Robert Capanna In Memoriam

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.

Cold Snap Miscellany

A few items of interest on a chilly day in Philadelphia:

– Two choirs that have performed my music offer Christmas concerts this weekend: The Crossing, and  Cantori New York.

– 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 extraordinary violinist Rolf Schulte has made archival recordings of his performances of concertos by Roger Sessions and Donald Martino available on CD Baby here. The Sessions is performed by the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie, with Janos Kulka, and the Martino is with the New Hampshire Symphony and James Bolle. The music is also available on the iTunes store.

– 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.

Prism plays Straight Up

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:

Tim Berne
William Bolcom
Zack Browning
Robert Capanna
Donnacha Dennehy
Dennis DeSantis
Nick Didkovsky
Jason Eckardt
Roshanne Etezady
Reneé Favand-See
Perry Goldstein
Jennifer Higdon
Libby Larsen
Matthew Levy
Keith Moore
Greg Osby
Frank J. Oteri
James Primosch
Tim Ries
Adam Silverman
Ken Ueno
Gregory Wanamaker
Chen Yi

(Hey, I went to a lot of trouble to get all those links, so start clicking.)

Video on Innova here.