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Jerry Bowles
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Eric C. Reda
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Jerry Zinser
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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 01, 2006
Why Do Fools Fall in Love?

Who would have thought that Condoleezza Rice dug Frederic Rzewski? Our buddy Bob Shingleton at On an Overgrown Path has details. Hey, the automated search engine software at bought it...Lawrence Dillon has one of those English-is-so-difficult stories (or maybe the flight attendant was making an April Fool's joke)...Blackdogred has a tribute to the great Irish novelist John McGahern who died, of cancer, at age 71.
PHIL Fest Central

Props to our man in L.A., Jerry Zinser, for keeping us up-to-the-minute on the PHIL's Mimimalism festival. Big up yourself, Jer...Tom Myron takes a magical mystery tour with a herd of sea turtles...Christina Fong fears the Louisville Orchestra is losing the race for relevance...Check out my latest million-dollar idea--Blognoggle. Find me a buyer and share in the riches.
Last Night in L.A. - Minimalism for Keyboards

The four pianists of PianoSpheres -- Gloria Cheng, Vicki Ray, Mark Robson, and Susan Svrcek �- presented a survey of minimalism for piano and organ, with works ranging from pre- to post-minimalism. It was a good concert of music by eight composers, with an encore from a ninth, all of whom loved sound and saw riches in chords. The concert was well-balanced, starting with Steve Reich�s deconstruction of a chord, in Four Organs (1970), to Louis Andriessen�s flag-waving Workers Union (1975), done on four grand pianos � from a Reich work in which the composer is in full control and the music is introverted and polite to an Andriessen work in which the notes are up to the players and the extroverted attitude is raucous and aggressive. Afterwards the woman sitting next to me told her male companion that it certainly made you think differently about a grand piano; good for her. The encore was a short work for four pianos by Morton Feldman, wisps of sound, which the group dedicated to their mentor, Leonard Stein.

Vicki Ray got poetry from Opening (1981) and Wichita Vortex Sutra(1988) by Philip Glass. Gloria Cheng played Ragtempus Fugatis(1994) by Terry Riley, and she and Ray played two pianos in Orpheus Over and Under (1989) by David Lang, one of his contemplative works. Susan Svrcek, who will be giving a recital of piano music by John Cage music in a month, played Cage�s beautiful In a Landscape (1948), making it quite comfortable with cutting edge works written 30 or more years later. Mark Robson played the Disney Hall pipe organ in Arvo Part�s Annum per Annum (1980) which seemed to use every pipe in the instrument in its final chord. (An assistant helped activate.) Svrcek and Robson played two pianos in the surprise of the evening, Colin McPhee�s Balinese Ceremonial Music (1934 � 1938). Sound clips are available here. This work may have been written for musicological purposes, to recreate the sounds of a Balinese gamelan group for a western audience who had never heard these sounds, but it certainly brought out how the interest in Asian philsophies and sounds were significant in the growth of minimalism.

Nine works. Were all of them �minimalism�? Does that question really matter?

Once again, the Philharmonic brought in a new audience to Disney Hall. For the PianoSpheres artists, with a series of five concerts a season, the audience was equivalent to three years of PianoSpheres concerts. How many of the nine composers of the evening would have been unfamiliar to the majority of the audience? Seven? How many of the four talented pianists would have been recognized by name by the majority of the audience? One? Memo to the Los Angeles Philharmonic management: keep up the good work.

