Stacey Mastrian and “Post-Puccini”

stacymastrianA reminder to come to Penn’s Rose Recital Hall this Wednesday, March 13, at 8:00 pm,  for a program of 20th Century Italian vocal music featuring soprano Stacey Mastrian. Rose Recital Hall is found in Fisher-Bennett Hall at 34th and Walnut Streets in Philadelphia. Admission is free.

I know Stacey from Songfest, and I am certain this will be a strong concert. I’ll be especially interested to hear the Berio voice Sequenza, and a big Nono piece with quad electronic sound called La Fabbrica Illuminata. Pianist Scott Crowne and sound engineer Stephen F. Lilly will assist.

Wail of the Voice: Schreibeis

The first Wail concert last season was entirely comprised of music by Penn faculty, present and past, but we decided to open up the agenda this time by including music from a Penn alumnus. There is certainly a strong roster from which to select – a few random names from the not-so-recent past include Higdon, Golijov, Jalbert, M. Wagner, Jaffe, Carl, Leef – I could name many other superb composer-alums – but for this time we wanted someone who had been at Penn more recently and settled on Matthew Schreibeis. I had the privilege of working with Matt during his time at Penn and I quickly saw how he sets tough challenges for himself compositionally – and saw as well that he has what it takes to meet those challenges. I also enjoyed the fact that his high seriousness as an artist is leavened with a goodly dollop of humor.  Matt is a fine violinist so his composing is grounded in the physical realities of music-making. Lately he has done some very interesting research work on early recordings of Korean music dating back to the wax cylinder era, and a recent piece of his for drummer and electronics makes use of sounds from those recordings.

Here is a program note for the work by Matt that will be heard on the January 11 concert at Penn.

In Search of Planet X
for clarinet, violin, and piano (2009)

My trio’s title takes its name from Percival Lowell’s 1906 search for a planet beyond Neptune.  Lowell used the term “Planet X” to represent this unknown force, a massive celestial body hidden deep in space and believed to counterbalance the sun’s gravitational pull.  While such a planet was never discovered, Lowell’s work did lead to the discovery of Pluto in 1930, fourteen years after his death.  While composing I was inspired not only by the remarkable quest upon which Lowell hinged his reputation, but also by the sense of possibility and discovery and wonder and mystery that such a search represented.  I tried to capture these feelings in the music, as well as the sense of searching for something which turns out not to be or, put another way, discovering something you least expected. I composed In Search of Planet X for musicians at the Music09 Festival at the Hindemith Foundation in Switzerland: violinist Aida Boiesan, pianist Johanna Ballou, and eighth blackbird’s amazing clarinetist, Michael Maccaferri.

Within the Octave of Christmas

No, not that kind of octave. We are presently within the Octave of Christmas, liturgically speaking. Therefore I am not too late with a couple of Christmas items:

– go here for the Christmas gift of a download from The Crossing.

– so how did you spend your Christmas Day? In 1952, you could have spent Christmas evening at Carnegie Hall with Bruno Walter conducting the New York Philharmonic, which offered the following as light holiday fare: a Sinfonia from Bach’s Christmas Oratorio; the Corelli Concerto Grosso “Fatto per la Notte di Natale”; and… the Bruckner 8th Symphony. You think I’m kidding? check out the program here.

One non-Christmas item: the Penn music department will be putting on a concert of music by Penn composers January 11, 8:00 pm, at Rose Recital Hall in Fisher-Bennett Hall, 34th and Walnut Streets, here in Philadelphia. The 8th Quartet of Richard Wernick will be featured, played by the Daedalus Quartet, as well as music by Jay Reise, Matthew Schreibeis, and Anna Weesner as well as myself. More details on performers and the pieces to be posted in the coming days; for now, a Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year to all – see you in 2013.

Scenes from Whaling Trip

Here are a few pictures from Wednesday night’s “Voice of the Wail!” concert at Penn. There were some fine performances by the Daedalus Quartet, pianist Greg DeTurck, and College House Music Fellows Michelle Kelly, Matt Bengston, and Tom Kraines. And who could resist the masks for Crumb’s Voice of the Whale? ( L to R: Michelle Kelly, Matt Bengston and Tom Kraines,)

The surviving members of the so-called Penn Troika (Penn composition faculty members Rochberg, Wernick, and Crumb) were present, along with the current composition faculty and some alums. Here are (L to R) George Crumb, Jay Reise and myself:

and a whole pod of whales, I mean group of Penn composers (seated, l to r: retired faculty members Richard Wernick, George Crumb; standing: current faculty members Jay Reise, Anna Weesner, myself, Penn alumnus Philip Maneval):

More about the concert here, here, here and here.

Wail of the Voice

Lots of new music at Penn in coming weeks. Music by Penn faculty past and present will be heard on Wednesday, March 28, at a program playfully called “Wail of the Voice”, with reference to the Crumb work that will end the program, Voice of the Whale. There will be music by current faculty Anna Weesner and Jay Reise, as well as myself. The Daedalus Quartet will play Anna’s piece, Greg DeTurck will offer my Piano Variations, and there will be a piece for saxophone and piano by Jay. In addition to Greg and the Daedalus, Matt Bengtson (piano), Sam Lorber (saxophone), and Michele Kelly (flute) will also be heard. A pre-concert discussion will be at 7:00, concert at 8:00, all this in Rose Recital Hall at Fisher-Bennett Hall on the Penn campus.

One week later, April 4, same place, same time, the New York New Music Ensemble will appear. The program includes:

Rand Steigerelliott’s instruments (2010)
Eric ChasalowOn That Swirl of Ending Dust (2012) Written for NYNME
Yiorgos VassilandonakisQuatuor pour la fin d’une ère (2012)  Written for NYNME
Zhou Long Cloud Earth (2012) Written for NYNME


Hear whales wailing here.