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  • richardmitnick 1:29 PM on November 17, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , NYT, Review: 10 Glimpses of Twyla Tharp the Minimalist   

    From The New York Times: “Review: 10 Glimpses of Twyla Tharp the Minimalist” 

    New York Times

    From The New York Times

    1
    Matthew Dibble, center, with other members of Twyla Tharp Dance in “Eight Jelly Rolls” at the Joyce Theater. Credit Andrea Mohin/The New York Times

    Nov. 15, 2018
    Alastair Macaulay

    Twyla Tharp by Ruven Afanador-Courtesy of Ellen Jacobs Associates

    The choreographer Twyla Tharp has been a classicist, a modernist, a postmodernist — often at the same time — and maybe now and then a feminist and a Romantic, too. She also has a strong streak of the clown: tough, solemn-deadpan, with crazy timing, making a joke of how impossible things can be.

    Now, in “Minimalism and Me,” a production that began life last year in Chicago, and which is currently at the Joyce for four weeks — with six Tharp dancers, some old films and photographs, and 10 other people playing onstage audience members — Tharp reminds us that she was once a minimalist. It’s evident that this was just an early phase: Minimalism wasn’t big enough to contain a temperament with her streaks of rococo excess and genre crossover, but she wryly tells us that her work from then on had to do with “less is more,” as she takes us through 10 works she made from 1965 to ’71.

    Increasingly since the 1980s, Ms. Tharp has become a memoirist, too — in writing, on TV (using film of her earlier work) and in live performance. Reading from a lectern onstage, she narrates the first half of this show, a retrospective of her first seven years of making dances. In her earliest work, “Tank Dive” (1965), she stayed in motionless dance positions for whole minutes while Petula Clark’s “Downtown” played; she now connects this to the painters Barnett Newman and Frank Stella, whose studios were close to the loft where she lived at the time, on Franklin Street in New York.

    2
    Martha Graham, center, with clockwise from left: Merce Cunningham, Erick Hawkins, Paul Taylor, Yvonne Rainer, Don Redlich, José Limón and Twyla Tharp. Credit Jack Mitchell/Getty Images

    Minimalism is her starting point; “Me” (or at least her work) is her main fascination. Yet she is our most obvious problem here: Her way of talking mixes seriousness and comedy in an awkward amalgam and in vocal tones that lack any spontaneity. Both her vocal delivery and her dances get laughs at some unlikely moments, while some of her funniest lines elicit no reaction. And, though she’s keen to demonstrate the creative sophistication she quickly built up in the 1960s, she seems to be rewatching her early work impatiently, with the fast-forward button. The excerpts are fascinating but, until we reach 1970, too brief.

    By 1968, she was famous enough to be included in what has become an often-reproduced Jack Mitchell photograph of eight modern-dance artists of several generations: Martha Graham at its center, and featuring José Limón, Erick Hawkins, Merce Cunningham, Paul Taylor, Don Redlich, Yvonne Rainer and the youngest, Ms. Tharp. In excerpts from the late-1960s — there are snippets of original-cast film, too — you see the emergence of Tharpian style. This included the shrug, the shimmy, the wriggle. When I first experienced her work, in 1980, it was the most kinesthetically intoxicating dance style I’d ever experienced.

    It is not Ms. Tharp’s task to make connections between herself and other choreographers of her time, but that photograph is not the only reason many of us will do so. Taylor’s 1950s experimental pieces, not least “3 Epitaphs” (1956), seem to have been an influence, and when we see the different solos coinciding in one space, we’re likely to think of Cunningham. These early works, and that Tharpian style itself, all have a pronounced kinship to Ms. Rainer’s development of “democratic dance” (non-virtuoso movement related to the everyday).

    We see only half of the 20-minute work “The Fugue” (1970) at the Joyce, but that’s enough to show why she considers it her real Opus 1. (It’s the earliest work she has regularly revived.) An arrangement of 20th-century tap-related movement sequences in baroque-type musical structures — less a single fugue than a series of mini-fugues, with no music than the sound made by the dancers’ hands and shoes — it made her the formal classicist of her generation. But its blend of seeming informality and objectivity has always looked related to other dances from her generation, like Ms. Rainer’s “Trio A” (1966) and Trisha Brown’s “Opal Loop” (1980).

    3
    Twyla Tharp, being lifted at left, and Kara Chan, right, with members of Twyla Tharp Dance at the Joyce Theater. Credit Andrea Mohin/The New York Times

    Its first cast was made up of three women. (Viewers saw it as women’s liberation onstage.) B y the time I first saw it in 1980, it had three men, but other combinations have been used. On Wednesday, it was danced by Kara Chan, Kellie Drobnick and Reed Tankersley — elegantly, exactly, charmingly. I find these dancers somewhat slick when I compare them to the Tharp stylists I watched in the 1980s, but that’s not a new complaint: Today’s Tharp dancers, almost too accomplished in lines and rhythms, lack the juicy, weighty texture that emanated from their predecessors’ whole body language.

    That’s true also of the one full piece shown here, “Eight Jelly Rolls” (1971), the first piece she made to fit its musical accompaniment (old jazz recordings by Jelly Roll Morton and Charles Luke), and one of her greatest comedies. Since Ms. Tharp has staged this with the assistance of Sara Rudner, the greatest of Ms. Tharp’s collaborators — I was lucky to see them both in this work and others — trouble has certainly been taken.

