From NPR/music – Classics In Concert: “Orpheus Chamber Orchestra’s ‘New Brandenburgs’ At Carnegie Hall”
[This article is about a concert which took place on Friday, May 6, 2011. But you can hear the full concert by streaming from the link on the NPR/music web page. The link is at the end of this post.]
“Finding a way to bring orchestral music — an art form squarely rooted in conventions of the 19th century — into the modern world represents an essential challenge for orchestras and their administrators. In 2006, the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra spearheaded a novel project designed to help bridge past and present: It commissioned six composers to write companion pieces for Bach’s six Brandenburg Concertos, works that were completed around 1720 and use a rich variety of instruments.
The multiyear New Brandenburg Project culminates in Orpheus’ opening-night concert at Spring for Music, which brings together pieces by Aaron Jay Kernis, Melinda Wagner, Peter Maxwell Davies, Christopher Theofanidis, Stephen Hartke and Paul Moravec. These were all introduced individually in Orpheus programs in recent seasons, but will be played as a group for the first time here.”
See the full article here.
Yesterday, I saw Ms Woolsey’s post at the WQXR blog.
She asks, “Are Contemporary Composers Just Spinning Their Musical Wheels?” In case you missed it, I am going to reprint it here. Then, I will reprint my response(s), which have gone unanswered.
Midge Woolsey has proudly served the tristate community as a broadcaster for over 30 years. Since joining WQXR in 1993, she has been the Weekend Music host and more recently the Weekday Evening host.
Here is Ms Woolsey:
“As I was prepping my radio show this morning, I noticed a quote from Pierre Boulez about Claude Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun. He said “the flute of the faun brought new breath to the art of music” citing the creation of the piece as a pivotal moment in the history of music. That pivotal moment in the history of music took place 107 years ago.
One-hundred-seven years aside, I love the sound of Boulez’s words. They speak right to the heart of a question that’s been on my mind recently: Is it important to keep creating new music? After all, there’s a lot of old music out there – centuries and centuries of it, in fact – so why not work on making good with that and forget about creating anything new? Is there really new breath to breathe into the art of music or are today’s composers just spinning their musical wheels?
The subject has been on my mind because 1) New York City Opera has just announced the casting of its 12th Annual VOX Contemporary Opera Lab and 2) I recently hosted the 10th annual From Page to Stage: New American Opera Previews at the Manhattan School of Music.
Each year at Manhattan School – after performances of excerpts from several “operas in progress” – the performers and the creative teams gather on the stage for a panel discussion. We talk about the creative process, the effect on the performers and why it’s important to continue to this challenging work.
This year – more than ever before, perhaps – I was impressed by the passion and commitment that the artists bring to their work. They talked about the importance of keeping the art of music alive by working together to create new listening experiences, nourishing our collective spirit as human beings and the need to bring meaning to the experience we share on earth.
Conductor/pianist Mara Waldman has participated in New American Opera Previews for each of the ten years of its existence. This year I found her comments particularly moving. “We need this art form, as proven by its hundreds of years of existence, to remind us of our humanity,” she explained, “…to heighten our understanding of life, to thrill us, move us and ultimately to enlighten us…We need ‘new’ opera…. to reveal us to ourselves as our lives and our society evolves. New music is the voice of people, through the gift of the composer, that enables us to sing in ways we never knew we could.”
Mara and the others on stage proved to me that when you consult the artists, the answer is very clear: new music definitely has the power to breathe new life into the art of music in ways that are not possible otherwise.
But what about the audience?
Listeners continue to have mixed reactions to “new music.” It’s a well known fact that it’s extremely difficult to attract an audience for contemporary opera. And, as far as “new music” and WQXR is concerned, there are some who feel that “new music” doesn’t belong on this station – period! To make matters more difficult, these naysayers often include – even though they are far from “new” – many of the most important composers of the 20th century on their lists of “least preferred.” The likes of Stravinsky, Schoenberg, Berg and Poulenc are persona non grata with some of our most loyal [read: "oldest" ]classical music consumers.
Igor Stravinsky has been gone for 40 years. The others have been gone much longer. So, when does “new” become “old” in the world of classical music? Is a century a long enough wait? Or — given the dwindling amount of exposure we are given to classical music these days, is it unrealistic to imagine that the average listener will develop an ear for new sounds in his/her lifetime?”
Here is my response:
“I cannot believe that you are even asking this question.
Do you follow the incredible vibrancy of Q2? Do you realize that it is only a reflection of what is happening? With Bang On A Can? eighth blackbird? yMusic? ACME? Ethel? Jack Quartet? Victoire?
I mean, come on. It is the Philadelphia Orchestra that is bankrupt. Talk to Alan Gilbert about “Contact!“, a contemporary project, one among many. Reflect on what Esa-Pekka Salonen did in L.A.
Geez – just talk to Nadia.”
And, an after thought:
“I forgot- talk to John Schaefer.”
These are my sources for music and information. If you have any suggestions for me, I would appreciate seeing them in Comments.
New Amsterdam Records – “…a non-profit-model record label and artists’ service organization that supports the public’s engagement with new music by composers and performers whose work grows from the fertile ground between genres….”
A celebration of Gavin Bryars
“On Thursday, April 14 at 8:50 p.m. ET, Q2 breaks champagne over the hull of its first live audio Webcast from New York’s Guggenheim Museum with a performance by the Wordless Music Orchestra of English composer Gavin Bryars’s The Sinking of the Titanic. The piece is part of the larger T.1912, a multimedia installation by French artist Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster designed specifically for the Guggenheim’s iconic rotunda.