Both of last weekend�s concerts are now available on iTunes, for $9.99 a concert, each including a file with the program for that concert. On Thursday, a glitch prevented downloading the Reich program if you requested a download from listing of all recent albums; however, by clicking on the album title and going to the album site, a full download was possible. That glitch may have been fixed by now. The download of the Andriessen/Part program worked from the general album listing. The sound is great. You may well hear an occasional page turning, but audience noises are rarely noticeable. I�m positive the balances are sometimes different than I heard them in the hall; the differences are probably the result of microphone placement, with weaker pickup in the center of the stage where the prepared piano in the Part and the clapping percussionists in Reich�s Tehillim were, for example. But quibble, quibble. The records are good music, with good sound, in good performances, and I for one am glad to have them to listen to several more times.
Last Night in L.A. - Branca's 100 Guitars

The program for the Minimalist Festival concerts, available last month, included quotations from Kyle Gann�s review of Glenn Branca�s Symphony No. 13, Hallucination City (2001/2006). Among these, Gann said: �Starting at a deafening level, the work got louder almost throughout.� While this turned out to be an exceptionally accurate example of Truth in Advertising, I thought it was a tactical error on the part of the Phil to publish such a comment ahead of time; I thought it was a statement designed to keep most of the subscribers I know far away from the concert. I was right about that. I could see hardly anyone I recognized from the regular Philharmonic concerts.

On the other hand, the forewarning apparently didn't deter many non-regulars. The tickets for the concert seemed to be completely sold out, with people visible in the most remote seats in the auditorium. People in their 20s and 30s. People who don�t attend Philharmonic concerts. The volunteer players among the 100 electric guitars included several with cameras who were taking pictures of the audience, and I�m sure they felt their work was worth it to get to perform before so many people who were so enthusiastic at the result. Management priced this concert at $10 a ticket, the same price they are charging for tonight�s piano recital. Bravo. Hurrah for the Philharmonic.

And hurrah for the musicians. The program named the 100 performers (40 alto guitars, 30 tenor guitars, 10 baritone guitars, 20 basses) who gave their time and training and attention to this performance. While I doubt that Disney Hall has had an audience like this before, I also doubt that this stage has seen such a set of performers. It was fun to watch individuals and to speculate on individual histories and amount of performance background. Some were counting beats and measures diligently. Some had difficulty looking up from the score (or directions). Some were loose. All were concentrating. All seemed very pleased at the end, pleased with what they had accomplished, and pleased with the standing ovations from the audience. John Myers was conductor, and Virgil Moorefield was drummer. The work was the version in four movements, performed at Montclair State in February.

The ushers were distributing free ear plugs at the doors. I took a pair. I wasn�t sure I�d use them, but I got them ready when I saw several of the musicians inserting theirs. One musician wore a set of ear phones. I was glad to have the plugs to dampen the volume. I occasionally removed the ear plugs so that I could appreciate the wider range of pitch and timbre but I quickly put them back. I really did appreciate the times when the conductor led the musicians in long diminuendo, down to forte. Sorry to be such a wuss.
Last Night in L.A. - What a Trip!

Decasia (2001) played Walt Disney Concert Hall last night. Michael Gordon�s music just dominated the space; the audience seemed stunned when things ended. The applause was long, and sincere, but there were no shouts, no standing ovation as the composer and film-maker came on stage and were brought back again for more recognition. What an experience! If you go to the Decasia site you can see clips from the DVD and the sound track; be advised, however, even with your speakers at their highest level, this gives you no feeling like being there, just a vague approximation.

Four years ago, �JB� wrote this review in Sequenza21. In last night�s performance, Donald Crockett led 55 musicians from USC Thornton school. They were in the orchestra�s usual space, with the large screen hanging above them, in front of the organ. The musicians were divided into three groups, each of which was tuned slightly differently: the low instruments in the center, the strings separated on the two sides, the four keyboards ranged in front. (Understandably, they didn�t try to use some of the hall�s sonic features by spreading out some musicians around the hall.) In some sequences the music seems to accompany the scenes on the disintegrating film, such as the sequence of the aerialist climbing the circus ladder, carefully placing each foot. Often, however, the visuals and the music are on parallel paths heading to a common direction. The music supplies many separate voices; these grow, they coalesce, they re-form, some times they shout out. Some of the sounds were overwhelming; one combination of forces sounded like a diesel train blowing its whistle from within the orchestra.

I have not experienced anything like this. Tonight we have Branca�s Hallucinating City symphony. Am I up for this?
The Horror. The Horror.

