I join with the rest of the Philadelphia musical community in mourning the passing of Robert Capanna. The Philadelphia Inquirer obituary is here. Certainly Bob’s astonishingly successful work in leading and expanding the Settlement Music School is his major legacy, but I want to recall a particular way in which he nurtured our community: for a time, he led a new music ensemble at Settlement. As if he didn’t have enough to do as executive director! Settlement faculty performed, and Bob conducted. I recall the programming as widely varied, and it included works that you would not otherwise hear, including music by local composers. Making music himself – as both a composer and performer – was one of the reasons Bob was such an important presence in Philadelphia. We should all be grateful for that presence in our lives.
A few items of interest on a chilly day in Philadelphia:
– Did you know you can hear performances from Yellow Barn online? Lots of new music, including works by Michel van der Aa, Charles Wuorinen, Oliver Knussen, Hans Abrahamsen and many more, as well as traditional repertoire.
– The Association for the Promotion of New Music presents an all-Babbitt program in his centennial year on December 19 at the Di Menna Center in New York, including performances by the New York New Music Ensemble.
– There will be a concert of music by Robert Capanna on Friday, January 6, at the Settlement Music School’s Queen Street Branch here in Philadelphia. Presented in collaboration with the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, the performers include the Network for New Ensemble conducted by Jan Krzywicki, soprano Sharon Harms, pianist Charles Abramovic, and the Prism Saxophone Quartet.
In 2004 I was one of 23 composers invited to write short pieces for a concert celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Prism Saxophone Quartet. I reached into my files and took the basic musical material from a chart I had written for my undergrad school’s jazz ensemble, enriched the harmony a bit, added some dissonant counterpoint and a little cadenza, and produced Straight Up. The title came from a frequent conversational interjection by a trumpet player I knew back then, roughly equivalent to “no kidding?”, or “are you talking to me straight?” – a possible reaction to hearing the piece.
Prism has recorded those 23 pieces for Innova, and to celebrate the release of the CD, they will play them in concerts in Philly and NYC. The Philadelphia concert is at the World Cafe this Saturday, May 29 at 7; the New York edition is at The Stone, March 31 at 10.
The list of composers is nicely diverse with respect to style, age, and so forth – here’s the list:
Frank J. Oteri
(Hey, I went to a lot of trouble to get all those links, so start clicking.)
Video on Innova here.