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340 W. 57th Street, 12B, New York, NY 10019

Jerry Bowles
(212) 582-3791

Managing Editor:
David Salvage

Contributing Editors:

Galen H. Brown
Evan Johnson
Ian Moss
Lanier Sammons
Deborah Kravetz
Eric C. Reda
Christian Hertzog
(San Diego)
Jerry Zinser
(Los Angeles)

Web & Wiki Master:
Jeff Harrington

Latest Posts

Love and Cow Bells
Sorceress of the New Piano
Well, That Was Fun
Naxos Dreaming
Reich@70: Let the Celebrations Begin
The Bi-Coastal Jefferson Friedman
Violins Invade Indianapolis
John Cage (born Los Angeles, 5 September 1912; died New York, 12 August 1992).
The People United Will Never Be Divided
Attention Sequenza21 Shoppers


Record companies, artists and publicists are invited to submit CDs to be considered for review. Send to: Jerry Bowles, Editor, Sequenza 21, 340 W. 57th Street, 12B, New York, NY 10019

Friday, January 21, 2005
What's Newish?

How important are teachers in the lives of composers and performers? Join the discussion in our Composers Forum...Lawrence Dillon tells us what he's working on now in his updated blog and Brian Sacawa answers the perennial question: hey, kid, what you got in that case?
Marketing 101

 height=Just got an invitation from Koch International Classics to attend the New York City record release party for a group called Imani Winds at Joe�s Pub (425 Lafayette St.)on February. The new album is called "The Classical Underground."

Wonder what the marketing concept is going to be?
In Search of Lost French Musical Treasures

 height=Tales of musical obsession are almost always entertaining, especially those that end with the unearthing of long-forgotten goodies. Pianist Sara Davis Buechner�s tracking down and then recording of rare copies of piano bon bons by Rudolf Friml, the man who wrote many of Nelson and Jenette�s greatest hits, is one delightful example. So are Donald Berman�s two Unknown Ives CDs, which are the first recordings of Ives� unpublished piano works and new critical editions.

Yesterday�s Detroit Free Press had a splendid musical obsession story by Mark Stryker, mainly about The Rev. Eduard Perrone, pastor of Assumption Grotto Catholic Church on Detroit's east side, who was trained as a pianist and composer and has long been intriqued by the music of Paul Paray, the world famous conductor who led the Detroit Symphony for many years. Paray abandoned composing permanently in 1939. After reading in a Paray biography that he had written a lot of music, Father Perrone set out for France to look for manuscripts, ultimately finding almost all of them in the hands of Paray's surviving family in Normandy. There were about about two dozen major works, including two symphonies, plus about 30 solo piano pieces and 50 songs. Half the music had never been published. Some scores were missing, so Perrone had to reconstruct them from parts and he�s persuaded Jobert to publish them. He�s also halfway through an ambitious, privately-financed effort to record all of Paray�s work.

Now, Father Perrone has formed a chamber group called the Detroit Chamber Trio which it turned its attention to forgotten French composers like Henri Dallier and Joseph-Ermend Bonnal and others who were swept away by the Pierre Boulez zeitgist. They have a new CD and are going to tour France. So there, Pierre.
What's New Today

Who's important in music? Who's not? Does it matter? The discussion continues in the Composers Forum and you're invited to take part...Beata Moon's new CD Earthshine reveals a young composer growing by leaps and bounds. Updates throughout the day.
Let the Eagles Soar

If you�re headed for the big inauguration today (my invitation must have gotten lost in the mail), don�t forget the longjohns. It�s a chilly morning on the East Coast of George Bush�s America so you might want to phone in sick and do the C-Span thing instead.

Forget the drama of whether Chief Justice Rehnquist actually shows up and survives the ceremony, the big news for me is this year�s musical program, which was put together by none other than the formerly powerful Trent �Things Would Have Been a Lot Different If the South Had Won the War� Lott. And what a dandy program it is.

