Lucy Shelton at 75

I have fallen behind in my blogging, but here’s a first step toward catching up.

I was at Merkin Hall for Lucy Shelton’s 75th birthday concert in February. All her musicality and a remarkably large fraction of her voice remain intact. I would not have thought her capable of portions of the cycles Carter and Knussen wrote for her, but she certainly was. An array of her students filled out the numbers she did not take on, including Kristina Bachrach, who has done my stuff. As an encore, Gil Kalish accompanied Lucy in Ives’s, “Songs My Mother Taught Me”, one in which Gil used to accompany Jan deGaetani – Lucy’s teacher. Not a dry eye in the house, I think, at least not mine.

Lucy means a lot to me, not just because of her excellent artistry, not just because she did my music on several occasions (Holy the Firm, The Cloud of Unknowing, Songs and Dances from “The Tempest”) but because she was a regular with what was then called the  20th Century Consort, and was accompanied regularly by my piano teacher, Lambert Orkis, who was that group’s pianist. Hearing her repeatedly early on in my compositional life taught me something about what singing could be. I played a four-hand Crumb piece with Lambert several times with the Consort, so heard Lucy a fair bit. I remember sitting in on rehearsals of Dick Wernick’s A Poison Tree at Penn when I was a student – that might be the first time I heard her.

Bravo, Lucy – and thank you.

Happy Birthday, Pierrot!

Soprano Lucy Shelton, an incomparable Sprecherin in Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire, has been in touch with the following suggestions on how to mark the 100th anniversary of this landmark work:

Yes indeed, this Tuesday
is the night to celebrate all things PIERROT!!!!!!! 
Here is my recommendation of activities and thoughts for the whole day…
[repeat as many times as you like]I
1) commune with the moon, (though not a full one tonight) drink wine, giving the moon your toast
2) buy a bouquet of white roses and pull off the petals, strewing them delicately around you
3) wear special Pierrot make-up
4) do your laundry
5) waltz down the street, alone, or with a stranger
6) climb up on a table or piano bench and slide from highest note to lowest (=bass clarinet envy)
7) gaze at the moon for 4’33” of silence
8) make big shadows on the walls by waving your arms
9) laugh so hard that you cry
10) wear something ruby-colored
11) hold a tomato in your hand and squeeze it slowly over a bowl (wear an apron, and wash your hands first so you can eat the mess)
12) gossip as fast as you can for 30 seconds
13) back to the moon, of course.  Use binoculars to see its shape.
14) recite a favorite poem, then give your toast to the poet.
15) all about sighs – voiceless and voiced, all kinds of emotions, but mostly nostalgia.
16) light several candles (in lieu of smoking a pipe)
17) talk “in canon” with a friend (with or without warning)
18) wear something black
19) stand on one leg and say “pizzicato”  (do this more than once)
20) float a boat in the bathtub
21) breathe in the centennial air and salute the moon 21 times
(sorry, Lucy, couldn’t figure out how to get WordPress to print all your colorful fonts…)
Lucy in action:

Upcoming in New York and Philly

– Sunday, January 29th, the League of Composers/ISCM celebrates the Cage centennial by presenting Eliza Garth playing the complete Sonatas and Interludes; Merkin Hall at 8:00.

Dolce Suono offers a Shulamit Ran premiere and Pierrot Lunaire*, with guest Lucy Shelton on February 3 at Haverford College, February 5 at Trinity Center in Center City, Philadelphia, and February 6 at Symphony Space in NYC. Lucy’s Pierrot is the most spirited and colorful interpretation I have ever heard, and I have heard many great ones.

*) It’s also the centennial of Pierrot.

(Photo: Cage at work.)

New site-ings and Dolce Suono

A new website for violinist extraordinaire Miranda Cuckson – check out the media page for lots of video and audio; and a newly revamped website, now with a blog, for composer extraordinaire Steve Mackey. A Mackey premiere here in Philly at the Dolce Suono concert this coming Wednesday, along with new pieces by Steven Stucky, Fang Man, Stratis Minakakis, and David Ludwig. Eric Owens will be the soloist.