My bride of the past 41 years and I got into such an Ali-Fraser dustup at intermission of the Kronos Quartet concert on Friday night that we had skip the Gorecki piece to avoid embarassing ourselves in front of others. It wouldn't have been the first time, I'll admit, but now that we're approaching senior citizenship it takes a fairly decent provocation to get the gloves on. The something in this case was Michael Gordon's new chamber piece The Sad Park which I thought was brilliant and she thought wasn't.

The problem I now realize (beyond Suzanne's obvious lack of taste) is that I made the mistake of describing The Sad Park to her beforehand as a "9/11 piece," a claim that clearly colored her expectations and one that Gordon wisely did not himself make. The Sad Park was certainly not intended to be a "9/11 memorial" in the sense that John Adams' Transmigration of Souls is a memorial (although he, too, avoided making that claim). While both pieces use recorded voices as elements, the similarities end there. Transmigration is about 9/11; a fully-formed adult assimilation and artistic reflection on the events of that tragic day.

Gordon, it seemed to me, had a vastly different ambition for The Sad Park and that was to show through music how a small group of very young pre-schoolers--2 and 3-year-old--children who lived in the WTC neighborhood--directly experienced and assimilated the tragic event.

Gordon began by taking four brief observations from kids--recorded by their pre-school teacher on 9/ll and in the days, weeks and months after--and than distorting the voices electronically to expose what he believed to be the hidden demons beneath. I say "believed to be" because there isn't a hint of genuine trauma in the way the kids state their impressions. Heard naturally, the childrens' voices are confident, musical, exaggerted and yet oddly flat, reflecting the incomplete understanding of the dimensions of the tragedy they have witnessed. The children seem protected--as they should be--by their innocence.

Is it possible that there are delayed psychological reactions that will haunt the kids later? Sure. My personal feeling is that the kids were probably not mature enough to have the event affect them all that deeply--then or later. But, I don't have any kids and I could be wrong. One of the children in this particular preschool was Gordon's son so his interest is more than academic.

In any case, The Sad Park accepts the premise that there are probably 9/ll demons lurking in the psyches of these children and this is what they sound like. The music that surrounds the distorted voices is spare, intense, repetitive, and scary, mirroring the arc and rhythms of the childrens' sing song voices. The final section, which struck me as a different voice--more of an adult comment or coda--builds to a shattering cry to the heavens that I found breathtaking.

Suzanne felt that looking for profundity in the voices of children who were too young to comprehend what was happening anyway was a "cutsie" premise that trivialized a historic tragedy. Out of the mouths of babes comes mainly impressions they have picked up from adults and are simply parroting. To ascribe hidden fears to those words is to venture into the minefield that is the brave new age of hands-on parenting. Having lived long enough to see some of the adult outcomes of the first generation to never leave their children alone long enough for them to learn to cope with the real world, has made me share Suzanne's distrust of parents who are overly sensitive to every stupid thing their kid does or says.

But, whether you accept its premise or not, I found The Sad Park to be absolutely faithful to its own internal logic. Like many a film built around some dubious Freudian turn, it is persuasive on its own terms. It is Michael Gordon's most mature, tightly controlled and emotionally felt piece to date and while it is not a 9/11 memorial, it is a small masterpiece destined to become an important part of the musical literature of that sad September day.
Last Night in L.A. - Minimalism's Influence

One of the adjunct concerts in the Minimalist Jukebox series was given last night at LACMA by the California EAR Unit. Another adjunct was Sunday night�s concert at Disney Hall by the Master Chorale, with works by Arvo Part, Meredith Monk, and Michael Torke. Grant Gershon has brought some exciting programming to the Chorale, and I really wished this concert had been on another night when I could have attended.

