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  • richardmitnick 3:19 PM on October 22, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Gloria Cheng, NEWMUSICBOX, , The Heaven ladder Book VII   

    From NEWMUSICBOX: “Reclimbing the Heaven Ladder” 

    New Music USA


    From NEWMUSICBOX

    1
    Photo by Nick Volpert/recording.LA

    October 22, 2018
    Gloria Cheng

    The idea for playing some joint recitals with Terry Riley was conceived in January 2017 when I met up with him at one of his solo concerts at Los Angeles’ Geffen Contemporary gallery. His twin grandchildren, Simone and Misha, were with him, and I was delighted to meet them. Until that day I had only known of them as the newborns who inspired the eponymous first and final movements of The Heaven Ladder, Book VII, Terry’s 35-minute pianistic tour-de-force completed in 1994. It was a piece that had been commissioned through a Meet the Composer/Reader’s Digest Commissioning Grant by four pianists from around the country: Kathleen Supové, Stephen Drury, Charles Wells, and me. Kathleen had scheduled a June 1995 world premiere of the piece in NYC, and I gave its West coast premiere in October and recorded it for Telarc shortly afterwards.

    During our brief conversation at the Geffen, Terry and I agreed that it had been far too many years since I had performed the suite in full—and why not plan do so the following season in a concert that we’d play together? I would be the “opening act,” playing Terry’s Two Piano Pieces (1958/1959), The Walrus in Memoriam (1991, rev. 1993, written for Aki Takahashi’s Beatles project on EMI Records and based on “I Am the Walrus”), and the complete Heaven Ladder, Book 7. Terry would then take the stage with two semi-improvised pieces, Requiem for Wally (1997) and Simply M (2007). For our first such performance in March 2018, on the Los Angeles-based Piano Spheres series, Terry completed a 4-hands finale in the form of Cheng Tiger Growl Roar. In an email as he was working on it, he wrote, “It will be a challenge as you mostly play written music and I almost always improvise, but I am sure it will be great and hopefully fun for both of us.”

    In his youth Terry pursued training as a classical pianist; the renowned Bay Area-based Adolph Baller was one of his teachers. (As a student at Stanford some years later, I also studied with Baller.) An online recording from Terry’s U.C. Berkeley Master’s degree performance of his Two Piano Pieces (1958/1959) reveals that he was already a stunning virtuoso destined to perform and compose extensively for the piano. Yet 35 years would pass before he composed his next fully notated piano piece, The Heaven Ladder, Book VII.

    In terms of the stylistic and technical requirements for the pianist, the piece poses formidable challenges. The five movements are highly contrasting in style. “Misha’s Bear Dance” is a polymetric romp with “Russian” overtones. “Venus in ’94” is, in Terry’s words, “a waltz-scherzo with a somewhat edgy quality to its romanticism. Its beauty comes with a price-tap of quite a hazardous course, requiring the pianist to execute wide but delicate leaps through its intricate voicings and rhythms.” “Ragtempus Fugatis,” as its title implies, is a ragtime fugue that is labyrinthine and good-natured. “Fandango on the Heaven Ladder,” is a sensual Spanish-flavored fantasy. And finally, “Simone’s Lullaby,” is a tender love letter to Terry’s newborn grand-daughter.

    The original score pages of The Heaven Ladder, Book 7, contained minimal performance indications or expressive markings. Terry has always been an awe-inspiring improviser who spins gorgeous, elaborate narratives out of the sparsest, if any, of printed instructions. I am not. I’m an interpreter—my imagination gets aroused by being the actor, not the playwright. Nonetheless, Terry’s directive on the title page of The Heaven Ladder, “Dynamics and phrasing should be worked out by the performer or in collaboration with the composer,” proved to be a daunting task.

    Over the course of several months and with frequent changes of mind, I scribbled instructions to myself in Terry’s unadorned urtext, eventually making my own personal “edition” of the piece. It wasn’t only the dynamics and phrasing that required coordinated calibrating. Terry had left open any number of questions both big and small about pedaling, articulation, touch, pacing, tone color, movement order, and the essential nature and shape of his expressive forms. Balancing all of those elements in support of his massive 5-movement architectural design took a lot of experimentation. I made different choices almost daily during my practicing, and arrived at multiple versions that I believed to be equally viable. Finally, a few weeks before my October west coast premiere I committed to a basic interpretation and drove north to the Gold Rush town of Camptonville, the home of Terry and Ann Riley, to consult at the piano with Terry.

    Though Camptonville is a ten-hour drive from Los Angeles, I recall Terry’s directions to his home as being as unembellished as a jazz chart: “Just make a left off of Highway 49 onto Moonshine Road.” I stopped in San Francisco overnight and found the house the next day with no small amount of effort (remember that this was the pre-cellphone, Thomas Brothers Guide era). The street sign for Moonshine Road was non-existent. “Oh, people just love that sign so much,” said Ann upon my distracted arrival, “It gets stolen all the time.”

    In 1994 Terry’s airy studio housed a 9-ft Yamaha Midi Grand, an array of microphones and synthesizers, an early Atari computer, and an assortment of instruments from India, the Middle East, and China. We sat down at the piano, but I didn’t get very far in playing the piece for Terry. Almost from the start, in phrase after phrase, we found ourselves to be in profound disagreement. Where I aimed for lyricism, he heard preciousness; where he asked for less rubato and more drive, I felt the results to be unmusical and square; where he felt many of my choices to be overly sentimental, I secretly believed that his requests rendered the music inexpressive. In the end, I channeled as much of Terry’s approach as my temperament and technique allowed for. The results of our interpretive wranglings of long ago found their way eventually into the first edition of the piece (offered until recently on Terry’s website), more comprehensively on the Telarc CD that I recorded 23 years ago, and in the beautiful Chester Music edition issued in 2015.

    2
    Terry Riley’s original self-published version of The Heaven Ladded Book 7 from 1994

    3
    A newly engraved and revised version of Terry Riley’s The Heaven ladder Book 7 appears in the 2015 collection of Terry Riley’s piano music published by Chester Music.

    When I revisit my recording, I hear things that I would, and indeed do, play very differently now. I relearned the pieces from the 2015 published edition, and seeing our hard-won musical choices of 1994 “authenticated” there, I give myself occasional permission to disobey them. I didn’t consult my old recording until very close to the performance date. When I mentioned to Terry just before our concert that I would play the pieces very differently from the way I did on the recording, Terry responded “Oh, but I really love the way you played it on the recording.”

    4
    Gloria Cheng’s debut recording of Terry Riley’s The Heaven Ladder Book 7 (released on Telarc in 1998)

    Performance decisions are never set in stone. With the passage of time, interpretations evolve. Not only can I now fully embrace the conception that Terry shared that day in his studio, but I’m also older and hopefully better at integrating his disposition with my own. One of the joys of preparing repertoire after a long hiatus is rediscovering it from a new perspective and finding new treasures in it. In this case, another pleasure has been the opportunity to compare notes (sometimes literally) and musical decisions with my friend Sarah Cahill, whose long and fruitful association with Terry is well known. Terry’s piano works, and the pianists who play it, as yet lack a long and varied interpretive tradition to draw upon. We are bonding with each other to create it.

    When playing the music of composer-pianists, it’s possible to sense the anatomy of their hands, their innate physical approach to the keyboard, their idiosyncratic touch, even their comportment at the instrument. All of this finds its way into the shapes of their chords, passagework, and other characteristics, making the piano music of composer-pianists behave—and most assuredly feel, to other pianists—like a pianist wrote it. Terry’s music feels physically challenging under my fingers, but it is serious fun to channel his persona at the keyboard.

    For me, playing works by composer-pianists also invites an excursion into their personal piano-playing histories. Terry’s primary relationship with the piano is that of an improviser—an extraordinary one. Expressing a lifetime of knowledge and experience from his studies of classical, jazz, contemporary, North African, and Indian classical music, his playing is widely known to defy stylistic boundaries. “A lot of intersections between these musics occur in my mind. As I’m writing or playing something like a raga, suddenly a kind of ragtime motive might come into it.” His composed music for piano, much of which emerges from his improvisations, does much the same thing, often switching multiple times within the same piece or movement. With his own virtuosic command of the piano at the service of his global, kaleidoscopic, consciousness-expanding imagination, I’m sure that he would welcome the idea of future classical pianists like me approaching his notated music with free flights of inventiveness rather than a conscientious fidelity to a decades-old conception of the score. Pianists of the future: take note!

    6
    Gloria Cheng and Terry Riley (Photo by Nick Volpert/recording.LA)

    [Ed. note: Gloria Cheng will perform with Terry Riley and the Other Minds Festival in San Francisco on December 5, 2018 and again at California State University at Chico on March 6, 2019.]

    See the full article here.

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    At NewMusicUSA, we see ourselves first and foremost as advocates. Our mission is to support and promote new music created in the United States. We do that in many ways, fostering connections, deepening knowledge, encouraging appreciation, and providing financial support. In recognition of the possibility and power inherent in the virtual world, we’ve worked to build a strong internet platform to serve our constituency. And that constituency is broad and diverse, from composers and performers to presenters and producers, casual listeners to die-hard fans. We’re truly committed to serving the WHOLE new music community.

    As we go about our work, we make a point of not defining too precisely what we mean by new music. To define is to limit. It’s a spectacular time for musical creativity in part because so much music is being made that isn’t bound by conventional limitations of style or genre or background. The music that we hear being created in such abundance all around us is definition enough. We simply want it to flourish.

    We’re fortunate to have as our legacy the history of previous decades of good works done by the American Music Center and Meet The Composer, the two great organizations that merged to form us in 2011. Their legacies have also brought a small financial endowment that mostly helps support our grantmaking. But we’re not a foundation. We depend decisively each year on the generosity of so many institutions and individuals around the country who are dedicated as we are to the advancement of new music and are devoted to supporting our work.

    New Music USA is part of an international community of advocates for the arts. We’re members of the Performing Arts Alliance, the International Association of Music Information Centres, and the International Society for Contemporary Music. Those partnerships help us represent the interests of our constituents at every level.

    John Schaefer


    For new music by living composers

    newsounds.org from New York Public Radio


    https://www.wnyc.org/
    93.9FM
    https://www.wqxr.org/
    105.9FM
    http://www.thegreenespace.org/

    For great Jazz

    88.3FM http://wbgo.org/

    WPRB 103.3FM


    Please visit The Jazz Loft Project based on the work of Sam Stephenson
    Please visit The Jazz Loft Radio project from New York Public Radio

    Advertisements
     
  • richardmitnick 8:52 AM on October 19, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: and Tell the Truth, , NEWMUSICBOX, Show Up, Stay Awake   

    From NEWMUSICBOX: “Show Up, Stay Awake, and Tell the Truth” 

    New Music USA


    From NEWMUSICBOX

    1

    October 18, 2018
    Paul Elwood

    I’ve long cultivated the habit of showing up at the drafting table every morning to compose. Since, I’ve reasoned, I wasn’t endowed with a particular ability to write fabulous music spontaneously, I needed to work (and work and work) on the details in order to produce something that I could be happy with.

    But nothing happens if I don’t show up. No music gets written and no ideas emerge. Our lives are composites of what we turn our concentration to, and if I’m turning my concentration to things other than composing, then those things become my focus and, in essence, my life. I think at the drafting table.

    The sculptor Auguste Rodin told poet Rainer Maria Rilke, Il faut Travailler, toujours travailler [It’s necessary to work, always work]. And, when one does this, the work becomes the focus. It’s true that in the act of composing (painting, writing, etc.) friends and family may be sidelined. Often, time devoted to work is a trade-off. There is a Faustian price to be paid, but it comes more under the category of “things left undone,” rather than a Stones-like deal with the devil. Papers sit ungraded (if, like me, you’ve selected the academic route), meetings are left unattended (or at least not acted on), and class prep is circumvented.

    Outside of the studio, you may show up and meet people who will change your life in positive and artistic ways. Late one Sunday night, I went to a club to hear a jazz guitarist I’d heard of around town and, there being no one else there, he talked to me at length during the break. It turns out that we shared many common interests in jazz and new music. Based on that conversation alone I ended up playing percussion with his band for the next three years—the meeting led to an economically cheerful situation and was musically enriching in the long run.

    I was a guest on a radio show to promote a festival on which I was playing in Marseille, France. Seven festival performers were crowded around a mic. I ended up next to a saxophonist I’d never met before and, there on the radio, we improvised together for the first time. Afterwards he graciously invited me to his house and we ended up playing many gigs in the south of France for the next seven years. What if I’d demurred when asked to be on the radio because my French abilities were atrocious?

    Other connections have led to performances, sudden improvisations, friendships, and projects. But such things don’t happen if we don’t show up. It’s hard sometimes to make an appearance. There are mornings when I don’t want to compose, evenings I don’t want to go out. At heart, I’m a hermetic sort of person who appreciates staying home to read Finnegans Wake aloud in my best Lucky Charms brogue while sipping Jameson. That desire keeps me home and makes showing up for the next morning’s writing session difficult from an excess of whiskey.

    But, composing is habitual. At fifteen, I was obsessive about practicing the banjo. Did I say “practicing”? Playing is more accurate. I worked out enough technique to sit in my room and play (and play and play). One evening my father came up to call me to dinner. He stopped in the doorway and said, “You know, if you want to become a professional musician, you’re going to have to practice even when you don’t want to.” My dad perceived that I was playing and not practicing. I don’t know if he realized that he’d just told me something that would change my life, but that is advice I’ve embraced and remember even now on those mornings when I don’t feel like working.

    Showing up brackets other components. One is to stay awake to the surrounding environment, i.e., listening: listen to the music, listen to random sounds, listen to what is being said. The difficult thing about staying awake is tamping down my own inner desire to expound on my own ideas, thoughts, problems, etc., ad nauseum. That approach teaches me nothing, shuts out others, and is ultimately (sometimes suddenly) alienating. It’s better, I’ve discovered, to listen. We’re musicians; it shouldn’t be so hard. But shutting up and staying awake can be difficult. I’ve missed things in classes, seminars, workshops, and potentially interesting conversations by, most literally, sleeping, or by just not paying attention.

    Another element of showing up is telling the truth. If I’m going to show up, I need to present myself as the person—the composer—I am truly. I won’t fool anyone anyway by trying to be something I’m not. One must compose what they want. After studying serial music for a number of years, I didn’t want to compose in that manner anymore. I started integrating folk melodies into my work and my music became more tonal sounding.

    When I first heard John Adams’s Harmonium, I hated it. Couldn’t understand why a composer in this day and age would compose like that after all of the “ground-breaking innovations” of the past century. But I kept listening and, soon thereafter, when I was commissioned to write a short composition for orchestra, I found myself gravitating very much toward his tonal and orchestrational vocabulary.

    My short composition for orchestra was eventually selected for a festival. At the wrap party, a selection-panel member hauled me aside and told me that he had strongly advocated for “that type of a piece” to be represented in their programming. Apparently, he had to really argue for its inclusion. One must be true to oneself in composing. Don’t worry about the audience (and especially don’t worry about what other composers think). If you’re being honest, the audience and critics will respond honestly. Anytime I’ve tried to compose for an audience, I’ve failed. I’ve ended up writing music that no one, myself included, seemed terribly enthusiastic about.

    Each of these components—showing up, staying awake, and telling the truth—is hard to accomplish at one time or another. I’m my worst enemy. As already described, I have to fight myself to show up. It’s hard to pay attention, and it’s sometimes hard to be honest in what I say and to write the music that is truly self-expressive without the imagined spectre of critics looking at me askance.

    But, showing up, remaining aware, and being truthful to a personal artistic vision and to others seem to be primary keys in making things happen. While it’s not certain that anything will happen by being fully present, aware, and honest, it’s definite that nothing will happen if you’re not.

    See the full article here.


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    At NEWMUSICUSA, we see ourselves first and foremost as advocates. Our mission is to support and promote new music created in the United States. We do that in many ways, fostering connections, deepening knowledge, encouraging appreciation, and providing financial support. In recognition of the possibility and power inherent in the virtual world, we’ve worked to build a strong internet platform to serve our constituency. And that constituency is broad and diverse, from composers and performers to presenters and producers, casual listeners to die-hard fans. We’re truly committed to serving the WHOLE new music community.

    As we go about our work, we make a point of not defining too precisely what we mean by new music. To define is to limit. It’s a spectacular time for musical creativity in part because so much music is being made that isn’t bound by conventional limitations of style or genre or background. The music that we hear being created in such abundance all around us is definition enough. We simply want it to flourish.

    We’re fortunate to have as our legacy the history of previous decades of good works done by the American Music Center and Meet The Composer, the two great organizations that merged to form us in 2011. Their legacies have also brought a small financial endowment that mostly helps support our grantmaking. But we’re not a foundation. We depend decisively each year on the generosity of so many institutions and individuals around the country who are dedicated as we are to the advancement of new music and are devoted to supporting our work.

    New Music USA is part of an international community of advocates for the arts. We’re members of the Performing Arts Alliance, the International Association of Music Information Centres, and the International Society for Contemporary Music. Those partnerships help us represent the interests of our constituents at every level.

    John Schaefer


    For new music by living composers

    newsounds.org from New York Public Radio


    https://www.wnyc.org/
    93.9FM
    https://www.wqxr.org/
    105.9FM
    http://www.thegreenespace.org/

    For great Jazz

    88.3FM http://wbgo.org/

    WPRB 103.3FM


    Please visit The Jazz Loft Project based on the work of Sam Stephenson
    Please visit The Jazz Loft Radio project from New York Public Radio

     
  • richardmitnick 9:36 AM on October 17, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Fog x FLO: Fujiko Nakaya on the Emerald Necklace", "Lavender Ruins", and Ellington, Architecture II: Fog, Boston’s Emerald Necklace- a five-and-a-half-mile chain of parks designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, , NEWMUSICBOX, Ruins, Sound   

    From NEWMUSICBOX: “Sound, Architecture II: Fog, Ruins, and Ellington” 

    New Music USA


    From NEWMUSICBOX

    October 16, 2018
    Neil Leonard

    1

    My last post, “Sound, Architecture, and Necromancy,” shared thoughts about recording at ancient sites in Greece and Italy. This post examines the development of Lavender Ruins, a four-channel sound composition created in collaboration with artist Fujiko Nakaya and experimental lighting designer Shiro Takatani. (Lavender Ruins plays simulatneously with Nakaya’s fog sculpture Fog x Ruins at Franklin Park, Boston, through October 2018.)