    Here, too, men now have some of the originally female roles. There are marvelously right moments, as when Ron Todorowski suddenly suspends a gesture of both arms in midair; Ms. Tharp’s drastic contrasts of dynamics are often brilliant. This “Eight Jelly Rolls” — its dancers dressed in white, replacing the previous black — is alive, if lightweight. I’m glad today’s audience can see it.

    It’s immediately followed by a new encore that Ms. Tharp has added: a Jelly Roll sequel of sorts in which she dances, too, in her consciously eccentric way. The main joke is that she’s chasing to keep up. I’d like to join in the applause for this flimsy footnote: She’s in good shape, and it ought to be fun to see her back in clown mode. Perhaps the comedy will click into focus as the Joyce run continues.

    Twyla Tharp Dance
    Through Dec. 9 at the Joyce Theater, Manhattan; 212-242-0800, http://www.joyce.org.

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    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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  • richardmitnick 4:10 PM on November 12, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , NYT, Twyla Tharp the Maximal Minimalist and Her ‘Eight Jelly Rolls’   

    From The New York Times: “Looking Back at Her Avant-Garde” 

    New York Times

    From The New York Times

    Twyla Tharp, the Maximal Minimalist, and Her ‘Eight Jelly Rolls’

    1
    Twyla Tharp, center, rehearsing Eight Jelly Rolls with her company, from left: Kara Chan, Ron Todorowski (back to camera), Mary Beth Hansohn and Reed Tankersley. “One of the things that people found interesting,” Ms. Tharp said of the work’s creation, “is that we were actually having fun, and it was still called dance.”
    Credit Lauren Lancaster for The New York Times

    It took Twyla Tharp six years to get one of her dances on a proscenium stage, and what a dance it was: Eight Jelly Rolls, set to early jazz music by Jelly Roll Morton. The year was 1971; the stage was the Delacorte Theater at Central Park.

    2
    Jelly Roll Morton. Public domain

    How did Ms. Tharp go from “Tank Dive” (1965), her first work ever, in which she spun a yo-yo and held a relevé to the Petula Clark recording of “Downtown,” to the exuberant “Eight Jelly Rolls”? The period in between was a time of remarkable invention. With Ms. Tharp at the helm, a close-knit group of female dance artists worked tirelessly, frequently in a farmhouse attic in upstate New York in the dead of winter.

    “We danced in gymnasiums,” Ms. Tharp said of herself and her striking band of dancers, which included Sara Rudner and Rose Marie Wright. “We danced in malls, we danced in parks, we danced in museums. We danced wherever we could dance.”

    When the opportunity did come for Ms. Tharp to create a work for a stage, she was ready to make Eight Jelly Rolls, a dance for six in eight sections. Her adventure, she said, was to define — or redefine — “What is dance?” “And because I wasn’t forced into a stage with wings and curtains and 30-minute pieces, I had to make up all of the definitions. We were completely independent. I learned how to do it.”

    Although many may think of Ms. Tharp, 77, in relation to her work for Broadway and ballet, she started as an experimentalist who pushed boundaries at every turn. In “Minimalism and Me,” at the Joyce Theater for four weeks, beginning on Wednesday, Nov. 14, Ms. Tharp has put together a two-part program paying homage to those early years.

    The first half, more a lecture than a performance — she thinks of it, she said, as an “illustrated monologue” — will feature excerpts from her earliest works; the second half is the reconstruction of “Eight Jelly Rolls,” for which Ms. Tharp has, for the first time, inserted men into two of the three leading parts, originally danced by Ms. Rudner and herself.

    3
    Clowning around: Ms. Tharp rehearsing with Mr. Todorowski. “I like shtick,” Ms. Tharp said. “And I can do falls. We were very physical, so it was, ‘Let’s do some physical clowning.’”Credit Lauren Lancaster for The New York Times

    “Could I cast it with all women?” she asked about that decision. “Yes. Does that make it more ‘authentic’? I’m not sure about that.”

    “We were perhaps not given all of the opportunities one might have liked, being women,” she continued, “but we now have the authority to recast this. We can be inclusive, whereas before we were exclusive.”

    Her present company is small but mighty; for Eight Jelly Rolls, which was reconstructed by Ms. Tharp and Ms. Rudner, there are two casts. Reed Tankersley and Ron Todorowski will alternate in Ms. Rudner’s role, while Kara Chan and Matthew Dibble take on Ms. Tharp’s part; Kellie Drobnick and Mary Beth Hansohn will share the role originated by Rose Marie Wright.

    Eight Jelly Rolls engages both Ms. Tharp’s technical and comedic sides, with movement so silken and perfectly timed that it seems to roll off the body. (One particularly slippery solo, originally for Ms. Tharp, is nicknamed “The Drunk.”)

    “It looks very free and fun,” Mr. Todorowski said, but “it’s very structured, very specific and detailed.” The challenge, he added, is trying to find the balance that the original dancers found “and really listening to each other, because these women knew each other so well.”

    The seeds of Eight Jelly Rolls were planted at Oberlin College, where a pregnant Ms. Tharp created “The History of Up and Down I & II” for her company and a group of students; the first part included music by Morton.

    4
    Sara Rudner dancing in Eight Jelly Rolls in 1974. “If I took a step,” she said of the process of making the solo with Ms. Tharp, “she added a dip and then a little turn. Between the two of us, we were combining a sequence of activity that became the basis for the solo.” Credit Tony Russell.

    “Twyla worked differently with each one of us, and she asked us all to make 15 positions,” Ms. Rudner said of that time. “When I was in the studio with her, she looked at them and then made the transitions. If I took a step, she added a dip and then a little turn. Between the two of us, we were combining a sequence of activity that became the basis for the solo.”

