So Forth


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Helga Davis

Helga Davis

June 25, 2012

Schimmel Center for the Arts@

Pace University

River to River Festival

“Oceanic Verses” by Paola Prestini

First let me say that this was really well-produced and staged.  All went incredibly well; not easy with a large choir and the band on stage along with the four singer/actors and a youth choir who joined the troupes near the end.  The film which was projected on a large horizontal screen at the back of the stage was quite remarkable - beautiful and pertinent to what was going on.  The vocalists were Helga Davis (a long time favorite of mine since I heard her sing in Craig Harris’s “TriHarlenium” some years ago), Christopher Burchett, Nancy Allen Lundy, and Claudio Prima.  All great.  My problem was I could never figure out what was going on and thought the text was confusing.  I got the Libretto after the concert and will read it soon to see if I can figure it out. It was the first time I had been to this venue which was nice - 650 comfortable raked seats. There are more River to River events taking place there and I plan to be at some.   NYTimes review: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/27/arts/music/oceanic-verses-at-pace-in-river-to-river-festival.html?ref=music

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Chris Mann

Chris Mann

June 23, 2012

Issue Project Room

Darmstadt  Institute Series  8 pm

Either/Or

David Shively began the night with a NY premiere of “Plain Moving Landfill” by Thomas Meadowcroft.  This was solo percussion (and some electronics) as David does so well.  He used rubber hoses pumped like and sounding a bit like a pump organ, small gongs as well as some bass drum.  How to describe is not possible for me but I loved it.  The second piece was just as fascinating: “Striking, for strings and chopsticks” by Andrew Byrne, performed by the string quartet of Alex Waterman, cello; Esther Noh and Pala Garcia, violins; Erin Wight, viola.  This was aptly named as nary a bow was used, just chopsticks and fingers plucking the strings, hands tapping the wooden portion of the instruments.  Cool.  The final piece was “Public Works” (world premiere) by Chris Mann, poet performed by him reading text, with three musicians playing instruments that they don’t usually play (see above): David Shively on piano (he said later this was the first time in about 32 years he played -- not since a school recital); Alex Waterman playing Esther’s violin and Esther Noh on Alex’s cello.  I think they said they were playing Beethoven but I sure couldn’t tell.  It was really pretty dreadful as it was supposed to be.  Chris’s reading of the text was lively, animated, and very expressive and I couldn’t understand a word -- well, maybe a couple -- also the way it was supposed to be heard.  Now I do want to read his poem/text.

9:30 pm

Object Collection

This is a group of performers founded in 2004 who met at Cal Arts when they were studying there.  All the pieces performed this night were from “New York Girls.”  The pieces as they say in the notes are performed overlapping/simultaneously/consecutively and more telling for me, “We value accumulation above cohesion” and I would say coherence. The photos may give you some idea of what went on.  They moved objects around the floor, loud percussion and guitar music interspersed throughout.  One guy laid on the floor repeating the opposite of what was said on a recording, a man wearing a lampshade on his head while others read something or other.  Two of the manly men wore T-shirts, skirts, mesh stocking and running shoes. I had no idea what was going on but so what; it was interesting and good for them for being so creative.

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Chausson's Concert with Ran Dank, piano

Chausson's Concert with Ran Dank, piano

June 22, 2012

Rubin Museum of Art

The Chelsea Music Festival

I wasn’t planning on going to this but the weather was scorching hot and a subway ride sounded too hard.  The Rubin was walking distance from the place where I stayed.  The concert was entitled “Debussy VI: Violin Daybreak” and featured Fanny Clamagirand, violinist (from Europe, maybe France) who has won a ton of awards, is young and wore a lovely dress.  It was one of those classical concerts -- really lovely but no fun.  I probably shouldn’t notice or say this but, with very few exceptions, the audience was older white people and younger Asian people.  The first piece was Debussy Sonata for Violin and Piano (1917); second piece, and my favorite not surprisingly, was “Rocking Mirror Daybreak” (1983) by Takemitsu performed by Augustin Hadelich and Emilie-Ann Gendron; third was “Solo Sonata No 5 in G Major” by Ysaye (1923) performed by Clanagirand.  During intermission I did run upstairs to the 6th floor to see their Indian Modernist exhibit. The final piece was “Concerto in D for Violin, Piano and String Qt (1891) by Chausson. This was lovely and I was really impressed by the pianist, Ran Dank, who stepped in at the last minute and learned this difficult piece is just a few days. I did run upstairs to the 6th floor to see their Indian Modernist exhibit. The final piece was “Concerto in D for Violin, Piano and String Qt (1891) by Chausson. This was lovely and I was really impressed by the pianist, Ran Dank, who stepped in at the last minute and learned this difficult piece is just a few days.