    In celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Emerald Necklace Conservancy, curator Jen Mergel commissioned Nakaya to create five site-responsive fog sculptures to be installed along Boston’s Emerald Necklace, a five-and-a-half-mile chain of parks designed by Frederick Law Olmsted (FLO). Experiencing the sculptures is immersive and wet. Changes in the wind, humidity, temperature, and light transform the sculptures. Speaking of her work, Nakaya says, “The atmosphere is my mold and the wind is my chisel to sculpt in real time.” The exhibition, titled Fog x FLO: Fujiko Nakaya on the Emerald Necklace turns the 1,100-acre Emerald Necklace park system into a platform for artistic creation, celebrating both Olmsted’s foresight to connect the city with greenspace and Nakaya’s fifty-year practice. The exhibit included an open call for artists to propose on-site interventions, in response to Nakaya’s sculptures. Fog x FLO is a first for Boston and Nakaya’s most expansive exhibition in her 50-year career. It is expected to attract more than 800,000 visitors over twelve weeks.

    I experienced Nakaya’s work before we ever met. In 2014, I wrote about the futuristic Pepsi Pavilion which was covered by a fog veil of Nakaya’s design and created by the group Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.) for Expo ’70, Osaka. In 2017, I saw Nakaya’s mesmerizing performance collaboration with Shiro Takatani, composer Ryuichi Sakamoto, and dancer Min Tanaka at Ten Days Six Nights at the Tate Modern. Nakaya also saw my performance with Phill Niblock the following day at the same festival. On the eve of her arrival in Boston from Tokyo in February 2018, Nakaya came to my concert at the ICA Boston called “Sounding the Cloud,” with Scanner and Stephen Vitiello. By April, when Nakaya again visited me, we already had a clear understanding of each other’s practice. She invited me to create sound for her Fog x FLO fog sculpture at the Overlook Shelter Ruins, a pavilion designed by Olmsted that was destroyed by fire in the 1940s, leaving only the stone remains.

    2

    For me, the Overlook Shelter Ruins are the Necklace’s most evocative site for an installation. The remaining stone archway feels like a timeless relic. Three stairways that once flanked the building’s entrance now lead to open sky. The corner walls are overgrown with wild foliage. An added allure is that, beginning in 1966, the ruins were used by famed Bostonian Elma Lewis to host annual concerts by the Duke Ellington Orchestra. I imagined the sound of Ellington’s reed section lingering in the air. Lead alto saxophonist Johnny Hodges and baritone saxophonist Harry Carney, both born within miles of the ruins, probably played with Ellington on-site. I’ve spent countless hours in Franklin Park and the nearby Arnold Arboretum. These are parks where I fell in love, taught my son to bike, and still visit to replenish myself. The commission became an opportunity to revisit the personal importance of Olmsted, Ellington, and E.A.T.

    3

    The size of this installation, production logistics, and changing weather presented a number of challenges and opportunities. For Fog x Ruins, Nakaya designed a 96 x 40-foot rectangular structure comprising scaffolding and an array of 900 mist nozzles perched atop the perimeter. A nearby fire hydrant emits a 90-PSI stream of water, regulated by computer-controlled pumps, to produce cycles of fog that intensify for a minute or two and then stop entirely, allowing for the fog to dissipate. When visitors walk into this pavilion, they see their friends disappear in the mist, strangers emerge, a ceiling of fog above obscures the sky. Takatani’s lighting design gives the sculpture a spectacular presence as night falls.

    Creating sound for a large outdoor installation has been a dream of mine for years. This installation was a challenge because there were a lot of unknowns, including elements that could not be tested until the sculpture was finished and I could hear my audio on location with the fog. I also knew that the timing of fog and light projections were subject to change, even after I finished the music.

    As composing started, I sought to link Ellington and Nakaya’s work. I listened to related themes by Ellington, including Lady of the Lavender Mist, The Kissing Mist, Atmosphere (Moon Mist), A Blue Fog That You Can Almost See Through (Transblucency), and The Fog That Clouds It (Schwiphti). I chose the first three ethereal chords of Lady of the Lavender Mist as a point of departure for writing the music.

    4

    For this project, I booked a five-day recording session at the Tank, a 65-foot-tall empty metal water treatment tank in Langley, Colorado. The Tank has a convex floor, concave roof, cylindrical walls, and a 40-second reverb. A container just outside the Tank is outfitted with recording gear. The size of the Tank expands and contracts based on temperature changes. Heat, windstorms, howling dogs, and the noise of trucks dictated when I could record. However, when conditions were right, I heard saxophone notes linger in the cavernous space above like a cloud of sound, with specific harmonics coming in and out of focus. The room responds like an old band mate who knows your music well and plays your performance back in harmonic variations.

    Engineer Bob E. Burnham came on the final day and set up four stereo pairs of microphones surrounding the saxophone. We multi-tracked both alto and tenor parts to get more of an ensemble sound. I thought of the audio recording process as something like a four-camera shoot. The four mics could be used to construct a 360-degree panoramic sound field, or used individually to highlight specific angles of listening. My thinking was to create a quadraphonic piece surrounding listeners inside the fog, where the alto saxophone played from one end of the sculpture and tenor played from the opposite side. Much of the actual sound of the saxophone would be edited out, and the resonant harmonies of multiple notes lingering in the Tank would be emphasized.

    In the end, I composed a fifteen-minute quadraphonic piece to play at the Overlook Shelter Ruins. I used waterproof JBL speaker arrays placed in the four corners of the structure. There are no electronic effects on the saxophone and, as visitors wander freely inside the structure, there is no “best” listening point. In that way, the listening space is designed after my experience in the Tank.

    At our first sound check, presenting the draft with pride, Nakaya responded, “It is so serene. Should I make the fog more serene?” At first, I admittedly took this to be her way of saying, “Not turbulent enough.” During the same auditions, Mergel pointed to the perimeter of the scaffolding where nozzles cut a line of fog upward and wondered if the sound could reflect the contrast of solid architectural shapes and soft ethereal droplets. Listening to Nakaya and Mergel, I added vignettes of impulsive computer-regulated clicking and noise bursts that gave a sense of turbulence, which Mergel equated with “an Arctic icebreaker cutting through.” In the end, Nakaya requested that the sound be extended from the originally planned sunset hours and be heard for the entire day as an “integral part” of the collaborative work. It also turned out that the music was not subordinate to the fog. As Nakaya noted, when the cloud is thickest, “the sound gives a form to the installation.”

    Despite having done a number of outdoor projects, this was my first opportunity to create sound for a long-duration, outdoor piece in a widely accessible urban site. As much as any work I have been involved with, the audience is in dialog with the art. Some visitors return daily, while others make a single pilgrimage to the site. I hear them talk about their experience amongst themselves. As Mergel has noticed, “While Nakaya’s fog is set at the former roofline of the building to float like a cloud dome that fills the space, Leonard’s clarion sax sounds in Lavender Ruins reverberate on invisible walls, surrounding us with echoing generations of genius: of Olmsted, Ellington, Nakaya, and Leonard, the past and future fading into each other.”

    6
    Fujiko Nakaya and Neil Leonard at the opening. Photo by Jen Mergel

    See the full article here.


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    At NEWMUSICUSA, we see ourselves first and foremost as advocates. Our mission is to support and promote new music created in the United States. We do that in many ways, fostering connections, deepening knowledge, encouraging appreciation, and providing financial support. In recognition of the possibility and power inherent in the virtual world, we’ve worked to build a strong internet platform to serve our constituency. And that constituency is broad and diverse, from composers and performers to presenters and producers, casual listeners to die-hard fans. We’re truly committed to serving the WHOLE new music community.

    As we go about our work, we make a point of not defining too precisely what we mean by new music. To define is to limit. It’s a spectacular time for musical creativity in part because so much music is being made that isn’t bound by conventional limitations of style or genre or background. The music that we hear being created in such abundance all around us is definition enough. We simply want it to flourish.

    We’re fortunate to have as our legacy the history of previous decades of good works done by the American Music Center and Meet The Composer, the two great organizations that merged to form us in 2011. Their legacies have also brought a small financial endowment that mostly helps support our grantmaking. But we’re not a foundation. We depend decisively each year on the generosity of so many institutions and individuals around the country who are dedicated as we are to the advancement of new music and are devoted to supporting our work.

    New Music USA is part of an international community of advocates for the arts. We’re members of the Performing Arts Alliance, the International Association of Music Information Centres, and the International Society for Contemporary Music. Those partnerships help us represent the interests of our constituents at every level.

    John Schaefer


    For new music by living composers

    newsounds.org from New York Public Radio


    https://www.wnyc.org/
    93.9FM
    https://www.wqxr.org/
    105.9FM
    http://www.thegreenespace.org/

    For great Jazz

    88.3FM http://wbgo.org/

    WPRB 103.3FM


    Please visit The Jazz Loft Project based on the work of Sam Stephenson
    Please visit The Jazz Loft Radio project from New York Public Radio

     
  • richardmitnick 5:51 PM on October 15, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Garlands for Steven Stucky, , NEWMUSICBOX   

    From NEWMUSICBOX: “Garlands for Steven Stucky” 

    New Music USA


    From NEWMUSICBOX

    1

    Steven Stucky by Hoebermann Studio-Courtesy of the artist

    After the passing of Steven Stucky on Valentine’s Day of 2016, Christopher Rouse, Steve’s friend of 40 years, wrote on this website:

    “I don’t think I’m alone in seeing Steve as the sort of person we all wish we were. Even had he lacked the musical genius he did in fact possess, his way of living his life and treating all with kindness and respect would have been a model worth emulating for anyone. Loved by so many, we have lost not only a great composer, but the dearest of friends. I wonder how we will be able to go on without him.”

    Steve died much too soon—and for so many of us, unacceptably—at the age of 66. His unusually aggressive brain cancer had been diagnosed only three months earlier.

    I met Steve in 1988 upon his arrival at the Los Angeles Philharmonic, where I had been working steadily as an “extra” alongside the redoubtable principal keyboard player, Zita Carno. Steve’s tenure there as resident composer and new music advisor lasted for 21 years, the longest such affiliation between a composer and an American orchestra. I was a frequent participant during most of those years in much of the new music programming for the LA Phil’s orchestral series and Green Umbrella concerts. Steve, having largely determined much of that programming, was present at every rehearsal, always exuding his special combination of bemused, gracious, self-deprecating erudition. Over time we became friends, and his interests became my interests. As the foremost authority on the music of Witold Lutosławski, he was my guiding light as I prepared my CD Piano Music of Salonen, Stucky, and Lutosławski. The 2009 Grammy Award bestowed on me for that recording is an honor that I owe in no small part to Steve.

    The day after Steve died, Deborah Borda, then-President of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, phoned to tell me about an April tribute concert already being organized by the Philharmonic. Several of Steve’s friends and former students were being invited to write short piano pieces (one or two minutes each) in Steve’s memory, and she asked me to organize the pianists. There would ultimately be six works, by Fang Man, Anders Hillborg, Magnus Lindberg, James Matheson, Joseph Phibbs, and Esa-Pekka Salonen, interspersed with music by Steve and Lutosławski. The pianists, all associated with Piano Spheres, Los Angeles’ piano series devoted to new music, would be, respectively, Mark Robson, Susan Svrček, Steven Vanhauwaert, Nic Gerpe, Vicki Ray, and myself.

    Following the announcement of the upcoming program, I heard from a few of Steve’s countless composer friends who were expressing a wish to dedicate a piano homage of their own. Though I was not empowered to add them to the Philharmonic’s program, I knew that I couldn’t ignore their heartfelt offers, that I would be in touch afterwards, and that this had the makings of a very good idea that would embody all the goodness that Steve had brought to so many of our lives. Later that spring I began inviting them and others to contribute additional pieces to the initial set of six for a collection that would be called Garlands for Steven Stucky. With the original six pieces having been such powerful declarations of love and friendship, and knowing how many more of Steve’s eminent, emotionally devastated friends and students would want to honor him similarly, I felt that a CD would be the necessary endgame. Unsurprisingly, my wish list of essential invitees, compiled with the help of Christopher Rouse, Donald Crockett, and Steve’s widow, Kristen Stucky, grew very, very long. I had to limit the number to just 24 more composers who then wrote their hearts out to honor Steve in the way they do best.

    The Garlands

    Julia Adolphe: Snowprints
    Julian Anderson: Capriccio
    Charles Bodman Rae: Steven Stucky in memoriam
    Chen Yi: In Memory of Steve
    Louis Chiappetta: This is no less curious
    Donald Crockett: Nella Luce
    Brett Dean: Hommage à Lutosławski
    Fang Man: That raindrops have hastened the falling flowers: in memory of Steven Stucky
    Gabriela Frank: Harawi-cito de charanguista ciego
    Daniel S. Godfrey: Glas
    John Harbison: Waltz
    Anders Hillborg: Just a Minute
    Pierre Jalbert: Inscription
    Jesse Jones: Reverie
    William Kraft: Music for Gloria (In Memoriam Steven Stucky)
    Hannah Lash: November
    David Lefkowitz: In Memoriam: Steven Stucky
    Magnus Lindberg: Fratello
    David Liptak: Epitaph
    Steven Mackey: A Few Things, in memory of Steve
    James Matheson: CHAPTER I: In which our hero dies and encounters Palestrina, Brahms, Debussy, Ligeti, Lutosławski and other dead loves; looks out to see the entire universe before him, and prepares to visit all of the amazing shit therein
    Colin Matthews: some moths for Steve
    Harold Meltzer: Children’s Crusade
    Eric Nathan: In memoriam
    Joseph Phibbs: in memory of Steven Stucky
    Kay Rhie: Interlude
    Christopher Rouse: Muistomerkki
    Esa-Pekka Salonen: Iscrizione
    Michael Small: Debussy Window
    Stephen Andrew Taylor: Green Trees Are Bending
    Andrew Waggoner: …and Maura Brought Me Cookies (Remembering Steve)
    Judith Weir: Chorale, For Steve

    As the recording was shaping up to be a collective portrait of friendship, I invited two more of Steve’s trusted collaborators, Peabody Southwell (mezzo-soprano) and Carolyn Hove (oboe), to join me on the CD. Together, we close the recording with Steve’s Two Holy Sonnets of Donne (1982), based on John Donne’s defiant, mocking proclamations on the powerlessness of death.

    For the 32 composers, I imagine that it must have felt hardly possible to write a one- to two-minute piece that expressed all that they wanted to say about Steve. “How could I even begin to capture the depth and quiet intensity of this man?” asks Esa-Pekka Salonen in his liner note. For me, holding 32 such individual, deeply-felt relationships in my hands has been fulfilling beyond words. As reflections on Steve as a friend and teacher, the Garlands are by no means a compilation of mournful dirges. I note many cheery portrayals of him, such as in Julia Adolphe’s reimagining of his “giddy excitement” during composition lessons, Pierre Jalbert’s inclusion of a “fast rhythmic section (Steve’s wit and humor),” and Steven Mackey’s evocation of “the playful banter” that they shared. We also see Steve invoked several times in quotations of his music and of music that he loved, and in opening motives that seem to summon him with the pitches B-flat (si), E-flat (es), and G (sol), representing his initials.

    3
    Steven Stucky with Esa-Pekka Salonen and Gloria Cheng (photo by Carlos Rodriguez)

    Proceeds from our CD sales and royalties will be donated to the Steven Stucky Composer Fellowship Fund. The fund was established by the Los Angeles Philharmonic to honor Steve’s vision of engaging young composers in multi-year educational programs with the orchestra. The Composer Fellowship Program continues to flourish under Program Director Andrew Norman and Teaching Artist Sarah Gibson.

    4
    Garlands for Steven Stucky (Bridge 9509). Photo by Jeffrey Herman.

    See the full article here.


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    At NEWMUSICUSA, we see ourselves first and foremost as advocates. Our mission is to support and promote new music created in the United States. We do that in many ways, fostering connections, deepening knowledge, encouraging appreciation, and providing financial support. In recognition of the possibility and power inherent in the virtual world, we’ve worked to build a strong internet platform to serve our constituency. And that constituency is broad and diverse, from composers and performers to presenters and producers, casual listeners to die-hard fans. We’re truly committed to serving the WHOLE new music community.

    As we go about our work, we make a point of not defining too precisely what we mean by new music. To define is to limit. It’s a spectacular time for musical creativity in part because so much music is being made that isn’t bound by conventional limitations of style or genre or background. The music that we hear being created in such abundance all around us is definition enough. We simply want it to flourish.

    We’re fortunate to have as our legacy the history of previous decades of good works done by the American Music Center and Meet The Composer, the two great organizations that merged to form us in 2011. Their legacies have also brought a small financial endowment that mostly helps support our grantmaking. But we’re not a foundation. We depend decisively each year on the generosity of so many institutions and individuals around the country who are dedicated as we are to the advancement of new music and are devoted to supporting our work.

    New Music USA is part of an international community of advocates for the arts. We’re members of the Performing Arts Alliance, the International Association of Music Information Centres, and the International Society for Contemporary Music. Those partnerships help us represent the interests of our constituents at every level.

    John Schaefer


    For new music by living composers

    newsounds.org from New York Public Radio


    https://www.wnyc.org/
    93.9FM
    https://www.wqxr.org/
    105.9FM
    http://www.thegreenespace.org/

    For great Jazz

    88.3FM http://wbgo.org/

    WPRB 103.3FM


    Please visit The Jazz Loft Project based on the work of Sam Stephenson
    Please visit The Jazz Loft Radio project from New York Public Radio

     
  • richardmitnick 11:08 AM on October 11, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Automation Divine': Early Computer Music and the Selling of the Cold War, Early computer music, NEWMUSICBOX   

    From NEWMUSICBOX: “‘Automation Divine’: Early Computer Music and the Selling of the Cold War” 

    New Music USA


    From NEWMUSICBOX

    October 10, 2018
    Matthew Guerrieri

    1

    It was a love song—not what viewers expected, perhaps, who tuned into a July 1956 episode of Adventure Tomorrow, a science documentary program broadcast by KCOP, channel 13, out of Los Angeles. But, then again, it was a love song to a computer. Push-Button Bertha. Sweet machine. What a queen. Jack Owens, the lyricist (and, on that July 1956 episode, the performer), had taken his inspiration from the tune’s composer: a Datatron 205, the room-filling flagship computer of Pasadena-based ElectroData, Inc.

    Bertha’s not demanding
    Never wants your dough
    Always understanding
    Just flip a switch and she’ll go

    2
    No image credit

    Just that month, ElectroData had been acquired by the Burroughs Corporation; Burroughs, an adding-machine manufacturer, was buying a ready-made entry into the computer business.[1] The Datatron had been programmed by Martin L. Klein and Douglas Bolitho, a pair of engineers. (Klein also moonlighted as Adventure Tomorrow’s on-air host.) “Push-Button Bertha” wasn’t Datatron’s magnum opus, but rather one of thousands of pop-song melodies the program could spit out every hour. Its inspiration was purely statistical.