    In the solo, the third Jelly Roll, that material adds up to only about 30 seconds; to fill out the music, the dancer takes the base phrase and rearranges the movements in real time. Because of that, the solo is never performed the same way twice.

    Mr. Todorowski doesn’t use the word “improvisation” to describe this process. But, he said: “The units are so ingrained in you that they’re just coming out based on what the music is telling you to do. You’re meant to be executing it as if you’re dancing by yourself in your room. There’s no audience. You’re meant to just get lost.”

    The oppositional forces of order and chaos have always been important for Ms. Tharp, and in Eight Jelly Rolls, she illustrates them with its two groups of dancers: three leads and three others who make up the chorus. Because there are two casts during the run, the dancers will get to experience both sides of the piece’s exacting framework.

    “To see such a complete flip in the cast is interesting both in terms of seeing the dance, but also in terms of seeing dancers,” Ms. Tharp said. “Those who were front become the back, and the back is fun, too.”

    The other flavor in Eight Jelly Rolls is its humor. “I like shtick,” Ms. Tharp said. “And I can do falls. We were very physical, so it was, ‘Let’s do some physical clowning.’”

    5
    Mr. Todorowski and Ms. Tharp: “It looks very free and fun,” Mr. Todorowski said, but “it’s very structured, very specific and detailed.”Credit Lauren Lancaster for The New York Times

    If Eight Jelly Rolls was a feminist statement, as Ms. Tharp has called it, it’s because men dominated clowning at the time. “I was like, ‘Wait a minute — I can do this stuff,’” she said. “That’s where ‘The Drunk’ came from.”

    This summer, to prepare for Eight Jelly Rolls, the dancers learned the dance that Ms. Tharp made before it, Torelli, which gave them a foundation for the movement. Ms. Rudner referred to the process as “a Tharp boot camp.” Because the phrases in “Torelli” are altered during performance, that experience gave the dancers the chance to become comfortable with what Ms. Tharp referred to as “developing a wider channel” as performers.

    “You know it really well,” she continued, “but you can move in, out and around it.”

    Last year, Ms. Tharp reconstructed The Raggedy Dances, another early work; in the end, she said, there wasn’t enough time for the dancers to embed themselves in the movement. But this time, with the Torelli boot camp and because Ms. Tharp wasn’t working on a new dance, both Ms. Rudner and Ms. Tharp believe bringing back Eight Jelly Rolls is different. (Last year, Ms. Tharp was also creating a new work, set to music by Bob Dylan.)

    “The more you do this, the more you realize what’s involved,” Ms. Tharp said of putting up an old piece.

    Ms. Rudner said she also thought of dance “as creating dancers — and that the dancer learns from the challenges that are offered.”

    “And Twyla was into learning and challenging us,” she added. “That’s how all those dances were made.”

    Ms. Tharp insisted that she couldn’t bring back the past. “But I can bring back the essence of movement — where it came from, how it operated, what it was intended to do,” she said. “And in the case of ‘Eight Jelly Rolls,’ one of the biggest components is that we loved doing it. One of the things that people found interesting is that we were actually having fun, and it was still called dance.”

    She paused for effect. “I like to think that’s still a possibility.”

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    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 9:33 AM on November 11, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: “Becoming a Force While Trying to Avoid Disaster”, , , NYT   

    From National Sawdust and the New York Times: “Becoming a Force While Trying to Avoid Disaster” 

    From National Sawdust

    National Sawdust

    1
    A force in contemporary music, the composer Joan Tower turned 80 in September. Credit Lauren Lancaster for The New York Times

    At 80, Joan Tower Says Great Music Comes ‘in the Risks’

    Nov. 9, 2018
    William Robin

    When the composer Joan Tower went to Bennington College to study music, her teachers told her she needed to compose something.

    “So I wrote a piece,” she recalled recently, laughing, “and it was a disaster from beginning to end. I said, ‘I know I can do better than that.’ So I did that for the next 40 years, trying to create a piece that wasn’t a disaster.”

    Over the decades-long process of trying to avoid disaster — composition was, she said, “a very, very slow-moving juggernaut” — she became a force in contemporary music. She turned 80 in September, a birthday which will be celebrated on Sunday at National Sawdust in Brooklyn.

    In the tradition of Philip Glass @80 and John Corigliano @80 concerts, National Sawdust will celebrate Joan Tower in honor of her 80th Birthday. “One of the most successful women composers of all time” (The New Yorker) and one of the most important American composers alive today, Joan Tower has made lasting contributions to musical life for the past half century. With her iconic Silver Ladders, she was the first woman to win the prestigious Grawemeyer Award, and the recording of her Made In America won three different Grammy awards. In honor of her 80th birthday, National Sawdust is hosting an exclusive celebration, featuring an afternoon of music curated by Tower herself and featuring music written by Tower and friends Jennifer Higdon, Tania León, and Julia Wolfe.

    Program:
    Joan Tower – Wild Summer for string quartet (The Jasper Quartet)
    Jennifer Higdon – Piano Trio (The Lysander Trio)
    Tania Leon – Ethos for piano quintet (The Cassatt Quartet with Ursula Oppens, piano)
    Julia Wolfe – Cha for saxophone quartet (PRISM quartet)

    Performers:
    PRISM Quartet
    Jasper Quartet
    Lysander Trio
    Cassatt Quartet
    Ursula Oppens, piano

    When she was young, Ms. Tower composed austere, pointillist music in the then-dominant 12-tone style, but soon turned toward a propulsive and visceral language. A gifted pianist, she founded the Da Capo Chamber Players, a pioneering ensemble dedicated to new music. She served as the St. Louis Symphony’s composer in residence in the 1980s, cultivating a taut, crackling orchestral sound, and has taught at Bard College for decades.