The highlight should come early when Guy Hovis, a vocalist from Tupelo, Miss., (not to be confused with that other singer from Tupelo), an aide to Senator Lott who used to perform with his wife Rena on the Lawrence Welk show, sings �Let the Eagles Soar,� a song written by soon-to-be former Attorney General John Ashcroft. The song is so excruiatingly wretched that Dave Letterman managed to get three months of laughs out of playing a tape of Ashcroft singing part of it.

Also lending their voices to the event will be the choir from Alcorn State University in Mississippi, a group comprised of 48 music majors �known� (their press release says) for their traditional choral music and gospel spirituals. And there�s Wintley Phipps, a gospel singer who is also the founder the U.S. Dream Academy, an online Christian academic resource, and Tech Sergeant Bradley Bennett, a native of Kent, Ohio, who is also a member of the Air Force musical group, the "Singing Sergeants."

True, there will be a couple of moments of highbrow entertainment; opera singers Susan Graham and Denyce Graves will represent the eastern liberal culture lobby although they�ll be singing hymns in keeping with Red State tastes. Graham was presumably picked because she hails from the president�s pretend hometown of Midland, Texas and Graves, a mediocre singer on a good day, was presumably picked because she�s�ur�for the same reason that Colin Powell was picked to be the most misused Secretary of State in American history.

All this, plus the Marine Band, the Naval Academy Men's and Women's Glee Clubs, the Army Herald Trumpets and the Navy Sea Chanters. Aren�t you sorry you couldn�t come up with 50 grand or so to snag an invitation?
New Music Director for Edmonton

 height=William Eddins will become the Music Director of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra.

A native of Buffalo New York, Eddins is also the Principal Guest Conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland and until recently the Resident Conductor of the Chicago Symphony. A frequent guest conductor of symphony orchestras worldwide, he is known for his energetic conducting style. An accomplished pianist, Eddins often leads performances from the keyboard.
Inventions 2005: New Music in London

The always adventuresome London Sinfonietta, abetted by the BBC Singers and the new music promotion group, spnm, has put together what looks like an exciting day of workshops and concerts called Inventions 2005 on Saturday 19 February at the Queen Elizabeth Hall. The day will focus on composers Simon Holt and David Sawer and showcase a younger generation of British composing talent.

Holt's The Coroner's Report is the second of three works connected with his acclaimed music-theatre piece Who put Bella in the Wych Elm?, describing the mystery of a woman's body found in a tree in the early 1940s. The 2004 ensemble work is made up of eight exhibits from this tale, including 'gold ring' for piano and celeste simultaneously performed by one player(Rolf Hind), 'throat' for alto flute, and 'a spring of belladonna' for solo harp. Rolf Hind is also the soloist in eco-pavan, in which the ensemble echoes the sound of the piano, and the material in the piece echoes itself. brief candles is eight flickering miniatures, some lasting mere seconds, for solo clarinet (Mark van de Wiel).

The works by Sawer explore a fascination with puzzles and pictures. Sounds (sung by the BBC Singers) sets texts from Wassily Kandinsky's album Klange, a collection of Dada-like poems and woodcuts. Picture puzzles provide the inspiration for the title of his most recent work, Rebus, a sonic kaleidoscope constructed from melodic fragments which constantly metamorphose into new patterns. The optical tricks of the 'fantascope' (a 1798 magic lantern, which shocked audiences with images of spirits and demons) gave rise to Cat's-Eye. Images appear and disappear, grow smaller and larger: Sawer says: 'I can imagine the thing was not averse to breaking down'.