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Will Patton and Denis Johnson

Will Patton and Denis Johnson

June 21, 2012

BAM Cafe

Denis Johnson - Author

This was a special non-musical night.  I have read three (so far) books by Denis Johnson and love them.  It was a grown-up night: expensive, a lovely dinner and then a reading by and interview of Johnson.  He and Will Patton, an actor, read from a play by Johnson, “Purvis” about an FBI agent from the 1950’s.  During the interview he said that about 50% of “Jesus’s Son” is autobiographical -- it’s about addiction and it rang true.

He was forthright and seemed down-to-earth -- always good. I will read the rest of his books as time goes by.

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TwoSense - Lisa and Ashley

TwoSense - Lisa and Ashley

June 20, 2012

Barge Music

Here and Now series

TwoSense: Ashley Bathgate, cello and Lisa Moore, piano with guest artists Karen Bentley-Pollick, violin and Courtney Orlando, violin. Barge Music’s setting is as wonderful as the music was this night. The River Cafe’s verdant park is across the way as it the Brooklyn Ice Cream Shop (not to be missed). The Barge rolls slightly but not enough to make one sick.  A night of great music, wonderful performers with many interesting and fun folks in attendance (I love NY).  Ashley is the cellist for the Bang on a Can All-Stars and Lisa is a way-prominent pianist here in NY.  I heard this twosome at BoaC Marathon and was wise to go hear them again. Janacek’s “Pohadka (Fairytale) composed in 1923 was first followed by Martin Bresnick’s fabulous “Prayers Remain Forever” (2011) written for TwoSense and which takes its inspiration from an Israeli poem. After intermission we were treated to the world premiere of Sam Adam’s (John’s son) “Piano Trio” (2011) performed by TwoSense and Karen Bentley-Pollick, violin. Sam introduced the piece saying that this was an experiment for him, using older formal archtypes and how his musical language fit with his studies with Bresnick. His dad must be very proud.  Bresnick then introduced his composition, “Piano Trio” (1988) for TwoSense and Courtney Orlando, violin. The second movement was  inspired by the kids game, Cats Cradle, and we could hear this as he used lots of strings played pizzicato. There was a brilliant written and performed piano solo section. It was beautiful and caused me to buy his CD so I can hear more of his music.

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Matt Marks

Matt Marks

June 19

The Stone

Matt Marks - Shame Remixes

This was fun. The music Mark selected and scored were based on tunes that he loves in a shameful way.  (We all have guitly pleasures.  Mine tend toward James Taylor and Sting). This included coming to terms with liking music from Disney films. The top notch performers were Kathy Supove, piano; James Moore, banjo; Kelli Kathman, alto flute; Andie Springer, violin.  First was James Moore performing a remix of Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” with an accompanying track of her her her.  Then a remix of wonderful Blue Gene Tyranny’s “Sunrise, Outside.”  Kathy then played a bunch of Disney remixes: Legs are Required (Little Mermaid), Indescribable Feeling (Aladdin) and Ever Just As Sure (Beauty and the Beast) followed by a more grown-up remix of Debussy.  The rest of the night included “No Need to Ask” by Kathman on flute which was a remix of “Smooth Operator” and Andie Springer, violin, voice and track, playing music from Dirty Dancing causing us older audience members to smile in acknowledgement and recognition.