    Her widest-reaching project, the 2004 symphonic poem Made in America, has been performed by more than 65 orchestras in all 50 states. And Ms. Tower has recently been commissioned by the New York Philharmonic for a new work to debut in a future season. She is, in short, of comparable stature to the major octogenarians of her generation, such as Steve Reich, Charles Wuorinen and John Corigliano.

    Unlike some of those major octogenarians, however, Ms. Tower is remarkably self-deprecating. In a recent phone conversation from her home in Red Hook, N.Y., she talked about why. Here are edited excerpts.

    How does it feel to reach the milestone of 80?

    Composing is not an easy activity. For others, it’s easier, but for me it’s a very challenging activity. But as life goes on, the rewards come in. The credentials, like winning certain prizes, are very nice, but the important rewards are that your music gets picked up and played a lot. That’s what makes your life in music, not necessarily where you went to school, who you studied with, or what awards you got.

    Could you talk about some of your influences?

    [Growing up in South America,] I developed a love for percussion. My babysitter used to take me to these festivals. She would drop me off at the bandstand, so she could go and have fun. The band people would throw me a maraca or some kind of castanet or drum. That was where I started to develop a love of percussion and also dance. My music is basically about rhythm. It’s all about timing for me.

    But I also was studying piano at the time. I got very involved with Chopin, Beethoven, all the dead white European composers, who I loved. Beethoven was a huge influence on me, in terms of rhythm, pacing, juggling architectural narrative. Then I married a jazz musician, and I heard all the jazz greats. We went to all the clubs. Thelonious Monk, Bill Evans — all of them I got to hear live. That influence was more harmonic: I learned juicier chord progressions.

    You did graduate studies at Columbia University during the heyday of 12-tone music, but shifted toward a more tonal idiom. What prompted the change?

    What changed all that was Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time. I had never heard anything like this. It was colorful, it was direct, it was very slow at points. Oh my God, there was so much in that music that I was just blown away by. It came out of the sky. And then George Crumb’s Voice of the Whale. I was like, “Whoa, this is so consonant, and so beautiful, and so colorful.” So I started to pull away from the 12-tone group, and I started to develop my own voice.

    2
    Ms. Tower in 1982, next to a poster announcing a performance of Sequoia by the New York Philharmonic. Credit G. Schirmer archives

    As you developed this new language, you also starting writing orchestral music, with Sequoia in 1981.

    The American Composers Orchestra was commissioning new works, and they asked me, and I said no, because I wasn’t ready. Francis Thorne, the lead energy behind that group, said, “You are ready, and I’m going to ask you again.” I wrote the piece kicking and screaming, and close to being tortured. [The conductor Leonard] Slatkin heard this piece and he loved it, and said, “I want you to be composer in residence with St. Louis.” I said, “No, I’m not ready for this. I only have one piece.”

    What was it that made you feel that you weren’t ready?

    I’ve always had a low opinion of myself. I think it’s a female thing, in a way. For women, in a field like composition, which has been male dominated for years and years and years, it’s a hard thing to walk into and feel that you are as empowered as your male colleagues are. That’s a very superficial answer to the question.

    But that’s how you felt?

    I did, and that continued for a long time. Until the last few years, actually.

    What changed?

    I got older [laughs]. And I got more confident, and more accepting of who I am, and what I can do.

    And you became more conscious of how women have been underrepresented in composition.

    The knowledge of this history started to build my confidence more and more, because I started to see what was going on. I started to see the rarity of women. All of the sudden, my eyes started opening to: “Are there any women on this recording? Are there any women on this panel?” I started to become more and more aware of the paucity of women in the infrastructure. I started taking stands and becoming an advocate.

    How has your style has changed in recent years?

    I’m not sure one has much control over that. My goal is to keep learning. There’s so much still to learn — the bass, the piccolo, I’m still working on, and the horn. Those are weak areas for me. I’m going to get there with those instruments at some point.

    What you try to do is write the best piece you can at whatever level of experience and voice that you are at. I know that if I take more risks, I’ll get there. It’s in the risks.

    See the full article here .


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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    National Sawdust is an unparalleled, artist-led, nonprofit venue, is a place for exploration and discovery. A place where emerging and established artists can share their music with serious music fans and casual listeners alike.

    In a city teeming with venues, National Sawdust is a singular space founded with an expansive vision: to provide composers and musicians across genres a home in which they can flourish, a setting where they are given unprecedented support and critical resources essential to create, and then share, their work.

    As a composer, I believe the role of an artist in the 21st century should be that of creator, educator, activist, and entrepreneur. I believe that 21st-century composers/artists need to be thinking about what impact they can have on their existing community, both locally and globally. At NS we believe in remaining flexible and true to the needs of artists. Our core mission is centered on the support of emerging artists, and on commissioning and supporting the seeds of ideas. Each year, we explore one large theme and construct programming and questions around that theme. This year, that theme is Origins. With this season, we are channeling the National Sawdust mission—empowering high-level artistry, regardless of training, genre, or fame—through multicultural artists who tell their stories through their music. Ultimately, Origins is a radical sharing of culture. We hope this cultural storytelling of the highest caliber will help bring our divided country closer together.

