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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, August 05, 2006
Notes from the boardwalk

If you have the time and inclination (and an interest in modern music) I cannot imagine a better way to spend the first two weekends of August than at the Cabrillo Music Festival. Truly. Such vibrant life is rare in a modern music festival, and people actually come to everything. Nearly every concert is sold out or almost sold out, and everyone has a good time. Last year, the first concert received a standing ovation before the first note was played. Seriously.

For those of you who do not know, The Cabrillo Music Festival takes place over the first two weekends of August, in Santa Cruz, California. It is a festival of new music, with a special emphasis on orchestral music. The music director is Maestro Marin Alsop (Baltimore Symphony) and this is her fifteenth year with the festival. Her devotion to modern music and her love of the orchestra makes her an ideal candidate to run this festival. In addition to having this wonderful music director and conductor the festival also has a magnificent set of musicians. Oh, sure, the festival gets excellent soloists but I was referring to the orchestra itself. The musicians come from Santa Cruz, Baltimore, Hong Kong, and Nova Scotia (to name a few) and this is a non-paying gig, done entirely on a volunteer basis. That means that every person in the orchestra, every single one, is dedicated to playing modern music. How rarely does that happen?

Friday afternoon was the culmination of the Cabrillo Music Festival student program. The program selects seven conductors and three composers who are drilled and grilled over the previous week. Their diligent work leads to a concert of the young composers orchestral music conducted by the young conductors. Because there are only three composers vs. the seven conductors, every piece is heard at least twice, and one is heard three times. Everyone who has taken part in this marvelous experience deserves much credit.

The first piece was by Lembit Beecher. He is working towards his D.M.A at Michigan University, studying with Bright Sheng. His piece, entitled Strange Flowering, was based upon the many nature movies he has seen. He fell in love with the growth of flowers and loved how nature movies would show this in fast-forward. He loved the dichotomy between the natural growth of flowers and these sped up versions, and so he made his piece based upon that. He has two primary sets of material, a slower, elegant nature music in the style of Takemitsu, and a faster, rhythmic, dance in the style of Julia Wolfe or John Zorn. He morphs between the two in stages so smooth as to remind us of the natural growth that he evokes.

The second piece was by Mark Danciger, a Yale graduate student. His piece, Liquid Song, was for reduced orchestra, as he was attempting to show the more intimate textures of the orchestral experience. He opened with a light groove, both playful and song-like. The material throughout the piece felt much like crystalline children’s toys, dancing and glittering in the sun. While the beginning sparkled with beauty and the ending was superbly elegant, the material in the middle was reconfigurations of the same material that, at times, seemed to drag on slightly too much. However, the overall effect was of light shining through a liquid prism.

The final piece, by Chia-Yu Hsu (A teacher at Duke), was by far the most grandiose in style and conception, using broad, extreme strokes of the emotional brush to depict towering mountains. The piece, entitled Hard Roads, is based on a Chinese poem by the same title. The poem is about crossing into one part of China, but there are rivers on one side and on the other are mountains so high that even birds must rest many a time before they reach the other side. While I felt that the emotional language was limited to only extremes and lacked a certain subtlety, the piece itself certainly painted the portrait of those tall mountains that are so difficult to climb.

And, I have to admit, the best thing about the concert is that it is just the first...
—Matthew Cmiel out—
The Nature Of Things: Cabrillo Premieres Glass LIFE: A Journey Through Time

Summer means different things to different people. But to most of us it means reading books that everyone's reading, going to the beach, and definitely not doing all those way too serious things that weigh our spirits down. Like contemporary music? But contemprary music of all kinds is thriving these days, especially in places like the Santa Cruz, California-based Cabrillo Festival, which kicked off its 44rd season this July 29th with a big, fancy new collaboration between Philip Glass and two other artists of international repute, National Geographic photographer Frans Lanting, and Cabrillo music director and conductor Marin Alsop. Called LIFE: A Journey Through Time, with Lanting's remarkable images projected on a 48 foot screen, the piece was given three performances -- I caught the last, on July 30th -- by Alsop and her orchestra in The Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium, just a few blocks from the beach.

Contemporary music was a hard sell when its first music director, Gerhard Samuel (1963-1968 ), conducted Cabrillo's first large scale concert in 1963, for that was a time when the hardline modernism of the New Vienna School and its disciples, and the multi-stylistic work of Stravinsky were the main facts on the ground. But times have changed and new music now seems to bring more pleasure and visceral excitement, which many credit to Americans like Steve Reich, whohe turns 70 this year with great fanfare, and Philip Glass, who reaches that "milestone" in 2007. Alsop's Cabrillo predecessor, Dennis Russell Davies (1974-1990), programmed several major Glass works during his tenure here--the Violin Concerto (1986), in 1988, and two big orchestral pieces, The Canyon (1988), and The Light (1987), in 1990. Alsop continued this fruitful association with an evocative and superbly played remounting of his hard-to-pin down music theatre work with Dutch director, Rob Malasch, The Photographer (1982), in 2001, and LIFE... finds her teaming with another Dutchman, Lanting.

