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Jerry Bowles
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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

Saturday, April 16, 2005
Saturday Makeup

I was so busy hitting on Helen this week that I forgot to point you to Brian Sacawa's fine piece on the creation of the BMG Sony Masterworks label which Brian reckons (I can't resist the fake English stuff)is not good news for composers who are stll alive: "Contemporary music will have to be happy being marginalized, for the most part, to the internet ghetto..."
Private Dances

If you want some terrific late night listening while you're checking out Lawrence Dillon's list, click here and listen to Kyle Gann's Private Dances, played beautifully by Sarah Cahill. Read about the piece on Kyle's blog.
The List

Lawrence Dillon has it--the official Sequenza21 list of the 111 most influential music works since 1970. Get on over there and tell Lawrence what you think...Oh, are you sure you know how to pronounce Ligeti? Check out Everette Minchew.
A Little Water Music, Please

When Uptown Meets Downtown

The fourth annual Look & Listen Festival gets underway tonight at 8 pm at the Robert Miller Gallery�strategically located at 526 West 26th Street in the scenic West Side demilitarized zone between boring old Uptown and incredibly cool Downtown. Think of it as like the dance at the gym when the Sharks and the Jets are asked to play nice with each other.

Meredith Monk (Downtowner, with Uptown cred) opens the festival with her vocal ensemble performing selections from her Book of Days; cellist Joan Jeanrenaud (UT/DT) performs her own Vermont Rules and Strange Toys; and the Daedalus Quartet presents Conlon Nancarrow's (DT, now in danger of becoming Uptown) String Quartet, No. 1 and Morton Feldman's (UT, with DT cred) Structures.

On Friday night, the program includes the Contrasts Quartet performing Aaron Jay Kernis's (UT, Pulitizer Prize winner, for cripes sake) Trio in Red; the Lark Quartet with guest cellist Fred Sherry and guest violist Paul Neubauer performing Derek Bermel's (DT) Soul Garden; the Festival Prize Winning composition by Panayiotis Kokoras, (beats me) among others. A panel discussion, moderated by John Schaefer, includes composers Kernis and Bermel.

The weekend festival concludes on Saturday, April 16th at 8 pm with eighth blackbird, and So Percussion performing Jennifer Higdon's (so far downtown she might as well be in Philadelphia) Zaka, George Perle's (Gnarly UT) Critical Moments 2, Frederik Rzewski's (DT/UT) Coming Together, David Lang's (DT, but has his heart set on uptown) Little Eye, Steve Reich's (UT) Four Organs, and David Gordon's (don�t know him) Drops.

Admission is $10 per concert, or $20 for a festival pass. Attitudes will be checked at the door.
Harpists We Love

If Playboy were to have a foldout pictorial on, say, Girls of the Harp, I would buy a copy to see if Helen Radice was in it.
Babes (My Response)

Dear Ms. Maseland:

I could say that I described Wu Man as a �rightuous babe� in the article you cited because I am an insensitive smartass who likes to write provocative things that get people�s attention. That would not be entirely inaccurate, but it would be incomplete. I certainly meant no disrespect for Wu Man whom I have seen play several times and consider a formidable musician as well as a 21st century fox, as the late Jim Morrison might have said.

On a more serious level, I intended it as an ironic comment on how young female musicians are being marketed these days. The financial success of dreadful crossover acts like Bond and Vanessa Mae has led the big record companies to believe that they can produce the same results with more serious performers who also happen to be very attractive--like the teenage violinists Nicola Benedetti, Janine Jansen and Julia Fischer or ensembles such as the Eroica Trio and the Ahn Trio�by presenting them in flashy fashion-type photos and provocative wardrobes. Perhaps they can. The overwhelming majority of classical CD buyers are men although, granted, many of them are not interested in women who are not Dawn Upshaw. (Another irresistable smartass remark which I�ll let you figure out on your own.)