    In fact, it was a perceived deficit of inspiration that supposedly prompted the project. Klein explained: “[W]e set out to prove that if human beings could write ‘popular music’ of poor quality at the rate of a song an hour, we could write it just as bad with a computing machine, but faster.”[2] Klein and Bolitho went through the top one hundred pop songs of the year, looking for patterns. They came up with three:

    1. There are between 35 and 60 different notes in a popular song.
    2. A popular song has the following pattern: part A, which runs 8 measures and contains about 18 to 25 notes, part A, repeated, part B, which contains 8 measures and between 17 and 35 notes; part A, again repeated.
    3. If five notes move successively in an upward direction, the sixth note is downward and vice versa.

    To those principles were added three more timeworn rules:

    4. Never skip more than six notes between successive notes.
    5. The first note in part A is ordinarily not the second, fourth or flatted fifth note in a scale.
    6. Notes with flats next move down a tone, notes with sharps next move up a tone.[3]

    The six rules were then put to work via the Monte Carlo method, which had been developed around the speed and indefatigability of the newly invented computer, harnessing the wisdom of a crowd of countless, repeated probabilistic calculations. Fed a stream of random, single-digit integers (which limited the number of available notes to 10), Datatron would test each integer/note against its programmed criteria. If it met every guideline, it was stored in memory; if not, it was discarded, and the program would move on to the next integer. After a few dozen iterations, presto: another prospective hit. Or not. Klein and Bolitho never admitted the program’s rate of success; out of Datatron’s presumably thousands of drafts, only “Push-Button Bertha” saw the light of day.

    3

    The song took its place in a small but growing repertoire of computational compositions. 1956 was a banner year for statistically designed, computer-generated music. A team of Harvard graduate students, including Frederick P. Brooks, Jr. (who would go on to lead the design of IBM’s famed System/360 mainframes), programmed Harvard’s Mark IV computer to electronically analyze and then generate common-meter hymn tunes. (“It took us three years to get done,” Brooks later remembered, “but we got stuff you could pass off on any choir.”[4]) Lejaren Hiller and Leonard Isaacson used the University of Illinois’ ILLIAC I machine to create a string quartet, its movements moving through music history from basic counterpoint to modern speculation; portions of the Illiac Suite were premiered on August 9, 1956, only a month after the TV debut of “Push-Button Bertha.”

    “Push-Button Bertha” was a curiosity, but it reveals something particular about the early days of computer music in the United States. The Harvard and Illinois efforts were research and experimentation that were at least nominally driven by curiosity and the prospect of expanding academic knowledge. But all three were, in part, justifications of more hard-nosed concerns. When Owens sang of Bertha never wanting your dough, he shaded the truth a bit; Bertha wanted quite a bit of dough indeed. A Datatron 205 computer cost $135,000, and that didn’t include necessities such as a control console, punched-card input and output equipment, or magnetic tape storage. Nor did it include desirable extras, such as the capability to do floating-point calculations—that alone required an additional $21,000, more, at the time, than the median price of a house in the United States.[5] The Burroughs Corporation needed to justify the price tag of its newest product line. “Push-Button Bertha” was putting a cloak of high-minded research around that most hallowed of American art forms: a sales pitch.

    4

    Off the air, Martin Klein wasn’t employed by ElectroData or Burroughs; at the time, he worked for Rocketdyne, North American Aviation’s rocket and missile division, based in the San Fernando Valley. The Brooklyn-born Klein had initially pursued music—as a teenager, he composed and copyrighted (though did not publish) a piano-and-accordion number entitled “Squeeze-Box Stomp”—but instead took up science. He did graduate work at Boston University, earning a master’s and a Ph.D.; his master’s dissertation, especially (on methods of using optical refraction to measure the flow of air around high-speed objects—supersonic planes or missiles, say), foreshadowed his work at Rocketdyne, which was largely devoted to designing circuits to convert rocket-engine test-firing data into forms that a computer could analyze.[6]

    But that hint of a performing career would eventually resurface. In 1956, Klein began to spend his weekends on television. Saturdays brought Wires and Pliers, in which Klein and his North American Aviation colleague Harry C. Morgan (with the help of electrical engineer Aram Solomonian) showed viewers how to assemble simple electronic circuits and gadgets.[7] (The show’s sponsor, the Electronic Engineering Company of California, conveniently sold kits containing the necessary components for each project.) On Sundays, Adventure Tomorrow promoted technological optimism by way of the latest advances from California’s rapidly expanding electronics and defense industries. Burroughs needed a showcase for its technology; Klein needed technology to showcase.

    Klein had demonstrated a flair for technologically enhanced promotion. His first efforts with the Datatron were intended to spotlight Pierce Junior College, where Klein was an instructor. In December 1955, Klein had the computer predict the winners of New Year’s Day college football bowl games; it got four out of five correct. News reports made sure to mention that Klein was teaching computer design at Pierce, “one course of a whole program in electronics offered by the college preparing men for occupations in this industry, so vital to our country’s defense.”[8] By April, Klein, under the auspices of Pierce and backed by several electronics-industry sponsors (including ElectroData), was on the air every week. Wires and Pliers didn’t last long, but Adventure Tomorrow did. From the beginning, Adventure Tomorrow was a cheerleader for the latest military technology—“the wondrous world of missiles, jets, and atomic projects,” as a later advertisement for the program put it. It was in that spirit that Klein and Bolitho went to work extracting a bit of publicity-friendly frivolity from the Datatron 205.

    If Klein knew how to engineer attention, Bolitho’s specialty was wrangling the machines. Early computers were a forest of hard-wired components, fertile ground for capricious behavior. Bolitho’s rapport with the finicky beasts was legendary. His ability to coax computers into reliability eventually led him to be tasked with leading prospective customers on tours of Burroughs’ Pasadena plant. “He had some kind of magical quality whereby he could walk up to a machine that was covered with cobwebs and dust and turn it on and that thing would work, even if it had been broken for years,” a fellow engineer remembered.[9]

    Depending on his audience, Klein would oscillate between extolling computers as inhumanly infallible and comfortingly quirky. Explaining the basics of the new tools to readers of Instruments and Automation magazine, he lauded “the advantage of automatic control over control by human operators where human forces are constantly at work to disrupt the logical processes.” But, recounting the genesis of “Push-Button Bertha” for Radio Electronics—a magazine aimed more at hobbyists and amateurs—Klein struck a more whimsical note, echoing (deliberately or not) the Romantic stereotype of the sensitive, temperamental artist:

    The words “electronic digital computer” immediately conjure up a picture of a forbidding, heartless device. Those of us who design computing machinery know this isn’t true. Computing machines have very human characteristics. They hate to get to work on a cold morning (we call this “sleeping sickness”). Occasionally, for unexplainable reasons, they don’t work the same problem the same way twice (we say, then, that the machine has the flu).[10]

    Klein’s joke turns a little more grim knowing that, by 1961, the United States military was using no fewer than sixteen Datatron 205 computers at twelve different locations—including the Edgewood Arsenal at the U.S. Army’s Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland, where the technology that produced “Push-Button Bertha” was instead used to calculate simulated dispersal patterns for airborne chemical and biological weapons.[11]

    4

    All the composing computers, in fact, were military machines. ILLIAC, for instance, was a copy of a computer called ORDVAC, built by the University of Illinois and shipped to the Aberdeen Proving Grounds to calculate ballistics trajectories. Hiller and Isaacson had first learned their way around ILLIAC and the Monte Carlo method trying to solve the long-standing problem of determining the size of coiled polymer molecules—a problem of more than passing interest to the United States government, which funded the research as part of a program to develop and improve synthetic rubber production.[12] (It was Hiller, who had coupled his studies of chemistry at Princeton with composition lessons with Milton Babbitt, who realized the same mathematical technique could be applied to musical composition.)

    Harvard’s Mark IV was the last in a group of computers designed by Howard Aiken. The Mark I had helped work out the design of the first atomic bombs; Marks II and III were built for the U. S. Navy. The Mark IV, which had produced all those hymn tunes, had been funded by the U. S. Air Force; it worked out guided-missile flight patterns and helped design lenses for the U-2 spy plane.[13] The Harvard computers, it turned out, ran more reliably if they were never turned off; Aiken duly assigned Peter Neumann, a music-loving graduate student, to watch over the Mark IV from Friday night until Monday morning. Student projects—hymn-tune-generation included—happened on the weekends.[14] Computational composition in the United States got its start, quite literally, in the off-hour downtime of the military-industrial complex.

    For a few years, American computer-music researchers may have looked with jealousy across the Atlantic, to Paris and Cologne and the fledgling, dedicated electronic-music studios that had blossomed under the aegis of government-supported radio stations. But there are suggestions that those European efforts, too, emerged out of a nexus of technology and defense.

    The origin story of the famous WDR electronic-music studio in Cologne, for instance, starts with an American visitor. In 1948, American scientist Homer Dudley visited Germany, bringing along his invention, the vocoder; the device made a crucial impression on Werner Meyer-Eppler, who would later help create the WDR studio—and whose students would include the studio’s most famous denizen, Karlheinz Stockhausen.

    5

    Dudley was an employee of Bell Labs, one of the great 20th-century American research-and-development shops, a hive of telecommunications innovation. The vocoder had originally been developed as part of investigations into shrinking the bandwidth of telephone signals, in order that more messages might travel over the same wires. But, especially with the onset of war, the work at Bell Labs was increasingly aligned with the desires of government. The vocoder had been pressed into wartime service as the backbone of SIGSALY, the Allied system that successfully masked high-level phone conversations from German eavesdropping, and which practically introduced numerous features of the modern digital communications landscape: compression, packet-switching, electronic key encryption.[15] (The keys for SIGSALY were stretches of electronically generated random white noise, pressed onto matched pairs of phonograph records, each pair being destroyed after a single use.)

    One wonders if Meyer-Eppler had been targeted for recruitment into the development of SIGSALY’s sequels; after all, so much of the WDR studio’s work seemed aligned with and adaptable to the sort of research that Bell Labs was pursuing in the wake of its wartime work. Think of one of the WDR studio’s most celebrated productions, Stockhausen’s Gesang der Jünglinge; if the work’s combination of a transmitted human voice and electronic noise recalls SIGSALY, the way it deconstructs, processes, and reassembles that voice, the way it filters the sounds through various statistical screens—it practically outlines a research program for next-generation voice and signal encryption.

    At the very least, the new music triangulated Dudley’s sonic manipulation with two other innovations, the transistor and Claude Shannon’s new information theory; all three had emerged from Bell Labs, which would also birth Max Mathews’s pioneering MUSIC software—all the while pursuing numerous military and defense projects. In later years, Bell Labs would consult on the formation of IRCAM, Pierre Boulez’s hothouse of computer music in Paris.[16]

    But IRCAM, envisioned as a seedbed, was instead an endpoint, at least in terms of the sort of institutional computing that, in its interstices, had provided a home for early computer music. Already the future was in view: a computer in every home, a chip in every device, casual users commandeering the sort of processing power that the builders of the UNIVACs and the ORDVACs and the Datatrons could barely imagine. (The year IRCAM finally opened, 1977, was the same year that the Apple II was introduced.) Even the output of those institutions—for instance, Max/MSP, the descendant of an IRCAM project—was destined for laptops.

    Surrounded by the surfeit of computation, it is hard to imagine the scarcity that led those first computer musicians to a marriage of convenience with the military and national-security bureaucracies—a marriage convenient to both sides. But to understand that give-and-take is to understand something about the nature of music in the middle of the 20th century, the technocratic faith that came to inform so many aspects of the culture. The sounds of the post-war avant-garde were never far, in concept or parentage, from the technological needs of the Cold War.

    And what of the composer of “Push-Button Bertha”? Even as it became obsolete, the Datatron 205, with its blinking console and spinning tape drives, enjoyed a long career as a prop in movies and television, lending a technologically sophisticated aura to everything from Adam West’s television Batcave to Dr. Evil’s lair in the Austin Powers movies. That, too, may have been a result of Klein and Bolitho’s public-relations stunt. Only a few months after the Adventure Tomorrow premiere of “Push-Button Bertha,” producer Sam Katzman, a veteran impresario of low-budget genre movies, gave the 205 its big-screen debut, going to the Datatron’s Pasadena factory home to film scenes for a science-fiction production called The Night the World Exploded. In the movie, the 205—mentioned prominently, by name, in dialogue and narration—is used to determine just how long before a newly discovered and volatile “Element 112” works its way to the earth’s surface and destroys the planet. The Datatron had returned from its pop-song holiday to a more familiar role for the era’s computers: calculating the end of the world.[17]

    7

    1. The founder of the Burroughs Corporation, William Seward Burroughs I, was the grandfather of the Beat writer William S. Burroughs. In a 1965 interview, the younger Burroughs gave his opinion of computational art:

    “INTERVIEWER: Have you done anything with computers?
    BURROUGHS: I’ve not done anything, but I’ve seen some of the computer poetry. I can take one of those computer poems and then try to find correlatives of it—that is, pictures to go with it; it’s quite possible.
    INTERVIEWER: Does the fact that it comes from a machine diminish its value to you?
    BURROUGHS: I think that any artistic product must stand or fall on what’s there.”

    (See Conrad Knickerbocker, “William Burroughs: An Interview,” The Paris Review vol. 35 (1965), p. 13-49.)

    2. Martin L. Klein, “Syncopation by Automation,” Radio Electronics, vol. 28, no. 6 (June 1957), p. 36. [36-38]

    3. Ibid., p. 37.

    4. F. P. Brooks, A. L. Hopkins, P. G. Neumann, W. V. Wright, “An experiment in musical composition”, IRE Trans. on Electronics Computers, vol. EC-6, no. 3 (Sep. 1957). See also Grady Booch, “Oral History of Fred Brooks,” Computer History Museum Reference number: X4146.2008 (http://archive.computerhistory.org/resources/access/text/2012/11/102658255-05-01-acc.pdf, accessed September 18, 2018).

    5. Datatron prices from Tom Sawyer’s Burroughs 205 website (http://tjsawyer.com/B205prices.php, accessed September 10, 2018). In 1957, the median home price was approximately $17,000, as calculated from Robert Shiller’s archive of historical home prices (http://www.econ.yale.edu/~shiller/data/Fig3-1.xls, accessed September 10, 2018).

    6. Martin L. Klein, The Determination of Refractive Indices of Dynamic Gaseous Media by a Scanning Grid, M.A. Thesis, Boston University (1949). Klein’s doctoral thesis was on zone plate antennae—forerunners of the modern flat versions used for HD television.

    7. “TV Show Features ‘Wires and Pliers,’” Popular Electronics, vol. 4, no, 4 (April 1956), p. 37.

    8. “Pierce College Teacher Picks Sports Results,” Van Nuys Valley News, January 10, 1956, p. 10.

    9. Richard Waychoff, Stories about the B5000 and People Who Were There (1979), from Ed Thelen’s Antique Computers website (http://ed-thelen.org/comp-hist/B5000-AlgolRWaychoff.html, accessed September 10, 2018).

    10. Martin L. Klein, Harry C. Morgan, and Milton H. Aronson, Digital Techniques for Computation and Control (Instruments Publishing Co.: Pittsburgh, 1958), p. 9; Klein, “Syncopation by Automation,” p. 36.

    11. For the 205’s usage within the military, see Martin H. Weik, A Third Survey of Domestic Electronic Digital Computing Systems (Public Bulletin no. 171265, U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of Technical Services, 1961), p. 145. For the 205 at Edgewood, see Arthur K. Stuempfle, “Aerosol Wars: A Short History of Defensive and Offensive Military Applications, Advances, and Challenges,” in David S. Ensor, ed., Aerosol Science and Technology: History and Reviews (RTI Press: Research Triangle Park, NC, 2011), p. 333.

    12. See, for instance, F. T. Wall, L. A. Hiller, Jr., and D. J. Wheeler, “Statistical Computation of Mean Dimensions of Macromolecules. 1” The Journal of Chemical Physics, vol. 22, no. 6 (June 1954), pp. 1036-1041; F. T. Wall, R. J. Rubin and L. M. Isaacson, “Improved Statistical Method for Computing Mean Dimensions of Polymer Molecules,” The Journal of Chemical Physics, vol. 27, no. 1 (January 1957), pp. 186-188. The University of Illinois had received $135,000 from the National Science Foundation for research into synthetic rubber, the largest such grant given to a university under the NSF’s synthetic rubber program; Special Commission for Rubber Research, Recommended Future Role of the Federal Government with Respect to Research in Synthetic Rubber (National Science Foundation: Washington, D. C., December 1955), p. 9.

    13. As it turned out, Aiken’s conservative design left the Mark IV significantly slower than other computers; James G. Baker, who ran the Harvard group researching automated lens design, grew frustrated with the speed of the Mark IV (and his access to it), eventually switching to an IBM mainframe at Boston University. See Donald P. Feder, “Automated Optical Design,” Applied Optics vol. 12, no. 2 (December 1963), p. 1214; Gregory W. Pedlow and Donald E. Welzenbach, The Central Intelligence Agency and Overhead Reconnaissance: The U-2 and OXCART Programs, 1954-1974 (Central Intelligence Agency: Washington, D.C., 1992), p. 52 (declassified copy at https://www.cia.gov/library/readingroom/docs/2002-07-16.pdf, accessed September 12, 2018).

    14. John Markoff, “When Hacking Was In its Infancy,” The New York Times, October 30, 2012.

    15. For an historical and technical overview of SIGSALY, see J. V. Boone and R. R. Peterson, “SIGSALY—The Start of the Digital Revolution” (2016) (at https://www.nsa.gov/about/cryptologic-heritage/historical-figures-publications/publications/wwii/sigsaly-start-digital.shtml, accessed September 17, 2018).

    16. Robin Maconie has speculated on the implications of the Bell Labs connections in a pair of articles: “Stockhausen’s Electronic Studies I and II” (2015) (at http://www.jimstonebraker.com/maconie_studie_II.pdf, accessed September 17, 2018), and “Boulez, Information Science, and IRCAM,” Tempo vol. 71, iss. 279 (January 2017), pp. 38-50.

    17. For the 205’s film and TV history, see the Burroughs B205 page at James Carter’s Starring the Computer website (http://starringthecomputer.com/computer.php?c=45, accessed September 12, 2018). The Night the World Exploded, written by Jack Natteford and Luci Ward, and directed by Fred F. Sears, was released by Columbia Pictures in 1957.

    See the full article here.


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    At NEWMUSICUSA, we see ourselves first and foremost as advocates. Our mission is to support and promote new music created in the United States. We do that in many ways, fostering connections, deepening knowledge, encouraging appreciation, and providing financial support. In recognition of the possibility and power inherent in the virtual world, we’ve worked to build a strong internet platform to serve our constituency. And that constituency is broad and diverse, from composers and performers to presenters and producers, casual listeners to die-hard fans. We’re truly committed to serving the WHOLE new music community.

    As we go about our work, we make a point of not defining too precisely what we mean by new music. To define is to limit. It’s a spectacular time for musical creativity in part because so much music is being made that isn’t bound by conventional limitations of style or genre or background. The music that we hear being created in such abundance all around us is definition enough. We simply want it to flourish.

