Marilyn Nonken gave a superb program at Penn this past Wednesday – her command of dynamic and coloristic nuance is astounding. It was a pleasure to get to know music on her program by some composers who were new to me: Mikel Kuehn, Christopher Trapani, and Richard Carrick. More new and recent music  for piano on the upcoming “Eighty-Eight Lately” programs – read more here.

– a reminder that there are two performances of my music tomorrow: in Syracuse, the Society for New Music will play Dancepiece, and here in Philadelphia the Variations on a Hymn Tune will be performed by the Philadelphia Sinfonia.

– I have to take a bit of a break from posting here, due to pressing deadlines and the need to practice for the “Eighty-Eight Lately” programs. But there are almost 900 posts on this blog, so perhaps that archive can keep you amused until I get back.

It’s a terrifically busy week at Penn. In addition to the Marilyn Nonken recital on Wednesday, Jan. 27 that begins the series of three “Eighty-Eight Lately” programs of contemporary piano music, there is a big array of events around this coming Sunday’s Curtis Institute performance of the Berio Sinfonia, led by Ludovic Morlot. Jamuna Samuel has organized talks and concerts that will look at Berio from many different points on the curve, so to speak. Click here for a detailed listing. The events include two talks by Christoph Neidhöfer; Tom Kraines playing the cello Sequenza, with Jim Sykes offering commentary; and a panel (in which I will participate) before a concert of Berio’s chamber music at Curtis on Saturday night.

Today’s performance of my Variations on a Hymn Tune by the Philadelphia Sinfonia has been postponed due to the snowstorm that hit Philadelphia yesterday. I’ll post the new performance date here as soon as I receive word.

UPDATE: the performance has been rescheduled for Sunday, January 31, at 3 pm. The location remains the same, the Temple Performing Arts Center in Philadelphia, PA.

88l8telyThis Wednesday, January 27, at 8:00 pm, Penn will welcome the first of three remarkable pianists for the series of concerts devoted to new music, Eighty-Eight Lately. Marilyn Nonken was an outstanding artist on the scene in the later part of my time as a student in New York in the ’80s, and she has continued to be a tremendous advocate for living composers. She is particularly associated with spectralist composers like Murail and Dufourt, in part because of her elegant book, The Spectral Piano. Pieces by those two composers will be on the January 27 concert, along with music by David Rakowski, Mikel Kuehn, Richard Carrick (the works by the latter two composers are premieres), and Christopher Trapani. Later installments of the Eighty-Eight Lately series will feature Gregory DeTurck and Matthew Bengston. All the concerts are at Rose Recital Hall in Fisher-Bennett Hall on the Penn campus at 34th and Walnut.

Here’s a video of Marilyn playing Rakowski’s Fists of Fury:

I recently received a few pictures from a Philadelphia Sinfonia rehearsal of my Variations on a Hymn Tune earlier this month. The plan is to perform the piece this coming Sunday, January 24 at the Temple Performing Arts Center in Philadelphia. The concert will be at 3 pm. This assumes everyone can get out despite the snow! At the moment it doesn’t look too bad out, but it has only been snowing for about 3 hours, and I take it the worst is yet to come. There will be an update at the Philadelphia Sinfonia website on Sunday morning.

This first shot shows me standing near the concertmistress. That’s the Sinfonia’s music director Gary White on the podium:

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the next one taken at about the same moment but from the side:

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This one shows more of the orchestra:

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Here’s Gary and I consulting during the break after my piece:

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I just got word that the brilliant Geoffrey Burleson will give the first New York City performance of my set of piano pieces Pure Contraption, Absolute Gift. He will be playing the piece at Bargemusic on April 8, with a preview of one of the movements at an April 5 event at Good Shepherd-Faith Presbyterian Church, 152 W. 66th Street in NYC.

I first heard Geoff’s playing on Barbara White‘s excellent disc “Apocryphal Stories”, later enjoying his disc of the complete Arthur Berger piano music. Check out the videos on his website, including music by David Rakowski and Jacob TV.

There has been a change to the date of the premiere for my Five Poems for violin and piano. Instead of February 3, the performance, presented by the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, will be May 9, 2016, at 8 pm. The venue remains the American Philosophical Society here in Philadelphia. The violinist will be Tai Murray, with pianist Gilles Vonsattel.

It’s an intriguing program, featuring another new work, this one by Jeffrey Scott, called Transparencia. Jeff is best known as a member of the outstanding Imani Winds. Both Jeff’s piece and mine were commissioned by the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society in honor of the Society’s 30th anniversary. There will also be a Beethoven sonata and some infrequently played works by Korngold and Janacek.

Steve Coleman held a fascinating session at Penn with members of his band last fall featuring his own music which is highly original but of course rooted in the work of earlier masters. As an example of his insights regarding earlier musics, here is an extensive essay by Coleman discussing a dozen Parker recordings, offering much material for study.