Mid-October Miscellany

There has been a lack of posting here due to a deadline for my Philadelphia Chamber Music Society commission. But this week I sent the last movement of my new violin and piano to my brilliant editor/computer notation wizard, and I am now catching up on various neglected tasks. I’ll write about the PCMS piece in another post, for now I’ll just say it is called Five Poems – it was originally going to be a Violin Sonata, but the movements feel more like character pieces than something “symphonic” in conception.


The soprano soloist for the New Juilliard Ensemble performance of my From a Book of Hours has been named: Alexandra Razskazoff. There is a brief bio of her here (scroll down) from a press release on a Juilliard performance of Le nozze di Figaro this past spring.


So many events worth your attention this weekend in Philly:

Guthrie Ramsey’s Musiqology at Annenberg
Network for New Music has a panel and a concert for the Persichetti centennial
Bowerbird explores Julius Eastman
The Crossing is at Chestnut Hill Presbyterian with encore performances of several pieces
Kile Smith has a premiere on the first Mendelssohn Club concert under new artistic director Paul Rardin


And if you are in New York City this weekend, Mimi Stillman and Bart Feller will be doing my Badinerie Squared at a New York Flute Club program this coming Sunday.


Recent reading:

Bluets – Maggie Nelson
A Dance of Polar Opposites – George Rochberg


Music is undervalued in more ways than just through insufficient royalty payments for streaming audio – read this essay by Craig Havighurst.

September Heat Wave Miscellany

  • Check out two recent pieces on composer George Walker from the Washington Post and The Guardian – the latter including a Spotify playlist.
  • Network for New Music is building its programs for the coming season around the centennials of Babbitt and Persichetti, while Orchestra 2001 will offer four concerts, each featuring as conductor a different candidate for the position of successor to James Freeman as music director of the ensemble.
  • I recently finished reading Harvard Composers: Walter Piston and His Students, from Elliott Carter to Frederic Rzewski by Howard Pollack. The book is made up of brief essays on 33 composers who were all students of Walter Piston, some of whom you know and others you have probably not heard of, like Nicholas Van Slyck and Eugenia Frothingham. It presents Piston as a central figure, with influence comparable to that of Hindemith and Stravinsky, a curious way to think about a composer whose music I have never heard live (apart from practicing the piano part to his Flute Sonata years ago). But the main focus is on the students, not the teacher. Pollack offers appreciations of several composers whose work I was pleased to get to know a little better, including people like Billy Jim Layton, Robert Moevs, Arthur Berger, and many others.

Coming Up in Philly

– The Prism Saxophone Quartet and pianist Uri Caine collaborate in a program at the World Cafe this Thursday, April 16 at 7:30 PM (The program is repeated in NYC on the 17th.) I’m going to be writing a piece for Prism and piano myself for next season.

Bowerbird is presenting an evening of “visual music” by composer and video artist Matthew Greenbaum at Temple University’s Rock Hall this coming Saturday, April 18, at 7:30 PM. The program features pieces that combine live performer with video. You might see this an extension of the live performer plus electronic sound genre so brilliantly cultivated by Matthew’s teacher Mario Davidovsky, but Matthew’s language – both sonic and visual – is very much his own.

– On April 19 at 3 pm, at the Curtis Institute, Network for New Music offers pieces by Michael Hersch, Jan Krzywicki and David Ludwig in a collaborative program bringing together Network with Curtis and the Print Center.