London Sinfonietta principal players make solo appearances in the remaining works of both the 6pm and 7.45pm concerts, which will be introduced by video programme notes. Three of the composers featured are involved in the London Sinfonietta's Blue Touch Paper project, which offers time with players to try out new ideas and develop different ways of working. In the world premiere of Mary Bellamy's Within Dreams I, a solo cello (Anssi Karttunen) is suspended high in its register above the ensemble, exploiting the full range of the instrument's capabilities. Tansy Davies' 2004 work neon pits a bass clarinet and soprano saxophone against strings, piano and percussion. The 6.00pm concert contains two miniature works by Anna Meredith: fly-by-night, 'a sort of tiny creepy lullaby', and axeman for electric bassoon (John Orford), in which the composer aims to turn the instrument into a 'wailing, riffing, 1980s, electric-guitar god'.

The UK premiere of James Olsen's Chameleon Concerto presents a kind of 'anti-concerto' for solo violin (Clio Gould) and piano (Rolf Hind) in which the soloists blend into each other and into an ever-changing orchestral background.

We need more of these kinds of events on this side of the big pond. See the complete program on our Calendar page.
Roll Over Beethoven: Modern Music in Philadelphia

Somewhat overlooked in the announcement that the Philadelphia Orchestra is planning to plough through all nine of Beethoven�s symphonies in the 2005-2006 season is the heartening news that there are also a number of contemporary works scheduled, including three pieces commissioned especially for the orchestra.

Philadelphia-based composer Jennifer Higdon, who was recently nominated for three Grammy awards, including one for her Concerto for Orchestra, a Philadelphia Orchestra Association commission, will unveil her Concerto for Percussion, featuring the young Scottish percussionist Colin Currie.

 height=Daniel Kellogg, a student of Jennifer Higdon, who was selected from over 100 applicants and his piece will premiere during the international Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary celebration to be launched in Philadelphia in the fall of 2005.

The third commission is a new work by the ubiquitous Bright Sheng, who is writing a piece based on the 12-year cycle of the Chinese zodiac with each year of the cycle represented by a different animal.

The Bethoven concerts will also provide cover for works by Magnus Lindberg and Henri Dutilleux and Simon Rattle will lead the world premiere of new work by Sofia Gubaidulina.

Other compositions by other living composers in The Philadelphia�s 2005-06 season include George Walker's Lyric for Strings; the Violin Concerto by John Adams, with soloist Leila Josefowicz; the Flute Concerto by Christopher Rouse, and Einojuhani Rautavaara's Cantus Arcticus (Concerto for Birds and Orchestra).
What's New Today

Brian Sacawa is off to Miami for a week of rehearsal and a concert with the New World Symphony and he's taken his bike along. Would you rather be famous or important? The discussion continues in the Composers Forum and we encourage you to leave your own thoughts. Just click on "Comments" and opine away. And, is the synthesized orchestra ready for primetime?

UPDATE: Brian Sacawa says our lighthearted Angela Benedetti post below raises a serious question: What is our goal as musicians? To sell albums or to make art? Elsewhere, Lawrence Dillon quotes a great American poet on the value of a poem and throws another log on the fire in the Composers Forum.

Bright Sheng Gets Indianapolis Commission

 height=Bright Sheng has been commissioned to write the new piece required of all contestants in the next International Violin Competition of Indianapolis. Sheng, a University of Michigan professor and well-known composer will compose a piece six to nine minutes long for violin and piano.

Sheng is the latest in a series of well-known composers to write required pieces for the Violin Competition. Richard Danielpour, Ned Rorem, Witold Lutoslawski and George Rochberg are among those who have written the required new piece in past years.
Nicola Benedetti: Sex and Violins

 height=Violinist Nicola Benedetti was eight when she led the National Children's Orchestra of Scotland. She was ten when left her Scottish home to train at the Yehudi Menuhin School in Surrey. At 16, she won the BBC Young Musician Of the Year. And, after today, according to The Scotsman, the seventeen-year-old Ayrshire teen will be a multi-millionaire when she signs with a �major label� for a deal worth �1 million, but she expects to double her money with modelling, advertising and "red carpet" events.