The Unit gave us a very pleasant survey of influences of minimalism, beginning with the first movement of Seduction of Sapienta (1974) by the conductor of last week�s In C, David Rosenboom []. The influences of Terry Riley are there to hear, but there are also some striking individual ideas. In the latter half of the movement, the music developed a smoky, jazzy feeling: a club at 4:00 a.m., the musicians noodling with a few hangers-on listening, the bass clarinet sounding like the sax. At least this was my impression; I�m not sure what Rosenboom intended, since the work was originally written for viola da gamba and electronics, and the EAR Unit might have introduced their own ambiance. (However, with Rosenboom there, I�m confident they had his agreement.) The work was written when Rosenboom was only 26, before he decided that composition would take a less prominent role than his career in music education; my, he was good! I hope he has no regrets.

Also close to minimalism was 9 through 99 (2005 version) by Peter Adriaansz. The work is a tightly controlled implementation in music of the mathematical progression in Pascal�s triangle. It was ingenious. The instruments came in sequentially with the exploration of the increasingly elaborate patters; a constant beat kept things together. This was In C for a planned, controlled, organized group; nevertheless it was entertaining.

Far from minimalism, except by slow changes in sound, were two other works. Sub Rosa (1986) by Gavin Bryars was like a New Age sound environment, or perhaps music for a slowly-changing field of light. The program notes gave an ideal application: the choreographer William Forsythe used the music as the background for dancers moving slowly while suspended by fly wires. The Unit also gave the premiere of a new work by Mark Grey, whose recognized work in sound design included Adams� Transmigration of Souls and Dharma at Big Sur. The Sleepless Dream (2006) is dedicated to the memory of �Lucky� Mosko, lost recently from our music community. The work has four movements, each starting quietly with a small theme but shifting as it progresses, becoming faster and more agitated before a gradual calming occurs, creating a stillness before the start of the next movement.

The concert closed with Liquid States (2006) by Linda Bouchard. I had not heard her music before, and this was an interesting piece for percussion, piano, violin, clarinet and cello. She made good use of alternative sound generation, treating the piano as a multiple-percussion instrument with, at times, the pianist, the violinist and the clarinetist strumming, hammering on, or brushing the strings. The cello, as you might expect, was used for multiple tones and colors by various bowing techniques, by strumming and by slapping. She was able to have musical content worth attending to while applying these techniques. The work was strong, occasionally propulsive, occasionally thoughtful. This provided a stimulating end to a solid concert.

The Feldman String Quartet No. 2, which had been postponed due to injury to one of the players, has been rescheduled by the Flux Quartet for Saturday, April 15. It will be given in the gallery in the third floor of the Modern and Contemporary Art building.
I Got the Hungries for Your Love and I'm Waiting in Your Welfare Line

What goes on inside a composers mind? Lawrence Dillon provides some clues...What becomes a 93-year-old legend most? Elodie Lauten on singer Marta Eggerth...Tom Myron returns from spring break to find that we all flunked his "name that composer" quiz...Rodney Lister reports that he's had another "secret" performance...Mark Berry has more on digital downloading.
Attention All Twelve-Toners and Intellectual Procateurs

We have a new, old blogger today. Rodney Lister, who has been chipping in since the beginning of S21's second life, has decided to try his hand at solo blogging...Pop in and say howdy...Galen Brown tackles the tricky question of "personal representation" in the Composers Forum

Bernard Holland fires off a neat cheap shot in his half-hearted "notebook" of three Kronos concerts at Zankel Hall over the weekend:
New is the order of the day, and that new can range from the startling to the inconsequential. The Kronos does not guarantee profundity. It just likes to keep the conversation going. Concerts at Zankel Hall on Friday and Saturday (a third called "Notes From Azerbaijan" was yesterday) drew the kinds of listeners the quartet has cultivated over the years � people who like their art with social consciousness, ethnic relevance and a few surprises. Twelve-toners and intellectual provocateurs beware: this is not the music for you.
Last Night in L.A. - Steve Reich

The third program in the Minimalism Jukebox was devoted (in many senses of the word) to Steve Reich. The program presented three works from 1979 to 1986 (Reich�s middle period?) to a generally-enthusiastic audience.