 

 

Network at The Barnes

There always has to be an angle. That’s what foundations and funding sources insist on from presenters and performers these days, and the angle at last night’s concert by Network for New Music at The Barnes Foundation was the notion of having a group of composers write pieces in some way inspired by the museum’s collection. (The Barnes’s title for the event, “American Composers Respond”, sounded too much like a title card from a newsreel dating from shortly after Pearl Harbor.) There were new pieces by Kristin Kuster, Jeremy Gill, Stephen Hartke and Louis Karchin, all of relatively modest dimensions, and all meriting the listener’s attention.  Stephen Hartke offered The Blue Studio, a set of perfectly timed and characterful miniatures for piano trio, while Louis Karchin’s Luminous Fields, inspired by Rousseau, set in motion fleet gestures in harmonically bright colors, using harp, flute, cello, and pitched percussion. The concert took place in the reverberant space of the Light Court at the Barnes, and that resonance enhanced the moments of three-dimensional depth in the minimalist strata of Kristin Kuster’s folding planes: frosted panes, inspired by the Barnes building itself. Jeremy Gill captured something of the intense colors and fluid approach to form in the cutouts of Matisse in his Sons Découpés. Network’s performances were typically fine throughout the evening.

Here’s (left to right) Jeremy Gill, Stephen Hartke, and Kristin Kuster after the show:

 

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Gerald Levinson, Jay Reise and Stephen Hartke:

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and Jerry again with myself and Lou Karchin:

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Excellent music excellently played isn’t good enough for grant givers these days, but for listeners, it will do just fine, and that was the gift granted us by Network last night.

Concerts Here and There

Only time for a quick note before I get back to the oboe quartet. You should go to:

– an all-Richard Wernick program tomorrow night, Feb. 25, at U Penn, 8 pm in Rose Recital Hall, featuring the Daedalus Quartet and pianist Gregory DeTurck

– Network for New Music at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia this Friday, Feb. 27; more info here. A video preview:

– a concert in honor of the extraordinary violinist Rolf Schulte will be held at Merkin Concert Hall in NYC next Wednesday, March 4. Program include a Hayes Biggs premiere. More info here.

Made By All, Not By One

You can hear the “exquisite corpse” composition made by 30 Philadelphia composers to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Network for New Music by going here. Strictly speaking, it’s 30 Philly composers plus one from Chicago; there are a few bars from Augusta Read Thomas‘s Passion Prayers (commissioned and premiered by Network) to get the corpse rolling. Each composer contributed 6 measures, having been given only the last measure of the preceding segment.

Network at 30

I meant to take a lot more pictures at Network for New Music’s 30th anniversary celebration last weekend, but only got a few. Here at left is Philip Maneval of the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society (who was my classmate at Penn), alongside my Penn faculty colleague Jay Reise:IMG_4421

 

followed by my other Penn composition faculty colleague, Anna Weesner, with the conductor of the Network Ensemble, composer Jan Kryzwicki:

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The view from the roof of the Settlement Music School (where all the composers involved in the Exquisite Corpse project posed for a group shot) is remarkable:

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Here’s the group shot, taken by Annie Sarachan – sorry, I can’t identify everybody in the picture:

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but the composers involved in the project were: Ingrid Arauco, Jennifer Barker, Kyle Bartlett, Richard Brodhead, Robert Capanna, Luke Carlson, Andrea Clearfield, Gene Coleman, Daniel Dorff, Paul Epstein, Cynthia Folio, Jeremy Gill, Gerald Levinson, Robert Maggio, Philip Maneval, Roberto Pace, Joo Won Park, James Primosch, Jay Reise, Andrew Rudin, David Shapiro, Kile Smith, Tony Solitro, Evan Solot, Van Stiefel, David Bennett Thomas, Augusta Read Thomas, Adam Vidiksis, Anna Weesner, Thomas Whitman, and Maurice Wright.

Go here for pictures from Network’s 25th anniversary.

Upcoming concerts

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.

 

Wednesday Miscellany

– Network for New Music’s 30th Anniversary celebration, featuring an “exquisite corpse” created by 30 composers, will be October 26 at 4 pm, at the Queen Street branch of the Settlement Music School here in Philadelphia. More here.

– I got into a discussion (rather tangential to the post itself) in the comments section of a Joseph Horowitz post here. I probably should have bit my tongue and gone off to practice the piano, but the notion of there being no American music worthy of comparison with that of Penderecki did set me off a bit.

– Kile Smith writes for New Music Box with customary wit and insight about music and church beginning here.