dedicated to the support of living musicians and composers

Posts tagged “WQXR

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.

Ar WQXR, Maybe it’s Time for Midge Woolsey to Go

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.”

My Music Sources

These are my sources for music and information. If you have any suggestions for me, I would appreciate seeing them in Comments.

All About Jazz – For all of the news of the Jazz world

American Mavericks – A history of serious music in America from Minnesota Public Radio

American Composers Forum – Fostering artistic and professional development

Bang On A Can – At the heart of the Downtown New York New Music scene

Blue Note Records – an iconic Jazz label still putting out great recordings

Cantaloupe Music – the recording arm of Bang On a Can

Classical Discoveries – Marvin Rosen’s Wednesday survey of great new music and the avantgarde on WPRB, Princeton, NJ

Cuneiform Records – great taste in new music

ECM – possibly the finest recording company in the world

The GreeneSpace, the live presentation space of New York Public Radio with programming from WNYC, WQXR, and Q2

Hearts of Space – Stephen Hill’s great weekly mix of music for relaxation, contemplation, mediation, and…
This is a paid service.

Innova – creating an environment for new compostion and musical maturation.
The recording arm of American Composers Forum

Live365 – niche audio streaming – any genre or sub-genre you want. This is a paid service.

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….”

NPR/music – Jazz, Classical, interviews, news, concerts, “first listens”, artist profiles

Q2 on the internet, “for the new music we crave” the home of New Music

WBGO bringing Jazz from Newark, NJ to the world

WNYC – the home of John Schaefer’s Soundcheck and New Sounds programs

WPRB, Community Radio, Princeton, NJ
For the most serious presentation of Classical music and the most erudite presentations of Jazz

From Q2 Live Concerts: “Live @ Guggenheim: The Sinking of the Titanic “

A celebration of Gavin Bryars

“The Wordless Music Orchestra Performs Gavin Bryars’s Masterful The Sinking of the Titanic
Thursday, April 14, 2011

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.

From NPR/music: “Watch Live Tuesday Night At 7, ET: Ensemble ACJW at WQXR”

Ensemble ACJW.

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.

From WQXR About “The New Cannon” on Q2

First news of new programming at Q2 comes from INNOVA on Facebook.

Thanks, Philip, Chris and Steve.

The New Cannon will commence on Q2 March 28, 2011.

Here is what WQXR tells us:

Opening Salvos
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.

From NPR’s First Listen: “Simone Dinnerstein, ‘Bach: A Strange Beauty'”

We can only thank National Public Radio for giving us the opportunity to experience the wonder of Simone Dinnerstein performing Bach.

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.

This album is the featured Album of the Week at WQXR, New York Public Radio.


I hope that you enjoy this music. Please support your Public Radio station.

In Today’s Wall Street Journal: “Busting Out of Musical Lockdown”

In today’s Wall Street Journal

This is copyright protected, so, just a tease,


“In the summer of 1983, John Adams agreed to write the music for a new opera called Nixon in China. But Mr. Adams, then in his mid-30s and with a young family to support, soon drifted into what he called “a first-class funk”—a seemingly intractable creative block. For 18 months, he was unable to break his dry spell, despite locking himself in his studio and undergoing psychoanalysis.
John Adams

A dream finally helped him to break out of this period of “creative lockdown.” One night, he envisioned a supertanker blasting out of the San Francisco Bay and soaring up into the sky. That image gave him the inspiration to write the powerful, pounding E-minor chords that launched a 40-minute symphony, Harmonielehre, which then opened the way for him to compose the much-acclaimed Nixon in China.

Mr. Adams, 63, is one of America’s leading composers. With roots planted in classical music and minimalism, his operas also include The Death of Klinghoffer and Doctor Atomic. By choosing topical subjects and using expressive tonal harmonies, his work has seemed suspiciously accessible to some fellow modern composers, such as New York-based Charles Wuorinen.”

From 21C Media Group, “On January 19 at 7pm, Classical 105.9 WQXR will host a special preview of the Metropolitan Opera’s staging of John Adams’s iconic Nixon in China, live from The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space. The event will feature a discussion with Adams and director Peter Sellars about the celebrated opera, as well as performances of key arias by artists featured in the Met production. WQXR – New York City’s sole dedicated classical station – will broadcast the preview live from The Greene Space, New York Public Radio’s state-of-the-art broadcast studio and performance venue.

