“Ariel” premiere

The first performances of my Ariel Songs are coming up. These settings of texts from Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” began life as part of a larger set of pieces composed for the early instruments of the Folger Consort, with soloists William Sharp and Ellen Hargis. I subsequently arranged the work for modern instruments, and then made this piano and voice version of Ariel’s songs.

The piece will be performed on joint concerts by Network for New Music and FELYX_M, the chamber choir of the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia. The first is 8:00 pm, Saturday, February 25 at the Community Music School in Trappe, PA. The second, presented by the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, will be at 7:30, Sunday, February 26 at the Independence Seaport Museum in Philadelphia. Soprano Barbara Berry will be accompanied by pianist Susan Nowicki. The program also includes music by Cynthia Folio, Jan Krzywicki, Thomas Whitman, Jennifer Higdon, and Donald St. Pierre. If you are in the Philadelphia area, I hope to see you there. Update: video from Tom Whitman about his piece here.

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(image: “Ariel” by Henry Fuseli. c. 1800-10. Oil on canvas, approx. 36.5 ” x 28 “. The Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington, D.C. The painting is inspired by Ariel’s line: “…on the bat’s back I do fly…”)

Upcoming in Philly and Ohio

– Go here for info on Bowling Green State University’s 2011 New Music Festival. David Lang is the composer in residence, a Michael Gordon U.S. premiere, lots more.

-The Philadelphia Chamber Music Society’s season is announced here. Amazingly affordable, class AAA performers. Some interesting new and recent music – for example, the Juilliard playing the late Don Martino’s Quartet #5 on November 18.

Chilly Monday Miscellany

– Sharon Browning is eloquent on Tucson and wild geese.

– WHYY offers an archive of their telecasts of Curtis student performances here. (Hey folks, how about some new music on these programs?)

– the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society’s blog previews the upcoming performance by the Matthias Pintscher leading the Curtis Chamber Orchestra, this Wednesday, January 26.

Emersons in Philly

I went to hear the Emerson Quartet’s concert here in Philadelphia last night, presented by the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society. They opened with Haydn’s last, incomplete quartet – just the inner movements from what would have been an exceptional four-movement work. (What am I saying? Are there any “unexceptional” Haydn quartets?) This was followed by the Philadelphia premiere of a recent quartet by Lawrence Dillon called Through the Night. This is a big statement – about 33 minutes worth. The piece is basically a huge variation set on the traditional tune “All Through the Night”, framed with atmospheric “Twilight” music. Some of the variations are more straightforward, with the tune readily apparent; others are more fantastical. Two dream-like movements serve as keystones for the set. There is a remarkable variety of affect and character here, with idiomatic quartet writing throughout. The trademark Emersonian intensity and razor-sharp ensemble served the piece beautifully. The same qualities were apparent in the big Schubert G major quartet that closed the program, the Emersons reveling the major/minor chiaroscuro of the piece, and never tiring in the fiercely driven – but always graceful – third and fourth movements.

Larry Dillon is on something of a roll with string quartets, with recent performances by the Borromeo, Daedalus and Cassatt quartets. Visit his website and read his blog for more info. David Finckel, cellist of the Emerson, blogs as well.

Greeting Seasons

Season announcements for various new music ensembles are pouring over the virtual transom. Here are just a very few samples – use the links for more complete info, and seek out what is available in your own town:

Collage New Music of Boston is featuring Fred Lerdahl all season with five pieces across the three concert season. Works by Hartke, Mazzoli, Boykin, Liptak, and Harbison’s Louise Gluck cycle The Seven Ages are additional highlights.

Here in Philly, Network for New Music is having an Asian season, with music from or inspired by Tibet, China, Japan, and Korea. Featured composers include Chou Wen-Chung, Dai Fujikura, Takemitsu (with video by Gene Coleman), and Shih-Hui Chen.

Also in Philadelphia, Orchestra 2001 makes its own contribution to the Asian focus with works by Tan Dun and May T-Chi Chen, along with premieres by Jay Reise and Gerald Levinson and music by Golijov and Dutilleux.

The Dallas-based Voices of Change is offering music by Moravec, Lutoslawski, Xi Wang, Poul Ruders, and Chen Yi.

In San Francisco, Earplay revives a 1959 work by Seymour Shifrin, as well as playing music by Saariaho, Harvey, Lori Dobbins, and Michael Finnissy.

Alarm Will Sound is touring with a multimedia program called 1969 – Beatles arrangements, Bernstein, Berio, Stockhausen  – inspired by a planned joint concert by Stockhausen and the Beatles that never took place. The program comes to Zankel Hall on March 10.

The Composer Portraits at Columbia University’s Miller Theater this season will feature Matthias Pintscher, Fred Lerdahl, Pierre Boulez, Julia Wolfe, Mario Davidovsky, Chaya Czernowin, and Joan Tower.

Da Capo Chamber Players celebrate their 40th anniversary with programs that include premieres by George Tsontakis and Keith Fitch.

The Philadelphia Chamber Music Society is not a new music ensemble, but it deserves mention here, for their many concerts will include a rich array of new music and 20th century classics, including works by Ingrid Arauco, Curt Cacioppo, Crumb, Lawrence Dillon, David Finko, Hindemith, Daniel Kellogg, Jan Krzywicki, Lowell Liebermann, David Ludwig, Webern, Messiaen, and Richard Wernick.