    We also believe the future of new art lives in education. To us, education is about giving young people and community members opportunities and tools to explore their potential for artistic and creative expression. But it is also about ensuring that artists themselves never stop learning – about their craft, about the work of their peers, about the business of the arts, about their own capacities to be educators and advocates. NS facilitates this kind of learning by bringing together artists from around the world in exciting composition- based projects, teaching opportunities, cultural exchanges, and hands-on management experience. Through this cultural synthesis artists leave lasting impressions on one another, become more versatile and resilient professionals, and create works that reflect a plural understanding of American society.

    –Paola Prestini, co-founder & Artist Director

    Space waiting

    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 3:39 PM on November 4, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Anthony Tommasini, NYT, The Case for Greatness in Classical Music   

    From The New York Times: “The Case for Greatness in Classical Music” 

    New York Times

    From The New York Times

    Nov. 2, 2018
    Anthony Tommasini

    1
    Mahler, Beethoven and Grieg: Which of them could be called a great composer? And does that even matter? Credit From left: The New York Times; Associated Press; Time Life Pictures/Getty Images

    As a child, I was essentially alone in my passion for music. No one in my extended family, as far as I knew, had sung in a chorus, played the guitar, anything. So the finished basement den of our house on Long Island was my private musical refuge, where I practiced the piano — a boxy old upright — and listened to classical records.

    I must have been about 13 when I first heard a recording of Bach’s Mass in B Minor. About a year earlier, I had begun studying with a new piano teacher, Gladys Gehrig, an awesome woman in her late 60s. A Bach devotee, Mrs. Gehrig had me learning several of his two-part inventions and my first prelude and fugue. One day she urged me to get to know Bach’s Mass, which she called the greatest masterpiece of all time. Her words made me eager to hear the piece, but also a little wary. It sounded intimidating. And the recording I found in a store — Herbert von Karajan’s weighty, full-orchestra version from 1952, on three LPs — certainly looked daunting.

    I don’t remember the exact moment I put on Side One, but I remember vividly how the chorus’s three opening pleas of Kyrie eleison, each more intense in its desperation for attention, affected me. Today, after decades of experience with the piece, I still find the beginning of the Kyrie overwhelming. Whenever I hear Bach’s Mass, or his other incomparable works, I usually come away thinking that, for his matchless combination of technical mastery, ingenious musical engineering, profound expressivity, and, when so moved, unabashed boldness, Bach was the greatest composer in history.

    Classical music has justifiably been criticized for its obsession with greatness, with certifying a repertory of canonical masterpieces that get played again and again. I, for one, go back and forth about how much this quality should matter, let alone how we should determine it.

    Take, for example, Beethoven’s Third Symphony, the Eroica. This music is colossal, yet also audacious and unpredictable. On the surface the symphony’s four movements seem to come from different realms: a brisk, purposeful Allegro with a searching development section that climaxes midway in a gnashing burst of dissonant chords; a grimly imposing Funeral March; a breathless Scherzo at once godly and giddy; a romping, mischievous Finale that is somehow the ultimate statement of the heroic in music.

    But the movements are linked, almost subliminally, by short musical motifs that run through almost every moment of this 50-minute score, lending it inexorable sweep and structural cohesion. Talk about greatness.

    And yet when I was a child, my first favorite composer was the Norwegian Edvard Grieg, who would not make many people’s top 10 lists. I had a recording I adored, Rubinstein Plays Grieg. The main work on the album, recorded in 1953, was Grieg’s Ballade for Piano (Op. 24), a 17-minute score in the form of variations on a bittersweet folk song. Some of the variations become quite tumultuous; the piece both hooked and baffled me.

    I especially loved the short works Rubinstein played, selections from Grieg’s 10 volumes of Lyric Pieces: sprightly dances, songs without words that evoked wistful folk tunes, character pieces with evocative titles like March of the Dwarfs and Little Bird. My favorite was Shepherd Boy, with its achingly sad melody, a series of descending lyrical phrases that actually seem to sigh.

    In the middle section, the melodic line goes through twists and generates agitation. The piece sounds not like the song of a shepherd boy, but like a musical depiction of his inner thoughts. At that young age, I couldn’t articulate what I was feeling about this short piece. In retrospect, I realize I must have wondered what made this Norwegian boy so sad. I could be a sad child, too, especially when, alone, I listened to recordings like this one and felt the music so deeply.

    The case for denying Grieg greatness is easy. He was certainly no Beethoven when it came to ambitious musical forms. At 20, urged by a mentor, he wrote a symphony but soon withdrew it and never completed another. He came under pressure to compose a stirring Norwegian national opera and tried to do it, but got no further than some choral scenes and sketches. He wrote the wonderful, if modest, Lyric Pieces, some chamber works, a few volumes of elegant songs. His incidental music for Ibsen’s play Peer Gynt were fashioned into two popular orchestra suites. And there is, of course, his justly beloved Piano Concerto.

    A great? No. Should that matter? Absolutely not.

    Yet I’ve come to accept that I and other lovers of music, like lovers of any art form, can’t help being swept up in the search for, and identification of, greatness. Your first time hearing some exhilarating or mystifying work by a composer of the past — Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony, Beethoven’s searching Fourth Piano Concerto, Wagner’s trance-inducing Tristan und Isolde, Stravinsky’s shattering Rite of Spring, take your pick — can be as formative a moment as anything in your life. These works, and the composers who wrote them, become living presences; it’s natural to acknowledge the place they hold for us, and to seek reassurance that the things we love are important to others, too.

    My most brazen venture into grappling with greatness came in 2011, with my Top 10 Composers project, a two-week series of articles I wrote for The New York Times. The goal was to determine a list of the top 10 composers in history. Of course, the whole project was an intellectual game, though one played seriously by me and the more than 1,500 readers whose comments were posted during the two weeks.

