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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, December 23, 2005
S21 Takes Over the Heartland

The unstoppable cultural superpower that is Sequenza21 has officially infiltrated America�s heartland. The innocent, unsuspecting staff of Shoku, a swell little Japanese restaurant in Grandview, OH, found no other recourse but to capitulate this afternoon to the awesome combined forces of S21 Managing Editor, David Salvage (left), and crack S21 Blogger, David H. Thomas (right). Just to throw around some of their excess clout, the Davids ordered food that technically wasn�t even on the menu. Naturally, the staff complied. After a glittering conversation touching on the greatness of Persian culture, Gy�rgy Kurt�g, and the inner workings of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, victory was declared at 14:25 hours, and the allies marched homeward their separate ways. A luncheon that will � without doubt � echo down the ages.
P.S. DHT is looking for recommendations on contemporary clarinet music. Let�s help him out.
Nutcracker - A Love Story

Speaking of cruel and unusual punishment, David Thomas has played The Nutcracker more than 400 times...A funny thing happened when the French government tried to crack down on file-sharing. Hat tip to Seth Gordon.

Now Playing: Shostakovitch Trios 1 and 2. Trio Wanderer. Harmonia Mundi. No. 2 is a permutation of the String Quartet No. 8 which also has a life as the "Chamber Symphony." Do all composers steal from themselves this much?
Speculum Musicae concert

Looked like an interesting program Speculum Musicae did Monday at Merkin: Druckman's Dark Wind, Wuorinen's Fortune (for those of you still scratching your heads over what the rest of us hear in Wuorinen, give Fortune a try--it's one of his better chamber works), Takemitsu, Chou Wen-Chung, and a new Rakowski piece. No surprises, I grant you, but all solid composers in my book.

To follow up on the terminology in the Composers Forum, Bernard Holland reflected the gnarly/anti-gnarly dichotomy with:

One could split the evening into two camps. One side says, "The sensuous
is still important"; the other, "Here is the news, not all of it pretty."

Holland identified Druckman and Takemitsu as the "sensuous" composers, and the rest as the "here is the news" guys.

San Diego New Music is ecstatic if we can put 50 butts into the seats for one of our concerts. Holland estimated about 50 folks were at the Speculum concert. How typical is that for attendance at a concert given by one of New York's professional new music ensembles? Normal? Low? High? Did the transit strike affect attendance?

Were any posters there? I look forward to reading your views on the concert!
Jack Frost Nippin' at Your Nose

Sorry for the bleak outburst below. Sometimes the wife and I like to swap meds and see what happens.

This is hardly more cheerful but there are lots of nice tributes and personal remembrances of Stephen "Lucky" Mosco, the West Coast composer and teacher who died recently at 58, at

Alex Shapiro has some West Coast pictures that will warm your cockles over in the Composers Forum. More later.

UPDATE: Here's some good news. Mark Berry, our buddy from Naxos, has a new baby. I assume his wife may have had something to do with it, too. Mark has a post about Judith Zaimont�s Milken Archive CD in The Naxos Blog...And Blackdogred can set you up to use Georgetown University online Classical Music Library.

Now Playing: Sextet, Clarinet Quartet, Krzysztof Penderecki, Naxos
A Book of Diamonds

One of the things you don't think about much when you're a young person is what happens to your stuff when you go to the big Woodstock in the sky. Having now helped clear out homes of a few departed relatives, I can tell you what happens to it. Most of it gets thrown on the floor, walked on, casually looked at to see if you've squirreled away any cash, and then thrown out. Those crucial files of heating bills and lawnmower operating guides that you've dutifully kept? Ripped up and carted away in Hefty bags. The Playbill collection you've carefully amassed over the past 40 years? On a garbage truck headed for the local landfill. All those old hard drives and leftover parts of former computers? Given to the kid next door who now has access to all your old income tax records and porn collection. Any furniture that's worth a few bucks gets sold in an open-house auction, most of your clothes go to Goodwill. And, your books....your treasured books.

And there's no Santa Claus either.

UPDATE: Looks like Daniel Asia is planning ahead.
Sic Transit

We have a new record. Rodney Lister's Composers Forum post The Poietic Fallacy Fallacy had 121 comments last time I checked and now seems to have morphed into Evan Johnson's post A Gnarly Composer Speaks to His Audience. The discussion got way over my head some time ago but I'm hanging in in my role as resident pi�ata.

Don't tell anybody but Blackdogred is sharing a user name and password to the Georgetown University library online where you can listen to all kinds of neat stuff. The deal is you have to point him to the good stuff that a classical new music newbie ought to know about.

Now Playing: Shaker Loops, John Adams. Bournemouth Symphony, Marin Alsop. Naxos
Transit Strike Tuesday

Because the buses and trains aren't running, the S.E.M. Ensemble concert tonight at Paula Cooper Gallery is free to anyone who can get there. Elodie Lauten has details. Elodie also has her contribution to the four memes game...Lawrence Dillon has some great pictures of the Open Dream Ensemble in action.

Elsewhere, don't miss Judith Lang Zaimont's Living American Woman article at NewMusicBox.