WQXR host Terrance McKnight will moderate the conversation, which will offer insights into the ways Nixon in China explores human truths beyond the headlines and history books. “All of my operas have dealt on deep psychological levels with our American mythology,” says the Pulitzer Prize-winning Adams, whose Technicolor minimalist score is receiving its Met premiere with the February 2-19 production.”

From The New York Times: “Searching New Music For Keepers”

Nice article by Allan Kozinn

The article is protected by copyright, so I will not repeat it here. Maybe just some “bullets”, and then a link.

” ‘Most of the music we play,’ a musician who specializes in contemporary works told me recently, ‘is not great. Some of it is very good, but it lacks something. It falls short. But we need to play it — not only because something great may turn up, and if we don’t play it, we won’t know it, but also because this is the music being composed now, and it ought to be heard.’”

“This musician’s assessment should not have surprised me, not because new music is inherently no good, as its detractors would have it, but because it captured the essence of a new-music performer’s job.”

“…when the program ends, musicians must become discerning critics who examine what they have played and assess whether they want to keep it in their repertories…”

“…it is becoming clear to more and more musicians, especially younger ones, that if they are going to have careers — or even a field to have careers in — they cannot keep playing the pillars of the standard canon over and over, spectacular though those works may be…”

“…musicians are, to borrow a term from the computer world, beta testers [for New Music]…”

“Even if performers eventually look critically at the work, they have an investment in it at first…”

“Musicians need listener feedback to know whether a piece speaks to anyone else.”

“…the audience, by creating a buzz about the music or the composer and buying tickets to hear the piece the next time it is performed, becomes part of the mechanism that either sends a score into oblivion or finds it a berth in the repertory…”

“And if you page through the reviews quoted in Nicholas Slonimsky’s “Lexicon of Musical Invective,” you will discover that many works now considered deathless masterpieces were dismissed, sometimes violently, at first hearing…”

That is enough. This is a good article, read the complete article here.

And, you should know that the best place to sample New Music at little cost in time and effort is at Q2, WQXR’s 24/7 New Music Stream. Especially, introduce yourself to Q2 with the twice daily four hour gig known as Nadia Sirota on Q2. As a host, Nadia is unmatched. She will tell you about what you are hearing in an efficient and intelligent manner. There are special “modules” like Hammered!, Cued Up on Q2, and Q2 LIve Concerts for your anytime listening pleasure and edification. Also, the sites are loaded with informative text and some pretty nice graphics. So, if you have an interest in New Music, or would just like to see what it is all about, Q2 is the “place “for you.

WQXR, and thus Q2, is a Public Radio station and deserves your financial support.

Nadia Sirota


Cued Up on Q2

From Cued Up on Q2: “In C (((LIVE))) “

We are truly blessed that WQXR has given us Q2, the 24 hour ‘New Music” web stream, providing “The fearless music we crave”, “500 years of New Music”.

Today, at Cued Upon Q2, we have In C (((LIVE))) at 2:00PM, and then, hopefully, forever and a day.

Terry Riley now.

Terry Riley then.

Q2 tells us, “Often considered the first major musical work of Minimalism, Terry Riley’s In C has proven to be a sustainable piece of music since its birth in 1964. It has become a fruitful musical platform for a long and disparate list of composer-performers that include the likes of Steve Reich, Morton Subotnick, Pauline Oliveros and even the Japanese psychedelic band Acid Mothers Temple.

In this episode of Cued Up on Q2, we explore a recent live performance of In C, with a unique addition of a rock drummer (Jonathan Kane of the seminal post-punk band Swans). We’ll also hear from Pauline Oliveros, the singular composer, accordionist and philosopher who premiered In C as a performer more than 45 years ago.

The episode begins with a performance of In C recorded live at (Le) Poisson Rouge on November 16, 2010, presented and curated by Brooklyn’s Nick Hallett and Zach Layton to benefit Issue Project Room’s Darmstadt series. This interpretation is performed by an army of downtown musicians that include Kathleen Supové, Andrea Parkins, Jessica Pavone, Nate Wooley, David Grubbs and Kane on drum set.

The second half of the episode features a recording of a solo recital given by Oliveros in Switzerland in 1987. She performs her fluttering composition, The Roots of the Moment, on an accordion tuned in just intonation, along with some subtle electronic manipulation. The hour-long piece offers a penetrating look into the ever-hypnotic world of Oliveros. “

This concert is on the Q2 schedule for 2:00PM today. If you cannot be at the computer at 2:00PM, come back later to stream the concert at your own convenience.

Who Is Nico Muhly And Why Should I Care?