    Some of the most interesting reactions came from music-lovers who actually found the game harmful. Others, while dismissing the exercise as absurd, sent in their own top 10 lists, often with injunctions like “Don’t you dare leave out Mahler!” For me, the game was also a genuine exercise in trying to be precise about what makes a composer’s music great, about why a composer merits a place. The final list, as I emphasized, was not the point. The analysis involved in determining it was.

    As a ground rule I omitted living composers from consideration, arguing that we are just too close to these creators to have enough perspective. I think that one of the most rewarding things about taking in music by living composers, as with new work in any artistic field, is that questions of the greatness of a piece, and predictions of its longevity, are irrelevant. If an exciting new novel comes along, literary-minded people want to read it, talk about it, maybe argue over it. But the question of whether the novelist is another Dickens or Proust is absurd. The same goes for new plays, new films, new pop groups, new television dramas.

    In the end, I think of my job as bifurcated. I will always be unapologetically hooked by the reality that there is greatness in music. In my reviews and other stories, I try to explain, for example, why Schubert was absolutely great; why Debussy; why Wagner.

    And yet it is just as much my duty to take in the music of our own time, and to help address the inequalities of the classical canon, which was historically reserved for white men only. Some of these imbalances are finally being righted. These days, easily half the composition majors in colleges and conservatories are women. Since 2010, four of the nine winners of the Pulitzer Prize in Music have been women; last year’s prize went to the rapper Kendrick Lamar, for his album “DAMN.” Arbitrary divisions between classical contemporary music and myriad pop and jazz styles are falling away.

    Where the composers of today will place in the pantheon seems irrelevant right now. We are too close to say and too immersed in the exciting newness of their music to care.

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    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

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  • richardmitnick 3:01 PM on November 4, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Glenn Gould’s Bach Score Surfaces Scrawls and All, Goldberg Variations, NYT   

    From The New York Times: “Glenn Gould’s Bach Score Surfaces, Scrawls and All” 

    New York Times

    From The New York Times

    Nov. 2, 2018
    Michael Cooper

    1
    Glenn Gould’s heavily marked-up score for Bach’s “Goldberg” Variations, used in his 1981 recording, will be sold at auction. Credit Bonhams

    Pianist Glenn Gould Photo by Fred Plaut-Sony Music Entertainment

    Few classical recordings have aroused as much fascination as Glenn Gould’s 1981 take on Bach’s “Goldberg” Variations.

    Gould, whose first major-label recording was a classic 1955 account of the “Goldbergs,” rerecorded them more than 25 years later. He then died, at 50, just after the release — leaving the two Bach statements as bookends to his career.

    Now the score he used while making the 1981 recording has resurfaced, offering clues about the creative process of one of the most original pianists of the 20th century. The heavily marked-up score — which will be offered at auction on Dec. 5 at Bonhams in New York — shows the nearly obsessive attention to detail Gould was famous for, especially after he stopped giving live performances in order to focus entirely on making recordings.

    “I would call this the equivalent of a shooting script of a movie,” said the critic Tim Page, a professor of music and journalism at the University of Southern California and the editor of The Glenn Gould Reader. “He keeps track of which takes he likes, and how long they are.”

    Gould’s jottings, mostly in black felt-tip pen, are not always legible. They mostly appear to be notes he made to himself as he assembled takes of the recording. He calls for a “wee shade less” in one section, regularly marks the timings of various takes, and seems to refer to a film he was shooting at the time of himself playing the “Goldbergs.” There are few obvious interpretive notes, but he does circle the rests in one variation, as if for emphasis.

    2
    Gould’s score for the ninth and 10th variations. Credit Bonhams

    Mr. Page, who discussed the differences between the 1955 and the 1981 recordings in an interview with Gould that is included in the boxed set Glenn Gould: A State of Wonder, said that after examining the score earlier this year, he had no doubts as to its authenticity. (The seller has asked to remain anonymous.)

    Nicholas Hopkins, whose painstaking transcription of Gould’s 1981 recording was published in 2015, said that he had believed that Gould only used Ralph Kirkpatrick’s edition of the “Goldberg” score, because there were three copies of it in Gould’s archive in Canada. So when he was told that another score had surfaced — and that it was a different edition, published by C.F. Peters — he was surprised.

    “That’s fascinating,” he said in an interview. “I’m anxious to see it.”

    Mr. Page said that he had asked Bonhams to make a high-quality copy of the newly rediscovered score, which the auction house estimates could sell for $100,000 to $150,000, to offer to the National Arts Center in Ottawa. There, he said, “it will be available to scholars, and anyone who wants to see it.”

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    John Schaefer


    For new music by living composers

    newsounds.org from New York Public Radio


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

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  • richardmitnick 2:37 PM on November 4, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "For/With", , , , NYT, Wadada Leo Smith   

    From The New York Times: “Review: New Works Designed With a Daring Trumpeter in Mind” 

    New York Times

    From The New York Times

    Nov. 2, 2018
    Seth Colter Walls

    1
    Nate Wooley, the trumpeter and composer who organized For/With at Issue Project Room, playing on Thursday.Credit Michelle V. Agins/The New York Times

    The composer and trumpeter Nate Wooley’s taste in experimental music is wide-ranging. He likes brash fields of finely textured noise, as well as contemplative pieces generously dotted with silence. He has played jazz. He has played classical. And he particularly relishes the zone where no one is sorting music into any categories at all.

