December 11, 2008 | Permalink
Ursula Oppens playing Elliott Carter's Caténaires (composed 2006), Cedille 108.
Photo of the 1908 New York-Paris Race: Library of Congress.
Update: The Today show has postponed its Birthday Board, so Willard Scott will not ratify Carter's birthday until next week. The Charlie Rose show has put up video of Carter's appearance last night with James Levine and Daniel Barenboim. And NPR has a lovely profile with many extras in the sidebar.
December 11, 2008 | Permalink
Almut Rössler playing "The Resurrection of Christ" from Messiaen's Livre du Saint Sacrament, Motette 11061. Turn it up.
December 10, 2008 | Permalink
According to a Boosey & Hawkes press release, Elliott Carter's hundredth birthday will be proclaimed by Willard Scott on NBC's Today show on December 12. (For overseas readers: Today is a popular American morning TV program on which Scott, a former weatherman, regularly pops up to congratulate centenarians.) Check out this picture of the ever-robust Mr. Carter in Boston a few days ago; it accompanies an excellent Matthew Guerrieri interview. The New York Philharmonic joins the festivities with a Day of Carter on Saturday ($25/$12).
December 08, 2008 | Permalink
Peter Sellers delivering "A Hard Day's Night" in the manner of Olivier's Richard III.
December 07, 2008 | Permalink
December 05, 2008 | Permalink
Tonight in London I happily and gratefully received the Guardian First Book Award. Deepest thanks to the Guardian jury for bestowing this honor and also to broad-minded readers' groups from the Waterstones chain for voting The Rest Is Noise onto the shortlist. Hors d'oeuvres at the ceremony were handed out on serving trays containing copies of the shortlisted books; hence the photo in the corner. I'll be able to catch one concert during this very brief trip to London; tomorrow night at Wigmore Hall, Steven Isserlis and Thomas Adès play a program of Debussy, Janáček, Fauré, Kurtág, Ravel, and Poulenc. By the way, if you are new to this site, you can here find an Audio Guide to twentieth-century music and also a glossary of wacky musical terms.
Update: Colin Greenwood, my illustrious guest at the event, says blushingly nice things about the book to Claire Armitstead.
December 03, 2008 | Permalink
Hello, Bay Area! Other Minds is holding another day-long New Music Séance on Dec. 6 in San Francisco's Swedenborg Church. Works of Grazyna Bacewicz, Barber, Berio, Johanna Beyer, Steed Cowart (world premiere), Cowell, Ruth Crawford Seeger, Feldman, Gabriela Lena Frank, Mamoru Fujieda, Grainger, Harrison, Ingram Marshall (world premiere), Dylan Mattingly (all of seventeen), Messiaen, Meredith Monk, Per Nørgård, Dane Rudhyar, Somei Satoh, Tan Dun, and Lois Vierk. Performances by pianists Sarah Cahill and Eva-Maria Zimmermann and violinist Kate Stenberg.
December 03, 2008 | Permalink
With the centenary of Olivier Messiaen drawing nigh, here are some additions to my Messiaen 100 post of some weeks back. First, the DG label is releasing a mammoth, thirty-two-CD Complete Edition of the Maître's works, with authoritative performances by the likes of Olivier Latry, Roger Muraro, Pierre Boulez, Myung-Whun Chung, and Kent Nagano (his great recording of Saint François d'Assise). Also, I earlier neglected to mention that the Cleveland Museum of Art is offering a strong cluster of events over the next several weeks: the Quartet for the End of Time twice, Christopher Taylor playing Vingt Regards on the night of the birthday (Dec. 10), and From the Canyons to the Stars with Oberlin players on Dec. 13. Note also ongoing observances at Jacaranda in LA; Mark Robson will do the Vingt Regards on Dec. 6. Matthew Odell plays the same huge work at An Die Musik in Baltimore on Dec. 7. Up in New Haven there's a series called Messiaen at Yale, with Paul Jacobs undertaking Livre du Saint Sacrament, the composer's final organ masterpiece, on the 10th. Here in NYC we'll have a Quartet in the Music at Our Saviour's Atonement series in Washington Heights on Dec. 7; the same work at NYU's Mission Française on Dec. 10; a Voices of Ascension concert the same night at the Church of the Ascension in the Village, with yet another Quartet and Jon Gillock playing organ selections; a Miller Theatre tribute with AXIOM on Dec. 13; and Reinbert de Leeuw conducting the Turangalîla with Yale players at Carnegie on Dec. 14 ($10-25). But nothing on this continent beats the climax of Automne Messiaen in Montreal: the entire organ output during the day of Dec. 10, plus Vingt Regards that night and a Nagano-directed Saint Francis on birthday eve. See the master event list for Messiaen events around the world. The day after, of course, Elliott Carter turns one hundred; James Levine leads the celebration at Carnegie, with a Making Music event the following night. At Southbank in London, the unstoppable Boulez will lead a Messiaen concert on Dec. 10 and a Carter concert on Dec. 11, including something of his own on each night for the sake of variety — or, perhaps, continuity.