On May 14, 2010, at the great New Music blog Sequenza 21, the question was raised: Is Nico Muhly really all that great? To be exact, “…Is Nico Overrated? ” The site Comments showed that there were 67 responses.

Nico Muhly

First, I need to state that I am not am musician. I am not a critic. I have zero musical background, not even any appreciation courses in college. I am simply a passionate listener and a Public Radio zealot.

At the time that I saw the Sequenza 21 piece, I had only heard a bit of Nico Muhly. I mostly knew his name from his connection to the violist Nadia Sirota.

So, just a bit on Ms. Sirota. I knew of Ms Sirota from her work as a commentator first on WNYC and now as the host of “Nadia Sirota on Q2”, the 24 hour New Music stream from WQXR. I believe that Nadia was pulling the over night air shift for WNYC, and did the same at WQXR when that station became part of the Megalith New York Public Radio. Since I am not up in the middle of the night, I first became aware of Nadia when she served as a commentator on documentary projects at WNYC and then WQXR. I do believe that she did a lot of work on the WNYC John Cage Project 24’33”, a 24 hour John Cage marathon documentary and music lesson. The name is based on the John Cage piece 4’33’, a silent piece. But, I cannot point you to the programming. I just cannot find it. I also remember Nadia as being a big part of the WNYC “Remembering Lenny” project, which celebrated the legacy of Leonard Bernstein. I wish that I could give links to these various sources, but I cannot. The WNYC and WQXR web sites have become such a massive jumble and jungle that I simply cannot ferret them out. Suffice it to say that I was smitten with a great desire just to hear Nadia speak about music. She is Juilliard trained. She is bright, witty, simply brilliant. So, anyone with whom she is associated I needed to know more about. Nadia is a member of ACME, the American Contemporary Music Ensemble. She also is one of the “satellite” players who augment the work of the Bedroom Community group described below.

Nadia Sirota

Nico Muhly with Nadia Sirota

At WQXR, I watched the video Keep In Touch, a duet with Nico on piano and Nadia on viola. That was my first experience at seeing and hearing Nico Muhly.
I purchased Nadia’s album First Things First; and Nico’s albums, Mothertongue, Speaks Volumes, and The Reader (music for the film of the same name). But, I still knew very little about him.

The next thing that happened was that I learned about The Whale Watching Tour for 2009. This takes a bit of explanation. Nico is part of a group associated with the Icelandic music production company called Bedroom Community with Valgeir Sigurðsson, Sam Amidon, and Ben Frost. I sort of got wind of this tour and watched some of their videos. The tour included the four major players just noted, plus four other musicians including Nadia Sirota. Now, I was hooked. These four guys and their associates just blew the doors off the place. I got on Bedroom Community’s mailing list. When Nico’s album I Drink The Air Before Me was available in .mp3, I bought it at the Bedroom Community web site. I normally buy music at Amazon in .mp3. But, this album I wanted to buy from the source, if I paid more for it, I did not care.

So, that was pretty much it, until yesterday. Some alert I had set on the computer, WQXR or WNYC, popped up a 2008 New Yorker piece by Rebecca Mead, Eerily Composed – Nico Muhly’s sonic magic . Eight pages of dense prose. Now a fan, I read every word. There is a huge amount of material here about Nico Muhly’s background.

[Message to Nico: I went looking for some "public domain" information about you. Naturally, I went to Wikipedia. There is an article; but it is sparce, mostly taken up with lists of your prodigious output. You should go to Wikipedia, read Ms Mead's article, and flesh out the Wikipedia entry. Ms Mead probably knows more about you than know about yourself. You can do it. All you need do is register. I am registered and I even wrote an article, The Sourland Mountain Preserve, a place where I go hiking. So, give it a shot.]

If you are able to access the article via the internet, I recommend it. I do not know what the rules are at the New Yorker web site. I am a subscriber to the print and digital editions, so when I visit one or the other, I am automatically “logged in”. I see the whole of any article I find. Material in The New Yorker is protected by copyright, or I would reproduce the whole article here for those who are unable to see it. But, I think it is O.K. to just give a couple of snippets. I think that these comments will well answer the question raised back in May at Sequenza 21.