    He’s also a devoted citizen of the artistic ecosystem, organizing a database of recorded American music, running a record label, editing an online journal about avant-garde sounds — and conceiving For/With, a mini-festival that had its second annual run at Issue Project Room in Brooklyn on Wednesday and Thursday.

    There’s consistency in Mr. Wooley’s commitments: The inaugural festival last year included works by Christian Wolff, Michael Pisaro, Ashley Fure and Annea Lockwood; this year, there were more pieces by Ms. Fure and Ms. Lockwood, designed with Mr. Wooley in mind. Anyone who attended the New York Philharmonic’s opening this season could have identified elements from Filament, which Jaap van Zweden conducted on that program, in A Library on Lightning at Issue Project Room.

    Mr. Wooley was a guest soloist in the Philharmonic’s Fure performances, along with the bassoonist Rebekah Heller and the bassist Brandon Lopez. That was the same trio for A Library on Lightning on Thursday. (Ms. Heller also performed Felipe Lara’s vivid Metafagote that evening, playing through its lead part over six prerecorded tracks.)

    2
    Wadada Leo Smith, left, and Mr. Wooley performing Mr. Smith’s Red Autumn Gold.Credit Michelle V. Agins/The New York Times

    A Library is no simple reduction of Filament, as the trio actually had its premiere first, in April this year. At Issue Project Room, without the orchestra or the whispery, roving chorus heard at David Geffen Hall, it was easier to appreciate some of Mr. Lopez’s delicate, near-the-bridge playing. The intimacy of the Brooklyn space didn’t sap any of Ms. Fure’s intensity, either: The final buzzing chords hit with extraordinary force.

    Ms. Lockwood’s music was heard on both evenings. Her 1998 piece Immersion was performed on Wednesday by the percussion duo of Frank Cassara and Dominic Donato. The work’s most compelling stretches were achieved by Ms. Lockwood’s use of a cylindrical container placed atop a marimba. One musician drew a mallet around the cylinder’s circumference, while the other gently thrummed the edges of the bars underneath, producing slight, dreamy dissonances.

    On Thursday, Ms. Lockwood’s recent piece Becoming Air was played by Mr. Wooley, using his extended technique on trumpet to create, as in Immersion, a mood of elegant energy. While using circular breathing to produce long tones on his instrument, he also manipulated a small microphone inside the bell, as well as an effect pedal at his feet. As the microphone moved farther inside the trumpet, the amplified overtones shifted incrementally, producing some dramatic howls of distortion. Ms. Lockwood also made full use of Mr. Wooley’s quieter strategies, like the mouthpiece-free blowings he sometimes uses, blasts of frenzy that remain soft. (The sound is suggestive of a sprinkler system that’s gained consciousness.)

    Mr. Wooley’s interpretive powers were brought into even clearer focus by Red Autumn Gold, a work written by the trumpet virtuoso (and 2013 Pulitzer Prize finalist) Wadada Leo Smith and played twice during For/With. Mr. Wooley’s solo rendition opened the festival on Wednesday. Using polyphonic extended techniques, he made multiple droning lines drift apart and then return to states of equilibrium. Pauses in the music brought shifts toward brief flurries of notes that sounded like descendants of bebop phrasing.

    At the end of the festival, Mr. Smith appeared with Mr. Wooley for another take on the piece, in which Mr. Wooley often ceded the foreground. (A startling opening note from Mr. Smith showed that his clarion ferocity is still in enviable shape.) Yet it was still very much a duet. Over a quarter-hour, a fine balance emerged between Mr. Smith’s brightly pealing sound and the mellower roughness of Mr. Wooley.

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    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

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    WPRB 103.3FM


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  • richardmitnick 2:09 PM on November 4, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Museum of Modern Art, NYT, Review: The Revelatory Early Works of Lucinda Childs at MoMA   

    From The New York Times: “Review: The Revelatory Early Works of Lucinda Childs at MoMA” 

    New York Times

    From The New York Times

    Oct. 31, 2018
    Alastair Macaulay

    1
    She is her own canoe: Shakirah Stewart in Lucinda Childs’s “Pastime” (1963).CreditCreditAndrea Mohin/The New York Times

    The most marvelous revelations of the Museum of Modern Art’s Judson Dance Theater: The Work Is Never Done have come in the shape of live performances of works from 1961 to 1978. But the pleasure has been double-edged; an era is ending.

    Trisha Brown, one of the choreographers honored in this series, died last year. And this week’s performances by Lucinda Childs Dance (running through Sunday) will be that company’s final appearances. The dancers may still perform Ms. Childs’s work, and she may still make new work for them or others, but this is the last hurrah for this ensemble. I’m sad — but glad that I found myself succumbing to her choreography as never before.

    2
    Lucinda Childs performing her solo “Particular Reel” (1973).CreditAndrea Mohin/The New York Times

    The audience sits on three sides of the square performing space in MoMA’s atrium. The geometries of Ms. Childs’s style would seem to encourage distance, but, to my surprise, proximity enhanced appreciation. Although she has become known for her collaborations with minimalist composers like Philip Glass and John Adams, six of the seven early works on this program are performed in silence: They are their own music.

    Philip Glass by Timothy Judd

    John Adams by Deborah O’Grady

    Ms. Childs became a member of the Judson Dance Theater in 1963. The dances presented here date from 1963 to 1978. (One was rearranged as a quartet in 2013.) The oldest work, “Pastime” (1963), which opens this program and is accompanied by a Philip Corner score, immediately shows her arresting and peculiar individuality. Three women are positioned across the stage in an unchanging diagonal: They might belong to three different species — or three different kinds of moving sculpture. Each stays rooted to her spot, dancing without traveling.