Can unattractive people be successful in classical music? Sure, go to the opera sometime. It takes some serious suspension of disbelief to watch a 350-pound Carmen waddling across the stage or buy the premise that someone of Pavorotti�s girth is a starving artist living in a garret. But, even that is changing and there are now lots of attractive singers around like Renee Fleming and Thomas Hampson and Samuel Ramey and Roberto Villazon.

The reality is that there is an economic value to having been born physically attractive. There always has been but now that value is compounded by a global marketplace that rewards the gifted, but rewards even more the flashy. For young classical performers who happen to be both gifted and beautiful, the challenge is how to reap the benefits of this reality without losing their souls in the process.
Babeness Revisted

Looks like my big mouth has gotten me in trouble again. A certain Annet Maseland writes:
Hi there,

Here is a Dutch journalist writing about babeness in the classical music for the Dutch magazine Vrij Nederland. Babeness is not a brand new phenomenon, but still interesting enough and fairly new for the Netherlands. Questions are: is it possible for a female musician to be succesful - and ugly? And: is being classified as a babe an advantage or a disadvantage?

On your site Sequenza, it struck me what was written about Wu Man: "In addition to being a rightous goodlooking babe, Wu Man is probably the best pipa player alive"

- Did you write this and could you answer why a male critic like yourself writes about a female appearance, since it seems of no importance at all, especially for a recording.

- Or was this meant as a joke?

I would really appreciate this if you could answer the question or perhaps deliberate some more about the topic, is it for example possible to call you and what would be a right time and date?
As fate would have it, I have something I need to do to pay the rent today but I will return to these questions when time permits. In the meantime, I will simply say that I believe "babeness" in classical music also applies to men and throw the floor open for your thoughts.
Hobo Heroes

Alex Ross has a great piece on Harry Partch in the current New Yorker...More on the Pulitizers in the Composers Forum...Jeffrey Biegel on concert audiences.
Penn Sounds: 3 Premieres from Orchestra 2001

Richard Wernick's Sextet for String Quartet, Double Bass and Piano (2003) had its Philadelphia premiere on this program, and primarily features the double bass opening with a motif at the high end of its register. Single notes are echoed in piano or one of the strings, but there is little cohesion until the strings come in together, and then it is only brief. The middle section scherzo "inebriated" is a raucous tutti with percussive piano and the "afterthought" ending is brief and spare.

Whirl's End (2005) by Melinda Wagner is purely abstract, scored for strings, harp, strummed piano and percussion. Its mournful iciness is warmed by frequent harp glissades, bur high slides in winds and strings keep the temperature cool.

Poulenc's Le bal masque songs performed by baritone Randall Scarlata present a view of music considered outrageous for its own 1932 time, that comes across as melodic and humorously scored now, and provides a congruent accompaniment for Max Jacob's nonsensical texts.

Mourning Sea, for Oboe solo and ensemble (2005) by Adam Wernick features the Philadelphia Orchestra's Richard Woodhams on oboe. The composer explained that the piece is not a concerto, but an essay exploring moods and possibilities of the oboe. Wernick has done many compositions for theater, and the opening thunder roll of timpani sets a dramatic tension, followed by brief cello and bass clarinet motifs. The oboe's solo lien is indeed mournful, and exotic, with phrases separated by the recurring drum rolls. As the oboe lien expands, more of the ensemble is involved with plucked harp and piano for textures and ground, and the melody becomes more lyrical, with string accompaniment and echoing, particularly in cello. A pizzicato section picks up the pace, develops the theme in the ensemble, and allows the oboe greater latitude in a dialogue with different voices.

After an extensive solo, the oboe leaves the hall while the ensemble plays a shimmering ground with bass clarinet and bassoon commentary, and the oboe concludes its solo from the wings.

The ensemble was conducted by Orchestra 2001 artistic director James Freeman in this season finale program.

Orchestra 2001
Three Premieres
Trinity Center
Philadelphia, PA
April 3, 2005

(Reposted from Penn Sounds 4-8-05.)


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