“Times Like These” in DC

No ensemble has been a more committed advocate for my work than the 21st Century Consort with its artistic director Christopher Kendall. That advocacy continued with a brilliant performance of my Times Like These this past April 13, with Paul Cigan, clarinet, and Lisa Emenheiser, piano. The piece was written on a commission from clarinetist Jean Kopperud. Jean was looking for pieces that would be “extreme” in one way or another, and my piece is challenging in his shifting rhythms and intricate interplay between the instruments. Paul and Lisa handled the piece capably, not just putting notes in the right places, but making phrases, conversing with one another with meaningful musical shapes. I am very grateful.

Here are a few pictures, taken by H. Paul Moon.

21st Century Consort: April 13, 2019

21st Century Consort: April 13, 2019

21st Century Consort: April 13, 2019

And here is Jean’s recording of the piece, with pianist Stephen Gosling:

Shamefully, the Smithsonian American Art Museum has – at extremely short notice – decided to no longer present the Consort’s programs. After dozens of brilliantly performed and programmed concerts, keyed to the Museum’s exhibits, the group is being dumped at such a late date that it will be a scramble to find a new venue for next season. Here’s hoping the Consort finds a new home quickly and is able to continue its irreplaceable service to audiences and composers.

Times Like These at ClarinetFest 2014

CD cover

Lisa Oberlander, clarinet, and Tatiana Muzanova, piano, will be performing my Times Like These this coming Sunday, August 3, as part of the International Clarinet Association‘s ClarinetFest 2014 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  This convention is a big deal in the clarinet world, with tons of concerts, lectures, exhibits, and so forth. Lisa’s performance will be part of a 12 noon recital in Shaver Theater on the campus of Louisiana State University.

Lisa, with pianist Yien Wang, has recorded the piece for Potenza Music. (That’s the lively cover art above.) The release is imminent, so far as I know; I’ll post the relevant links for getting the disc as soon as they become available. Lisa and Yien have a fabulous command of the piece; check out the video of their performance:

 

 

Originally commissioned and premiered by Jean Kopperud and Stephen Gosling, and recorded by them for Albany, Times Like These was recently published by the Theodore Presser Co. However, I don’t see it listed yet on their website, nor at Sheet Music Plus – if you are interested in the piece, I suggest contacting Judith Ilika, head of promotion at Presser: jilika@presser.com. I know they have the PDF file of the score that I sent to them, so be persistent and I’m sure they will eventually get you the music. UPDATE: you can purchase the piece at the Presser website here.  Judith Ilika no longer works for Presser; you can try sales@presser.com for questions.

Times Like These in Georgia

I want to remind you of the performance of my Times Like These in Georgia this week. Clarinetist Lisa Oberlander is joined by pianist Yien Wang in performing the piece that was commissioned by Jean Kopperud for her “Extreme Measures” project, and subsequently recorded by her and Steve Gosling for Albany. Lisa’s program is on September 6 at Legacy Hall, RiverCenter for the Performing Arts, Schwob School of Music, Columbus State University, Columbus GA.

Performances this fall

Two additions to the Upcoming and Recent Performances page:
Times Like These, the clarinet and piano piece I wrote for Jean Kopperud‘s “Extreme Measures” project a few years ago, will be played by Lisa Oberlander, clarinet, and Yien Wang, piano, this fall. The details:
Thursday, September 6, 7:30pm
Free admission
Legacy Hall, Rivercenter for the Performing Arts
Schwob School of Music, Columbus State University
Columbus GA
The program is:
Wanhal  – Sonata in Bb Major
Primosch – Times Like These
Widor – Introduction et Rondo
Brahms – Sonata in Eb Major, Op. 120, No. 2
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And closer to home, The Crossing will do spiralling ecstatically, a setting of an e.e. cummings poem for a cappella chorus, at their Christmas concert:
Sunday, December 23, 8:00 pm
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
Philadelphia, PA
The piece originated in a setting I wrote for the choir of the Catholic Campus Ministry at Columbia University some decades ago. I subsequently re-wrote the piece for Emmanuel Church in Boston, where it was done most recently at the installation of their pastor, Pamela Werntz.
Congratulations to The Crossing’s conductor, Donald Nally, who recently joined the faculty of Northwestern.

Monday Night Miscellany

– Cellist David Finckel blogs about his “Bohemian Immersion”. Even if you are not a cellist, you can learn from his Cello Talks.

– Nice to see a picture of Jean Kopperud in the NY Times review about June in Buffalo. Check out a video of a David Felder piece from last year’s festival here.

