Previous| Next | Next 5 Sites | Random Site | List Sites ]