I was in NYC on Monday for the BMI Student Awards reception. Thank you to Deirdre Chadwick, BMI’s Executive Director for Classical Music, and her colleagues for a lovely gathering marking an important program, and of course congrats to the winners (sorry, I don’t seem to be able to find a list of winners online at the moment…)

By a happy coincidence, the New York New Music Ensemble was playing at Merkin Hall that evening, so I caught a program of works by Mathew Rosenblum and the late Lee Hyla. There were three chamber works by Lee, all very strong, full of energy, wit, visceral intensity and musical intelligence. Polish Folk Songs (2007) was especially striking for its keening clarinets played by Jean Kopperud and Meighan Stoops. Mathew’s big piece for soprano, sextet and fixed media, Falling (2013) took up the second half. It’s a rich, strange amalgam, including a recording of James Dickey reading his poem about the accidental death of a stewardess, haunting phrases from soprano Jamie Jordan, and microtones woven into dream-like instrumental textures. As Mathew noted in his program note, the piece’s reflections on mortality took on “a special meaning… as we approach the one year anniversary of Lee Hyla’s passing.” It was a pleasure to observe the elegant virtuosity of both NYNME regulars (Jean Kopperud, clarinets; Linda Quan, violin; Christopher Finckel, cello; Daniel Druckman, percussion; and Stephen Gosling, piano) and their guests (James Baker, conductor; Jamie Jordan, soprano; Kelli Kathman, flute; Lois Martin, viola; Meghan Stoops, clarinet; with composer Mathew Rosenblum assisting with the electronic component of his piece).

With a little time to spare before the BMI party started, I sat in the southeast corner of Central Park, checking out some architecture, landscape, and ducks of New York.

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Classes have ended at my day job, just an exam to give and much grading. I will have more time for the project on the front burner, a big piece for violin and piano for Tai Murray and Anton Nel,  commissioned by the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society for a premiere in Philly next February. Here’s Tai playing Copland:

And here Anton plays Mozart:

– Speaking of first-class pianism, Marilyn Nonken will be coming to Penn twice next season, for a colloquium in September, and a recital in January. Go here for a fascinating interview with Marilyn.

– I’ll be in NYC for the BMI Student Awards on May 18, and after the ceremony, will head over to Merkin Hall to hear the New York New Music Ensemble play Lee Hyla and Matthew Rosenblum. Info here.

– don’t forget to check the upcoming performances listing at the very bottom of this page or via the performances link at the top of the page. My music will be heard in LA; NYC; Easton, MD; Philadelphia; and Tanglewood in the next few months.

– David Patrick Stearns offer a substantial interview with Esa-Pekka Salonen.

– The inimitable Jeremy Denk writes about the Goldberg Variations on Deceptive Cadence.

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Here are some pictures from last week’s New York New Music Ensemble concert at Penn. The performance was superb, at times astounding. All the pieces had merit – I was especially struck by On That Swirl of Ending Dust by master of electronic media Eric Chasalow. The piece combined Eric’s exquisitely crafted electronic sounds with the live ensemble in tight synchrony. There were hints of jazz in the second movement, while the third movement was a quiet ritual, with bits of spoken text in the electronic component that made me think of a sober family gathering. Rand Steiger’s exuberant tribute to Elliott Carter, Elliott’s Instruments, enfolds fragments from an array of Carter’s own pieces. It was interesting how one could still recognize references to essentially athematic music. Yiorgos Vassilandonakis’s Quatuor pour la fin d’une ère evocatively explored liminal sounds, a dreamscape not quite in focus.  Cloud Earth by Pulitzer Prize winner Zhou Long was less densely worked than some of the other music on the program. There were imaginative textures here, as well as a little too much wood block for me.