    We’re fortunate to have as our legacy the history of previous decades of good works done by the American Music Center and Meet The Composer, the two great organizations that merged to form us in 2011. Their legacies have also brought a small financial endowment that mostly helps support our grantmaking. But we’re not a foundation. We depend decisively each year on the generosity of so many institutions and individuals around the country who are dedicated as we are to the advancement of new music and are devoted to supporting our work.

    New Music USA is part of an international community of advocates for the arts. We’re members of the Performing Arts Alliance, the International Association of Music Information Centres, and the International Society for Contemporary Music. Those partnerships help us represent the interests of our constituents at every level.

    John Schaefer


    For new music by living composers

    newsounds.org from New York Public Radio


    https://www.wnyc.org/
    93.9FM
    https://www.wqxr.org/
    105.9FM
    http://www.thegreenespace.org/

    For great Jazz

    88.3FM http://wbgo.org/

    WPRB 103.3FM


    Please visit The Jazz Loft Project based on the work of Sam Stephenson
    Please visit The Jazz Loft Radio project from New York Public Radio

     
  • richardmitnick 11:48 AM on October 10, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , NEWMUSICBOX, Only in Los Angeles?, Piano Spheres, The Evenings on the Roof chamber series   

    From NEWMUSICBOX: “Only in Los Angeles?” 

    New Music USA


    From NEWMUSICBOX

    October 9, 2018

    1
    Image credit -Bronfman,Cheng,Ax,Salonen

    It could be said that Los Angeles has conspired, by countless means and for many decades, to make itself into as hospitable an environment for new music as possible.

    L.A. has had a freewheeling attitude from its inception.

    As early as 1925, around the time when John Cage was about to enter Los Angeles High School, the downtown Biltmore Hotel was playing host to Henry Cowell’s “New Music Society of California,” which championed works by Carl Ruggles, Leo Ornstein, Dane Rudhyar, Arnold Schoenberg, and Edgard Varèse. By the late ’20s even the Hollywood Bowl was programming performances of “shockingly new music” by Béla Bartók, Arthur Honegger, Schoenberg, and Igor Stravinsky.

    John Cage by Bogaerts, Rob – Anefo

    In the 1930s a vibrant jazz scene coalesced around Central Avenue, fostering talents such as Charles Mingus and Buddy Collette.

    Charles Mingus by Tom Marcello, Webster, New York, USA

    At the same time, as a sanctuary city for some of Europe’s most celebrated artists and intellectuals fleeing Germany and eventually Europe, scores of exiled musicians were transplanting themselves into the film industry, local orchestras, and conservatories. With people like Schoenberg, Lotte Lehmann, and Ernst Krenek came a progressive outlook that persists to this day.

    Arnold Schoenberg by Florence Homolka

    The Evenings on the Roof chamber series was founded in 1939 on the Rudolph Schindler-designed rooftop of Peter and Frances Yates’s Silverlake home, renamed the Monday Evening Concerts in 1954. It’s there that Schoenberg and Stravinsky famously avoided each other.

    Igor Stravinsky public domain

    Today MEC is still thriving and presenting uncompromising programs to capacity crowds. And yet it represents just one of the many Los Angeles contemporary music success stories.

    I am a transplant to L.A, having grown up in New Jersey. As a child I studied with a painstakingly thorough and patient teacher, Isabelle Sant’Ambrogio, of Bloomfield. She assigned me exercises from Old World technical treatises such as Tobias Matthay’s The Act of Touch in All Its Diversity and readings from Josef and Rosina Lhévinne’s Basic Principles in Pianoforte Playing, plus weekly drills from George Wedge’s Applied Harmony and Keyboard Harmony. She also gave me my first assignments in the newest music from her era: pieces by Paul Creston, Walter Piston, and, most presciently, Aeolian Harp by Henry Cowell.

    Walter Piston public domain

    Henry Cowell from BBC

    I came to L.A. for the prospect of UCLA and working with Aube Tzerko, a former student and assistant to Artur Schnabel whose analytical insight into scores of any era was legendary. Though it was the canonic works of the 18th through early 20th century that I focused on with him during my studies, I later sought Mr. Tzerko’s wisdom just before auditioning for Pierre Boulez’s Paris-based Ensemble Intercontemporain.

    Pierre Boulez from Michael Latz -AFP=Getty Images

    My intention was to play just three of their required works for him: Bach’s C#-minor Fugue in five voices, the first movement of Beethoven’s Op. 111, and Ravel’s Scarbo. After a few hours on that came the question, “What else is on the list?” Only after several more hours at the piano would he let me go, only after I had made sense—for him and for myself—of the remaining audition repertoire: the opening cadenza to Boulez’s Éclat, Stockhausen’s Klavierstúcke vii, Schoenberg’s Op. 33a and b, and the third of Bartók’s Op. 18 Studies.

    Karlheinz Stockhausen October 1994 in the Studio for Electronic Music of WDR Cologne by Kathinka Pasveer

    Even more enduring for me than Mr. Tzerko’s insights into works that he had never heard before (with the exception of the Schoenberg) was his resolute quest to understand the rhetoric of music and how best to express it. I made it into a group of three finalists, but ultimately did not win the EIC job. So I stayed in L.A.

    In the early ’80s I received an invitation from Monday Evening Concerts directors Lawrence Morton and Dorrance Stalvey to perform with the MEC ensemble, giving me my first professional opportunity to play new music. The engagement marks the beginnings of a lifetime dedicated to collaborating with composers and playing, then commissioning, their music. I now wonder if it may have been the pianist Leonard Stein, longtime assistant and editor to Arnold Schoenberg, who recommended me to the venerated series, since I had recently performed the Op. 19 Sechs kleine Klavierstücke for a concert he had produced at the Arnold Schoenberg Institute.

    If so, it would be Leonard who some decades later would come to plot a second life-changing opportunity for me and three of his other protégés in the form of the Piano Spheres concert series. More on that later.

    Leonard Stein by Betty Freeman

    As much as I “took” to deciphering difficult new scores (I came of age when tonality had not yet begun its reascendence), my life’s course has been largely about Los Angeles having simply imposed its will on me. As an “extra” with the Los Angeles Philharmonic for twenty years, I played beside the indomitable principal keyboard Zita Carno and effectively coincided with the tenures of team Esa-Pekka Salonen, as conductor, and Steven Stucky, as resident composer and new music advisor. Given their rather frequent programming of works that required two keyboards, this means that I was there for Witold Lutosławski’s Symphony No. 3 with Salonen in 1984 on his first visit to the orchestra. I was there to work with György Ligeti in Aventures, with Luciano Berio when he conducted Sinfonia, with Kaija Saariaho, Pierre Boulez, and John Adams every time they came to town, and on countless Green Umbrella programs. The orchestra took me on international tours, enlisted me on recordings of Lutosławski’s Third, Salonen’s L.A. Variations, and Bartók’s Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta, and engaged me as a Messiaen soloist first with Zubin Mehta and then with Pierre Boulez. These were extraordinary experiences for me as a young pianist. As I became steeped in the culture of the LA Phil, I took pride in being part of its boldly progressive ethos—and adopted it, as did the city as a whole.

    Gyorgy Ligeti by Marcel Antonisse – Anefo

    Luciano Berio public domain

    Kaija Saariaho by Merrin Lazyan Mar 6, 2017 ·

    The monthly salons hosted in the 1980s by the music patron Betty Freeman in her Beverly Hills home were rarefied yet wonderfully informal affairs. Surrounded by artworks of Sam Francis, Roy Lichtenstein, David Hockney, Frank Stella, Dan Flavin, and more, young local composers would present their music, and then, after a brief interval comprising cocktails and homemade pasta, an established composer would do the same, each in conversation with the crusty late critic Alan Rich.

    Alan Rich from Orange County Register

    The storied conductor, composer, pianist, and lexicographer Nicolas Slonimsky reportedly did not miss a single salon, at which the likes of John Harbison, Joan La Barbara, Conlon Nancarrow, Elliott Carter, Steve Reich, Anthony Davis, John Adams, William Kraft, György Ligeti, Pierre Boulez, Witold Lutosławski, younger composers Carl Stone, Rand Steiger, Laura Karpman, and many others shared their music as they did nowhere else. As new music benefaction goes, Betty was legendary (she even funded my first commission for a piece by Mark Applebaum), and her salons cemented an enduring community of hardcore new music devotees in L.A. But she was just one of a number of generous new music lovers in this city whose patronage then and now has made big things possible.

    Los Angeles continues to imprint its forward-looking ideology on unsuspecting patrons, musicians, and audiences. In recent years, the city has become even more of a mecca for composers and musicians with its well-documented status as a place where new music is created, cultivated, and embraced. I remember the Australian composer Brett Dean being stunned at walking out to address a packed Green Umbrella crowd in Walt Disney Concert Hall, saying that it was largest audience for a new music concert he had ever seen, and by far the most enthusiastic. That was 2006, and things have only gotten better.

    For their current centennial season the LA Phil is presenting no fewer than 54 commissions, 58 premieres, and music by 61 living composers. Employment opportunities are still plentiful in film and TV (and now video games), and these draw diverse, multifaceted composers, while area orchestras and opera companies beyond the deeply rooted LA Phil and LA Opera fill their ranks from the local freelance pool. There is work to be had and new music to played with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Long Beach Symphony, Long Beach Opera, Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra, Pasadena Symphony, New West Symphony, Pacific Symphony, Southeast Symphony, and Santa Monica Symphony. Orchestras and chamber series alike restrict their rehearsal schedules to evenings in order to accommodate the sort of musician who records a Star Wars soundtrack with John Williams by day and attends a Harrison Birtwistle rehearsal for the Jacaranda series that night.

    The Santa Monica-based Jacaranda series is prominent amongst L.A.’s adventurous presenters of contemporary chamber music and draws big audiences for its imaginative programs of contemporary fare. Now in its 16th season, the fall concerts feature pianist Kathleen Supové playing music of Dylan Mattingly and the Lyris Quartet playing works by Pavel Haas, Georg Friedrich Haas, and Jörg Widmann. New music thrives as well at venues such as Monk Space, in recent initiatives such as The Industry, HEAR NOW festival, and WasteLAnd, and with the inspired programming of young ensembles wild Up, Hocket, Brightwork, Aperture Duo, and Panic Duo.

    Piano Spheres, a recital series devoted to new music for the piano, was the creation of Leonard Stein, the founding director of the Arnold Schoenberg Institute.

    Piano Spheres @LAPianoSpheres

    Leonard taught seminars about Schoenberg for the University of Southern California, where four new music-minded pianists—Vicki Ray, Mark Robson, Susan Svrcek, and myself—were enrolled as doctoral students. (The ASI was housed in a jewel of a modernist structure, where, especially affecting, was the replica of Schoenberg’s study, complete with piano and writing desk on which sat his bulging Rolodex.). It was the four of us whom he invited to join his new venture with the mission of exploring the far reaches of the repertoire and creating the piano literature of the future. Leonard died in 2004, but Piano Spheres has continued on and is now celebrating its 25th season. Our programs are as varied as we are, and by now we have presented more than 80 world or U.S. premieres and commissioned a minimum of one new work per year. For the four of us, the significance of Piano Spheres in our artistic lives, and the fulfillment it has given each of us, cannot be overstated. At this quarter-century milestone, we have a growing list of emerging pianists whom we are now welcoming to the series, as Leonard did for us.

    Having spent all of my working life and more in Los Angeles, I recall that during my coming-of-age a frequent topic of conversation was the friendly feud between Los Angeles and New York for primacy in the music world. L.A. has long borne the indignity of being broadly dismissed as hopelessly uncultivated. Many continued to feel as Otto Klemperer did, who upon his 1933 arrival as the new conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic had lamented, “My God, my God, I didn’t know that such a lack of intellectuality existed.”

    As the city and its musical institutions began maturing into what they are today, I recall bold new initiatives frequently responded to with a self-congratulatory “this could only happen in L.A.” By now it is accepted wisdom that L.A. is adventurous, ambitious, and generous towards new music.

    The gloating has diminished. Our new music calendar is indeed full, lively, and provocative, but I doubt that this progress could have happened “only in L.A.” Let’s hope not. But luckily for L.A., the seeds were planted long ago for its eventual transformation from “cultural desert” into a target destination for composers and musicians. The word is out that L.A. can provide not just a bounty of opportunities in new music, but a city-wide sensibility that inspires its musicians to create new ones.

    [The preeminence of the L.A. Philharmonic today is the result of the work of Esa-Pekka Salonen]

    Esa-Pekka Salonen MulPix.com

    See the full article here.


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    At NEWMUSICUSA, we see ourselves first and foremost as advocates. Our mission is to support and promote new music created in the United States. We do that in many ways, fostering connections, deepening knowledge, encouraging appreciation, and providing financial support. In recognition of the possibility and power inherent in the virtual world, we’ve worked to build a strong internet platform to serve our constituency. And that constituency is broad and diverse, from composers and performers to presenters and producers, casual listeners to die-hard fans. We’re truly committed to serving the WHOLE new music community.

    As we go about our work, we make a point of not defining too precisely what we mean by new music. To define is to limit. It’s a spectacular time for musical creativity in part because so much music is being made that isn’t bound by conventional limitations of style or genre or background. The music that we hear being created in such abundance all around us is definition enough. We simply want it to flourish.

    We’re fortunate to have as our legacy the history of previous decades of good works done by the American Music Center and Meet The Composer, the two great organizations that merged to form us in 2011. Their legacies have also brought a small financial endowment that mostly helps support our grantmaking. But we’re not a foundation. We depend decisively each year on the generosity of so many institutions and individuals around the country who are dedicated as we are to the advancement of new music and are devoted to supporting our work.

    New Music USA is part of an international community of advocates for the arts. We’re members of the Performing Arts Alliance, the International Association of Music Information Centres, and the International Society for Contemporary Music. Those partnerships help us represent the interests of our constituents at every level.

    John Schaefer


    For new music by living composers

    newsounds.org from New York Public Radio


    https://www.wnyc.org/
    93.9FM
    https://www.wqxr.org/
    105.9FM
    http://www.thegreenespace.org/

    For great Jazz

    88.3FM http://wbgo.org/

    WPRB 103.3FM


    Please visit The Jazz Loft Project based on the work of Sam Stephenson
    Please visit The Jazz Loft Radio project from New York Public Radio

     
  • richardmitnick 12:58 PM on October 5, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , NEWMUSICBOX, , The Autobiographical Impulse in Composition,   

    From NEWMUSICBOX: “The Autobiographical Impulse in Composition” 

    New Music USA


    From NEWMUSICBOX

    1

    2
    Paul Elwood by Chipper Thompson

    October 4, 2018
    Paul Elwood

    As a banjo player and percussionist, I’ve long tried to combine the worlds of the contemporary music that I love with my background in bluegrass and Appalachian music. The fact is, I didn’t need to try so hard. No matter what an artist does, the choices are often subconscious, based on personal experience and background. This background dictates where we take our music.

    Early on, I planned to be a composer and not a performer; stage fright was my primary affliction. But I realized that many professional composers were also good performers, at least at some point in their careers. So, I decided that, if I was to be any good as a composer, I should strive to be a good performer. I began to practice with intensity on the banjo and, since I truly love the classical canon, orchestral percussion. It became my mission to play in order to feed my composition.

    One thing I work to teach student composers is that musicality is learned directly from performing, listening, and immersion in the literature. I’ve learned to work with others to craft a collective sound, to blend with them, and to listen. A performing composer learns how hard it is to perform, and a composer who performs will think of the musicians while composing.

    While I developed bluegrass chops on the banjo, I was also exploring the experimental aspects of playing the instrument. A banjo can be plucked, bowed, struck, rubbed, scraped, and prepared. I’ve worked in contexts of free improvisation, contemporary ensembles, and electronic music. I once improvised on a belay line on the side of a cliff in Tennessee and, as a student, played under John Cage. Style means very little when it comes to expression on an instrument. I found that the energy of performing bluegrass in a bar in Asheville, North Carolina, carried over to the next morning’s work at the drafting table, even if that work had nothing to do with the music I was playing the night before.

    Yet, those Appalachian and folk tunes began to creep into my music. One example of this is a composition of mine titled Stanley Kubrick’s Mountain Home, for soprano, chamber ensemble, and bluegrass band. While writing this piece, I became acquainted with the legendary bluegrass banjo player/fiddler/composer John Hartford, who I’d seen numerous times at festivals and whose recordings influence me as a performer to this day. I asked him to record several Appalachian fiddle tunes that I then transcribed and worked into the composition.

    An important evening in my life came in 1978 when I saw New Directions with trumpeter Lester Bowie of the Art Ensemble of Chicago, drummer/pianist Jack DeJohnette, bassist Eddie Gomez, and guitarist John Abercrombie. The ensemble interacted freely around structured tunes. I walked out of that concert wanting to do something like that with a bluegrass band and said so to my brother, who observed: “Well, it wouldn’t be bluegrass then, would it?” No, I guess not.

    This concert coincided with improvisation sessions that my composition teacher at Wichita State University organized. Arthur S. Wolff placed a number of musicians in resonant spaces such as stairwells, tunnels, and atriums and recorded everything, often late at night. Many of us who were involved then still cite him as an early influence in our music. I brought this discipline to an experimental bluegrass band that I played with in the 1980s called the Sons of Rayon, and once I was accused of being self-indulgent for doing this on stage. In the ‘90s, I played a number of events with cellist Hank Roberts, known then for his work with the Bill Frisell Quartet. Our performances were structured around tunes that he composed with large sections of improvisation. I believe that I developed interactive skills and musicality through these numerous improv sessions and performances.

    In a strange circling around of fate, in May of 2011 I met percussionist Famoudou Don Moye of the Art Ensemble of Chicago in France. I quickly mobilized funds, musicians, and a recording studio and composed a number of tunes. The next month we recorded Nice Folks with some excellent French musicians who rendered lovely improvisations in and between my tunes.

    In 2012, I performed on banjo with composer Christian Wolff in Marseille. Wolff has long been a presence in contemporary music. When he was 17, he gave John Cage a book explaining the I-Ching, which became the basis for many of Cage’s chance pieces. He was one of the four New York School composers in the 1950s and 1960s with Cage, Morton Feldman, and Earle Brown, and he was often a lecturer at Darmstadt, which is where I first encountered him. The night I performed with him, I asked Christian to compose a solo banjo piece. The result is Banjo Player. It’s a hard piece and often non-idiomatic for the instrument. Wolff asks the performer to leap from the first to the 13th fret between quickly moving 16th notes; interesting counterpoint is written in widely separated registers, and a scordatura tuning is called for (which caused me to transcribe the entire composition into tablature). The difficulty of this piece may rest in the fact that Christian has composed for many virtuosic performers such as pianist David Tudor. He stretches the instrument without resorting to much in the way of extended techniques, though the piece extended and challenged my technique. There is a section that is very easy and folk-like. This ties in with study he made of early American hymnody at one time, which lead to some interesting monophonic compositions in the 1990s. He seems to have been constructing his music then from simple materials that, perhaps, a number of amateur musicians could play and which reflect his socialist politics.