 

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NEXUS

NEXUS

June 18

Le Poisson Rouge

So Percussion’s Night of Awesome(ness)

A full house at LPR for this concert which presented six different percussion ensembles. Each of the ensembles were very different and all fascinating. Akros Percussion Ensemble performed “Ordinary Music Vol. 13.” Mobiius Percussion Quartet played “Paper Melodies (my music box music).  The instrumentation included hammer dulcimer, toy piano, melodica, cricket clickers and machine-like toys.  MP Duo consisting of Todd Meehan and Doug Perkins performed two pieces one of which was “Binary” composed by Matt McBane (San Diegan and founder of the Carlsbad Music Festival). This was the NY premiere.  Matt says the title comes from the idea of polarity: two parts interlock with rhythms that fill all the spaces in a measure but never play at the same time.  Great.  Nexus, a great quartet of percussionists who apparently are the grand early group who mentored many of the young percussionists. I had not heard of them but was mightily impressed by their performance of five pieces especially the last one which was a collection of great Ragtime Xylophone Music composed by George Hamilton Green (1893-1970).  Mantra Percussion consisting of nine performers played an excerpt from a wonderful piece, “Science is Only a Sometimes Friend” on glockenspiels along with an electric organ. Tigue played a piece composed by Tristan Perich, great young composer.  I have seen quite a few of his works now and find them wonderful and creative. This one has the hard name “qsqsqsqsqqqqqqqq” named after an except of commands he types when configuring his drawing machine.  This piece is for toy piano and electronic parts. He says, “There, where perfection turns imperfect and the imperfect gains perfection, is where our logic ends and the other begins.”  Got that?  To end this night of great and varied percussion, all the percussionists gathered on stage to perform Terry Riley’s landmark “In C.” I’ve come to believe that percussion is the way in to “new music” for many.  It has discernible rhythms and that helps get over the hurdle of how to listen to unfamiliar.

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Dither Guitar Quartet

Dither Guitar Quartet

June 17

World Financial Center

Bang on a Can Marathon

Twelve hours of music. I will only blather on about my favorites in each of the seven sections divided up by hours. 12 pm  As luck had it, they opened with Dither Quitar Quartet consisting of James Moore, Taylor Levine, Josh Lopes and new member, Gyan Riley.  They performed Lois V. Vierk’s “Go Guitars” (1981).  The guitars were tuned to E or 1/4 tone above or below which made for an incredible sound. I love these guys.  Next Ashley Bathgate, cellist for Bang on a Can All Stars, performed solo (with electronics) “Saint Arc” by Daniel Wohl, exuberant and thrilling. “In Bounds” by Evan Ziporyn performed by amazing Vicky Chow, pianist for the BoaC All Stars.  This was an incredibly difficult piece which didn’t seem that way as she is so good.  She grooved with it and it was gorgeous.  Todd Reynolds, violin and a pre-recorded down-home singer performed “Crossroads” by Michael Lowenstein who then joined Todd and David Cossin, percussion (also with the All Stars) on “Boot.”  At 2 pm, Eve Beglarian’s “In and Out of the Game was performed by The Guidonian Hand, a trombone quartet.  I always like Eve’s compositions and this was no exception.  The Grand Band, consisting of six pianists, then performed Julia Wolfe’s “my lips from speaking” which incorporated music of Aretha Franklin’s “Think.”  (I hope I got this right).  Mellissa Hughes, voice; Taylor Levine, ukelele; and Philippa Thompson, spoons, performed Ruby Fulton’s “The End” which with those performers couldn’t help but be terrific.  Thurston Moore’s “Stroking Piece #1” the All Stars; drums, guitar, cello, and clarinet. They rocked out. Nice to hear some grooves in a new music concert  and the performers must have thought so too as they smiled throughout.  4 pm  This section opened with Martin Bresnick’s “Prayers Remain Forever” which, if I heard right, was also performed at the first Marathon in 1987. This was performed by TwoSense: Ashley Bathgate, cello and Lisa Moore, piano.  This was lovely in a good way -- not boring.  The BoaC founders, Julia Wolfe, Michael Gordon and David Lang all studied with Bresnick. So a nice historical touch.  David Little’s “Sweet Light Crude” and Michael Gordon’s “Thou Shalt/Thou Shalt Not” both with great energy and intensity.  5:30 pm After much rhythmic music with a wide range volume, it was time to settle down and who could be better than Pauline Oliveros to bring peace to the fore.  The Deep Listening Band consisting of Pauline, Stuart Dempster, Peter Zummo, and Brian Pertl performed Pertl’s “Land of Snow” consisting of conch shells and a Tibetan horn and didjeridu. Calming and haunting.  The slow and again haunting piece. “From Now On”  by Pauline and Stuart who vocalized in the way that they do causing all of us to breathe deeply. 6:30 There were two highlights here: Nancarrow’s “Piano Studies 2a, 3a, 3c and 11 arranged by Ziporyn.  Mainly for player pianos with a variety of rhythmic ideas which included tunes from American popular tradition: folk, jazz, blues.  Then Alvin Lucier was there in person to perform his “I am Sitting in a Room.  Lucier provided the voice and James Fei, the digital delay system utilizing the resonance frequencies of the big room.  Lucier read his text which was recorded and then played back with increasing delays slowly changing the text until it no longer could be understood while he sat very very still.  Amazing to watch and to hear. 8:00 pm  The standout for me during this segment was Bill Morrison’s film which accompanied Maya Baiser, cello, playing Michael Harrison’s “Just Ancient Loops.”  Baiser is great, the film was equally so. There’s some chance he may be at UCSD for a project - sure hope so.  10 pm The final portion of the Marathon presented two stellar pieces: Steve Reich’s “Six Pianos” by the Grand Band and “Le Noir de Etoile” by Gerard Grisey performed by six percussionists each of whom had a percussion set-up stationed around the huge hall.  These were wheeled in on rolling platforms, one at the front and back of the room and two sets on each side. The lights were dimmed and the stalwart audience was treated to this composition, often called a “masterpiece of percussion.”  A great way to end the twelve hours immersed in music.