November 29, 2008 | Permalink
Remembering Harvey Milk, who died thirty years ago today.
November 27, 2008 | Permalink
Any performance of Morton Feldman's mysterious and sublime Rothko Chapel is an event. Musica Sacra will present the work tonight at 7PM at the World Financial Center's Winter Garden, as part of WNYC's New Sounds Live series. Arvo Pärt's Stabat Mater is also on the program. Admission is free.
Audio: 1) Philip Brett conducting the UC Berkeley Chamber Chorus; with David Abel, viola, Karen Rosenak, celesta, and William Winant, percussion; New Albion NA039. By kind permission of New Albion. 2) The final minutes of my Feldman tribute on WHRB-FM, Dec. 17, 1989, with Magnus Lindberg's Kraft as the signature tune.
November 18, 2008 | Permalink
Carnegie Hall's Leonard Bernstein festival is heading into its final weeks: On the Town has a short run at City Center starting on Wednesday night, and Alan Gilbert conducts the Juilliard Orchestra in the Kaddish Symphony on Nov. 24. American Scholar offers a nice bit of Bernsteiniana online: an account of a memorable appearance that Bernstein made at Harvard in 1986, with Gilbert as his student presenter. Two others who helped to organize Bernstein's late-night soliloquy at Adams House were James Ross, then a music tutor and now on the faculty of the University of Maryland School of Music; and Robert Kiely, beloved master of the house. Kiely recalls that Bernstein gave his speech while puffing on a cigarette and sipping Scotch from a dining-hall glass. His topic was terrorism.
Photo: Library of Congress
November 17, 2008 | Permalink
Marin Alsop, the music director of the Baltimore Symphony, will speak at the National Press Club tomorrow (Monday) at 1PM; there will be a live broadcast on C-SPAN. A press release promises that Alsop will "challenge business, philanthropic and arts leaders throughout the nation to stimulate a collaborative movement that leverages arts-based education programs to encourage positive social change in our communities." Read here about Alsop's OrchKids initiative in Baltimore.
November 16, 2008 | Permalink
Fulfilling hints by Andrew Patner and La Cieca in recent months, Gerard Mortier has withdrawn from New York City Opera. Mortier had set forth a remarkable plan for an all-twentieth-century opening season, but adequate funding failed to materialize, and Mortier walked out. What happens next for City Opera is anything but clear. Dark days may lie ahead for many artistic institutions; as Tim Mangan reported three days ago, Opera Pacific is shutting down, and, according to Mark Swed, the Pasadena Symphony is in trouble. This will hardly be the end of it. Sympathies to all those who are losing their jobs in difficult times.
November 07, 2008 | Permalink
The last time I heard spontaneous singing in Union Square was in the days after September 11, 2001 — an experience I wrote about here. The crowd on Tuesday night consisted largely of college students and people in their twenties; some were children when 9/11 happened. I doubt that many members of this exuberant throng were thinking about what happened in this city seven years ago, but, for various reasons, I certainly was. The young man in the foreground is holding up a rush edition of the Daily News: President Obama.
A quick search of YouTube reveals that young crowds across the country broke into the national anthem in the early morning hours. You can find videos for the East Village, Times Square, Berkeley, Portland OR, Amherst, Ann Arbor, Seattle, Madison WI, and Harvard Yard (with band), among others. Two obvious conclusions: 1) contra Palin, the entire country is "pro America"; 2) increased support for music education would be nice.
One more musical angle: Bob Dylan announced the outcome of the election by playing "Blowin' in the Wind."
November 06, 2008 | Permalink
The LA Philharmonic has set up a sumptuous website in celebration of Esa-Pekka Salonen's final season as the orchestra's music director. The audio portion of the site has some fifteen hours of free music, emphasizing such Salonen specialties as Debussy, Sibelius, Stravinsky, and Bartók. One noteworthy item: Steven Stucky's brilliant, intensely winning Second Concerto for Orchestra, which has yet to be commercially recorded. (Via ArtsJournal.)
November 06, 2008 | Permalink
It is hard to think of a thing more out of time than nobility. Looked at plainly it seems false and dead and ugly. To look at it at all makes us realize sharply that in our present, in the presence of our reality, the past looks false and is, therefore, dead and is, therefore, ugly; and we turn away from it as from something repulsive and particularly from the characteristic that it has a way of assuming: something that was noble in its day, grandeur that was, the rhetorical once. But as a wave is a force and not the water of which it is composed, which is never the same, so nobility is a force and not the manifestations of which it is composed, which are never the same. Possibly this description of it as a force will do more than anything else I can have said about it to reconcile you to it. It is not an artifice that the mind has added to human nature. It is a violence from within that protects us from a violence without. It is the imagination pressing back against the pressure of reality. It seems, in the last analysis, to have something to do with our self-preservation; and that, no doubt, is why the expression of it, the sound of its words, helps us to live our lives.
— Wallace Stevens, "The Noble Rider and the Sound of Words"
November 03, 2008 | Permalink