    A work of art is autobiographical. Compositions can and, for me, should evolve directly out of performing experiences, which in turn may relate to travels and happenstance encounters. Our music reflects the artists we meet, the teachers we’ve had, the books we’ve read, the art we’ve looked at, and the music we’ve listened to. I look for compositional structure in abstract art, in a variety of novels and poems, in the music of other cultures, and in film. (Stanley Kubrick’s Mountain Home was initially based on the structure of 2001: A Space Odyssey.)

    The music of Claude Vivier expresses his life as an adopted child, studies with Stockhausen, his development in spectral music, his travels in Asia, and his own fascination with sound. A Cage composition is a reflection of the influence of artist Marcel Duchamp, Arnold Schoenberg’s structures, the Zen teachings of Daisetsu Suzuki, and the poverty that he experienced in the 1930s. The sound world of his percussion pieces grew out of not having the funds to buy a lot of equipment, therefore Cage and Lou Harrison raided junk yards for sounds. The driving rhythms, colors, and themes of composer Gabriela Ortiz’s work express her Mexican heritage and her study of contemporary music and electronics. In Caroline Shaw’s compositions I hear wonderful vocal and string experimentation echoing the North Carolina folk music and Shape Note choirs she must have heard growing up.

    When I was 19, someone told me that rich experiences won’t come find us, but that we must make them happen. I took this to heart. We are born into situations that both feed and limit individual abilities and it is those limitations based on our past that determine our artistic output. In the act of creation, a personal story will assert itself, often in spite of ourselves. But we can feed that story through the people we meet, the concerts we organize, and the musicians we work with at home or abroad. And we can work very hard to become the artists that we wish to become based on the experiences we’ve been placed within and the situations—the stories—we’ve engineered.

    See the full article here.


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    At NEWMUSICUSA, we see ourselves first and foremost as advocates. Our mission is to support and promote new music created in the United States. We do that in many ways, fostering connections, deepening knowledge, encouraging appreciation, and providing financial support. In recognition of the possibility and power inherent in the virtual world, we’ve worked to build a strong internet platform to serve our constituency. And that constituency is broad and diverse, from composers and performers to presenters and producers, casual listeners to die-hard fans. We’re truly committed to serving the WHOLE new music community.

    As we go about our work, we make a point of not defining too precisely what we mean by new music. To define is to limit. It’s a spectacular time for musical creativity in part because so much music is being made that isn’t bound by conventional limitations of style or genre or background. The music that we hear being created in such abundance all around us is definition enough. We simply want it to flourish.

    We’re fortunate to have as our legacy the history of previous decades of good works done by the American Music Center and Meet The Composer, the two great organizations that merged to form us in 2011. Their legacies have also brought a small financial endowment that mostly helps support our grantmaking. But we’re not a foundation. We depend decisively each year on the generosity of so many institutions and individuals around the country who are dedicated as we are to the advancement of new music and are devoted to supporting our work.

    New Music USA is part of an international community of advocates for the arts. We’re members of the Performing Arts Alliance, the International Association of Music Information Centres, and the International Society for Contemporary Music. Those partnerships help us represent the interests of our constituents at every level.

    John Schaefer


    For new music by living composers

    newsounds.org from New York Public Radio


    https://www.wnyc.org/
    93.9FM
    https://www.wqxr.org/
    105.9FM
    http://www.thegreenespace.org/

    For great Jazz

    88.3FM http://wbgo.org/

    WPRB 103.3FM


    Please visit The Jazz Loft Project based on the work of Sam Stephenson
    Please visit The Jazz Loft Radio project from New York Public Radio

     
  • richardmitnick 1:16 AM on October 2, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , George Tsontakis—Getting Out of My Introvertism, , NEWMUSICBOX   

    From NEWMUSICBOX: “George Tsontakis—Getting Out of My Introvertism” 

    New Music USA


    From NEWMUSICBOX

    October 1, 2018
    Frank J. Oteri
    Video presentations and photography by Molly Sheridan
    Transcription by Julia Lu

    1

    Back in the 1990s, it seemed like George Tsontakis was on a career path that most American composers would envy. He was signed by a major publisher, his music was performed by soloists, ensembles, and orchestras all over country, and most of his music was recorded. Then he received a significant music award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1995 and a Guggenheim Fellowship the following year. The following decade, he was awarded the Charles Ives Living and the Grawemeyer Award in Music Composition, which are among the two largest cash prizes available to composers.

    But rather than advancing along and building on all of these accolades, Tsontakis aspires to a hermetic existence in the middle of the woods and composes something only when someone commissions it and nothing at all if no one does.

    “If nobody asked me to write a piece, I wouldn’t compose,” he admitted when we sat with him on his back porch as hummingbirds and bees flittered around and chipmunks scurried by. “I’d be doing other things. I’m very happy to not compose. … One of the secrets to [my] life is that I only write what people ask for. … Multiple performances, you get that through websites or whatever. I don’t care. I’m not a promoter. I’m not even a person that wants pieces to be played all the time.”

    That’s not so say that Tsontakis is a serene, quiet person. Anything but! During the afternoon we spent with him he regaled us with endless anecdotes about his early years—acting in musical theater and almost being chosen for the original cast of Jesus Christ Superstar, arguing with Stockhausen during a seminar in Italy, fending off becoming a furrier by telling his Greek father than he was a vegetarian, and then his father being proud of an early piece of his that Vincent Persichetti hated. Along the way, he also told tons of jokes and did impersonations of various musical luminaries—including his one-time teacher Roger Sessions. Often, it was difficult to get a word in edgewise!

    So much so, in fact, that it was somewhat hard to swallow that Tsontakis considers himself an introvert and that being socially active was an acquired skill.

    “I get in these moods where I don’t talk,” he explained. “I’m basically an extrovert when I’m with people, but when they leave I become completely introverted. It’s an interesting balance. I’m either a closet introvert or a closet extrovert. I don’t know!”

    A conversation with Frank J. Oteri outside Tsontakis’s home in Shokan, New York, September 12, 2018—12:30 p.m. Video presentation by Molly Sheridan.

    Frank J. Oteri: We’ve only just started rolling the camera, but we’ve been having a great conversation since you picked us up in Kingston, New York, over an hour ago. It’s hard to believe it’s taken so long for us to finally record a substantive discussion with you.
    “Every composer and every performer should have to act.”

    George Tsontakis: Well, you did ask me one time, but I don’t do many things like this. I’m very insular. I think it was after the Grawemeyer [Award] or the Ives [Living], but I wasn’t talking to anybody. I was composing. I get in these moods where I don’t talk. I’m basically an extrovert when I’m with people, but when they leave I become completely introverted. It’s an interesting balance. I’m either a closet introvert or a closet extrovert. I don’t know. You’ve got to come out when you do teaching. And I’m an actor; I act in plays. When you’re doing a play, you have to close yourself up. Acting really helped me to get out of my introvertism and at least pretend to enjoy people being here. Every composer and every performer should have to act. All these violinists are so serious.

    FJO: You already sort of half answered the question with which I wanted to begin our conversation. Before I ever visited Vienna, which was only five years ago, people would always be shocked that I hadn’t traveled there since it’s such an important center of musical activity, to which I’d invariably respond, so are Harare, Zimbabwe; Lima, Peru; Seoul, South Korea—which are all places I had been. As a composer in this country, you’ve attained an enviable degree of prominence—you’ve won several major awards, a large amount of your music continues to be performed and has been recorded. And yet, you’ve chosen not to live in any of the major urban musical capitals. I can see why. It’s idyllic, despite being off the beaten path. Still, it’s kind of a weird place to be doing what you do. Or so it seems to me. Maybe it’s not.

    GT: Well, it depends. I mean, if I lived in an urban area, it wouldn’t be Vienna. That’s a museum, as most of classical music is these days. If it’s not a contemporary music festival or concert, it’s museum stuff. This is the perfect place to be. Everybody else is in the wrong place as far as I’m concerned. But it depends on what your philosophy is. I’ve had 21-year-old students at Bard who have bigger Wikipedia pages than I do, because they’re reaching out and they’re trying to be in another place all the time. The urban area is now wireless, so you can be in the country and still be reaching out instead of looking in. But Bach hardly ever left Leipzig and he did pretty well. Either you depend on promoting yourself or you depend on your product to be the promotion of what you do. Of course, it helped that I had started off in a place like Juilliard. Having met people at Juilliard was a great thing. It helped for about ten years. You’ve got to get off the ground, and maybe you do have to have a connection with some populated area, where there are musicians. There’s nothing wrong with being with musicians. Even at Bard, where it’s a tiny microcosmos of an urban community, there are fantastic musicians. So I tell the composers, especially if they’re anti-social, you have to meet these performers, because these performers might be the ones that are going to do your works and request your works in the future.

    When I was in New York City, I’d be walking down Broadway, and it led to a commission. Somebody would say, “Hey George, you know, we’re thinking about you. Thinking about doing something.” The fact that we were in front of Zabars kicked it over to, “Yeah, let’s talk.” That was a big difference. So there are advantages. But as far as creative energy goes, “New York, New York” and the other urban areas have a lot of static electricity. You’re there walking around and you feel energy. But is it your energy? That’s the question. By retreating to this quiet place, I know where my energy ends and the other energies begin, or vice versa. So I don’t adopt any energies of the urban areas. You have to make all your energy here. It’s a more subtle energy, but it’s a dependable energy. And I love nature, too. You hear all these creatures? I feed birds. They inspire me as well. I have that in common with Messiaen. I love the birds, but I don’t know who they are.

    2

    FJO: But you actually grew up in New York City. You were born in Astoria.

    GT: That’s another thing. I don’t need it because I’ve been there. I’ve done the urban area. Back to my advice to young composers: “I finished undergrad, where do I go to grad school?” I’ll say, “Where did you go to undergrad?” “Well, I went to New York, Manhattan School of Music.” I say, “Well then, find a country place to go to for your master’s and doctorate maybe.” If they say, “I went to some country school in the middle of nowhere,” I’d say, “Find an urban school to go to because you need both to a degree.” It’s the diversity of learning about these different poles. There are some composers who will never leave the city. That’s you, Frank! Definitely, I can tell that already. In one hour, you’ve demonstrated all the urban tendencies. I think New York is one of the most provincial places I’ve ever seen. A friend who lives in Woodstock read a chapter at the Woodstock Library about those New Yorkers who only read three publications. And each one has New York in the title.

    FJO: I don’t do that.

    GT: No, I know. But he said, “Thank God for those people. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have anybody buying tickets!” New York is provincial that way. If a restaurant is not in The New York Times, you don’t go. But out here, you have to fend for yourself. I also want to mention that there’s a lot of stuff going on here. We’re only an hour and forty-five minutes from the George Washington Bridge. So, like the pollen, these New Yorkers come up here. They get off the Amtrak and we know what they’re doing, and they know what we’re doing.

    3

    FJO: [laughs] Okay, but I’m going to take you back to New York when you were growing up in the very tightly knit Greek community. I know that you had multiple interests, not just music; you were very deeply engrossed in theater. But how did you get exposed to all this stuff and when did things start to resonate with you?

    GT: I can tell you the day I became a composer. I didn’t spend that much time in Astoria. We moved to Long Island, to a school district that had good music. But my grandparents and I spent a lot of time in Astoria when I went to Queens College. So that was important. I had a dual cultural life. You know, Astoria is really Greece in a way, although I was just in Greece in April and May and when I speak Greek, they say, “George, you speak Greek, but it’s Astoria Greek.” Astoria’s a suburb of Greece. And those roots are very important for what I do.

    But I went to a good school on Long Island, and they handed me a violin when I was seven years old. So I studied violin and I knew a little about classical music. But when I was around 15 or 16, I got this new pair of headphones (they didn’t have good headphones until the ‘60s) and I listened to a Deutsche Grammophon recording of Stravinsky’s Firebird. It blew me away, because I hadn’t heard something like that live. Now, if you had told me that Igor Stravinsky was a Polish jazz composer, I would say cool man. I like his music. I didn’t know enough about music to know who Stravinsky was. Someone recommended a recording. I also heard in the same week Beethoven’s Opus 135. Blew me away, too. I listened to the Fine Arts Quartet. That week I decided to be a composer.

    I just said, “Between Beethoven and Stravinsky, I want to do that. Whatever that is.” It’s like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, the chocolate and the peanut butter. You put it together; I want to do that. And I have been trying to do that. I added Debussy and Messiaen to the mix, but basically I wanted to do that.

    I argue this point with many composers, especially in Europe, who have had pressure put on them to be more progressive, more avant-garde, whatever it is, less tonal, whatever you call that. I say, “Try to remember when you decided to be a composer and why.” I decided to be a composer because of what I heard. I didn’t become a composer because of my compatriot Xenakis or Boulez or Karlheinz Stockhausen. I became a composer to emulate the music that I wanted to do. And I will take that music, and I’ll bring it forward in my own manner. I’ll decide on the colors. I call tonalities—dissonance or not dissonance—colors.

    FJO: It’s funny you say that because every composer has a different story about what triggered the desire to be a composer. I confess, although I had already been writing music, a really formative influence on me when I was in high school was actually discovering who Stockhausen was—his whole persona, as well as his music and all his crazy pronouncements. It really impressed me, and I wanted to figure out what he was doing.

    GT: Aha. I studied with him in Rome in an eighty-hour seminar over two months as I was studying with Donatoni. In Europe, you’d have these spontaneous things. I read in the paper: Stockhausen seminar. He had just finished Donnerstag aus Licht at La Scala. So there were about ten of us who were students in Stockhausen’s class. Paul Sperry, who I knew, was there. Stockhausen did this thing with these big rolls of paper. It was four feet and you unrolled it. He did all the staves in different colors. It was a typical Stockhausen happening. I was the skeptical American. I have cassette tapes of us arguing in English while the Italians are listening. But Donatoni and Stockhausen made me realize what I could do if I wanted to. So I didn’t make a choice out of ignorance. You wanted to learn what Stockhausen was doing. Well, I found out and I still didn’t want to do it. So I tell composers in Europe, or wherever they think we’re not modern enough, “Look, we can turn around tomorrow and do what you’re doing, and you could do what we’re doing. We made a choice.”

    That’s because we find, like my old friend George Rochberg did, the materials that you best communicate with, and that’s it. You know, you don’t become affected because of someone telling you that your materials aren’t modern enough. I give them the example that if in 1450 sackbuts and crumhorns started to play Lachenmann and then in 2018, two cats came along from Italy, Gabrieli and Monteverdi, and started doing their music, somebody would go, “Holy cow, I just heard the most modern music I ever heard. These guys are flipped out, man.” There’s no forwards and backwards in music. I’m so happy that, these days, young composers don’t seem to care.

    FJO: We’re now in an era where anything is possible. But it’s interesting to hear you say all this because there’s a piece of yours I’ve read about in a New York Times review by Tim Page. I’ve never heard it and wish I could. It’s a very early string quartet that is probably either number one or number two.

    GT: The Emerson one?

    FJO: Yes.

    GT: It’s very much like [Wolfgang] Rihm. It’s not 12-tone, but at least it has 12 tones. It still resonates for me. I know you know [the recording of] the third and fourth quartets on New World. The American [String Quartet] had a choice, to pair the fourth that I wrote for them with either my second or third quartet. The third is very tonal. And the second is completely out there—dissonant and dissonant—but there are some lyrical aspects, too. They voted. Two of them wanted to do number two and two of them wanted to do number three. And I would still love it, if the Emerson is listening out there, my buddies—would you want to bring back number two? I’d love to hear it. I’d love for someone to do that really well. You mentioned Tim Page?

    FJO: Yeah, I’ll read you the quote that got me: “This piece, which was commissioned by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, under whose auspices Sunday’s concert was presented, proved a somber, knotty work in four movements, rather in the manner of Alban Berg. The composer writes that he attempted a ‘clear reaction to our times,’ and speaks of fears and frustrations. To this taste, Mr. Tsontakis lays on the angst a little thick.”

    GT: Very good telling. Tim’s a great guy, too. I remember “lays on the angst too thick.” Now I don’t have to lay it on at all, because I did it then. I remember Andrew Porter in The New Yorker wrote something similar. I don’t remember the quote, but something like: “It wasn’t to my taste.” or “It was a little bit over the top.”

    FJO: When I read negative reviews like this, it doesn’t turn me off the piece; often it makes me want to listen even more! But what stuck with me in that Tim Page review was his reference to your comment about the piece being “a clear reaction to our times.” You talked about Europeans thinking that their music is progressive and ours is not. I don’t think it can be reduced to binaries. But one of the things that I find so exciting about your music, and why I wanted to talk to you—particularly now, in this current zeitgeist—is that although I don’t think your music sounds anachronistic, I also don’t think it sounds like it’s of the present time. You seem completely oblivious to what is going on now, and it’s nice to be able to kind of get away from what’s going on, especially right now, through this music.

    GT: Well yeah, I mean, that’s the whole point. Any music that is specifically yours has a character that can’t be duplicated. It’s like a fingerprint or DNA. I learn a lot by teaching, and I’ve always said to my students, “Don’t try to be original.” Only two composers every century are original, and they’re usually French—Messiaen and Varèse or Berlioz and Debussy, the big revolutionaries. The rest of us kind of do mop up, we do what the others do. So I say, “Don’t try to be original, be specific. Be as specific as you can. Mold your music in your own specific way to your DNA, even if you start with C-major.”

    It doesn’t matter what you do. There’s been proof of that. Look at a composer like Arvo Pärt or Gorecki or Valentin Silvestrov. They have nuanced their music in a way that nobody can duplicate. Benjamin Britten’s a great example, too. One of our problems is that we think of chronology—1800, 1900, 2000—and music progressing, whereas I think of it as different things going up. [gestures hands] Here’s Bach. Here’s Beethoven. Here’s Haydn over there. Here’s Messiaen. The higher you go with the lives of these composers, the more modern music is. It’s more modern because you can’t get there from going this way. So the late Beethoven quartets, those are all eternally modern. Or Gabrieli and Monteverdi—you can’t get there by imitating them. Chronology is not adding more and more dissonance, and being more and more abstract, scratching the instrument instead of sul ponticello. Eventually the violin is going to break in half from somebody trying affectations of texture! So be the life of a composer going up. You make your own pedestal. That’s why I can use whatever elements and it’s a personal dialogue in my language that I picked somewhere between Opus 135 and Stravinsky’s Firebird. Rite of Spring was on the flip side [of that LP], but I went for the Firebird even though kids viscerally like Rite of Spring. I think that’s how I discovered Debussy, because Firebird is Debussy and Rimsky-Korsakov. Again, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Take Russian tunes instead of French tunes, and you use Debussy’s techniques that Stravinsky obviously did in Firebird, and you have a new music. So if I pick that up, and Beethoven’s late quartets, and I blend those in my mind, my concoction is what you’re talking about that you can’t understand where it comes from.

