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.
— I got word that my Waltzing the Spheres has been selected for the New York Festival of Song program I wrote about earlier. Although I wrote about hoping for the premiere of my new Susan Orlean setting, Waltzing will be a NYC premiere, and there is another possibility developing for the premiere of the Orlean piece – so it is working out nicely.
— You can hear this past September’s Jordan Hall memorial concert for Lee Hyla on Instant Encore. Read David Rakowski’s post on Lee here.
— wonderful program by the Gamut Ensemble presented by the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society Wednesday night. Two Bach cantatas, plus some arias, with Sarah Shafer, soprano, and Thomas Meglioranza, baritone, both sounding superb.
Here is Julia Neumann, soprano, with the J. S. Bach Foundation of St. Gallen, directed by Rudolf Lutz, doing one of the arias from BWV 57, heard at the Gamut concert.
Some concerts of interest in various places, including 2 anniversary events:
– Dolce Suono‘s 10th anniversary concert, Sunday, October 12, 3:00 pm, Field Concert Hall, Curtis Institute, Philadelphia.
– Lee Hyla Memorial Concert, Thursday, October 16, 7:30 pm, Lutkin Hall, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL. The late composer of uncommonly intelligent and gutsy works, is honored with a concert of his chamber music. Read about him here.
– Network for New Music celebrates its 30th anniversary, Sunday, October 26, 4:00 pm, Settlement Music School, Queen Street branch in Philadelphia. The special event here is the first performance of an “exquisite corpse” – a new work created by 30 composers (myself included), each of whom contributed 6 measures, with only a tempo marking and the last measure of the preceding composer’s segment as guidance.
– Richard Wernick and George Crumb will be honored in their 80th and 85th birthday years respectively in a Penn Contemporary Music concert in Rose Recital Hall on the Penn campus, Wednesday, November 5 at 8:00 pm. I’ll be playing Crumb’s A Little Suite for Christmas, A.D. 1979. A piano trio by Wernick, and Crumb’s Black Angels will also be heard.
I was saddened to read today of the passing of Lee Hyla. I can’t find any obituary online, just read the news in a tweet from Geoffrey Burleson.
I considered Lee among the very best composers of my generation. I first heard his music when I was a student at Tanglewood and was immediately taken with its intense energies and admirable craft.
UPDATE: Jeremy Eichler’s obituary for the Boston Globe is here.
UPDATE #2: Chicago Tribune obit here; his students reminisce here.
UPDATE #3: New York Times obit here.
Here are examples of his music:
You can find downloads of performances by UC Davis’s Empyrean Ensemble here. Composers include Davidovsky, Melinda Wagner, Lee Hyla, Xenakis, Cage, Wayne Peterson, Kurt Rhode and more.