Philip Glass, for whom Muhly has worked since his sophomore year of college, at Columbia, says that he finds in Muhly ‘a curious ear, a restless listening, and a maker of works. He’s doing his own
thing.’ ”

“Muhly formed alliances with a number of musicians who have become regular collaborators, including Nadia Sirota, a violist. Sirota says of Muhly, ‘He is different from a lot of composers his age in that he prefers a kind of old-school way of approaching string playing, from the style of the forties and fifties, with lots of vibrato, and very romantic. ‘ ”

At Juilliard, where he was studying with the composers Christopher Rouse and John Corigliano, Muhly was unusually productive. ‘He would bring in thirty or forty pages of music a week, and if twenty-five of them didn’t work out he would have no problem with that,’ Corigliano says. ‘We worked on structure, but the skill of writing virtuosically for winds, brass, percussion, strings—he came in the door with that.’ ”

Philip Glass told me, ‘The great anxiety among young composers is, when are you going to hear your own voice? But the real problem is, how do you get rid of it, how do you develop? Nico hasn’t got to that yet. There is a lot of rapid growth in one’s twenties, but the big challenge is to keep that alive over the long stretch, for the next forty years, and not let it get stifled by the meanness of the world we live in. ‘”

John Adams, who curated the Zankel Hall series in which Muhly’s work appeared last year, says that Muhly’s music is ‘eclectic, nondenominational in the world of contemporary classical music, which tends to split off into lots of different orthodoxies. He obviously shows influences from the minimalist composers, but his music is not nearly as rigorously designed. It is very much like him: it is open, it is attractive, it is pleasing.’ Adams says that he hears his own influence on Muhly’s work—‘It’s like meeting a twenty-year-old who looks strangely familiar, only to discover he’s your long-lost son’—but adds that he finds it oddly untroubled. ‘I could use a little more edge, or a little more violence,’ Adams says. ‘At times, there is a surfeit of prettiness in Nico’s music, and I am not sure it is a good thing for someone so young to be so concerned with attractiveness.’ ”

Neal Goren, the artistic director of Gotham Chamber Opera, which plans to commission a work from Muhly, says, ‘Nico is not one of those composers who writes music to hide who he is.’ “

Now, these are just quotes. They do not begin to flesh out the story told by Ms Mead. So, I hope that anyone interested – and, you should be interested – will try to get Ms. Mead’s article.

But, look who the people are who are quoted: Philip Glass, John Corigliano, John Adams. While I am most often not brave enough for Mr. Corigliano’s music, I certainly am aware of the respect he is shown. Regarding Philip Glass and John Adams, I have large libraries of their music. Just in case I do not get enough of them on Q2.

I have been enjoying Nico Muhly’s music for some time now. Even so, the thing at Sequenza 21 nagged at me. My own comment had been: “Nico is very important. It is widely accepted that he is a gifted composer. Beyond that, what he is doing is showing that it is still possible for a young musician/composer to make a difference in all of the noise that is around the New Music world today. That is especially important for other younger talented people to see.”

At the time I wrote this, I knew really very little of Nico’s background. Now, with the benefit of Ms. Mead’s piece, I have a much better understanding of Nico as a composer. The answer is no, no and emphatically no, Nico is not overrated. I am sure that I will be acquiring a lot more of his work as it becomes available.

Thank you Nico. And, thank you Nadia for giving me Nico.

For Lovers of Good Music: Videos At The GreeneSpace

The GreeneSpace, is a part of the WNYC/WQXR mega PubRadio organization, known as New York Public Radio.

Slowly but surely, the masters of The GreeneSpace are awakening to the possibility of long form music program videos at their site. And, it is about time. In the past, the best place in this megalith to find video was at WQXR. Strangely believe it, at least for the moment, the link for a group of videos at WQXR is not working. They might at least have put a re-direct on it. Turns out, some are at something called WQXR Features, which I cannot even find on the WQXR web site. I found it by searching for a video.

But, go to The GreeneSpace and look to the right, you will see a column headed “Video”.

Most recently, you will find an hour plus video, Leonard Lopate hosting Elvis Costello and a band, another fairly long video with Elliott Forrest hosting Jazz genius George Wein with clarinet specialist Anat Cohen and bassist Esperanza Spalding, and the brilliant Cubano piano master Chucho Valdez. From the past, you will find David Lang’s Pulitzer Prize winning Little Match Girl Passion, and John Schaefer hosting Phil Collins and David Byrne.

One which should be included with The GreeneSpace videos but is not is Polygraph Lounge, at something called WQXR Features, which does not even show up anywhere on the WQXR web site. This wonderful video features Mark Stewart of the Bang on A Can All Stars with pianist Rob Schwimmer giving us a history of music. There is a brief appearance by Elliot Sharp on a large reed, not easily identified by this amateur. In The GreeneSpace. There is tons of stuff at WQXR Features; but it is a hodgepodge, even great things from WNYC like The Ring and I: The Passion, The Myth, The Mania from March of 2004. On about Page 6 is David Lang Explains Bach Connection, a video with John Schaefer. In The GreeneSpace. Buried on Page 8 is Nico Muhly’s Keep In Touch which is a duet with the Maestro and WQXR’s own Nadia Sirota on viola. In The GreenSpace. Page 8 is also where you will find Polygraph Lounge. For those interested, you will also find a video of John Zorn. In The GreeneSpace.