    FJO: So this is you as a teenager in the ‘60s. You were a weird kid.

    GT: We were all weird. We had a group of weird kids in our high school. We were listening to Bartók and other stuff. That’s the way we rebelled, by listening to contemporary music.

    FJO: Instead of listening to The Rolling Stones?

    GT: Well, I played in rock bands. I played keyboard and electric violin. We did stuff by Chicago and Blood, Sweat & Tears with Al Cooper. Those were the days, you know. And we did some Stones. I think that was really healthy to do. But don’t look for fame in the business we are in. It’s a very small, rarified world.

    4

    I don’t worry about anything. One of the reasons I can live where I do, and be disassociated to a degree with what else happens is because I’ve gotten myself down to a science in what I want to do. I’ve realized that the only time I have to compose is when I’m composing. I don’t have to have anything to do with music otherwise. I have enough listening experience, unless I want to keep up with the latest stuff. But all I have to do is sit and compose. If I sit and compose for two hours that day, I don’t have to talk about music for the rest of my time. I don’t have to live music. I don’t have to go to concerts. I don’t have to do anything. I think it would be wonderful if somebody did, but I don’t need that. So I can do that anywhere. I pack my bag, and I’ll go in the woods. It doesn’t matter where I do it because I don’t have to listen to it. I love Beethoven and I love listening to Debussy, but I don’t have to in order to compose.

    FJO: There are certain tools that you do need, though. Yes?

    GT: You definitely need tools, but you develop your own. All we have to do is compose when we want to compose. Being involved in music otherwise is an elective. I don’t need that elective. I’d rather be involved with other things in my life and do other things. And I think the broader the package that we make of ourselves, the more we will communicate—because nobody wants to just listen to the music of a composer who does nothing but be a composer. So I tell my students that. Enrich yourself. Do other things because you’ll never write a piece that’s larger than what you’ve created as a person. Where does the material come from? How do you write a piece that’s beyond you living in a box, or in NewMusicBox?

    FJO: Well, that’s where I live most of the time. But in terms of boxes, I know that you also build things.

    GT: I do carpentry. I love it. You have hobbies. Cage was a mushroom expert. What is that called?

    FJO: A mycologist.

    GT: A mycologist. Messiaen was an ornithologist, and others do things that are completely different than music. I like acting and woodworking.

    6

    FJO: I want to talk to you a bit more about acting because I know that when you were younger, you were being pulled in two different directions—acting vs. music. I’m curious about how your parents responded to all of this. Were they supportive?

    GT: They were very supportive. You know, they were Greek. My father was a furrier and my mom was a stay-at-home mom. I think I was persuasive because my energy just convinced them that I’m not going to be a furrier. Plus, I was a vegetarian. My father said, “You want to be in the fur business?” And I’d say, “Hey, I’m a vegetarian. You think I’m going to be cutting up 40 minks to make a coat? No way.” They respected it, because even young people make their pitch. They persuade, the way a composer persuades you through music. Of course, if you have stubborn parents, that’s harder to do. But I think my parents recognized that whatever I did, I could be good at it.

    I remember my father coming to my first Juilliard concert. “I’m going to Juilliard to hear my son’s piece.” It was a string quartet, number zero, and it was like Webern [sings]. He only listened to Greek music and American pop music, and yet he was so proud that people stood and clapped. Well, they didn’t stand, but they stood to leave after the concert. By the way, that’s the piece where Persichetti came up to me and said, “I liked your piece; I like the way it ended.” I knew he meant the fact that it ended. He was a wonderful man. I loved his sense of humor. Andrea Olmstead just came out with a book about Persichetti.

    FJO: I have to get that. Anyway, you said your father came to hear this Webernian thing you wrote and he was proud of you, even though he only listened to pop music and Greek music. Did he listen to Greek classical music—composers like Kalomiris, Riadis, or Skalkottas?

    GT: No, they knew no classical. Skalkottas? He didn’t know Beethoven. But my parents sang Greek songs. Or they’d sing “You Are My Sunshine” and harmonize in the car. They had good voices and they had a great musical sense. But you know, he just was not educated in those things. He went right from high school to World War II. He fought in Italy and got shot up. There was no time for classical. But they had an appreciation. They’d play Mantovani classics, you know.

    FJO: Now in terms of having an acting career, you almost got cast in the original Jesus Christ Superstar.

    GT: I don’t know how you found that out! I had generous hair. And a beard. I looked like Jesus. I was 20, I think, and the guys I was playing keyboards and violin with in a flaky summer gig rock band called The Mann Act got hired for the road tour of Jesus Christ Superstar so no more band. I asked the clarinetist Dave Hopkins, “So what am I gonna do?” He said, “Why don’t you try out for the open call for actors?” They were trying to cast it like Pasolini, who used people from the street in his movies. The auditions were in two days.

    So Dave’s girlfriend and I went to the Mark Hellinger Theater and stood on a huge line. When I finally got in, after several hours, I stood in the wings as some nut-job before me dressed up with St Pepper’s Nehru Jacket placed two incense things on each side of him on the floor and lit them as the directors were waiting impatiently. He started to sing, “My Sweet Lord” and by the time he sang “Krishna,” they said, “Thank you, goodbye.” I went next. I didn’t know the show, but I had learned a short recitative-like song. The pianist had to find the music in a pile. Right after I sang—no mike—Michael Shurtleff, the casting director stopped the auditions and called me to the seats. He asked if I could learn “Gethsemane” and return in a few days. The director was then Frank Corsaro, an opera director who I hadn’t heard of. The audition process became protracted and Shurtleff told me he wanted me for Peter the Apostle which he called a major role but it wasn’t, really, just on stage a lot with Jesus and the other eleven. I ended up auditioning six or seven times, but was knocked out after the dance part of the audition. I didn’t dance well. But then I was reinstated by Shurtleff. Eventually they changed directors and I auditioned two times for Tom O’Horgan of Hair fame. The plan to have Pasolini-like people off the street faded and they ended up with pros. Thank God! I would have been in theater, and I don’t think I would have liked it as much because you can’t get out to the woods. You’ve got to get to rehearsals. I wouldn’t have found my true self. It’s not that I couldn’t have been in something else besides music, but probably not something so extroverted.

    FJO: It’s quite a switch to go from singing Andrew Lloyd Weber to studying with Roger Sessions.

    GT: That’s true. But there was Queens College in between. I was at NYU in the School of the Arts for Drama. I didn’t last very long because I didn’t like acting classes. But I went back to my roots playing the violin and studied with Felix Galimir while I was at NYU. I ran out of money and I wanted to be independent, so I went to Queens College and studied with Hugo Weisgall, George Perle, and Leo Kraft. It was a very good school, and it was basically free. From there, I went to Sessions.

    I was very lucky because I knew Felix Greissle, who was Schoenberg’s son-in-law and Sessions’s publisher. I don’t think I would have gotten into Juilliard without Felix’s recommendation. I was Felix Greissle’s gardener in Manhasset. I did his shrubs. I brought music with me because I knew who he was. I’d be all dirty and I’d bring these sketches to Felix after I did his gardening, and he said, “This is good. Someday I will send you to Roger to study.” And his voice—if you know Schoenberg’s voice from the Kraft Columbia recordings, where Schoenberg says, “My painting is like my music and my music is like my painting.” It was frightening. Greissle had the same voice as Schoenberg. I wasn’t ready for Juilliard or Roger Sessions, but thanks to Greissle, I got in there and I went right to Roger Sessions.

    7

    FJO: But there’s a missing piece to this jigsaw puzzle. You had this epiphany on headphones listening to Firebird and then listening to Beethoven’s Opus 135. That’s before the Jesus Christ Superstar auditions.

    GT: Yeah, it’s before. I was 15. By Jesus Christ Superstar, I was like 20 years old.

    FJO: So at the time you had the epiphany about wanting to be a composer, had you written any music at all? That’s the missing piece.

    GT: Right. I was playing in the school orchestra…

    FJO: Playing violin?

    GT: Playing violin.

    FJO: Not viola yet?

    GT: Not viola. No. When you compose, you have to give up violin for viola. That’s the rule, because you can’t practice as much! But then in high school, I started composing. I started composing the last years in high school—funny, odd little pieces. That’s when I became interested. It was right after that. My high school teacher got mad at me because I stopped taking violin lessons. He was discouraging about my music; he made fun of it, in a way. It was very crude, but promising. But I continued and then I played in bands and wrote original tunes. We had a band doing Blood Sweat & Tears and Chicago, so I wrote pieces for the band with brass. I guess it was pop. Then I started to compose more seriously and went to Queens, and—through Hugo Weisgall and Leo Kraft, and, as I mentioned, George Perle—I was on that track.

    8

    FJO: Did you know who any of those people were before when you went to study with them?

    GT: No. Well, I probably did when I investigated Queens and looked, but George Perle wasn’t George Perle, either. In those days, he was really not known very much at all. In fact, when I went to study with Donatoni, I mentioned that George Perle said hello. And he said, “George Perle, is he a composer?” He only knew George Perle as a theorist and someone that wrote about Berg.

    FJO: Was Sessions a name that you knew of as a composer when you got this recommendation to study with him?

    GT: Oh yes. I knew Sessions through Weisgall. So one step at a time, as soon I started seriously studying composition at Queens College. I also had Henry Weinberg, who was this Schoenberg freak. I learned a lot from him. And I spun off my own theories about fourths and whole-tone scales that I spun off a system I call heaven, which happens to be a hexachord of six fourths in a row. I think Henry Weinberg started that off in me. We analyzed The Book of the Hanging Gardens using his ideas. He was influential on me and Weinberg studied with Sessions. Weisgall studied with Sessions. Perle didn’t. But there were two people of great influence that wanted me to go to study with Roger Sessions. Fate had it that I met Greissle and that flipped it over the top. I don’t know what Carter thought of me at the Juilliard audition or Persichetti, but with Sessions something resonated. And, by the way, I stayed with Sessions for five years.

    FJO: Well, it’s interesting. Perle and Weisgall both used 12-tone techniques in their music and so did Sessions. But Persichetti and Carter both did not. So you were groomed and molded by people who were partial to the 12-tone method, but that’s not what you do.

    GT: But I think the lines are in there. They’re just not as angular. I have passages of music that sound 12-tone. When I studied with Sessions and I mentioned “atonal,” he’d go, “Well, after all, if it’s atonal, it means it just doesn’t make any sense.” Because he believed in tonality, no matter what. And he used the 12-tone system very tangentially. He did not really write pieces in 12-tone religiously or in a strict technique. And he believed that it has to sound tonal.

    FJO: As did Perle. His whole theory was based on the concept of a 12-tone tonality.

    GT: Like Sessions. So if I wrote something and it just didn’t make sense, that was atonal. So I never wrote atonal music. It’s just a matter of degrees between tonality and chromaticism; to write a really chromatic piece, you actually need more tonality. I can go from what is recognized as a very tonal space to a very—not dissonant, but—chromatic space seamlessly. It’s the stuff in between—the melting sort of thing in between—that is very interesting to me. I think Berg was the closest, something like Wozzeck.

    FJO: Or Lulu or the Violin Concerto even more so.

    GT: The Violin Concerto. Right. Is it tonal or not? You can’t tell. I know Schoenberg was not happy with Berg using triads in his music, but so what.

    FJO: I actually hear echoes of Berg in your second violin concerto, the Grawemeyer piece.

    GT: Oh, there’s a lot. There’s Ligeti, too, I think. I consider Ligeti a very fine engineer. I call a lot of the stuff that happens in Europe, which is textural, the school of engineering. A lot of the composers are working with new textures, but they’re not composing. They’re engineering stuff in a way that is wonderful, but to be more communicative, I think you have to take the engineering and—it’s like Pinocchio. Geppetto built Pinocchio. That to me is what the many texturalists are doing. But it takes a composer to breathe life into it. How does Pinocchio become alive?

    FJO: It’s interesting you say that because I find a lot of emotion in the later Ligeti, in particular the Violin Concerto, the Piano Concerto, and the Piano Etudes.

    GT: Well, there’s tension and release.

    FJO: And the Horn Trio is fascinating.

    GT: Well, there’s drama. But I think there’s a difference between drama and empathy. I remember when Jacob Druckman was coming out to Aspen, he created a new emotion. I called it a new emotion. It was fascinating. The word fascinating is an emotion now. And I do find Ligeti fascinating. But I’m not sure how—well, there’s a lot of Bach that’s not emotional either, yet it moves us in a way. It’s not overtly emotional. Because you are a contemporary music listener, you are so into the nuance of everything that things relative to what you listen to are emotional. But for the average listener, for the people? I mean, who are we going to reach? Are we aiming to be popular, eventually populist, or are we going to think that Xenakis’s music in two hundred years is going to be Beethoven? No.

    FJO: Well, I’m not so sure populism is a good thing, especially these days. And at the end of the day, it’s all subjective anyway.

    GT: I’m not saying you need a large listenership. There’ll be esoteric little portals, especially with the internet everywhere now. But how many are listening? We talked about birds before. An ornithologist will pee in their pants to see a certain type of warbler, but most people aren’t interested in that. This is a philosophy. We could debate it. You can write music for five people to get so excited about. It’s not for everybody, but to those five people, it’s the perfect thing.

    9

    FJO: So do you think then that there are specific musical gestures that—in and of themselves—could reach more people than other musical gestures can?

    GT: I think Rochberg mentioned that in his program notes for my quartets. He says DNA cells from the past give messages. In late Beethoven, there are little tonal cells that actually have content in them that evokes our emotions.

    FJO: Alright, I’m going to play devil’s advocate now. At this point in time, for the majority of people in the world, Beethoven is completely esoteric. In relative terms, only a handful of people listen to and understand his music.

    GT: That’s right.

    FJO: So if you really want to reach a broad audience, you should be writing stuff that sounds like Elton John.

    GT: Well, we have to differentiate between abstract music and song. We don’t teach young people to listen to abstract music—that is, music without words. If we’re going to have an enemy, why people don’t get into classical music, they’re brought up listening to just song. Song is fantastic. We all love song. Song form is the most popular thing. It’s the greatest thing we have, in a way. How long is song form? What are we competing against when we do a 15-minute Mahler movement? We’re competing with a song. How long is a song? Three minutes, right? No, a song is about 50 seconds long, repeated twice. People’s attention spans are very small, plus they have to have words. It’s very hard to make your point in 50 seconds, so it’s hard to write a good song. On the other hand, if we taught young people the abstraction of listening to music—jazz, classical, Kenny G., Yanni (oh, God forbid!)—any music without words, they will develop a cognitive ability to listen to abstractions, and they would start. Those who want to listen to Beethoven will listen to Beethoven. But just like teaching children to read, some of them are going to read trash, some of them are going read articles, some are only going to read their textbooks, and some will read Beowulf or Socrates. But we don’t even teach them the equivalent of reading. You can’t break out of a song.

    FJO: But two of those names you mentioned, Kenny G. and Yanni, have both been hugely popular doing instrumental music with no words.

    GT: Right. And does anyone go from that to Beethoven?

    FJO: Yeah, or another example I was thinking of when you were saying all of this is John Williams. He predominantly writes film scores, but it is abstract, instrumental music with no words. To a great many people, his music is more immediately identifiable and resonant than a late Beethoven string quartet ever would be.

    GT: Well, let me tell you a story. I mentioned how I got into classical music, but the other thing that really hit me before that was that I was in plays in high school. I played Tommy Albright in Brigadoon, which my mother always thought was my greatest achievement. You know, “Georgie had a piece commissioned by the Boston Symphony and had the Emerson Quartet play his music, but you should have seen him as Tommy Albright in Brigadoon in high school.” I didn’t know any classical music, but I loved musicals. Richard Rodgers is a genius. And I grew up with Oliver and My Fair Lady.

    Now what happened was eventually I started liking the overtures more than the other music. You hear Oklahoma, and that overture is fantastic music. I started saying that I really like the music without these dumb words sometimes, or whatever the words were. Now, we have to teach people to do that somehow. I don’t know if Yanni and Kenny G are going to convince them, because that’s a little bit simplistic. But Peter and the Wolf, they don’t speak while there’s music, the speaking is in between the music, so it’s a great way to do it. But you’re right. People listen to Philip Glass who never heard Mozart. That makes me question if that audience will go on to Mozart after that. I think in this day and age we’re just skipping classical music. People go from Philip Glass to world music or other sophisticated music.

    FJO: Well, why do they have to go to music of the past? Wouldn’t it be great if they could go to other living composers?

    GT: I don’t think they need the music of the past, except there are many good examples to teach people how to listen music without words from the past. Something like Pictures at an Exhibition, which was in Fantasia. I have friends from high school that got interested in classical music because of The Rite of Spring in Fantasia. You know, they saw the images. Nobody was speaking. No one was singing. But it’s not going to happen with just a couple. You have to teach people. In class, even young students concentrate. And when they have that concentration in the class, even if they hate the music they’re listening to, something happens subliminally. I remember I was fourth grade, and they played Mozart’s 40th symphony. I couldn’t stand it. It was so boring. I said, “Stop, I’ll confess!” you know? But if you choose the music well, even if they don’t like what they’re listening to, young people will learn that the cognitive idea of form is repetition. You hear something, then you hear it again in a varied form. Variation and repetition is our business. We’re not dependent on the words to tell the story. Maybe instead of 4%—in America maybe 4% listen to classical music—it would be 9%. That’s a lot of people. Leon Botstein at Bard says that classical music was always an elitist thing. In Vienna, you couldn’t get into the theater if you didn’t have the clothes to go to that elite theater. You’d probably hear Beethoven’s Fourth Symphony once in your lifetime, and you had to take a six-hour carriage ride to hear it once. So it was always a very small number of people. It was never a populist form.

    FJO: So then how is that different than the Helmut Lachenmann acolytes of this world who are writing music for a small coterie?

    GT: Yeah, but if in America let’s say 4% listen to classical music at all, only 2% of those listen to contemporary classical music. But there is a problem with the museum people, who are the older people that go to concerts. I’ll have a piece played by a symphony orchestra. I go to a lot of these concerts. Even at my age, I’m the youngest person there—it’s really crazy. And those people are there for the museum music. They’re not there to hear my piece. They’re tolerating my piece. The conductor, the musicians want to do a contemporary piece. They like my music, but the audience tolerates it.