The photographer approached Alsop with an idea for his project in 2004; they met with Glass in New York in ealy 2005 to discuss his participation, and the deal was firmed. "But it wasn't until later," says his music director, Michael Riesman, "that Philip realized he would be unable to fulfill the commission (by writing new music), and I was enlisted." The composer, busy writing other works, and with a monster tour schedule here and across the globe left it up to Riesman to pull together parts from previous pieces. And though Glass proposed that he arrange some of his piano etudes or seminal pieces like Music in Simliar Motion (1969) or Music in 12 Parts (1971-1974), Riesman rejected these "as not being sufficiently dramatic" for a piece about the evolution of life on earth, electing instead "to combine parts of different works into a single movement," of which there are seven, in this just under an hour piece.

This of course raises many questions about the relationship of music to image and vice versa, and theatre composers are always wrestling with these problems. Film composers are particularly vexed by insensitive directors and music editors, and Glass has had his problems with these, as did Alex North, who scored Hollywood pictures full-time. But Glass is more than fortunate to have Riesman, who's been on board as both player and conductor of his ensemble, chamber, and orchestral pieces since 1974, and understands his music from the inside out. His choices as well as hs orchestrations for LIFE: are apposite and telling.

Movement 1: Elements uses bits from the main and end titles of Glass' delicate and powerful score for Christopher Hampton's film The Secret Agent (1996), as well as two largely poignant cues from his 1999 wraparound score, for Kronos, to Tod Browning's 1931 Dracula. They're perfectly dovetailed, and suggest man's ghostly -- and often destructive presence on our tiny planet. Movement 3: Out of the Sea uses parts of the "Brazil" section from Glass' 2004 Athens Summer Olympics commission, Orion, and its complex, interlocking rhythms work very well with Lanting's spectacular celebratory images. Riesman's choices for Movement 5: Into the Air, and Movement 6: Out of the Dark--drawn from two of Glass' three Cocteau-based operas--Les Enfants Terribles (1996), originally for three played in the pit electric upright pianos in the first and La Belle et La Bete (1994), in the second, for Glass' wind-cum-keyboards ensemble, are dramatic, shadowed, and haunting -- the rapid, inevitably advancing music of the Les Enfants' overture plays, if memory rightly serves, against an angled mass of birds seeming to fly across the screen. "Promenade in the Garden" and "Belle Goes to the Chateau" give a curiously human, even romantic warmth to Lanting's sometimes aseptically clinical, albeit very beautiful images.

The closer, Planet of Life, uses parts of Glass' 10 minute for his ensemble score for Peter Greenaway's beautifully eccentric silent short, The Man in the Bath (2001, as well as a short coda by Riesman. It's wonderfully rambuctious music full of lightning fast metric changes which Alsop and her 58-piece band handled superbly.

The MacArthur grantee and soon to be head of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra achieved the amazing feat of co-ordinating the orchestra with the images without recourse to a clicktrack, the metronomically precise guide which Max Steiner invented to keep studio film musicians in synch. Her orchestra was superbly responsive throughout, with great work from all choirs, and especially effective and affecting work from English horn Amy Goeser Kolb, piccolo trumpet Andrew Gignac, and cello principal Lee Duckles. The large percussion battery--a principal player in many Glass pieces from Akhnaten (1984) onward -- gave the music added drama, but the high-ceilinged Civic's hard surfaces seemed to mitigate against really hearing the quiet, subtle part-writing especially in the strings and winds, which Glass is such a master of. These beauties were perfecty audible at Davies' live performances of Glass' 6th and 8th Symphonies with his Bruckner Orchester Linz, at BAM's Opera House last Novembeer.