 

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James' guitars

James' guitars

June 16, 2012

St. Mark’s Church

James Moore 

Incubator Arts Project

This night James performed all 35 etudes of John Zorn’s Book of Heads.  Quite a feat.

The program notes told us that these “were written in 1978 for Eugene Chadbourne and recorded by Marc Ribot in 1995.  Each etude ranges in length from a few seconds to a few minutes and the performer is invited to freely expand on the material in the same manner one might approach traditional improvised music.” I love what James does solo and as a member of Dither (whose CD was released by Henceforth Records).  He has also performed twice in my Fresh Sound music series.  He played 5 different guitars and a ukelele (photos below).  It was, needless to say, fascinating music and took great skill to learn and perform all 35.  It all had to be carefully organized and executed as many items were used including balloons, a doll, some electronics, and the like. The other really nice thing was that the St. Mark’s Church audience was full including lots of friends of James, hence, a great warm atmosphere of respectful friendliness abounded.


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June 15, 2012

Issue Project Room                                                                                                                                                                                         This was the final/third night and the house, while full last night, was packed to the rafters this night.  I was there early to grab a good seat -- smart move.  This was special/special.  Glass opened with a 20 minute solo of his music.  I have no idea what as his speaking was very hard (for me anyway) to understand.  Then he and Laurie Anderson performed as a duo -- piano and electric violin. After that Laurie told a wonderful story as she has done so well over years.  I first saw her at UC Berkeley around 1984 in a tiny black box theater and was amazed then. This story was about a tent city in New Jersey and portrayed life there in a way that we could all see images.  I loved it.  She also showed up what a pillow mic can sound like when put in her mouth.  Cool.  Ryan Sawyer, drums, and Ben Vida, elaborate electronics (see photo) closed out the first set.  Both musicians are/were Artists-in-Residence at Issue Project.  After intermission, Glass performed which was followed by Tara Hugo, voice, and Trevor Gureckis, piano. Wowie, Zowie.  I had never heard of her before but now will find out as much as I can.  She sang some Leonard Cohen songs which apparently she has recorded (I will get them) and has worked with Glass on his songs as well. Her voice is one that gave me goose-bumps.  Not avant-garde.  Beautiful, soulful, clear and we could understand each poignant word.  Fabulous.

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