So, folks, it is getting better. Maybe one of these days all of the GreeneSpace stuff will be put together in a logical archive.

From Q2: White Light Filtered

WQXR Explores the Inaugural Season of Lincoln Center’s White Light Festival

votive candles (Lawrence OP/flick)

Here is the news on this festival from Q2

“On October 28, Lincoln Center launches a new annual fall event, called the White Light Festival, which will focus, in the words of Vice President of Programming Jane Moss, on “music’s transcendent capacity to illuminate our larger interior universe.” The inaugural edition focuses on the spiritual aspects of multicultural traditions spanning Eastern and Western genres, including Baltic choral music, Icelandic indie-rock, Chinese dance, American singer-songwriters and Russian pianists.

With live and delayed audio webcasts from the festival and coverage of key musicians and ensembles, WQXR and Q2 throw back the veil of the introspective and contemplative White Light sound worlds. In so doing, we hope you will join us in a broader discussion and share with us your thoughts on the meaning of the spiritual in music.

WQXR/Q2’s coverage of the White Light Festival:

Alexi Lubimov’s November 11 Late-Night Elegy recital featuring piano repertoire from C.P.E. Bach and Chopin to Arvo Pärt and John Cage will stream on Q2:

* Thursday, November 18 at 8:00 p.m.
* As a special episode of Hammered! on Monday, November 22 at 11:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m.
* As a special episode of Cued Up on Q2 on Sunday, November 28 at 2:00 p.m

The Latvian National Choir’s November 12 Late-Night Elegy concert featuring an a cappella performance of works by Martin, Pärt and Tormis will stream on Q2:

* Friday, November 19 at 8 p.m.
* As a special episode of Cued Up on Q2 on Sunday, November 21 at 2:00 p.m

Alexei Lubimov’s November 13 Late-Night Elegy recital featuring the complete Schubert Impromptus will be recorded for future broadcast on WQXR.

On Monday, November 15 at 7:30 p.m., Q2 presents a LIVE AUDIO WEBCAST hosted by WNYC’s John Schaefer of Credo, a collaboration between members of Sigur Rós, the Hilliard Ensemble, the Latvian National Choir and the Wordless Music Orchestra from the Church of St. Paul the Apostle.

Bach’s monumental Clavier-Übung III performed on November 16 by Paul Jacobs and the Clarion Choir led by Steven Fox will celebrate the re-inauguration of Alice Tully Hall’s newly-restored Kuhn organ. The performance will air as part of American Public Media’s Pipedreams on WQXR in March 2011 as part of a week-long celebration of Bach’s birthday.

* The White Light Festival Runs from October 28 through November 18 at Lincoln Center.”

Evan Ziporyn on Q2

Bali Comes to Brooklyn is a special celebration of Evan Ziporyn by Q2
Here is what Q2 tells us,

On Friday, October 15 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m, Q2 spotlights the fertile, inclusive and high-octane music-making of composer Evan Ziporyn, whose opera, A House in Bali, receives its New York premiere this week at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. For three continuous hours, enjoy full sonic immersion in Zipoyrn’s diverse music worlds with recordings ranging from the virtuosity of So Percussion to live performances by Zyporyn’s Gamelan Galak Tika from the 2010 Bang on a Can Marathon*.

A founding member of the Bang on a Can All-Stars and and a member of Steve Reich and Musicians, Ziporyn shares his fascination and commitment to gamelan music and ensembles through this new opera.

A House in Bali is based on the memoirs of Ziporyn’s spiritual predecessor Colin McPhee — a Canadian-born composer who spent most of the 1930s studying and documenting gamelan music in its home: Bali, Indonesia. With a musical texture that combines a 16-part gamelan ensemble with the vitality of the Bang on a Can All-Stars, A House in Bali presents a distinct 21st century take on a tradition that has bewildered, bemused and inspired Western composers for centuries.

I hope that this is archived, Shabbat starts early this time of year.

*I put the schedule in so readers can see what they missed by not attending anything.