– Daron Hagen now writes for Huff Post.

– Promised update on 21st Century Consort CD: it is sounding better and better, I will go back to the studio for a little more clean-up of a very few stray noises and imperfect edits tomorrow night – then some hum removal, then mixing… getting closer…

No Extra Notes

Richard Zarou, proprietor of the website No Extra Notes, invited me to prepare a podcast of my music to post on his site. I am told it will be available starting at some point tonight (Sunday, November 13.) The podcast is mostly samples of my music – The first movement from Dream Journal, played by Network for New Music; a motet sung by Emmanuel Music; and a clarinet and piano piece with Jean Kopperud and Stephen Gosling. (Thanks to Albany Records for the go-ahead on using the first and third of those pieces.) There are lots of other composers featured at No Extra Notes, definitely worth looking around.

Boston Adventure, part two

After Saturday morning’s rehearsal with Emmanuel Music, I had a great lunch at 29 Newbury with Ryan Turner (Emmanuel Music Director) and Pat Krol (Emmanuel executive director). (Check out the tomato soup and the pulled pork sandwich.) After a long walk in the Public Garden (amazing tulips) I made my way over to Brandeis where the 2011 BEAMS Electronic Music Marathon was in progress. Twelve hours of electronic and mixed media works! I caught nearly half the event, arriving – regrettably – too late for music by some familiar names, among them: David Felder, James Dashow, William Coble, Kaija Saariaho, Hans Tutschku, and Dennis Miller – and some not so familiar names: Ferdinando De Sena, Jeremy Podgursky, Michel van der Aa, Malin Bång, and a good many others. The unfamiliar names were mostly European, and one of the good things about the mix of pieces was the inclusion of music from Europe that is not often heard in this country. There was a chronological mix as well including older pieces such as …sofferte onde serene… of Nono, from 1976 (has not worn well) and Mortuos Plango, Vivos Voco from 1980 by Jonathan Harvey (still sounds fabulous, especially nice to hear it in a hall with a multi-channel setup). There were a lot of pieces that involved live processing, but much of this mostly just involved putting a live player through a laptop that served as a sophisticated stomp box providing variations on delay. There seemed to be a limited array of compositional options: either the processed version accumulates the notes as though the piano pedal was depressed (the homophony strategy); or something that was just played gets repeated, looped or not (sort of canon at the unison). Pieces for what we used to call “instrument and tape” – now the expression is “instrument and fixed media” – were also heard. Performances were at a very high level throughout the evening. A few standouts:

the forgotten dialect of autumn by Heather Stebbins – memorably lyric violin lines played by Krista Buckland Reisner, with live electronics.

Winter Fragments by spectralist master Tristan Murail – the Boston-based group Sound Icon playing with live processing, plus video imagery by Herve Bailly-Basin – mostly aqueous images, sometimes crystalline, mostly responding to the music in a direct way, and therefore suggesting a high end  iTunes visualizer. (Just as the laptop ends up being a fancy stompbox. Fancy technology does not always mean a fancy result.)

Rope and Chasm by Matthew Greenbaum –  Re’ut Ben Ze’ev, mezzo soprano, narrating, singing, and interacting with a video. The piece is based on Nietzche’s Also Sprach Zarathustra; one memorable moment was when the mezzo reached up her hand to a wounded figure in the video, casting her hand’s shadow onto the screen – a simple gesture, but quite touching.

Strange Autumn by Steven Kazuo Takasugi – a theater piece with narration, electronic sound and a percussionist making amplified noises with various pieces of paper. Something oddly moving about making a piece with such impoverished means.

Scuffle & Snap by Eric Chasalow – an heir to the Davidovsky tradition, Brandeis faculty member Chasalow, who curated the marathon, offered another one of his finely crafted studies in, as he put it in a program note, “building heightened dramatic structures around traditional instruments”. He continues, “I like to use a wide variety of sound sources, recontextualized, but very resonant with memories.” Chasalow’s work is important because he is not just an electronic music composer, he is an electronic music composer; the way he carefully shapes musical gestures and their interaction was a welcome contrast with much of the music heard that day.

The last piece I heard was Davidovsky’s Synchronism No. 12, played with her customary verve and lively array of colors by clarinetist Jean Kopperud. This is the most recent in the series of pieces for instruments and electronic sound by the original maestro of the medium. Here is Jean just before playing the piece:

By now it was getting close to midnight, and time for me to go get some sleep before the next morning’s church service with my motet at Emmanuel. More soon.