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

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, June 24, 2006
Calling Bloggers Anonymous

Hello, I'm Jerry and I'm a compulsive blogger and web site builder. So far, I've avoided business and technology because it's too close to what I really do for a living but, alas, I've succumbed. If you're interested in same, check out my latest effort to "monetize" this web addition. It's called Enterprise Web 2.0. Here's a sample from a post called Web 2.0 for Dummies:
Okay, so you think Ajax is a sink cleaner and a mashup is the freeway fender bender that made you late for work this morning. Your eyes glaze over when you scan the latest heavy-breathing geek porn at web sites like Scripting News or Slashdot. Everything you know about social networking you learned from typing “babe” in the MySpace search box.
Read on:
Any Volunteers?

Okay, I need a volunteer to attend Anti-Social Music and the Gena Rowlands Band's CD release show for The Nitrate Hymnal on Sunday at NorthSix in Brooklyn at 8pm. Corey Dargel and The Sharp Things are also on the program. Details ici. Andrea will get you a couple of comp tickets if you promise to write something nice for us.
The New Age of Man

Recipe for The Ambitious Orchestra: Take equal parts Big Band Jazz, Klezmer, Showtunes, Chamber Orchestra, and Punk. Mix well. Serves more people than you might think.

Last October, you may recall, I wrote one of the early reviews of the then-small but promising classical music scene on, including short reviews of nine of the most interesting groups with sites. I’ve been periodically checking up on The Ambitious Orchestra since then, and Wednesday night (June 21) I attended their show at the Bowery Poetry Club in downtown Manhattan. (The Bowery district has exchanged the odor of urine and vomit from the Skid Row days of the ‘70s heyday of CBGB for a slew of hip little restaurants, bars, and clubs. I'd never heard of the Poetry Club, but it seems like a promising venue.) The Orchestra was billed as going on at 10:00, but for some reason the band before them didn’t get started until a few minutes after 10, and the AO didn’t start until probably 11:30. The opening band, Aaron and Mordechai, was good (and featured Ambitious Orchestra member Sylvia Mincewicz on electric violin), but they couldn’t compete with the AO.The orchestra has something like 20 members in a pretty standard one-on-a-part chamber orchestra configuration, but conductor/frontman Benjamin Ickies sings many of the songs and occasionally plays accordion. The songs themselves are excellent – great melodies, smart lyrics (“So save your ammunition. Save your strongest dog. Prepare your fragile psyche for the onset of it all. And when you see a monkey rise up and take the stand, remember you’re not dreaming, and welcome to the new age of man.”), and first-rate orchestration – most songs are written and orchestrated by Ickies and bandmember Steve La Rosa. Their new 5-song EP and the samples at MySpace show off the songwriting, orchestration, and performance well, but of course the point of a concert is the show, and it was one of the best shows I’ve seen in a while.

Benjamin Ickies is a remarkable showman, holding the packed Bowery Poetry Club’s attention without pause from the moment the show started – the best way to describe his style is probably disciplined mania. When singing, he thrashed and flailed in a sort of focused way that was far more effective than the sloppy running around, jumping up and down, and melodramatic hand gestures one often sees. When conducting he did the same, throwing pages into the air when he finished (and occasionally knocking over the music of, and otherwise endangering, French Horn player Becky Lipsitz, whose reactions were hilarious). The band itself seemed well rehearsed, played well, and obviously had a blast. The guest singers were each excellent in their own ways. The cover of “One is the Lonliest Number” was particularly good. And at the end, Ickies used the closing number to show off the band in a fun way, vamping for about 5 minutes while he introduced each section, conducted some improvised licks, and then inviting a couple of friends of the band to come up to the stage and do their own conducting of more improvisation. When that was over, they crashed back into a final chorus on a moment’s notice, and brought it all home.

I’ve been listening to the new EP all day, and I’m looking forward to the album, allegedly due out in 2006, entitled “Shout, For the LORD has Given You the City!” In the meantime, if you can make it to one of their shows, you won’t be disappointed.
The Thread That Runs So True

Anybody doing anything interesting? Festivals? Vacations. Upcoming concerts? Weddings or bar mitzvahs? Talk to me. - Lonely in New York
Deliver THE Letter, THE Sooner THE Better

Some months ago for reasons that I can't remember right now and am too lazy to look up, I went searching the web for a picture of Marlene Dietrich playing the saw and, in the process, stumbled across and linked to a site called run by a fabulous German saw player named Katharina Bek. Katherina just discovered the link and sent us a note which contains a lot of interesting stuff I didn't know and bet most of you didn't either. JB

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,
thank you for the link to my homepage at the 20th of october 2005, I just discovered it. How did you find my website? And why did you search for it?