Christian Marclay Festival On Q2

On Q2 “Performances from the Whitney Museum’s Ongoing “Christian Marclay: Festival
image 1

Here is what the Whitney says: “Artist/composer Christian Marclay (b. 1955) is known for his distinctive fusion of image and sound. Celebrated as a pioneer of turntablism, Marclay transforms sound and music into visual and physical forms through performance, collage, sculpture, large-scale installations, photography, and video. This groundbreaking Whitney exhibition—activated by daily concerts and continually evolving—explores Marclay’s approach to the world around him with a particular focus on his “graphic scores” for performance by musicians and vocalists. Visitors to the Whitney will be encouraged to mark up a wall-sized chalkboard, with musical staff lines, thereby creating a collective musical score which will be performed throughout the run of the show.”

And, here is what Q2 tells us:” On Sunday, September 19 at 2 p.m., Cued Up on Q2 launches its Fall Season with performances from the Whitney Museum’s Christian Marclay: Festival, a retrospective for the iconoclastic turntablist, composer and artist. The festival enlists an army of prominent experimental musicians, many of whom have collaborated with Marclay in the past, to perform and intertpret his art pieces, which often serve the dual function of both graphic score and art object.

The performances include musicians like Ikue Mori, Zeena Parkins, and Elliott Sharp, who have been experimental music darlings for decades, along with celebrated turntablist, Maria Chavez, and brilliant playing by pianist/composer, Sylvie Courvousier. Also included are studio recordings of Marclay’s collaboration with electroacoustic pioneer and fellow turntablist, Otomo Yoshihide.

After art school in the late 70’s, Marclay moved to New York, where what was his new music at the time, Punk rock, led him to start performing songs. When he couldn’t successfully recruit a drummer, he used skipping LP records as a percussive instrument. This spirit of creating a lot with a little still informs much of his art. Always seeking ways to yield infinite results from one recipe, Marclay uses photography, video, collage and found objects to provoke musicians to make music.”

If we are lucky (hint, hint) as we have been in the past, this programming will be archived and available for your later listening pleasure.

Nico Muhly on Q2

Nico Muhly will be presenting four one hour programs on choral music at Q2 starting Monday September 13 7:00PM

Here is what Q2 has to say, “Composer, pianist and erstwhile boy soprano Nico Muhly has been a part of Q2’s musical family since the beginning. Despite his tender age of 29, he’s just released two new Decca CDs, including one (“A Good Understanding”) devoted to his recent choral works, and we thought now would be the time to explore the passion for choral music that underpins his creativity. Muhly was kind enough to come to the studio to take us back to his earlier days as a chorister and share some of his choral obsessions from past centuries. Here’s what he has to say:

‘Choral music is my first love. Even though my voice broke in 1994, I still return to the emotional landscapes of Byrd, Tallis, Gibbons, Howells, and Britten as a sort of home base for all of the music I write. In this four-part series on Q2, we explore a few centuries of (mainly) English choral music, ignoring, as the genre itself suggests, the better part of the 18th and 19th centuries. This is by no means comprehensive, but is, rather, my own strange itinerary through the pieces I adore.'”

Nico Muhly is one of the principal people at Bedroom Community, music producing organization based in Iceland.

Harmonics on Q2

For the week of Septemer 13 from Nadia Sirota on Q2 I<3 Harmonics
image 1
Nadia tell us, “Harmonics, or overtones, exist at the crossroads of music and physics. They are the components sound that create color and timbre, and when isolated, they sound like an ethereal whistle. Like magnets, harmonics (to me!) seem almost magical and unexplainable, yet they are the most basic component of sound.

This week on the show, we’ll take a closer look at the influence of harmonics on compositions. From Tuvan throat singing to spectralism, harmonics have served as inspiration for countless composers and musicians.

Warning: we’re gonna move fast through centuries and continents, exploring the various ways composers use harmonics to create texture. Since we’re moving at breakneck speed, here are some definitions and resources:

Just Intonation
is a system of tuning based on the harmonic series, as opposed to the equal temperament scale we are used to.

Spectral Music is a compositional movement that found its nexus in France in the 1970’s. Music in this style uses various sonic spectra as building blocks as opposed to, say, a 12-tone row.

Subharmonics are a crazy, as yet unexplained phenomena caused by applying “too much” bow pressure on a string instrument, causing a note lower than the fingered pitch to pop out.

I hope you can join me for a week of extraordinary compositions, inspired music’s most basic component.