Now Playing: The Legend of the Invisble City of Kitezh, Rimsky-Korsakov, Kirov Opera, Philips. Hey, it's the season for Russian snow music.
Meme of four

Taken up from Alex Ross who took it up from Our Girl in Chicago and Terry Teachout:

Four jobs you've had in your life: farmer, newspaperman, corporate magazine editor, consultant to multinationals
Four movies you could watch over and over: The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, The Decalogue, Third Man, Chinatown
Four places you've lived: Sandstone, WV, Norfolk, VA, Staten Island, Manhattan
Four TV shows you love to watch: Deadwood, The Wire, The Sopranos, Rome
Four places you've been on vacation: Never been on vacation but four interesting places I've been; McMurdo Sound, Antartica, Cameron Highlands, Malaysia, the Fujiyoshida Fire Festival, Christchurch, New Zealand
Four websites you visit daily: Alex Ross, Kyle Gann, Josh Marshall, the Washington Post
Four of your favorite foods: Singapore Rice Noodles, Oreos, brocolli, Dover Sole
Four places you'd rather be: I live on 57th Street in Manhattan. Why would I want to be anywhere else?

UPDATE: Kyle Gann, Tom Myron, Brian Sacawa

Your turn.
PM Update

Our amazing saxophonist friend Brian Sacawa has filed a dispatch about Tucson's First Annual boom box Christmas parade, featuring Phil Kline's Unsilent Night (see picture)...Lanier Sammons wants to know what you know, or think, about writing music for video games...Blackdogred says he hates it when his President makes him so angry that he spends his time ranting at our other blog instead of writing about music. I hate it when my President does that, too.
Last Night in L.A. - "El Nino" as an Oratorio

The Los Angeles Philharmonic first performed John Adams� �El Nino�(2000) in 2003. The cast was outstanding, but my memory is dominated by the Peter Sellars� film that accompanied the music. The film transformed the Nativity to Los Angeles, and the Family to Hispanics of the city, and Bethlehem to the beach--specifically, the beach under the flight path of planes leaving LAX. Sellars created some vivid images. The music? Well, it didn�t affect me that much. I felt it was interesting, and it was good that Adams was stretching himself with the work, but I wasn�t nearly as impressed as some of the reviewers were.

Last night�s performance had almost the same cast: the incomparable Dawn Upshaw; the impressive Willard White; Daniel Bubeck, Brian Cummings, and Paul Flight as the three countertenors; the Master Chorale; the Children�s Chorus; Salonen conducting; only Michelle DeYoung was new as a replacement for Lorraine Hunt Lieberson. (I guess there were a few changes in the Children�s Chorus, but they appear only in the final song.) The performance was that of a conventional oratorio; the Sellars film with its sometimes vivid but sometimes banal images was absent.

The music? Well, this is clearly a major work of art. I had to go back and check the Internet; the 2003 performance was held in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, in the last months before the move to Disney Hall. The sublety of the orchestration would certainly have been covered up by the Pavilion�s acoustics. Having this performance in Disney increased the clarity and the immediacy and the impact of the music. The Sellars film diverted attention from the music itself. And I also think that Salonen led the musicians with much more emotion and range of expression than was the case when they were accompanying the action on screen. But perhaps much of the difference was merely in my having a second hearing of the music, this time really focusing on the sound and the expression.

I was really impressed. I don�t think it�s a perfect work; in particular, I believe that words in an oratorio are supposed to be understandable, and sometimes writing for the chorus Adams put syllables to music in a way that removes comprehension. Some syllables in English just cannot be understood when they must be held over three or four notes; either the vowel changes or the consonants get lost or both. Some of the choral music just produced mush. But the music for the soloists was clear and impressive, especially in the second half aria for soprano lamenting Herod�s killing of the children (to a text lamenting the killing of students in Mexico City); sung by Upshaw. This was an emotional and deeply affecting experience. I really hadn�t realized that the music was this good when I heard �El Nino� the first time.

The audience roared its appreciation for Adams when he came on stage from his seat in the audience to accept his bows to the ovation following the performance.

And speaking of John Adams, he is also Festival Director of the Phil�s upcoming �Minimalist Jukebox,� which has now been expanded. The full schedule is here.
Monday, Monday

Elodie Lauten has seen An American Tragedy and has a positive take...New reviewer Eric J. Bruskin is outraged at a certain record company for butchering some of his favorite Korngold...Tom Myron channels Gil Evans...Jacob Sudol has a poem...Pliable is apparently still mad at us. (Please come back, Bob. We love you.)

Alex Ross reviews "Tragedy" in this week's New Yorker. His verdict, which is dead on in my view:
"Opera fans have acclaimed its solid construction and singable lines; critics, by and large, have scoffed. After two viewings, I find myself siding with the fans. The opera is a fitfully inspired creation, wavering along the fine line between tragedy and turgidity, but, on a primal, Pucciniesque level, it hits the mark."

Now Playing: My cat Howard, whose food bowl is apparently empty. On the other hand, Steve Smith is listening to: "Corey Dargel - Less Famous Than You (as yet unreleased, but surely the contemporary-classical-smart-pop breakthrough hit of 2006, mark my words...)" Okay, so it's an oldish link. It just turned up in my RSS reader this morning.
Ring Ting Tinglelin' Too


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