    That brings us to the various audiences that a composer can aim to write for. One is that classical audience. One is the Emerson Quartet audience, where they have one contemporary piece, and they have Mozart, and then Death and the Maiden by Schubert on a program. Or there’s the contemporary music concerts, or festivals in Europe. I do admonish young composers that as they’re doing what they really want to do, they might have in mind where their music’s going to go, because unfortunately there’s nothing in the middle. It’s either you write for the contemporary music concert audience, which is that small, esoteric audience, or you write for the general population and they probably won’t like it. I’m sort of in between those. I have a few pieces that can be played on a contemporary music concert in London, but not at IRCAM. Meanwhile, the music’s played for the traditional audience. Neither one likes what I do. By the way, they said Roger Sessions was too modern for the public audience and not modern enough for the contemporary music field. There are many composers that are between those poles.

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    FJO: But then I think there’s a third path, which is different from either trying to fit in with standard repertoire or being embraced by the more established contemporary music networks. You mentioned Philip Glass in passing. People like him, Steve Reich, or Meredith Monk, ensembles like the Kronos Quartet and entities like Bang on a Can have all found a way to galvanize a completely different audience which is none of those audiences.

    GT: And that’s fantastic. But a lot of those people are the ones that have never heard Mozart, too.

    FJO: Exactly.

    GT: And that’s fine. We need all the forces we can get. But what is the music? As long as that music has the sophistication of the great composers—I’m going to be in danger saying the great composers—but the sophistication of, say, a Messiaen, if they have that integrity, then they’re following a classical line. I think all you mentioned have a combination of music that does do that and music that has more of a pop end of it, too, an appeal, but the materials may not be as—I don’t know a better word than—sophisticated. And that doesn’t mean elite. World music, Greek music, I mean that is sophisticated within its own realm, but again, it’s song form and it’s limited. Jazz is very sophisticated music, but it’s not accessible. Jazz is accessible only to those people that come to it. But it’s all a question of whether there is a main classical line. I think only the future will decide that.

    FJO: I think it goes back to what you were saying earlier about how people continue to promulgate this idea that there’s this straight line from 1800 to 1900 to 2000, but in the year 2018 it’s very clear that there isn’t a linear progression.

    GT: Well, it depends. We have to decide what our genres are. With the contemporary music thing, any combination will work. You can have a xylophone and three piccolos. Whereas, if you’re talking about the classical line, about orchestral music, what do we do with that music? Andriessen said he would never write for orchestra, but he did eventually. So what do we do with the orchestra? Why isn’t the orchestra expanded? Why hasn’t it added saxophones or Chinese instruments for texture? It’s so museum-ish, that the orchestra is becoming a museum in itself. So it depends what we’re talking about. What are the lines we bring forward? Electronic music has dispelled a lot of that. But even if we stay on acoustic music, there are so many divisions.

    FJO: To bring this all back to your music, you’re obviously attracted to the orchestra. And you’re attracted to the string quartet. You’ve written eight of them.

    GT: Well that’s a self-fulfilling prophecy because I write a quartet and another quartet likes it. The Network for New Music commissioned a piece about ten years ago, and I said, “What’s the combination?” “Whatever you like.” And I go, “Holy cow, I get to think on my own.” So I chose soprano sax, harp, piano, horn, whatever, this ideal thing. But when I sat down to write the piece, which became Gymnopedies, I said, “I hate this combination; what am I going to do with this?” It turned out that I liked the combination. But I write quartets because the next person commissions a quartet. I write orchestral music because it appeals to a conductor.

    FJO: But if you write a piece for a crazy combination, no matter how good it sounds, how many performances is it going to get after the premiere? Who has the resources to put such an ensemble together?

    GT: Well, my combination was more accessible than many combinations that people write for, weird things like accordions and kazoos. A lot of young composers are writing impractical works that way. But Gymnopedies has been played quite a bit. And I conduct it, too. If you think of the Pierrot plus percussion ensemble, it’s only a few more instruments, and instead of a clarinet, you have a soprano saxophone and a harp.

    FJO: Well, the Pierrot ensemble with or without percussion is an interesting phenomenon. The closest thing to it I can think of in earlier repertoire are some J.C. Bach quintets for flute, oboe, violin, cello, and harpsichord. It’s something that really did not become established as a common instrumental combination until the 20th century.

    GT: To a detriment, almost. But not only is the Pierrot ensemble reminiscent of a successful combination by Schoenberg, it’s also a low-budget orchestra in a way. It just doesn’t have the brass instruments. I have a piece that I wrote for Da Capo [Chamber Players] called Gravity. It’s with just the five, without the percussion.

    FJO: It’s much more typical though, for you to write for the same combinations that composers in the 19th century wrote for. An instrumental combination that you’ve returned to several times, that was very popular back then, is the piano quartet.

    GT: I’m writing a fourth one. It’s on the music stand over there.

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    FJO: Wow! This is very interesting to me, because despite how prominent this combination once was, there haven’t been a ton of them in recent times. There’s this great Stephen Hartke piece, Kingdom of the Sun

    GT: —Wonderful piece.

    FJO: There also aren’t a lot of ensembles that are commissioning new pieces. One I can think of is the Ames Piano Quartet in Iowa.

    GT: That’s who I’m writing for.

    FJO: Hah!

    GT: But Ida Kavafian’s group, OPUS ONE, commissioned No. 3. No. 2 was for the Broyhill Chamber Players. Brian Zeger commissioned it for the Cape and Islands Festival. No. 1 was commissioned by Larry Dutton and his wife, who have a piano quartet.

    FJO: So there are a handful of groups. But it’s another one of those things. You were talking about people who listen to certain contemporary music who don’t know Mozart and don’t listen to his music. If you described one of your pieces to these folks as a piano quartet, they’d assume it was for four pianos.

    GT: Right.

    FJO: It’s a wonderful combination, but it is not something that’s really part of contemporary music parlance very much these days. Still, it’s an area you have repeatedly mined. Which is why it was very interesting to hear you say earlier that the orchestra has not expanded to include saxophones or Chinese instruments. You don’t really throw things like Chinese instruments or, say, electric guitars into your pieces. You’ve made a very conscious effort to write for standard ensembles.

    GT: I have not written a piece since 1983 that wasn’t commissioned. I’m very lucky—knock on something here. Or maybe stop commissioning [me]. I’ve said it’s enough already. But no, I just do on-demand. If nobody asked me to write a piece, I wouldn’t compose. I’d be doing other things. I’m very happy to not compose. It’s been a great, great thing. Same thing with teaching. But one of the secrets to life is that I only write what people ask for. So what am I going to do? Network for New Music was the only one that said I could have my choice out of probably 80 pieces I’ve written. The others say, we’ve got a quartet; we want you to write this. So what am I writing now? I’ll tell you: the Piano Quartet No. 4 for the Ames Piano Quartet. They recorded my third and they did a beautiful job. For the Dallas Symphony, I wrote a piano concerto for Stephen Hough. They’re commissioning a piece from me for their co-concertmaster Gary Levinson. It wasn’t my choice, but I love orchestra.

    And I have the Albany Symphony; they’re commissioning a requiem. I’m very excited. It was going to be an orchestra piece; they got money from the New York State Council on the Arts. But my mom passed away in January, so I asked David [Alan Miller], “Can it please be a requiem? I’ll do it for the same money as common orchestra.” So that’s very exciting to me. Then a consortium commissioned Portraits by El Greco 2—Book 2. It’s a piece that I mentioned with slide projections of El Greco. It’s very personal to me because El Greco was from Crete, as I am from Crete, in Greece. But I didn’t ask; people ask me for pieces. In fact, for the El Greco piece, they asked for the same piece. Steve Copes, concertmaster of St. Paul, played [the first one] at the Colorado Music Festival and, I don’t know, maybe I said I’d be interested to do another one, so he asked me, “Can you do an El Greco sequel?”

    FJO: Well, this is the thing. You say you only compose on commission, but there are ways to maneuver that so that you write the pieces you want.

    GT: But not if they’re piano quartets.

    FJO: Sure, but I’m thinking of one of my all-time favorite pieces of yours. It was a piece that was created piecemeal, through various commissions for short pieces from four different orchestras. Yet you had this larger thing in your mind—the Four Symphonic Quartets, which is the symphony that you didn’t name a symphony.

    GT: That came about because I loved Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot. I learned a lot from that. It took T.S. Eliot years to write that because he wasn’t old enough. When you hit 50, you can understand Four Quartets, because it’s a bit about dying and growing. You have to get to be a certain age. A 25-year-old can say, “Well, it’s cool,” but they don’t know what T.S. Eliot was talking about. So I got to that certain age where I started descending, when life starts biologically descending, even though you’re still excited about it.

    FJO: But were still in your 40s when you wrote those.

    GT: I wasn’t 50 yet. Okay, you’re right, I forgot. But I felt like I was descending anyway, and I started to understand T.S. Eliot. Roger Sessions wanted to write When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d when he was in his 20s, and he said he couldn’t. It wasn’t until the death of the Kennedys and Martin Luther King Jr. that his maturity enabled him to do that. He told a story about that. He said, he was like 60-years old and finally he could tell the story of Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d. It’s a great example because he was in his 20s understanding how great it was, but not being able to explain it.

    And that’s what happened when the first commission came along from Ransom Wilson for the Tuscaloosa Symphony. I said I wanted to do something influenced by T.S. Eliot, so I named it Perpetual Angelus. Then the next commission came along, and I said, “Can I make it another one of the four quartets?” But you’re right, it was piecemeal. In the back of my mind I wanted to put those four pieces together, but who would commission an hour-long piece?

    FJO: It’s similar to the way David Del Tredici commissioned the various sections of the piece that is now An Alice Symphony. Then, after that, he composed so many other Alice-themed pieces.

    GT: Who knows whether David at the beginning said, “I’m going to engineer this whole series of Alice pieces,” or if he started with one and said, “I think I’ll do more of that.” Maybe my Portraits by El Greco will be book eight or nine. I’m going to run out of paintings I like by El Greco, but the impulse will be there. That’s interesting.

    FJO: Alright, even though you claim you don’t need or want another commission, what pieces would you want to write if anyone could commission you in the world?

    GT: Well, let’s say I quit composing, which I talk about to my friends. Then I’d get a lucrative commission. “It’s terrible,” I say. Then all my friends say, “Well, give it to me, I’ll write it.” But if I had the choice, I’d want to do acting or something else. I would still want to write the occasional piano piece. I’d like to write for a capella choir, canzones like Gabrieli or Monteverdi, and maybe some songs. I would do that on the side. I’m also a little bit upset after Ghost Variations. I think Sarabesque, which I wrote for Sarah Rothenberg might have been written after that, but no one’s asked me to write another piano piece. I’m pretty pissed off about that.

    FJO: But you’ve done some little ones.

    GT: Well, the Bagatelle was my first attempt to write a piano piece for Yefim Bronfman since Ghost Variations, which was for Bronfman, was due. So I wrote Ghost Variations and then the dedication piece for Sarah Rothenberg. But no one’s asked me and yet Ghost Variations is played all the time. And I’m going, “How come nobody wants any more piano music, including Stephen Hough?” Now Stephen Hough is composing his own music, he doesn’t want to learn any more new music!

    FJO: Well, he learned your concerto.

    GT: The Man of Sorrows and it was recorded with the Dallas Symphony on Hyperion.

    FJO: That’s one I haven’t heard yet.

    GT: Well, you should hear it. It’s 39-minutes long and no one wants to do it again.

    FJO: But you mentioned another piece of yours happening in Dallas.

    GT: A violin concerto for Gary Levinson. Yeah, that’s on the books, as soon as they get a new director.

    FJO: It’s interesting that you keep using the word concerto because except for the violin concertos, you avoid that word in the titles of your pieces. All the other pieces for soloist and orchestra have other names, like the piece I was calling your trumpet concerto, which has a lot of jazz inflections.

    GT: True Colors. You’re right. And Unforgettable is a two-violin concerto.

    FJO: That’s the George Soros piece. How did you get commissioned by George Soros?

    GT: Through Jennifer Chun and Angela Chun. They’re a wonderful violin team. Jennifer was dating George Soros for seven years. Jennifer was looking around for somebody [to write them a piece] through some sources, including Leon Botstein who’s a friend of George Soros. I think he recommended me. It was very similar to how they came upon me for an English horn concerto at the Boston Symphony where Rob Sheena was promised a concerto from James Levine and he went on a search for composers. Rob had looked for years for someone to write the concerto and it was like Goldilocks—this one’s not quite right and that one’s not quite right. I think David [Alan] Miller was a schoolmate of his and David recommended me and it resonated with Rob. It’s just a matter of taste. I’m not saying they chose me above these other composers. When it comes down to it, I don’t write for everybody. But I don’t write just for myself. As John Gardner wrote in Moral Fiction, I write for people like me. People who are like you are going to like your music better. Composition is also persuasion, so you’re writing for people like you and you’re trying to convince everybody else to become like you, which makes composing an amazing persuasive art.

    FJO: And that’s where you can throw in the esoteric things that you like and make them un-esoteric.

    GT: You can also introduce them to ideas and say I didn’t make it in that piece. I didn’t get that across. I’m going to try it again in the next piece. This is another problem we have—are you a first-listening composer? When I talk to young composers, I ask, “Are you going to write a first-listening piece, or are you going to write a piece that you need repetition to get?” You’re not going to read Eliot’s Four Quartets the first time and go, “Wow, it was really good.” No, you have to keep reading it over and over again. People don’t stand before a Cezanne and clap after seeing it for a few minutes. You have to come back.

    That doesn’t mean you can’t write a good first-listening piece. But a lot of young composers are persuaded to write that piece because probably that audience will never hear it again. Or no one will hear it again. You have to keep in mind that there is a world where you need to listen. Maybe I don’t listen enough times to really get Lachenmann. Or Ligeti. Maybe there is an emotion there if I gave it more of a chance. There is something to be said for that. And by the way, composers talk about awards, and of course I have a couple big, good money awards. I do believe that that’s also an aspect. I wouldn’t live for awards; the award is a by-product. But the interesting thing about awards though is that they [the judges] have to listen more than once. They listen many times. We talked about Tim Page. Tim told me for the Pulitzer they listen over and over again. What happens is that during that first round, the first-listening composer might be the one that everyone on the panel likes. Then they do the second round of listening, and that first-listening piece isn’t as interesting anymore. It moves back to number five. Maybe a piece like mine that just made the cut can move up. Those multiple-listening composers wear better for people listening over and over. Meanwhile, the easy listening ones are going backwards.

    I know with the Grawemeyer, they listen to pieces a hundred times. The lay panel at the end that decides the final, they listen to it so many times that they must go crazy: “I thought I liked that piece, but I listened to it five times.” So if we had any parallel to that where we could get people to listen over and over—we do; it’s called recordings.

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    FJO: It’s interesting that you bring up the Pulitzer, because I read somewhere that you refused to have your music submitted to the Pulitzer.

    GT: I will not sign for it. You have to sign, and I won’t do it. It’s just a personal thing. There’s some great people who have. To me, it’s too facile. When I had to call Aaron Kernis a few days afterwards for something else, and I congratulated him, I said, “You know, Aaron, this is going to facilitate introductions at parties; you have this label.” And he laughed. I don’t like that label. I think it’s overdone. I think there’s nothing wrong with it, but I would not like to have a label that stuck on me that’s more important than being a composer. If I were a journalist, I would probably want it. But as a composer, I don’t want that label, because I wouldn’t believe in it as much as the people that would hoo and haw about it. It’s a little bit like my mother saying Georgie was fantastic in Brigadoon in high school. And I’d go, “Mom, I’m beyond that.” So it’s a personal thing. I wouldn’t stop someone. I don’t think the young composers care that much about things like that, but back in the day, when it was very important, everybody was thinking maybe I’ll be so good I’ll get a Pulitzer Prize. I don’t have to worry about that.

    I came in from my lesson after it was announced that Roger Sessions, who was 80 years old, got the prize. And I said, “Mr. Sessions, congratulations on the Pulitzer Prize.” And he said, “Oh thank you, George.” I said, “You must be excited.” And he said, “Well, they called me at home, and when I got off the phone, my wife says, ‘Who was it?’ ‘Apparently, my Concerto for Orchestra won the Pulitzer Prize.’ And she said, ‘How much is it?’ And I said, ‘Well, it’s a thousand dollars.’ And she said, ‘Oh, goodie. Now we can have an extra egg for breakfast every morning.’” They were not impressed.

    The other thing is that this Astoria thing comes back. I do consider myself a Greek composer, too. They do a lot of my music in Greece. I’m going to start a multi-year residency with the Athens Megaron in January. The Megaron is like the Lincoln Center of Greece—beautiful buildings and auditoriums. I’m an American composer, for sure, and I love being an American, but I feel international at the same time. I think the Pulitzer defines somebody as more American than I want to be, except in spirit.

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    FJO: But of course, now the Pulitzer’s completely opened up. It’s not only—

    GT: —Classical. In fact, yeah, who won it, what kind of musician?

    FJO: This year it was awarded to Kendrick Lamar, who is a rapper.

    GT: Right, that’s amazing. I guess it’s fine, but it’s like the MacArthur. Remember when they gave out MacArthurs to Ralph Shapey and George Perle and John Harbison. Now they’re giving it to young people. They can use the money. And giving it to George Perle when he was 75 is not going to help his career. But I think that’s the way of the world now, maybe to a fault in a way.

    This is the question: is the quality still there? I’m not questioning it, but I am questioning it! What is the meaning of this? We talked about the artist colonies. It’s not only classical composers, it’s somebody in rock or jazz. Well, jazz has always been accepted and I love it; jazz is a powerful idiom. But everything is becoming “whoever has talent should be supported” basically. The MacArthur has really been looking for more esoteric people that do something that someone else doesn’t do. And looking for a contradictory profile or something like that, not just somebody who’s great at whatever.

    The field is opening up and that only makes more competition. It’ll be a big melting pot of what happens. But I go back to the point, as long as the sophistication is there, it’s okay with me. The skills and craft that a composer or an artist has are serious stuff. It doesn’t have to be serious, but it’s a serious commodity that I think we have to keep up with. Again, one could argue that writing a good jingle is a hard thing to do. Geniuses have to write jingles. When I have composition class, the first piece I teach is “You Really Got Me” by The Kinks. It’s only two notes and there’s diminution like Beethoven when they go [sings]: “You really got me. You really got me. You really got me.”

    It’s an amazing piece of music. And how many could write a piece of music that economical? But is it Debussy? Well, there’s a DNA like Debussy, but other characteristics are not expanded in a sophisticated way.

    The spark of creativity has unlimited value. So is that as sophisticated as anything? Yeah, in its own, minute way. But with classical music, it’s the expansion of that idea—that seed, that spark of creativity, that genius—through time. That’s one of the things that makes classical music, even contemporary classical music, different than other music. Usually the lack of words and the expansive movement of it; it’s not a small form.