This Friday An Additional Presentation of Classical Discoveries: Classical Discoveries will present a special program called: Shepherd Of Israel

This Friday An Additional Presentation of Classical Discoveries: Shepherd Of Israel

Our host, Marvin Rosen, tells us, “Entire program will be devoted to music of Jewish inspiration in observance of the Jewish High Holy Days.

Marvin Rosen

You will hear Symphony – Songs of the Soul by American composer, David Amram (1930- ), Klezmer Symphony (1998) by the American/Dutch composer, Jeff Hamburg (1956- ), The Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind For Klezmer Clarinet and String Quartet by Argentinian composer, Osvaldo Golijov (1960- ), Shepherd of Israel for Cantor, Flute and String Orchestra by American composer, Alan Hovhaness (1911-2000), A Sephardic Rhapsody for Orchestra, Op. 95 by American Composer, Arnold Rosner (1945 -), Concerto for Viola and Orchestra (1997-1998) by American Composer, Paul Schoenfield plus music by Betty Olivero, Sid Robinovitch, Salomone Rossi, Simon Sargon and much more.

Classical Discoveries and Classical Discoveries Goes Avantgarde are regularly presented on WPRB, Community Radio, Princeton, NJ

On Q2 “The Sum of all Pärts”

On Q2The Sum of all Pärts

75th Birthday Celebration and 24 Continuous Hours of Music for Arvo Pärt
Arvo Pärt

Q2 tells us, “Join Q2 Saturday, September 11 for a 24-hour retrospective of Arvo Pärt, the contemporary Estonian composer known for his poignant and mystical works. You’ll hear pieces ranging from the epic St. John Passion, to the rarely heard four symphonies, including the recent Symphony No. 4, “Los Angeles“, to the touchstones of Spiegel im Spiegel, Fratres and Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten. In marking this solemn date in history it seems appropriate to feature a composer whose music suggests remembrance, loss and generosity.

Despite early forays into thornier collage and seriel techniques, by the mid-1970’s Arvo Pärt had refined his compositional voice into the distinctive “tintinnabular” style that has attracted such a devoted, global following. In an interview with the writer Richard E. Rodda for a Fratres recording liner notes, Pärt says:

‘Tintinnabulation is an area I sometimes wander into when I am searching for answers – in my life, my music, my work. In my dark hours, I have the certain feeling that everything outside this one thing has no meaning. The complex and many-faceted only confuses me, and I must search for unity. What is it, this one thing, and how do I find my way to it? Traces of this perfect thing appear in many guises – and everything that is unimportant falls away. Tintinnabulation is like this… The three notes of a triad are like bells.’

[Here is another formulation of the same thoughts:"...The complex and many-faceted only confuses me, I must search for unity…everything that is unimportant falls away. Tintinnabulation is like this. Here I am alone with silence. I work with very few elements - with one voice, with two voices. I build with the most primitive materials - with the triad, with one specific tonality. The three notes of a triad are like bells. And that is why I call it tintinnabulation."...."]

From the most rigorous, forward-thinking critic to the most inexpert and recent newcomer to classical music, Arvo Pärt’s music seems to leave no one untouched, and his solitary, spiritual musical journey no one unimpressed. One thinks back to the political persecution he suffered in Russia in his earlier days and the subsequent spiritual conversion, and one sees the gathering momentum of a profound musical style. But is this always the case? Some thrive amdist turmoil, beauty being borne of chaos. How does Pärt’s path away from oppression and doctrine influence your appreciation of his arrival at tintinnabulation?

At Q2 “Random Acts of Violins”

At Q2, Nadia says, “This week we’ll study great Acts of Violins in the 20th and 21st Centuries.

“So, Mom and Dad over at WQXR are spending the whole month of September in praise of the violin. Of course I’m a violist at heart, but I thought this would be a great jumping-off point for this week’s show…
Naturally, we’ll be putting our very own Q2 spin on things. We’ll hear works for violin and synthesizers, violin and tape, violin and guitarbot, electric violin, and of course violin solos, concertos and chamber music. I hope you can join us in celebrating this versatile instrument.
image 2

Here’s hoping next year will bring a month’s programming in praise of the viola! Just kidding… kind of.”
image 4

This Week from Nadia Sirota on Q2 – “School Daze”

This Week from Nadia Sirota on Q2 – “School Daze
image 1
Nadia Sirota tells us,

“It’s nearly September!

For some reason, my brain functions exclusively on an academic calendar. This is perhaps due to my parents’ working in academia or to the nature of the concert season? However it came to pass, I truly look forward to the fall. It’s nearly September! It’s nearly time for this heat to finally break! It’s nearly time for new seasons and new rep and new festivals, and my Pavlovian response is to buy PENS.

