Three new or newish operas can be seen in Chicago in the next week or so, as WFMT notes: Nkeiru Okoye’s Harriet Tubman, Missy Mazzoli’s Song from the Uproar, and Nico Muhly's Dark Sisters.... This weekend the Stony Brook Symphony, under Eduardo Leandro, presents an adventurous program of Berio's Sinfonia, Ligeti's Mysteries of the Macabre, and Ken Ueno's On a Sufficient Condition for the Existence of Most Specific Hypothesis, the last with the composer performing.... Xian Zhang is making her debut as the New Jersey Symphony's new music director. Michael Cooper interviews her.... A new revised version of Andrew Norman's Play has its première at the LA Phil tonight. Also of interest in LA this weekend: Jacaranda's Finnish program; Peter Sellars's staging of Lassus's Lagrime di San Pietro, with the LA Master Chorale; live performances in conjunction with Rand Steiger and Yuval Sharon's NIMBUS installation at Disney; and Matthew Aucoin's score for Murnau's Nosferatu, at LA Opera. Phelim McDermott's staging of Glass's Akhnaten arrives at LA Opera on Nov. 5, with Anthony Roth Costanzo in the lead.... MEV, the legendary electronic improvisation trio of Curran, Teitelbaum, and Rzewski, is touring the US in coming weeks, marking their fiftieth anniversary. They will be at Western Front in Vancouver on Nov. 3; at the Wayward Music Series in Seattle on Nov. 5; at Redcat in LA on Nov. 9; and at National Sawdust in NYC on Nov. 13. In the spring they will appear at Big Ears.... At the KQED website, Sam Lefebvre has an excellent overview of the fifty-year history of Mills College's Center for Contemporary Music. A great quotation from the late Robert Ashley: "If you're not weird, get out."
October 28, 2016 | Permalink
— Chaya Czernowin, The Quiet: Works for Orchestra; various orchestras and conductors (Wergo)
— Meredith Monk, On Behalf of Nature (ECM)
— In War & Peace; Joyce DiDonato, with Il Pomo D'Oro (Erato)
— Tchaikovsky, Symphony No. 6, Borodin, Polovtsian Dances; Iván Fischer conducting the Budapest Festival Orchestra (Channel Classics) [I observed the making of this recording in my Fischer profile]
— Iván Fischer, Composer's Portrait; Fischer conducting the Budapest Festival Orchestra (Channel Classics)
— Anthony Cheung, Dystemporal and other works; Talea Ensemble, Susanna Mälkki conducting the Ensemble Intercontemporain (Wergo)
— Edmund Rubbra, Tenebrae Nocturns, Missa Cantuariensis, Three Motets, Five Motets; Harry Christophers leading The Sixteen (Coro)
— Ethel Smyth, The Boatswain's Mate; Nadine Benjamin, Edward Lee, Jeremy Huw Williams, Odaline de la Martinez conducting the Lontano Ensemble (Retrospect Opera)
— Paweł Szymański, Lux Aeterna, Miserere, In Paradisum Deducant Te Angeli..., Phylakterion; Anna Szostak leading the Camerata Silesia (Dux)
— ism: works of James Tenney, Erin Gee, David Reminick, Morgan Krauss, Evan Johnson, Lee Hyla; Ryan Muncy, saxophone (New Focus)
October 25, 2016 | Permalink
The LA-based composer-violinist Andrew McIntosh will be the subject of one of Miller Theatre's Pop-Up Concerts tomorrow at 6pm. The fine folk of Yarn/Wire will present two world premieres — Five Songs and We See the Flying Bird — as well as the third movement of Hyenas in the Temple of Pleasure, alongside works of Marc Sabat / Stefan Bartling and Wolfgang von Schweinitz. Tickets are free.... Yarn/Wire will return to Miller in December for a Composer Portrait of Zosha Di Castri.... McIntosh's Yelling into the Wind will be featured on the LA Phil's Noon to Midnight marathon on Oct. 1; the program brings a raft of premieres (including Kate Soper's Wallace Stevens-based The Ultimate Poem Is Abstract), a bevy of LA-based ensembles, and thirteen pianists playing Messiaen's Catalogue d'Oiseaux .... Approaching in Chicago: the massive Ear Taxi festival (Oct. 5-10), featuring such local luminaries as Ensemble Dal Niente, Spektral Quartet, and Third Coast Percussion. There will be no fewer than fifty-four world premières.... Nicholas Hopkins, at his Subtilior music-engraving site, has published two parts of a thoroughgoing analysis of Boulez's Tombeau, the final section of Pli selon pli. One awaits the third installment with interest.... On Oct. 1 the sonostream platform will host a live stream of the Theater Basel production of Stockhausen's Donnerstag aus Licht.... Worth a read: Daniel Brandes's essay “Composing Sabbath Spaces: Thoughts and Reflections on Making Quiet Music.”
