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

Jerry Bowles
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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

Saturday, May 21, 2005
Stop Presses!

The first ever survey of classical music critics in North America was released yesterday and a 54-page report, analyzed by Princeton University's Lawrence McGill, is available in PDF format at, or by link from I haven't taken a good look at it yet but it appears to have information about the numbers, demographics, educational backgrounds, work situations, ethical beliefs and musical tastes of Americans and Canadians writing about classical music today.

The report is called "The Classical Music Critic: A Survey of Classical Music Critics at General Interest and Specialized News Publications in America" and was sponsored by the Music Critics Association of North America and Columbia University's National Arts Journalism Program.

Some of the teaser findings in the press release:
The average classical music critic is a white, 52-year-old male with a graduate degree. BUT, 26% of all critics writing are female, and their numbers are equally spread from the youngest to the most experienced in the field.

Four out of five critics agree that "we can be proud of the new classical works that we have created in Canada and the U.S. over the past 25 years." However, more than half of the critics surveyed disagreed that "composers are breaking genuinely new ground these days."

There is a generational gap between younger critics - those 46 and younger- and older writers. In a word, "modern" and "American" are in among the younger writers, who tend to be more open to a wider range of contemporary composers, while masters like Handel, Wagner, Dvorak and Schumann are out.

John Adams was the most liked contemporary composer; Mozart was the most liked historical composer.
I find the Mozart bit incredibly discouraging but I plan to take a closer look at the report after I've had my coffee. Why don't you take a look, too, and come back and leave some comments.
O Dieu! Que de Bijoux!

There are lots of cute gal singers out there with tiny, whiny little voices who write and sing damp pop ditties about bad men and relationships gone sour but the classical world is just too serious for the genre of personal confessional songs. Right?

Well, wrong, as it turns out. Tonight at Alice Tully Hall, a young blonde Croatia-born soprano named Jama Jandrokovic will perform the world premiere of Five Lovers, a series of song cycles, based on her autobiographical collection of poetry, which have been set to music by American composers Lori Laitman, Luna Pearl Woolf, and (reverent pause) the 2004 Pulitzer Prize Winner for Music, Paul Moravec. The performance even has a stage director named by Gina Lapinski.

According to the press release that crossed our desk, �The Five Lovers poems chronicle Ms. Jandrokovic�s romantic journey as a recently divorced, newly single young woman in New York City attempting to reinvent herself. The tone of the poems ranges from the nervous excitement of being seduced by a new lover to the healing touch of a long lost love. Each composer has created a song cycle based on the poems from Five Lovers.�

The performers are Jama Jandrokovic, soprano; Dana Gioia, poet; Matt Haimovitz, cellist; Soyeon Kim, Andrew Rosenblum, pianists; and the North Sky Ensemble: Jesse Mills, violin; Colin Jacobsen, violin; Max Mandel, viola; Rubin Kodheli, cello.

�Art song is what brought me to singing and continues to be one of my passions,� Ms. Jandrokovic is quoted as saying. �After gathering the poems comprising Five Lovers together, I naturally yearned to have the poems set to music. Having always been fascinated by the shades of meaning that reveal themselves in a text when set by different composers - I desired to explore the dramatic possibilities of having my poems set in this way. Composers Lori Laitman, Paul Moravec and Luna Pearl Woolf have each given me unique gifts in the settings of my poems; gifts that allow me to playfully explore my words as an outsider and to express my most essential thoughts and feelings. Working with Lori, Paul and Luna Pearl on this project has been a joyful and illuminating journey, one that continues to cast light on my heart, spirit and voice.�
Letters, We Get Letters...

An actual e-mail from a S21 reader:
Hi. I was wondering if anyone there can tell me the name of the song and the composer of the piece of music that was used in a Memorex tv commercial from the 70s. It featured a kid who was supposed to be practicing the piano and then taped the music on a Memorex reel to reel tape and played the tape so that his mother would think he was practicing while he was actually outside playing football. Is it live or is it Memorex? I am trying to remember the music that was used in this commerical.

Any help you could offer would be great.

Doug Allen
Why Compose? (Continued)

Elodie Lauten brought it up; now Lawrence Dillon has come up with a list of excellent reasons...Meanwhile, Elodie has moved on the topic of stress which she thinks is overrated...If you like Bach and Bartok, can you also like Bach and Boulez?