In celebration of the coming school year, along with my favorite season, Autumn, we are having a sort of Back-To-School Special this week on Nadia Sirota on Q2. All week long, we’ll feature works performed by ensembles from conservatories and universities around the world, as well as by established groups who met as students.

I can’t wait for the 2010-11 season to begin. I’m particularly thrilled for the Ecstatic Music Festival at Merkin Hall, and the new Ring Cycle at the Met.”

On Cued up on Q2, Missy Mazzoli and Victoire

On Cued up on Q2, Missy Mazzoli and Victoire

Missy Mazzoli
On Sunday, August 29 at 2 p.m., Cued Up on Q2 presents Missy Mazzoli’s instrumental chamber-pop quintet, Victoire. The all-female troupe, comprised of violin, clarinet, keyboards, electronics and double bass, relishes in the intersecting of romantic harmonies and minimalist post-rock odysseys. Never webcast before, the concert was presented by American Composers Orchestra at (Le) Poisson Rouge, where the performance took place on April 7, 2010.
VICTOIRE (left to right): Eleonore Oppenheim, Eileen Mack, Missy Mazzoli, Olivia De Prato, and Lorna Krier (Stephen Taylor)

Missy Mazzoli was recently deemed “one of the more consistently inventive, surprising composers now working in New York” by the New York Times, and “Brooklyn’s post-millenial Mozart” by Time Out New York. Her music has been performed all over the world by the Kronos Quartet, eighth blackbird, the Minnesota Orchestra, the South Carolina Philharmonic, NOW Ensemble and many others.

Upcoming projects include a performance by the American Composers Orchestra, and performances of her chamber opera, Song from the Uproar, at Bard College and on the New York City Opera’s VOX series. She is the recipient of three ASCAP Young Composer Awards, a Fulbright Grant, and grants from the Jerome Foundation and the Barlow Endowment.

In 2006, Missy taught beginning composition at Yale University, and is now Executive Director of the MATA Festival in New York City. She often performs with Victoire, an “all-star, all-female quintet” (Time Out New York) she founded in 2008 dedicated exclusively to her own compositions.

Along with sharing the stage with instrumental post-rock giants such as Tortoise and performing at genre-crushing festivals like Bang on a Can Marathon, individual members have worked with New Music luminaries Helmut Lachenmann, Meredeth Monk, Pierre Boulez and Steve Reich. In doing so, they’ve secured their position in that unstable enclave where minimalism, dark classical inflections and instrumental rock coexist.

This is an archive which is available to listeners 24/7 at the web site. So, if you are busy at 2:00PM this Sunday, please come back at your convenience.

At Q2, “Host Nadia Sirota Celebrates Leonard Bernstein”

At Q2, “Host Nadia Sirota Celebrates Leonard Bernstein

Nadia Sirota, the absolute genius of Q2, but really a virtuoso violist, did an outstanding job curating a four hour program devoted to Leonard Bernstein as a composer and conductor.
Nadia Sirota
The program streamed on Wednesday, August 25th. Fortunately, you can still click into the link above and listen to this fascinating program. Four hours is not enough to do justice to Leonard Bernstein. But, there is enough here to tease you into delving more into this wonderful musical spirit.

Further, you can still go to the WNYC production Our Lenny.
Leonard Bernstein

This photo accompanied Leonard Bernstein: An American Life, an eleven part radio project by Steve Rowland, which is available in .mp3 download at the site.

And last, but way not least, go find Danny Felsenfeld’s remembrance of Leonard Bernstein at his NewMusicBox blog.

Sax Starved? Try Q2 This Week

Sax Starved? Try Q2 This Week
image 1
Nadia tells us, “For some reason, I’ve been late to the party on saxophones. I had a good, saxophone-playing friend in college who was so frustrated by what he termed “the musical limitations” of his instrument that I developed an ‘over it’ attitude towards an instrument I was barely familiar with. Ah the folly of youth! In the years since those heady, saxophone-prejudiced days, and as I’ve been slowly adding sax to my listening diet, I’ve come to a realization: I like the saxophone!

This week will be heavily sax-infused. There’s a lot of wonderful new music out there featuring saxophones, much of it commissioned by sax heroes the Prism Quartet. We’ll get hip to sax solos, sax quartets, and sax concertos. Yay saxophone!
image 2
Prism Quartet

Nadia Sirota on Q2 streams every week day 12:00-4:00 noon and midnight.

It’s Q2 from WQXR for the fearless music you crave.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 34 other followers