    FJO: This could be a much larger discussion, which I’d love to have. But I think, unfortunately, that we’re running out of time here. So a final area, for now at least. You’ve been offering advice to younger composers throughout this conversation. In the 20th century when you came to be you, you did all of these things the way one should in the 20th century. You studied with some very prominent teachers. You were signed by a major publisher, there were all these recordings of your music out there, and you won some huge awards. But in the 21st century, things are very different.

    GT: Extremely.

    FJO: People get attention for their music in very different ways now. But you don’t have a personal website. You don’t use social media. You don’t do any of the things that composers do to put themselves in people’s faces. And you live here, so you can’t run into somebody outside of Zabar’s and get a commission!

    GT: It shows what you can do if you just write the music. I think that’s the answer. Of course, I had the benefit of becoming known before you needed a website. So maybe I’m going on fumes here. Maybe I was lucky to get elevated and have not many people know what I do, but enough that I get to write the next piece. As I always say, I’m only interested in who’s going to ask for the next piece, and maybe who’s going to record it. Those are the only two things I need. Multiple performances, you get that through websites or whatever. I don’t care. I’m not a promoter. I’m not even a person that wants pieces to be played all the time. I just want to know what the next piece I’m going to write is. If it has to be piano quartet number five, it might have to be. Whatever. That’s why I can live here. If you live minimally, and you just do the thing you’re supposed to do, you don’t need all the other stuff. But yeah, I tell my students, “I don’t do Your Face, My Ass. I don’t do any of that stuff! If there was a site, LeaveMeAlone.com, I’d join that immediately.” But I’m lucky to be able to do that.

    At a lesson once, I said, “Mr. Sessions, I think I should do go back and do species counterpoint.” He said, “Well, you can George. After all, counterpoint is confidence.” That’s all it was to him. You’re not going to write like that, but it’s confidence in your composing. And faith is a very important thing if you want to go it alone and be independent.

    13

    One quick metaphor. The other day I was in my old Honda Accord. It’s got a big hatchback window, and this huge bee was trying to get through the glass. I opened all the doors. I took paper, I tried to shoo him away, but he kept going right back to that glass. It was a great metaphor, but this glass ceiling was not necessary if the damn bee would just go out the door. I tell young composers, “Open up your horizons and go through the doors!” So maybe that bee is like trying to appeal to the contemporary music crowd, this limited milieu; whereas, there are so many performers and so many orchestras that would be happy to do their stuff. You’ve got to broaden your horizons. Or you’ve got to hope that glass disappears and suddenly you’re free. I think my life has been a combination of those two things. I haven’t depended on the unusual channels for where my music is going to go. So that’s going out the doors of the car. And yet I still have faith that that glass thing will open up. And sometimes it does. I think it’s a matter of knowing what you’re supposed to do in life and having faith that eventually you get a break and that glass will open up occasionally.

    It’s a hard path to go on. But it’s worked somehow. So many events in my life were serendipity. Like meeting Felix Greissle, who led me to Sessions because I was a gardener. Also for young composers, you should accept any work you get. I know some composers, “I’m not going to go for that commission; I’m not going to get paid for that.” Take it. Keep in motion. And that leads to other things. No job is too small.

    See the full article here.


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    At NEWMUSICUSA, we see ourselves first and foremost as advocates. Our mission is to support and promote new music created in the United States. We do that in many ways, fostering connections, deepening knowledge, encouraging appreciation, and providing financial support. In recognition of the possibility and power inherent in the virtual world, we’ve worked to build a strong internet platform to serve our constituency. And that constituency is broad and diverse, from composers and performers to presenters and producers, casual listeners to die-hard fans. We’re truly committed to serving the WHOLE new music community.

    As we go about our work, we make a point of not defining too precisely what we mean by new music. To define is to limit. It’s a spectacular time for musical creativity in part because so much music is being made that isn’t bound by conventional limitations of style or genre or background. The music that we hear being created in such abundance all around us is definition enough. We simply want it to flourish.

    We’re fortunate to have as our legacy the history of previous decades of good works done by the American Music Center and Meet The Composer, the two great organizations that merged to form us in 2011. Their legacies have also brought a small financial endowment that mostly helps support our grantmaking. But we’re not a foundation. We depend decisively each year on the generosity of so many institutions and individuals around the country who are dedicated as we are to the advancement of new music and are devoted to supporting our work.

    New Music USA is part of an international community of advocates for the arts. We’re members of the Performing Arts Alliance, the International Association of Music Information Centres, and the International Society for Contemporary Music. Those partnerships help us represent the interests of our constituents at every level.

    John Schaefer


    For new music by living composers

    newsounds.org from New York Public Radio


    https://www.wnyc.org/
    93.9FM
    https://www.wqxr.org/
    105.9FM
    http://www.thegreenespace.org/

    For great Jazz

    88.3FM http://wbgo.org/

    WPRB 103.3FM


    Please visit The Jazz Loft Project based on the work of Sam Stephenson
    Please visit The Jazz Loft Radio project from New York Public Radio

     
  • richardmitnick 3:20 PM on September 27, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: a life of music, I am grateful for Dr. Paul Dickinson. A lover of 20th-century classical music he showed me the wonders of Messiaen Nancarrow and Berio, I am grateful to my mother father sister and wife for reminding me that the only one keeping me out of music was myself, I rail against the weird American myth of the “self-made man.”, I’m an enthusiastic evangelist for telling the people in your life that you love them, I’m grateful to the Army of Kind Strangers band – Dolan Terrence Logan Sam Allison Michael Perry Rachel Malcolm Barrett Jimmy Trent Kaleb Tyler Ethan Doug Lance Robert Kayla Jatrice Matthew Nathan, Michael Garrett Steele, NEWMUSICBOX, Once I realized the only thing keeping me from creative work was me I finally accepted the support that had always been there   

    From NEWMUSICBOX: “It’s All People. And It’s All Connected” 

    New Music USA


    From NEWMUSICBOX

    1
    A jam session at the MAGFest video game music festival. We set up in the lobby of the Gaylord and started playing music from Tetris and Zelda.

    September 27, 2018

    Previously in this space:

    1. I talked about a dangerously irresponsible workplace and my escape from it to a life of music, from Boston to Arkansas to Austin.

    2. I talked about Vermont College of Fine Arts, a school that profoundly shaped who I am in ways that I can barely begin to describe. (I tried valiantly to do so, regardless.)

    3. I talked about the burgeoning scene surrounding video game music (as well as covers and arrangements thereof) and the way that I fell into that world.

    And now I’m stepping back and looking at the thread tying everything together. Writing all of this down has been an opportunity to sort through some of the chaos of the last ten years or so. It’s funny. I’ve written humor columns, product reviews, how-tos, and plenty of ad copy. I’ve never really sat down and written about myself. I don’t generally find myself that interesting. After all, I already know how the story goes.

    But maybe I don’t. This has given me a lot of perspective on my own life. And with that in mind, I’d like to talk about where I am now. But first I’d like to retrace my steps slightly, with an emphasis on the people that I knew, and the ways that they were interconnected.

    2
    Jazz band, first time through UCA. My one tenuous connection to the world of music at that time in my life. Photo by Rodney Steele

    One of the things that I already knew–and had already made a point of appreciating as often as possible–is that everything that matters in my life is something I owe to other people. I’m an enthusiastic evangelist for telling the people in your life that you love them. I rail against the weird American myth of the “self-made man.” And yet I am humbled anew when I review these articles and think about how much of my life comes down to the other people in it.

    When I was working at the psych hospital, a handful of the people around me kept me from losing my own mind. (Mental health workers do break down, you know. We used to joke about whether we’d get an employee discount if we had to be committed ourselves.) My supervisor on the night shift did a lot to keep me sane. And the mental health supervisor on the women’s trauma ward, where I worked most of my shifts, was and remains an inspiration to me. Every now and then we check in. She’s in a completely different field of medicine, with new credentials, and a beautiful family. Seeing her current fulfillment compared to where we used to be means everything to me.

    I am grateful to my mother, father, sister, and wife, for reminding me that the only one keeping me out of music was myself. They encouraged me from youth through college, and on into my adult life. Once I realized the only thing keeping me from creative work was me, I finally accepted the support that had always been there. I try now to honor their love with my effort. I am grateful to Kerri, a college friend from Arkansas. She became a psychiatrist in a nearby town. Her perspective on what mental health could be pulled me out of the gaslighting and downtrodden attitude that the hospital had filled me with and made me realize that the problem wasn’t “I can’t hack it.” The problem was that I was in a toxic environment masquerading as a therapeutic milieu.

    I am grateful for Dr. Jackie Lamar, the noted saxophone professor who spent her career at the University of Central Arkansas to shepherd the program that her father had built there. When I shot her a “Hey, remember me?” email out of the blue, she welcomed me into her program with open arms. She helped me navigate my second undergraduate degree program and get out quickly, with my sanity intact. The entire time I was there, she begged me to do something more practical than composition. She steered me towards other avenues within music. I told her that I was through compromising with myself, and declined. But I never stopped appreciating the fact that she was looking out for me.

    I am grateful for Dr. Paul Dickinson. A lover of 20th-century classical music, he showed me the wonders of Messiaen, Nancarrow, and Berio. Nearly every piece was introduced with, “This is the greatest piece ever written.” Despite his leanings, he taught me how to make my best music, instead of his. I am grateful for Dr. Stefanie Dickinson, who taught me ear training and advanced theory during the time Paul taught my private lessons. They are two of the finest musicians and people I’ve ever had the pleasure to know.

    I am grateful to Jared Vincenti, a friend and filmmaker from Boston who jumped at the chance to let me compose for him for his master’s thesis film and for an entire web series. I am grateful to Amanda, a mezzo-soprano (turned airplane mechanic, turned airport administrator) who befriended and encouraged me. Likewise, Holly, a bassoon player, immediately became a good friend and confidant when I felt bad about the fact that I was in college with my little sister’s class. Years later, one of my Vermont College of Fine Arts pieces was programmed at Queens College, and I stayed on her sofa in Brooklyn to take in the performance.

    I’m grateful to the Army of Kind Strangers band – Dolan, Terrence, Logan, Sam, Allison, Michael, Perry, Rachel, Malcolm, Barrett, Jimmy, Trent, Kaleb, Tyler, Ethan, Doug, Lance, Robert, Kayla, Jatrice, Matthew, Nathaniel, Brittany, Bailey, Anthony, Sean, Dylan, Morgan, Connor, Josh, Yuezhi, and Andrew (who played trumpet and recorded it all). Every one of these people took time they didn’t have to, on my account. All I had to give them was pizza and friendship, and they gladly and warmly gave of their time. Every hour we spent in a classroom with all the desks shoved off to one side recording represented at least 12 hours, collectively that they all could have been doing anything else.

    Dr. Dickinson gave me the flyer that led me to the Vermont College of Fine Arts. There, Sarah Madru tried like hell to talk me into coming. She patched me through to Rick Baitz, then the faculty chair, who talked with me for hours as I sorted my feelings through. All of this is in line with the tone set by program director Carol Beatty, herself a good friend at this point.

    All of this is beautiful and terrifying to me. Some of my closest friends, and literally dozens of other people that I love dearly, are in my life because one professor handed me a mailer, because he knew I’d been frustrated with my graduate school search. Without that friendship, I wouldn’t have had any of these others. And without any of these others, I can’t imagine a terrible lot going on in my life to be thrilled with.

    Rick served as my first advisor, but all of my advisors have given me career advice and friendly counsel above and beyond their role through the school. Ravi Krishnaswami gave me my first big break composing. I landed an advertising jingle for a popular sci-fi video game series. The jingle wound up in the game itself, and the company has used it elsewhere at every opportunity. We’ve also done some songwriting together just for us, and it’s been immensely rewarding. Another mentor, Don DiNicola, has allowed me to collaborate on a number of projects now. I’ve done everything for him from script editing to voiceover work.

    My wife Maegan first introduced me to Lauren, then her coworker at the ad department of a liberal arts school. Lauren introduced me to Sebastian as he was forming Materia, a tribute album that grew into an entire record label for video game covers and original soundtracks. Through that platform, I met – this sounds like an exaggeration – several dozen of my favorite people. If I start naming them, I’ll leave people out. I think it best not to try. But I’ve had tearful, heartful conversations now with people from Seattle to New York. Not to mention Scotland, Germany, Brazil, Portugal, and Sweden. Any time we travel for work or for vacation, I have friends I can call to meet up and break bread with. That is a priceless, precious gift. And when life throws me a curveball and I find myself on the road unexpectedly, it’s an incredible comfort.

    Not all of my video game music (VGM) friends are far-flung, though. I met Sirenstar, Nate Chambers, not to mention Lauren’s bandmates, and the two other VGM bands, in town. Later another Materia friend and collaborator, Bonnie, had recently gone freelance and was mulling a move to town. We helped show her around while she figured out whether this move was really the life change she wanted. Since then, all of us have collaborated on a number of things. Nate and I have scored a game together, and pitched at least three more. We’re flying out to speak at a conference in October about some neat work we did with carefully composed music that can randomize itself for hours (based on minutes of music) before you hear the same thing twice.

    It all circles back around to the people you know. I’ve made constant, conscious effort to let the people in my life know how much I love them. And I’ve certainly tried to be there for them. You don’t ever want to wind up with your own back against the wall, but when I found myself there, they gathered and lifted me back up in ways I couldn’t have imagined.

    1
    Margie and my rotating band at VCFA, One Touch Relief, in February 2016. Zachary Kohlmeier, Amanda Laven, Thomas Avery, myself, Jesse Mitchell, Torrey Richards, and Margie Halloran.

    When I lost my job in April, I called my graduate advisors. I called my friends from the VGM scene and from grad school. I called family. And people came together in an incredible way. Bonnie, now settled in Austin, sent me freelance work editing her voiceover for a computer game until I got back on my feet. Ravi, Rick, and Don all talked me through my options as I strove to discern whether I wanted to pursue freelance work or another office job. Nate’s wife, also a dear friend, wound up helping me find the job that I have now. She added me to a local Facebook group for digital jobs. I found a copywriting gig that I immediately fell in love with. I get to write, so I’m doing creative work to pay the bills. It’s remote, so I can spend time composing instead of dealing with Austin traffic. I adore my coworkers and the environment. And none of that would have happened without Ange’s help. (And Nate’s before her, and Lauren’s before him, and so on, because this is how life works.)

    Through Materia, I found a software program that lets you write music using sampled sounds from old video game consoles – the original Nintendo, Sega Genesis, etc. A month or two later, a grad school friend needed retro video game-style music for a film he was working on. I was able to contribute, using the tools I picked up in this other sphere of my life.

    Last year, my friend Sirenstar sang in Houston for a show with noted game composer Akira Yamaoka. This year, when the same concert series was looking for a saxophonist to accompany composer Darren Korb, she threw my name out and got me the gig. I got to spend a delightful day watching a fantastic composer practice harmonies with one of his most trusted collaborators, before accompanying them onstage. It was an absolute delight.

    With each successive friendship, with each new opportunity, I am acutely aware of the way that each relationship shaped the prior one. Without people encouraging me to escape Boston, none of this would have happened. Without Mae, I wouldn’t have met Lauren, and in turn Sirenstar, and never would have played the Darren Korb show. I keep these things with me because each moment is filled with their spirit. Every opportunity is a chance to honor those connections more deeply with my actions.

    Some of the connections have surprised me. In Chicago, a school friend and a video game music composer friend have known each other since grad school days. In Toronto, a friend leads a big-band swing group that covers Nintendo music. She knows another one of my grad school buddies.

    I try to continue the cycle. A game composer asks if anyone plays any Indian or Middle Eastern string instruments other than sitar. I hook him up with an oud player that I met in grad school. I don’t know how that worked out, but I at least made the connection, because so many people have made connections for me. Another Materia member is a game music journalist, and mentions wanting to interview the composer behind the songs the street musicians sing in the Dishonored series. Well, that’s my buddy Ravi. I set them up on Facebook and before I know it, the interview is out.

    One Materia album honors a game wherein you have three days to stop the moon from crashing into the Earth. The game’s atmosphere dabbles more than a bit in existential terror and omnipresent despair. One of my grad school friends wrote his thesis on the game’s themes. Not the musical themes, mind. The music was original. He was mining the emotional themes. He wrote a multi-movement suite where the music spanned fixed media, an early music ensemble, choir, and more, all exploring the internal turmoil of one of the game’s tertiary characters. I had to bring him onto the tribute album. He’s now a beloved member of the community, and he’s having the time of his life there.

    The point of all this meandering is that it all comes down to the relationships we forge. I don’t say that in a disingenuous way. I’m not out to “get” anything from anybody. It’s simply that I *am* nothing without the people around me. That was true when I was in high school. It was true when I was at the psych hospital. And it’s true now. We are the links in the chains that tether us to a life worth living. The world is enormous and terrifying. Any sense that we can wrench from our unfeeling universe is going to be a group effort.

    Be kind. Help each other up. Don’t close the door behind you. Say yes to everything. Nurture. Be brave enough to walk in empathy. And for the love of everything you hold holy, tell your friends you love them.

    1

    See the full article here.


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    At NEWMUSICUSA, we see ourselves first and foremost as advocates. Our mission is to support and promote new music created in the United States. We do that in many ways, fostering connections, deepening knowledge, encouraging appreciation, and providing financial support. In recognition of the possibility and power inherent in the virtual world, we’ve worked to build a strong internet platform to serve our constituency. And that constituency is broad and diverse, from composers and performers to presenters and producers, casual listeners to die-hard fans. We’re truly committed to serving the WHOLE new music community.

    As we go about our work, we make a point of not defining too precisely what we mean by new music. To define is to limit. It’s a spectacular time for musical creativity in part because so much music is being made that isn’t bound by conventional limitations of style or genre or background. The music that we hear being created in such abundance all around us is definition enough. We simply want it to flourish.

    We’re fortunate to have as our legacy the history of previous decades of good works done by the American Music Center and Meet The Composer, the two great organizations that merged to form us in 2011. Their legacies have also brought a small financial endowment that mostly helps support our grantmaking. But we’re not a foundation. We depend decisively each year on the generosity of so many institutions and individuals around the country who are dedicated as we are to the advancement of new music and are devoted to supporting our work.

    New Music USA is part of an international community of advocates for the arts. We’re members of the Performing Arts Alliance, the International Association of Music Information Centres, and the International Society for Contemporary Music. Those partnerships help us represent the interests of our constituents at every level.

    John Schaefer


    For new music by living composers

    newsounds.org from New York Public Radio


    https://www.wnyc.org/
    93.9FM
    https://www.wqxr.org/
    105.9FM
    http://www.thegreenespace.org/

    For great Jazz

    88.3FM http://wbgo.org/

    WPRB 103.3FM


    Please visit The Jazz Loft Project based on the work of Sam Stephenson
    Please visit The Jazz Loft Radio project from New York Public Radio

     
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