Meanwhile, Bob Shingleton of On An Overgrown Path reports that a London Appeals Court has just ruled against Hyperion in a case that has chilling ramifications for the classical recording industry.
Four From Harvard, Including s/21�s David Salvage

Monday 5.16.05 � The Harvard Club, New York City; in hallowed Harvard Hall - a concert of New Music by four recent alumni of Harvard University including Anthony Chung, Richard Whalley, Alex Ness and S/21�s own Managing Editor, David Salvage.

In this rather stately, yet comfortably informal and intimate, setting--composers present--Cheung and Salvage talked a little about their pieces before they were performed. A short talk or program note adds a welcome dimension to concerts of new music and is a good way to give the audience a little insight and bring them further into the listening process.

Anthony Cheung�s �Sonata for Violin and Piano� opened the concert. The work, a one-movement scherzo, incorporated pianistic post impressionist harmonic sonorities and tight virtuosic phrasing between the piano, played by Cheung and and violinist Jeff Leigh. There was a nod to jazz, with some extended harmony and a riff from the tune �Invitation� that served as a resting point several times. There were also some impressively tight stops and starts.

Cheung�s piece for cello and electronics �Partial to Partials� followed with brilliantly realized nuances of harmonics and overtones incorporated into difficult passages, played by cellist Peter Anderegg with the cello�s low fundamental tones processed by a computer, deconstructed and amplified into the room. Interesting concept with deft and inventive cello writing and playing but I thought the electronics end took a little time to really develop and capture my attention and imagination. It did get interesting about two-thirds through the piece.

Richard Whalley�s piece �Missing Jen� for piano played by Cheung was a work of ruminating intimate flashes and emotional turbulence all digressing in the synapses of memory and a time gone by. The work seemed a little unfocused at one or two moments but the intimate passages were effective and so personal that they were almost voyeuristic to listen to.

David Salvage took the aforementioned �note before the piece� idea a step further and handed out a sheet that explained (in no uncertain terms) the parts of his 21 (conincidence?) part, �Pieces for Violin, Cello and Piano� (played by Leigh, Andregg and pianist Kimbal Gallagher) and how the segments related and referred to (or did not) other segments. Salvage animatedly explained the idea behind the piece and the program notes which one could use, or not, to keep track of things as they developed.

This concept of a program with program music was a first for me and an innovative way to give the audience clues to key things to listen for and relate back to and-- taken to its logical end--a primer on new music concepts and techniques as well as a way to sort through the events of a piece. Listening for the things that Salvage mentioned in his talk and notes made for an interesting and informative listening experience. The writing was clear and concise and the passages clever, even humorous, in their description and realization.

Alex Ness' �Movement for Violin� came next and it was remarkable and brilliant--inventive and modern with excellent interpretation and execution by Leigh. The silhouette of phrasing, range and dynamic profile had the faint trace of a Bach violin partita but was totally its own work.

Salvage�s six part song cycle �Rossetti Songbook� ended the evening. Delivered with sensitivity and poise by mezzo Jessica Bowers, accompanied by Gallagher, it was an intriguing set, with lyrics and sonorities of wonder and serene harmonic enchantment. Cheers to our Boy Wonder.

If this concert is any indication, we have great things to look forward to from these four young composers from Harvard. And the instrumentalists deserve tremendous credit for all of their performances. They really did let fly and were comfortable doing so.
You Go, Girl

Richard Strauss' Salome premiered 95 years ago this week, Alex Ross informs us in a preview from his next book. Young Adolph Hitler may have been there. Everyone else was...Everette Minchew has an interesting question over in the Composers Forum--do audiences really hate new music or are performers simply assuming they do and not playing it?
Last Night in LA.: Dresher and Subotnick

The California E.A.R. Unit concluded its Monday Evening Concert Series season at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art last night with with two powerful and emotional works--one of which is definitely destined for bigger things.

Composer Paul Dresher, in collaboration with writer Jim Lewis and tenor John Duykers (Nixon in China), has created a significant new music theater work entitled The Tyrant, inspired by Italo Calvino's short story A King Listens. The collaborators took Calvino's concept of a king who was unable to leave his throne because of fear of being overthrown, a king forced to experience his kingdom entirely through sound: what he could hear, what he imagined from what he heard, what he imagined he heard. The libretto is a new text built on this premise. The work was not created as a performance piece, but some time, somewhere, a Peter Sellars talent will certainly want to stage it.

Dresher has presented many styles and voices in his music. The language of this new work is conservative; in some respects I thought of Bartok's Bluebeard in the colors and the effects which Dresher evokes as the king's moods shift from imperious control to yearning, to fear, to paranoia, to longing for love (of a young woman he had heard singing through his window), to despair, to resignation. The instrumental ensemble (pierrot-plus-percussion) was exceedingly well-performed by the California EAR Unit six. Dresher's web site says that The Tyrant will become a regular repertory item on the touring list of the Paul Dresher Ensemble.