But the good news is that LIFE will be performed by Alsop and the BSO at what looks like a super hall at Swarthmore 22 February 2007, with subsequent performances at the orchestra's home hall, 23 - 25 February, and plans in the making to tour it here and abroad. Cabrillo continues its varied 2007 summer season till 13 Aug.
More on Schwarzkopf

New York Times Obituary


Intriguing comment by Maury D'Annato, My Favorite Intermissions
Sure, Schwarzkopf meant enough to me as a dewy opera kitten it seems I should say something on her passing, I think now confirmed. Needless to say, her death is not going to provoke the kind of outpourings of some recent losses; she was notoriously tough and perhaps even cold, her heyday ended long ago, and we never end up knowing these things, but much was asked and said about her politics, which may have been of the very worst.
Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, 90

Elisabeth Schwarzkopf died yesterday at the age of 90. Pliable has details, and a photograph of a younger version of himself with the great one, at On An Overgrown Path.
Alondra de la Parra: Woman With a Mission

Alondra de la Parra is a woman with a mission. The 25-year-old Mexican conductor and pianist is founder and artistic director of the Philharmonic Orchestra of the Americas (POA), which gave its début concert in New York's Town Hall in November 2004. Her bio claims, and who am I to dispute, that she was the first woman from her country to conduct in New York City. POA has performed at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center and was featured in CNN as an orchestra that is changing the Music Scene by promoting young Latin- American Classical composers and soloists in the US. It probably doesn't hurt that Senorita De la Parra is young and gorgeous but it would be rude of me to mention that.

De la Parra and the POA will be performing on Tuesday August 29th, 7 pm at St. Peter's Church, Chelsea, which is at 346 West 20th Street (between 8th and 9th Avenues). The concert will feature Horacio Franco, one of the most recognized recorder soloists in the world and one of the most successful Mexican classical musicians performing early, contemporary, folk and popular music. This concert will include works by Antonio Vivaldi, Arturo Rodriguez, Astor Piazzolla, Mario Lavista and Eugenio Toussaint.
It's the End of the World As We Know It

New York will hit 100 degrees today but not quite as hot as Baghdad and Beirut. The evangelicals are about to be proven at least partly right--mankind's stay on the planet is winding down. I had planned to chill out with some Rautaavara, Sibelius, Vasks and John Luther Adams today but put on a review copy of Benjamin Britten's War Requiem instead. Somehow, it feels right.

This version was recorded live at the Royal Festival Hall in London on the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II with Kurt Masur leading the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus, with singers Christine Brewer, Anthony Dean Griffey, and the great Gerald Finley. This is familiar territory for Masur, an avowed pacifist. He recorded the War Requiem in 1998 with the New York Philharmonic, Carol Vaness, Jerry Hadley and Thomas Hampson and has conducted it many times.

Britten was a twit but, man, could he write music and this is an especially impassioned version, handsomely recorded--an audacious rival for Britten's "definitive" Decca recording with the LSO and Chorus, Galina Vishnevskaya, Peter Pears and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau.

Programming Notes: Jennifer Higdon and Carson P. Cooman will both be guests on upcoming editions of Classical Discoveries hosted by Marvin Rosen.

Higdon will appear tomorrow morning, August 2 from 8:30 until 11 (eastern time) and the young Carson P. Cooman (who has already composed over 650 works) will appear on Wednesday morning, August 9 also from 8:30 until 11--if there is a Wednesday morning, August 9 from 8:30 until 11.

Classical Discoveries airs every Wednesday morning from 6:00 until 11 on WPRB (103.3 FM or on line at from Princeton, NJ.
Kalvos & Damian: Live and Unhinged in Manhattan

Steve Layton has passed along the following important intelligence which I'm much too overheated to digest so here it is raw:
To all friends & fans of the K & D Show:

Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar was heard on WGDR Radio from 1995 - 2005,with shows archived on the internet. Over 500 witty (and sometimes insightful) shows featured talk and music from composers and musical personalities from the "NonPop Revolution." But of course the real stars of the shows were always Kalvos (Dennis Bathory-Kitsz) and Damian (David Gunn)themselves.

On August 12, we are presenting a special live event to salute K & D (ok, they'll be saluting themelves) in our "Cooler in the Shade" series in NYC. The show will feature music by the stars themselves, performed by a cast of friends and well-wishers. The format will be familiar to K & D fans,but it will be LIVE, and UN-AIRED. If you want to hear this, you'll have to be there.

Kalvos & Damian: "Live and Unhinged"
Dennis Bathory Kitsz - composer, commentator, vocalist
David Gunn - composer, commentator, vocalist
Lydia Busler-Blais - horn & voice
Beth Griffith - voice
Jaqueline Martelle - flute
Joseph Kubera - piano

Saturday, August 12 at 8:00pm; Admission $10
Reservations Strongly Advised

Lotus Music & Dance
109 W. 27th St. 8th Fl. • NYC
Info & Res: 212.627.1076

Produced by Thomas Buckner & Tom Hamilton
What I Did on My Summer Vacation

Stayed home. New York is great in the summer except for the part about not being able to go outdoors if you are an older, asthmatic kind of person which I am. City is deserted on the weekend except for tourists who are mostly harmless and bring money. Not much live music except for Grendel, which was worthwhile but like an overcooked peanut butter and olive omelette.

So, what have you folks been doing with yourselves?


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