Here are (l to r) Linda Quan, Steve Gosling, Chris Finckel and half of Jean Kopperud in rehearsal:

James Baker, Steve Gosling, Jean Kopperud, Jayn Rosenfeld, and guest artist Dave Shively (regular NYNME percussionist Daniel Druckman couldn’t make it):

and the band bowing after the show:

Here’s the program for Wednesday night’s concert by the New York New Music Ensemble, to be held at 8:00 pm in Rose Recital Hall, located in Fisher-Bennett Hall on the Penn campus:

Rand Steiger — elliott’s instruments (2010)
Eric Chasalow — On That Swirl of Ending Dust (2012) Written for NYNME
Yiorgos Vassilandonakis — Quatuor pour la fin d’une ère (2012) Written for NYNME
Zhou Long — Cloud Earth (2012) Written for NYNME

Lots of new music at Penn in coming weeks. Music by Penn faculty past and present will be heard on Wednesday, March 28, at a program playfully called “Wail of the Voice”, with reference to the Crumb work that will end the program, Voice of the Whale. There will be music by current faculty Anna Weesner and Jay Reise, as well as myself. The Daedalus Quartet will play Anna’s piece, Greg DeTurck will offer my Piano Variations, and there will be a piece for saxophone and piano by Jay. In addition to Greg and the Daedalus, Matt Bengtson (piano), Sam Lorber (saxophone), and Michele Kelly (flute) will also be heard. A pre-concert discussion will be at 7:00, concert at 8:00, all this in Rose Recital Hall at Fisher-Bennett Hall on the Penn campus.

One week later, April 4, same place, same time, the New York New Music Ensemble will appear. The program includes:

Rand Steigerelliott’s instruments (2010)
Eric ChasalowOn That Swirl of Ending Dust (2012) Written for NYNME
Yiorgos VassilandonakisQuatuor pour la fin d’une ère (2012)  Written for NYNME
Zhou Long Cloud Earth (2012) Written for NYNME

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Hear whales wailing here.

-The music of seven members of the Philadelphia chapter of the American Composers Forum – Efrain Amaya, Michael Djupstrom, Daniel Shapiro, Adam B. Silverman, Tony Solitro, Thomas Whitman, and Ya-Jhu Yang –  may be heard as part of a new music theater piece on the Decameron, tonight and through the weekend at the Prince Music Theater in Philadelphia.

– Network for New Music’s November 21 program is called Trade Winds from Tibet and presents music by Andrea Clearfield springing from her research gathering songs in Tibet; composers Eric Moe, Tony Solitro, Michael Djupstrom are also featured.

-The Contemporary Chamber Ensemble of SUNY Stony Brook presents its annual concert of premieres – Nov. 17 on campus, Nov, 18 at Merkin Concert Hall. New music by David Cutler, Leo Kraft, Laura Schwendinger, Daria Semegan and Ken Ueno.

New York New Music Ensemble offers music of Eric Moe, Keeril Makan, Caroline Malonée, Kati Agócs, and Stephen Hartke, November 22 at Merkin.

I’ve been enjoying a disc from a few years back featuring music of Ross Bauer and entitled Ritual Fragments. Released on Albany in 2007, the album includes five pieces from the 1990s, both vocal and instrumental. Performances are exemplary, with top soloists and ensembles: singers Christine Schadeberg and Susan Narucki, the New York New Music Ensemble, the Triple Helix (the Boston-based piano trio) and Ross’s own Empyrian Ensemble, in residence at UC Davis, where he teaches. Ross works in a post-tonal language, and the musical surface can shift rapidly, even kaleidoscopically – either via juxtaposition, or through magical transmutations smoothly shifting from one instrument to the next. But, as David Rakowski comments in his booklet notes, “there’s always a long line unfolding underneath”. I was struck by how Ross integrates motoric and non-pulsed rhythms, and admired the care with which he paces the rate of harmonic change.  The vocal pieces both set texts by indigenous peoples – Eskimos and Native Americans. Ross’s command of a wide range of mood and color lets him find apt frameworks for these varied and evocative texts. I hope more music of Ross Bauer – perhaps including some more recent pieces – finds its way to disc soon.