I'm a musical saw player - living in Berlin/Germany and already played with several orchestras contemporary music (Deutsches Symphonieorchester Berlin, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Berliner Rundfunkorchester, Stuttgart Philharmonic Orchestra, Stuttgart Radio Symphonic Orchestra, Bavarian Radio Symphonic Orchestra and others).

There are saw parts in musical pieces or operas/musical from Dimitri Schostakowitsch, George Enescu, Arthur Honegger, H.W.Henze, Christof Penderecki, Giacinto Scelsi, Bernd Alois Zimmermann, Hans Zender, George Crumb, Tom Waits, John Corigliano and others.

It could be interesting to keep contact. Maybe there are some composers, who are interested in this music and in the musical saw, they can ask me about.
The piece "Stille und Umkehr" (with Musical Saw) by Bernd Alois Zimmermann will be played in Chicago with the Chicago Symphonic Orchestra in May 2007 under the direction of Kent Nagano.

Thanks for your attention
Best wishes
Katharina Bek
Angels in Boston

Peter Eötvös’ 2004 opera Angels in America--based on Tony Kushner's epic play had its North American premiere at the Boston Center for the Arts over the weekend, staged by Opera Unlimited, a collaboration between Opera Boston and the Boston Modern Orchestra Project. Reviews were decidedly mixed. Bernard Holland writes in the New York Times:
Mr. Eotvos's music augments traditional strings, winds and brass with saxophones, guitars, electronic keyboards, exotic percussion, ringing telephones and sirens. The vocal lines can ease into speech and usually operate against drifting clouds of sound. Mr. Eotvos's success with prosody outstrips that of most American opera composers in his ability to fit music to the flow of American English. He has written truly theatrical music that advances texts rather than calling attention to itself.
T.J. Medrek, writing in the Boston Herald, is less charitable:
Eotvos’ music - written in a kind of turgid style that characterizes much European modern opera yet conducted with conviction by Music Director Gil Rose - well expresses emotional rigidity. But it’s disappointingly earthbound when attempting anything more. A much-needed musical angel never arrives.
That leaves Richard Dyer of the Boston Globe to cast the deciding vote:
The abridged text reduces the characters to stock figures, and leaves even more loose ends than the play does; it is never clear what the foul-mouthed lawyer Roy Cohn is doing here.

And until the end the music does not illumine the inner life of the people. Basically the score provides a kind of soundscape surrounding the text, some of which is spoken rather than sung. Only the Angel really gets to cut loose and sing.

That said, Eötvös provides a very elegant, supple, varied soundscape that serves as a kind of punctuation for the words, or sweeps across it like a yellow highlighter pen.
Call it a draw.

PM Update: Drew McManus has launched his new composer/musician "Virtual Discussion Panel" on Composer Matters at Today's panelists are Lisa Bielawa, Jennifer Higdon, Robert Levine, Barbara Scowcroft, Molly Sheridan, Roberto Sierra and Christian Woehr, III.
Last Night in L.A.: "Grendel"

We saw "Grendel" last night. I can't imagine wanting to see it again. There are many good things to say about the production, the design, the cast, the orchestra. There are even a few moments when the music is interesting, but they aren't very many. The central problem begins in the first scene (of 12) when the light of Spring hits the wall of ice and the monster Grendel appears. The music written for Grendel never rises above the level of interest you hear in a typical recitative. The composer writes many, many notes for the character; the notes run the range from low bass to high falsetto; the notes are in the rhythm of American English speech; the notes are absolutely uninteresting and do nothing to convey a sense of character or of emotion. This is a rather severe problem since the character appears in every single scene, usually as the dominant factor in each. It seems typical that the most interesting music for Grendel, when he has fallen in love with the Anglo-Saxon queen and dreams of drifting in a boat with her, is written for one of Grendel's shadows, not for the character himself. This is not fun to write. I was hoping for so much more.

The opera was composed by Elliot Goldenthal, who has an admirable career of composing for film and occasionally for stage. The libretto was written by Julie Taymor and J.D. McClatchy; the material is based on the book by John Gardner and on the Beowulf epic. Taymor directed, and George Tsypin designed the set. Eric Owens, General Groves in
"Doctor Atomic", handles all of the notes of Grendel. Laura Claycomb sings brilliantly in her two scenes as queen; Jay Hunter Morris had a good scene as the hero; Denyce Graves had a scene as the dragon, a scene in which the staging was much more interesting than the music. The opera is only three hours long; it seems longer. What a shame.


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