The major label is already making noises about plans to "modernize" young Nicola which, one can assume, does not mean she'll be playing new works by contemporary composers but rather that they'll be adding mini-skirts, leather outfits and Brittany-style necklines to her wardrobe. Hey, Vanessa Mae has earned �24 million since she first debuted as a teenage sex bobble who happened to play the violin. And you thought there was no money to be made in �classical� music.
What's New Today?

We're delighted to welcome the talented young new music saxophonist Brian Sacawa to the Sequenza21 family. We've wanted to get some performer blogs going to provide a different perspective on the contemporary music scene from the one we get from our composer regulars and busy Brian will give us a peek into the life of a working musician. Also, new hot topic in the Composers Forum.

On a personal note, I woke up this morning thinking about my old friend and sometime colleague Charles Moore who started his photography career many years ago at the Montgomery Advertiser and--as a 27-year-old with more courage than sense--recorded many of the images of dogs and firehoses and Martin Luther King that touched a nation's conscience and helped change the world for the better. This day is for you, amigo.
Kurtag's "Kafka Fragments" at Zankel

by David Salvage

 height=If you missed Gyorgy Kurtag�s Kafka Fragments last week, you missed the best concert of the year.

Well all right, so I�ve been a big, big fan of Kurtag�s music now for a few years and am a little biased. That said, I was actually kind of worried. Dawn Upshaw�s been raising some eyebrows lately: people are wondering if she�s past her prime. And Peter Sellars can be a bit, shall we say, wayward.

But I cannot recall a production of such consistent excellence. Dawn Upshaw was a triumph. Not only did she remain in brilliant vocal form throughout the 70-minute piece, but her acting was by any standard superb. Her facial expressions and her movement around the stage evidenced a performer who was committed with every ounce of her being, and there was not one trace of "diva-dom" to be detected. How lucky the world of classical music is to have one of its top stars be someone so dedicated to interesting cutting-edge projects!

Peter Sellars�s direction found a wonderful balance between arresting imagery and deference to the music. During each of the piece�s four parts, Upshaw, dressed in the sort of comfortable, loose clothing one wears around the house, engaged in such quotidian tasks as washing dishes, scrubbing the floor, and doing the laundry. Such tasks put into brilliant relief the often tortured texts, and reminded one of Kafka�s own life adding up figures at the bank � tedious work, done in obscurity.

Behind the action, Sellars projected a series of black-and-white photographs by David Michalek. Sellars used a similar device in "El Nino" which I completely did not understand, though that time it was a live-action film. In "Kafka Fragments," however, the photographs enhanced the drama beautifully. Not only did Upshaw sing of her own life, but also of the lives of the countless other people portrayed in Michalek�s photos.

And the music? I can think of no other composer alive capable of such unmediated expression. Sometimes as diatonic as a major scale, other times as thorny as the roughest passages in serialism, Kurtag�s music has an unparalleled capacity to evoke an infinity of psychological states. Yes, much of "Kafka Fragments" is dark. But it would be a mistake to accuse the piece of one-dimensionality. Sometimes the music was silly, at other times relaxed, elsewhere quiet and introspective. And yet, for all its guises, never once did the music sound affected or mannered. In the hands of Upshaw and violinist Geoff Nuttall, the whole score sounded as natural as improvisation.

The night I saw "Kafka Fragments" the house was nearly full and the audience reasonably attentive. Of course, some idiots left during the performance. But I hope this production leads to more performances of Kurtag�s music in New York and around the United States. With a music scene filled with gimmickery and warmed over expressive gestures, composers like him are nigh impossible to overpraise.
The Seattle Symphony as (American) Paradigm

The Playbill Arts web site notes that Gerard Schwarz and the Seattle Symphony are setting the stage for a festival series celebrating contemporary American Composers in May of 2005. They continue to be an orchestra that is willing to take chances in their programming and recordings. Those chances have been a great success for the orchestra and have made a big impact in giving audiences a broader scope and choice of musical fare.


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