September 26, 2016 | Permalink
New and recent titles of interest.
Daniel Bergner, Sing for Your Life: A Story of Race, Music, and Family (Lee Boudreaux)
Virgil Thomson, The State of Music & Other Writings, ed. Tim Page (Library of America)
Michael Marissen, Bach & God (Oxford UP)
Jack Hamilton, Just Around Midnight: Rock and Roll and the Racial Imagination (Harvard UP)
Stuart Jeffries, Grand Hotel Abyss: The Lives of the Frankfurt School (Verso)
Jennie Gottschalk, Experimental Music Since 1970 (Bloomsbury)
Branden W. Joseph, Experimentations: John Cage in Music, Art, and Architecture (Bloomsbury)
Michael Reynolds, Creating Der Rosenkavalier: From Chevalier to Cavalier (Boydell)
September 12, 2016 | Permalink
Cantos Cautivos is an extraordinary digital archive devoted to music written, sung, and heard in centers for political detention and torture in Chile under the regime of Augusto Pinochet, who seized power on September 11, 1973, with clandestine American support. I've only just begun to explore the library, which includes not only musical examples but also testimonies connected with performances in the camps. Here is Renato Alvarado Vidal talking about a spontaneous rendition of the "Ode to Joy" in Cuatro Álamos: "...The warm air of a Santiago autumn entered the cell together with the 'Ode to Joy,' sung by the recognized prisoners of the adjacent prison section: '…Listen, brother, to the song of joy…' And of course he listened, and he sang. I am a terrible singer. Once at Puchuncaví concentration camp, they noticed that out of 320 singers I was the one singing the National Anthem out of tune. But at that moment, I sang too. With all my heart I joined my comrades’ chorus, and I sang. I sang all my joy of staying alive and standing up on my own two feet."
Previously: Music and Violence.
September 10, 2016 | Permalink
In my column this week on the wide world of Wandelweiser, I mention Jennie Gottschalk's new book Experimental Music Since 1970 (Bloomsbury). Jennie has built an amazing website called Sound Expanse, which contains vast quantities of material relating to the exploratory music of recent decades. A few days ago she put up a Wandelweiser page, gathering links to many of the principal composers. See also her previous "resource guides" to Jürg Frey and Michael Pisaro, either of which will keep you listening for hours.
A 2009 essay by Pisaro gives an elegant, personal overview of the history and philosophy of the group. In my column I quoted Pisaro's essay "Time's Underground" and Houben's note for her double-bass piece nachtstück. Much helpful information is contained in J. Douglas Barrett's essay "The Silent Network," which appeared in a 2012 Wandelweiser issue of the Contemporary Music Review; in Tim Rutherford-Johnson's 2012 essay "Some Recent Silences," for NewMusicBox; and in Steve Smith's 2014 Boston Globe piece on Pisaro. I was late in coming to terms with Wandelweiser, and I'm grateful to Tim, Steve, and Will Robin's writing for guiding me past some quizzical first reactions.
Points of departure? I might suggest Frey's Second Quartet (a Soundcloud version of the Quatuor Bozzini's Edition Wandelweiser recording); Eva-Maria Houben's abgemalt (a stream of Andy Lee's Irritable Hedgehog recording); a segment of Manfred Werder's stück 1998, with Cristián Alvear, also on Irritable Hedgehog; Antoine Beuger's memory waves, on Vimeo (many more Wandelweiser videos here); and a YouTube excerpt from Pisaro's fields have ears (1) (drawn from Philip Thomas's recording on Another Timbre). Those prepared to make a more substantial investment can pick up Another Timbre's six-CD set Wandelweiser und so weiter. Beyond that, the catalogues of Edition Wandelweiser, Another Timbre, Irritable Hedgehog, Erstwhile, Gravity Wave (Pisaro's personal label), diafani (home of much Houben), and others run to hundreds of entries. More is on the way: I've been listening to an early version of Reinier van Houdt's three-disc survey of Pisaro piano music, soon to emerge on Erstwhile. As I say in my column, many of these releases are not as effortlessly summoned from the ether as we've been conditioned to expect in the digital era, but one can, for example, easily obtain a download of Pisaro's Tombstones.
The percussionist Greg Stuart, one of Pisaro's closest collaborators, will be touring the East Coast this month. On Sept. 16, he'll collaborate with OpenICE on the first full live performance of Pisaro's ricefall (2), at Abron Arts Center in NYC. The sounds of rice grains falling on metallic surfaces will be joined to sine tones and pitched instrumental parts. Read more in Jennie Gottschalk's recent interview with Stuart. The Wandelweiser calendar brings news of events around the world.
September 04, 2016 | Permalink