WQXR host David Garland will be joined at the top of the show by Gonzalez-Foerster, who will set the stage for those listening at home and discuss the key role audience members play during the performance, and by Guggenheim producer and T.1912 collaborator, Charles Fabius. Gonzalez-Foerster and Fabius collaborated before on the Guggenheim’s NY.2022.
The Webcast lasts approximately one hour and will be archived for on-demand streaming on this page the following day.
Ensemble ACJW appears to be based on the acronym of “The Academy—a program of Carnegie Hall, The Juilliard School, and the Weill Music Institute. I could not find one nice neat description. Maybe that is by design? There is a web site.
Anyway, does anyone recognize the violist?
Here is what NPR says:
“Ensemble ACJW had a genesis quite unlike any that of any other chamber group. A collective of about 20 hand-selected graduates of major conservatories, the members receive mentorship and professional development while working as music teachers in New York City Public Schools. The two-year fellowship is a partnership of the Juilliard School, Carnegie Hall and the Weill Music Institute in association with the public school system. The ensemble varies in size and instrumentation, depending on the repertoire.
Since its launch in 2007, Ensemble ACJW has played in small clubs and schools as well as New York’s prominent venues. “The ability to really jump between [classical and contemporary] is something that’s unique to our ensemble,” violinist Joanna Frankel, a former member, is quoted as saying on the group’s website. Frankel will perform Ravel’s Sonata for Violin and Cello as part of the chamber music series this week at WQXR’s Greene Space.
[I am going to be a pain here. It is not WQXR's Greene Space, it is New York Public Radio's Greene Space, presenting live programming by both WQXR and WNYC]
A quick review of the Ensemble’s most recent performances points to a balance that has kept listeners on their toes. At a recent gig at Le Poisson Rouge, a small downtown club in New York, members of the ensemble delivered works by Mozart, Jonathan Dawe, Gyorgy Kurtag and Charles Ives (The Unanswered Question and the Piano Trio). Another recent program mixed Rameau, Ligeti and Richard Strauss.
During a trip to Abu Dhabi in March, the Ensemble teamed up with Emirati opera singer Sara Al Qaiwani at the debut of the Zaha Hadid Pavilion for a program of Schubert’s Shepherd on the Rock, Mozart’s Kegelstatt Trio, Ravel’s Sonata for Violin and Cello and Schumann’s Piano Quartet in E-flat Major. The Emirates News Agency WAM called the night “a dazzling blend of Western and traditional Emirati culture.”
Also on the Greene Space bill is composer David Bruce’s Steampunk, a brand-new work commissioned by Carnegie Hall for the group. Bruce recently told reporter Jeff Lunden how the piece was inspired by the quirky science-fiction genre. ‘Steampunk is a kind of an alternative reality of Victorian sci-fi, if you like,’ Bruce said. ‘So people often are kind of dressed in Victorian garb, but have these futuristic things, but there’s no electricity there. It’s all kind of steam-powered. The music I love is classical and folk music. Both don’t usually involve electricity. It’s usually just the sound of, you know, people scraping bows or puffing on their instruments.’ “
So, I have to assume that the videocast will be at the Greene Space web page.
Thanks, Philip, Chris and Steve.
The New Cannon will commence on Q2 March 28, 2011.
Here is what WQXR tells us:
Launching The New Canon with host Olivia Giovetti
Monday, March 28, 2011
If you ask me, classical music doesn’t need saving. In New York, feisty young ensembles offer more performances than any one person can absorb over the course of a week. Several labels have popped up specifically to churn out music by living composers. From Carnegie Hall and New York City Opera to (Le) Poisson Rouge and The Tank, new works are constantly receiving first listens. Peace out, Pachelbel, there’s a whole new canon.
Also new is Q2’s New Canon: a weekly show bringing you the newest of the new in New Music, including free downloads and live online chats during the show with featured artists. Today [Monday March 28] we fire off the first shots of The New Canon with friend of Q2, Todd Reynolds. A classical pioneer in both performance and composition, Todd’s new album, Outerborough, drops March 29 on Innova Records. Starting Monday, we’ll offer here a limited-time free download of Outerborough’s Transamerica, composed by Reynolds.
It’s a fantastic ride, as one could only expect from one of the foxiest hybrid-chamber musicians on the market today. We also get to hear some of Reynolds’s own compositions in addition to works by Paul de Jong, David Lang, Michael Gordon and more. Reynolds is also our guest for a live online conversation, discussing his work on the album and the other works featured today. I encourage you to follow along in the chat window below or join in the conversation with your own questions.
In a nod to WQXR’s chamber music celebration Trout Week, we also feature works by Janus and Build, plus the world premiere recording of Philip Glass’s Suite from Bent, played by the always-inventive and always-satisfying Brooklyn Rider.
First Listen is a relatively new offering from NPR. We have the opportunity to hear new recordings in especially Classical, Jazz and Popular Music which we might then decide are worth our financial support.
Ms Dinnerstein is about as good as it gets. “American pianist Simone Dinnerstein has been called “a throwback to such high priestesses of music as Wanda Landowska and Myra Hess,” by Slate magazine, and praised by TIME for her “arresting freshness and subtlety.” The New York-based pianist gained an international following because of the remarkable success of her recording of Bach’s Goldberg Variations, which she raised the funds to record. Released in 2007 on Telarc, it ranked No. 1 on the US Billboard Classical Chart in its first week of sales and was named to many “Best of 2007″ lists including those of The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and The New Yorker. Her follow-up album, The Berlin Concert, also gained the No. 1 spot on the Chart. Ms. Dinnerstein has recently signed an exclusive agreement with Sony Classical, and her first album for that label — an all-Bach disc — will be released in January 2011.”
At the web page, you can listen to the album in its entirety (1hr 2min 5 sec), or you can listen to individual tracks.
I hope that you enjoy this music. Please support your Public Radio station.