Musically alert New Yorkers will have noticed that Symphony Space has beefed up its musical programming lately, with a bent for the new. Jenny Lin gives a recital Thursday night entitled The 11th Finger, featuring several of Ligeti's Etudes — much in the air these days, with a complete cycle by Christopher Taylor forthcoming at Miller Theatre on Oct. 29 — together with James Tenney's Chromatic Canon, Claude Vivier's Shiraz, Randy Nordschow's Detail of Beethoven's Hair, and a new piece entitled pAt by the aggresive young Irish composer Donnacha Dennehy ("There is a whiff of high-class vandalism about my work"). Also, percussionist-composer Jim Pugliese has written a new work for the occasion. Lin recently released a formidable disc of early twentieth-century Russian-Soviet piano music, the highlight of which were the eerie and powerful Preludes of the obscure mystic composer Nicolas Obouhov. As Nicolas Slonimsky unforgettably recounted, Obouhov used his own blood as ink on certain pages of his scores. Will we ever hear his purported masterpiece Le Livre de vie, excerpts of which Koussevitzky once conducted in Paris? In any case, Lin's site has audio samples and scores of various pieces she's played.
I don't know if I have any readers in or around Allentown, Pennsylvania, but I've been forwarded a notice of an event that sounds intriguing: "Two of Juilliard's most innovative young graduates, keyboardist Cameron Carpenter and dancer/ choreographer Luke Wiley, will perform on the Civic Theatre stage for one night only, Tuesday, Oct. 18, at 7:30 p.m. Parade, a two-act performance piece for two soloists, explores what happens when two artists who normally stand alone investigate the possibilities of poetic collaboration. At parts, the performance will make innovative use of the theatre's recently restored and enhanced theatre organ, and Civic looks forward to challenging some of the stereotypes of the instrument. Over the course of an evening, Carpenter, through the keyboards, and Wiley, dancing in a role that ranges from the balletic to the interpretive, move from solo performance through increasingly unified works. With musical influences ranging from Bach to Björk, Wiley and Carpenter offer a celebration of collaboration, and of art's ability to transcend borders of genre." Incidentally, Carpenter's on-line essay on music-education issues is totally worth reading, and totally right. Money quote: "The classical music community must demonstrate more flexibility, more spontaneity, and more adaptability than it has demonstrated thus far. Simply throwing up one's hands and exclaiming 'How can we compete with MTV?!' is ridiculous; one must get inside the minds of the audience one is trying to reach."
On the following night, at the New York Public Library, Nico Muhly will unveil his musical adaptation of Strunk and White's Elements of Style. Unfortunately, I will miss both these events, on account of my journey to Iowa.