True, there was a higher percentage of no-shows in the seats of season subscribers than we usually see and a few of the older subscribers had difficulties with even this music and left at intermission. We heard a few of these people grumbling--hardly a random sample--but it certainly seemed as if they didn�t know what to listen for. All they heard were the repeated notes; they couldn�t hear a melody and didn�t know how to understand what was happening in the music. Once again, the Phil could have helped a portion of its audience if a respected figure had given a short guide on what to listen for; since the audience didn�t know the conductor, perhaps this could have been done by Deborah Borda who came on stage to speak about the recording being made.

But if a few of the audience were lost, the majority showed their understanding and appreciation. It�s nice to hear some shouts of approval for something other than a showy performance of a floridly romantic concerto, and these concerts are creating that. With some season ticket holders exchanging their tickets for more comfortable concerts, the people getting the tickets have been younger than is usual, good to see.

The concert began with Reich�s Variations for Winds, Strings, and Keyboards (1979). In the 60s a group of otherwise diverse visual artists in Los Angeles developed a style which became called Finish Fetish, a style not at all foreign to the stylists of hot-rod cars with layer upon layer of paint and lacquer, some layers with flecks of metal or of mother of pearl, producing a deep, glowing, scintillating surface. This work of Reich�s makes me think of Finish Fetish: the surface glows, the colors are lovely, there�s not a flaw to be seen, but it�s hard for me to go beneath the surface, to feel anything. So listening to this becomes, for me, an intellectual exercise similar to listening to a complex fugue. It�s easier to just listen to the surface, which is awfully pretty.

The work before intermission was Three Movements for Orchestra (1986), which I think was the best work of the concert, a work standing with Reich�s best (and that includes some great pieces). The performance was less than 20 minutes, but the work has substance and body; it was a good choice for this place in the program. The work begins with a Riley-like pulse and grows from there. Sound clips are available from Amazon. I�m really looking forward to getting the iTunes download next week.

The second half of the concert was Tehillim (1981), Reich�s landmark setting of four Psalms. On Amazon I find three recordings of this work; as another indication of its acceptance by the public, in the archives of the New York Times I find mention of its use by choreographers of three different dance companies. This is a vibrant, joyous work; the sound in Disney Hall was glorious. The Synergy Vocals group provided the four sopranos for the work (as they did for Andriessen Friday night); the web site of Synergy Vocals holds a Steve Reich endorsement on its cover page. The four singers chosen for this work gave model performances. The work builds to its high point in the fourth movement with its sequence of �Praise Him� lines from Psalm 110. The final �Hallelujah� was rousing. Stefan Asbury was an excellent conductor for the concert; it�s clear he understands and appreciates Reich�s music and he led the musicians quite well.

The Philharmonic had split its squad to perform two different programs this week: the Andriessen-Part concert Friday evening and Saturday afternoon, and the Steve Reich concert Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon. Of course the single pianist of the Phil was insufficient for even a single program, much less both, so the pianists of PianoSpheres, whose minimalism concert will be Thursday evening, were prominent among the supporting forces brought in for both performances. (Also noted: the CalArts pianist who did such heavy-hauling as providing the four-octave pulse for Monday night�s In C.)
Mr. Postman

My name is Tobias Broeker and I am right now working on an anthology of 20th/21st century violin concertos. The work is mainly planned as a data book, but additionally I am trying to give brief descriptions of as many violin concertos as possible. So I am looking for information and especially recordings of violin concertos.

I noticed your website and especially your �Composers forum web log� and want to ask you kindly if it is possible to forward this message to the members of the forum?

If so, I would be pleased and grateful if composers who wrote a violin concerto can provide information about themselves, their work and a recording of it. Everything is exclusively for private studies of course and I will cover all costs which occur with this request!

Thank you very much for your help in advance!

Kind regards,

Tobias Broeker
Westbahnhofstrasse 26
56727 Mayen


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