Last Sunday morning, news that the Texas Book Festival was selling copies of The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century spread rapidly across Austin, Texas, causing a great stampede in the streets. Some even donned running uniforms in order to obtain an aerodynamic advantage over their fellows as they sped toward the book tents.
Seriously, it was an honor to appear in the Texas Book Festival's retinue of writerly celebrities. I happened to speak on the same day as the notable young author Jenna Bush, daughter of our incisive and beloved Commander-in-Chief:
Destiny did not intend us to meet.
The previous day, in Houston, Howard Pollack, the biographer of Aaron Copland and George Gershwin, invited me to visit the University of Houston. There I met the bassoonist Brad Balliett and the composer Elliot Cole, who gave me a CD of their experimental hip-hop project The Oracle Hysterical, which samples Lachenmann, Ferneyhough, and Stravinsky, among others. A sample:
Looking back fondly to the Evening of Spooky Modern Music last week in New York, I want to thank Ethan Iverson of The Bad Plus for playing brilliantly — and from memory — a wild array of pieces, and the Paris Bar's David Brendel for conceiving and organizing the event. Spotted in the audience were such celebrities as Mark Morris, Lou Reed, Laurie Anderson, and Alex Abramovich.
My in-depth exploration of the Central Time Zone has now brought me to Chicago:
Last night I saw the Chicago Symphony's first MusicNOW concert of the season. Somewhere around 900 people, at least a third of them under the age of thirty, took in Mark-Anthony Turnage's Eulogy, Derek Johnson's Frozen Light, a Septet by the strikingly assured nineteen-year-old Liverpudlian composer Mark Simpson, and the world premiere of Nico Muhly's Step Team, which takes a surprising turn from dancing motion to still, sad lyricism and never goes back.