The Tyrant received its premiere in Seattle on May 1, and last night was only the second performance of this significant new work. Jonathan Mack was splendid as soloist. Dresher was there for the performance before leaving for Philadelphia where The Tyrant will be performed at the Prince Music Theatre tomorrow and Friday and Saturday nights with Peter Maxwell Davies' Eight Songs for a Mad King.

Last night the Dresher work was preceded by a recent work by Morton Subotnick Release (2003). The work is in four continuous sections: Without End, Judgment, Ice, Alone; the titles convey that this work is a contemplation of mortality. The work is a quintet for computer, violin, cello, clarinet, and piano. (Amy Knoles, the percussionist of the ensemble, sat with the performers as controller of the computer, with Subotnick providing the detailed shaping of the tonal output.) The instrumental sound was traditional in technique, in many instances concentrating on conventional beauty of sound, while the computer provided both the percussion and the extended sounds and tones, pitched and non-pitched. Often the work seemed to be a two-person dialogue between conventional and computer-generated sets of sound. The music grabs your attention and holds it through the contemplation and shifting emotions of the thoughts.
Press Release of the Week

Another gem from the primeTime sublime Community Orchestra


The New pTsCO CD brought to YOU by Corporate Blob Records - 8 pop songs (and 1 instrumental) subverted beyond the commercial realm. All the vocals were digitally manufactured with an IBM personal computer and the latest voice synthesis technology developed by AT&T and the Yamaha Corporation. Mastering by Andy VanDette at Masterdisk Studios, New York City.

- Curb Your God
The Grand Opening Number featuring 7 singers advocating the virtues of limiting the influence of one�s External Transcendent Moral Authority. (well, maybe not) Note the quotes: a fragment of What the World Needs Now by Burt Bacharach sung by a robot and the Ken-L-Ration Dog Food Jingle ("My Dog's Better Than Your Dog...") which occurs during the last section in the low brass.

- I Want You
A love song - a sort of pathologically obsessed recomposition beyond recognition of Billy Joel's I Love You Just The Way You Are with Sting's Every Breath You Take. (well, maybe not)

- Betty Poptarts
The ballad of the record with contributions by Richard Nixon, Hillary Clinton, both George Bushes, a group of TV commercial announcers, some evangelist I can�t remember the name of, Betty and Ken. Refers to those individuals who look for paths to happiness outside of themselves in ideas of a political, religious or materialistic nature, pre-organized for effortless convenience which enables one to escape from the real issues which are within oneself.

- Lesson 1
English as a 2nd language for nonearthlings taught by native speakers.

- Dance of the Bouncing Hornballs
A kind-of-but-not-really interlude: the instrumental track of the record.

- Just Do Me Tonight
Picture if you will, a man, a lonely man who sits at the same seat in the same neighborhood bar night after night. He doesn�t have many friends and is unable to give or receive love - a junkyard of memories and unresolved emotions. At the end of the night he "scores" with a big, boobed, blonde bimbo from Brooklyn. Recorded live in the lounge at Murphy�s Sea Bay Inn, Normandy Beach, New Jersey.

- Hannibal Lecter�s BBQ
Progressive Rock so progressive it isn�t Rock anymore. What if Hannibal Lecter invited you over for a neighborhood barbeque one sunny, Saturday afternoon?

- Rainbow Seeds of Mass Destruction
What if Samuel Beckett wrote a screenplay for a Disney movie about a cockroach who became president? A song of political propaganda gone awry. The line "Jesus was a Republican" got edited out for aesthetic, not religious or political reasons.
The 2nd half is an electronic soundscape of a nuclear fallout with TV commercial announcements. Advertising of commodities during nuclear fallout may seem absurd to most; but remember: comparable to the World Cup or the Super Bowl, Armageddon will be televised and commercial time will be very expensive.

- It Will Be Over Before Ya Know It
An inspirational song of joy and hope designed to uplift the wrinkled hearts of the masses and create eternal peace, love and understanding throughout the world and its neighbors. (well, maybe not)

Listen to samples.
People Who Need People

Ever sing for Barbra Streisand? Jeffrey Biegel has, and lived to tell the tale...Lawrence Dillon is back from Boston with a good report card on performing with his wife...We're doing the death of high culture over in the Composer's Forum...And, some new CD reviews--George Antheil, Morton Lauridsen, and a fine recording of oboe concertos.
Another Week in Which to Excel

Go immediately to Tom Myron's page and listen to his gorgeous piece, The Soldier's Return, which was broadcast live from Kennedy Center on Saturday night. And don't forget to leave a comment. The big bucks we pay our bloggers aren't enough...While we're talking about Tom, Everette Minchew confesses that he, too, dreams of famous composers...and Brian Sacawa fans the 1984 flames and suggests you vent in the Composers Forum. Whatever you may think of Lorin Maazel's chutzpah, you have to admit that seldom has an opera's theme been better-suited to the times. Orwell was right; he just missed by about 20 years.
Farley, Liebermann preview London concert of American songs

Soprano Carole Farley and composer Lowell Liebermann, joined by pianist William Hobbs, gave a preview concert Saturday night in West Palm Beach of a concert of American songs that will be presented June 1 at Wigmore Hall in London.

Composer Ned Rorem was supposed to appear to perform eight of his songs with Farley (the two collaborated on a good disc of Rorem songs for Naxos, recorded in 2000), but canceled Friday, citing illness. This was a disappointment, of course, but Rorem's songs came off well, and the small but attentive audience at the Kravis Center's Rinker Playhouse gave them a warm response.

In addition to the Rorem songs, there were two longer songs by Liebermann, nine songs by William Bolcom (who will join Rorem, Liebermann and Farley in London), and six songs by Cuban pianist-composer Ernesto Lecuona; the title of the recital was Songs From the Americas.

Liebermann, a fine pianist, opened the concert with his two Whitman settings: Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking, Op. 41, and On the Beach at Night, Op. 78. Liebermann's tonal idiom is somewhere in the first two decades of the 20th century; it was reminiscent for me of the music of Nordic songwriters such as Alfven.

The Whitman songs are well-crafted, with some distinctive word-painting: the hushed, slow chords in Out of the Cradle that precede the words "Till all of a sudden/May-be kill'd, unknown to her mate"; the slowly rocking pattern that opens On the Beach, and the more expansive texture that appears at the words "Weep not, child/Weep not, my darling."

Effective music, but much of it had the feel of very skillful stage setting for a strong melody that didn't arrive. Farley was not in particularly good voice Saturday night, but she gave these pieces a strong sale, as she did for all the songs on the recital.

The Rorem set that followed showcased a composer who knows how to frame a poem. Each song had a clear profile and character, and his accompaniments are melodically rich and transparent at the same time; in this way the music narrates the poem rather than the other way around. My Papa's Waltz (Roethke), Youth, Day, Old Age and Night (Whitman) and Early in the Morning (Robert Hillyer) made the best impression, while What If Some Little Pain (Spenser), while lovely, lacked the power called for in the final lines beginning "Sleep after toil, port after stormy seas."

Of the nine Bolcom songs that opened the second half, the most original music could be found in two pieces from his 11-song cycle for Marilyn Horne, I Will Breathe a Mountain � a setting of Emily Dickinson's The Bustle in a House, with its flavor of 19th-century hymnody, and May Swenson's Night Practice, with a quasi-pizzicato bass in the piano that suggested a Bach aria translated to the late 20th century. Farley also was good in Bolcom's Costa del Nowhere, set to a Richard Tillinghast poem about a reunion of old friends, and Mary, William Blake's tragic poem about a beautiful woman destroyed by an envious town.

In addition to vocal difficulties, Farley also had trouble remembering the correct lyrics in several of the songs, which is not all that surprising given the lingual treachery of many of the texts. A music stand might be a good idea for the London show, because this is a distinguished collection of American music (the Lecuona songs are much less so, but they're crowd-pleasers), and Farley is to be commended for putting it together.

Two other notes: Rorem, who's 81, told me last week he's about a third of the way through the orchestrations for his new opera, Our Town, set to the seemingly imperishable 1938 play by Thornton Wilder. He wouldn't say how he'd approached this nearly iconic work � "The music should speak for itself,� he said � but that he's quite aware of all the associations audiences will bring to the opera. "I'm feeling very exposed," he told me. The opera premieres Feb, 24, 2006, at the Indiana University Opera Theater.

And Liebermann, 44, is at work on an opera, his second, set to a J.D. McClatchy libretto of Nathanael West's grim 1933 novel, Miss Lonelyhearts. It's scheduled to premiere at Liebermann's alma mater, the Juilliard School, in April 2006. He's also writing a third piano concerto (the first two are available on a disc by the fine British pianist Stephen Hough) for Jeffrey Biegel, on commission from a consortium of 17 orchestras. One of them is the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, which will give the premiere of the new work in June 2006.


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