    One (Caitlin Scranton) stands upright, obdurate, rhythmically swinging a leg and even hopping while maintaining a handsome, often two-dimensional, upper-body tension. The second (Shakirah Stewart), her torso and outstretched legs encased in a jersey tube from which only her head emerges, stays seated: She looks like her own canoe. The third (Katie Dorn) spends the dance largely upended, balanced on one straight leg but with her torso plunged as if she were a flamingo. It’s an odd vision, but forceful. All three show striking technical rigor.

    Ms. Childs, 78 and in exceptional shape (erect, coolly composed), dances one solo, “Particular Reel” (1973), herself. Here, she crisscrosses the space, walking in a steady zigzag from one corner to another, embellishing each line of her path with slow turns, powerfully outstretched gestures and telling, momentary pauses. Her whole manner is austere: Touchingly tentative transitional moments are followed by others of complete authority as her eyes, hands and arms arrive perfectly in a completed forward gesture into the beyond.

    4
    From left, Lonnie Poupard Jr., Vincent McCloskey, Robert Mark Burke and Kyle Gerry, members of the Lucinda Childs Dance Company, in “Radial Courses.”CreditAndrea Mohin/The New York Times

    Spatial geometry is one of Ms. Childs’s enduring themes. Another is meter: You’re intensely aware of individual feet, as in verse, and of their rhythmic play in far larger units. The two coincide in her 1970s work to build a genre of startling and uncompromising minimalism. You see why she would become a like-minded choreographer — in scansion, structure and thought — for Mr. Glass. It’s seldom possible to discern the start or end of any phrase. Each dance’s current is nonstop (the pauses in her own “Particular Reel” are somewhat illusory, caesuras rather than halts), while its sense of process is constant.

    Each Childs composition establishes its own flight paths. The three men of “Reclining Rondo” (1975) don’t travel at all, or even stand: In one vertical line, they lie, sit, reposition themselves, in a steady rhythm. It’s fun to note how a position that looks fetal or sleeplike is followed by one of exertion or Sphinx-like fixity, but this “Rondo” is too schematic to feel like much more than a scientific experiment.

    The manner is entirely objective, but the steps take on their own affective qualities. Those turning leaps catch your breath; some of the rapid smaller walks touch on comedy.

    The program builds to the bafflingly intricate patterning and scansion of the light-footed dance quintet “Interior Drama” (1977). Five women, their insteps lively and their legs often straight, begin by advancing in a wedge shape, but the parallel vertical paths they take soon become interwoven with retreats, turns, arcs — and with metrical variations, too. Ms. Childs, known as a seminal figure of dance postmodernism, is here a child of the Renaissance.

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    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

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    Please visit The Jazz Loft Radio project from New York Public Radio

     
  • richardmitnick 11:30 AM on October 29, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: At 95, , Ned Rorem, Ned Rorem Is Done Composing. But He’s Not Done Living, NYT   

    From The New York Times: “At 95, Ned Rorem Is Done Composing. But He’s Not Done Living” 

    New York Times

    From The New York Times

    Oct. 23, 2018
    Joshua Barone

    1
    The composer Ned Rorem at his Upper West Side apartment, which is filled with art, including a drawing by Klimt, lower left, and portraits of him by Al Hirschfeld, upper left, and Dora Maar, lower right.CreditCredit2018 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris; Photograph by Vincent Tullo for The New York Times

    Ned Rorem – Paris Review

    “I know everything,” the composer Ned Rorem said on a recent afternoon, “but I remember nothing.”

    Mr. Rorem — elder statesman of American art song, prolific prose writer, pioneer of gay liberation — was exaggerating. Now 95 years old (as of Tuesday), he is more forgetful than he used to be. But he actually remembers quite a lot.

    Give him the right prompt, and he can dish at length on nearly every cultural luminary of the past century — he’s known almost all personally — and reminisce about Picasso’s Paris or the New York City of $25 rents. He’s a walking archive and anachronism.

    But his world is shrinking. Most of his friends have long since died, as has his partner, James Holmes. (“I wish everyone would stop dying,” he said.) And the music world will observe his birthday modestly: concerts in Queens and Manhattan in early November, presented by Random Access Music, and a celebration on Dec. 20 at the Bruno Walter Auditorium at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, organized by the pianist Carolyn Enger.

    There are no premieres on the horizon; Mr. Rorem is done with writing, both music and books. “I’ve kind of said everything I have to say, better than everybody else,” he said with the trademark swagger that runs through his famed diaries.

    Mr. Rorem’s twilight is passing quietly at his apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. With daily help from his niece Mary Marshall, he takes walks in Central Park, plays his music on the piano and does crossword puzzles. (With first and last names that lend themselves to crosswords, Mr. Rorem has appeared countless times as a clue in The New York Times’s puzzle. “It’s the only one I can get,” he joked.)

    2
    Vincent Tullo for The New York Times.

    His home is tidy but densely packed, with hundreds of books in every room. The walls are covered in art, including portraits of him by prominent artists like Jean Cocteau and Dora Maar. He has a Degas, and a drawing by Klimt. His Steinway piano is covered in stacks of his own scores; below are boxes of archival materials being prepared for the Library of Congress.

    There are visitors, mostly musicians relishing the opportunity to play a piece from the 1940s or ’50s and receive feedback from its composer. (Mr. Rorem had a long career as a teacher, with students including the Pulitzer Prize winner Jennifer Higdon.) The regulars know to arrive prepared: Ms. Enger, the pianist, had a package of Tate’s sugar cookies, and the clarinetist Thomas Piercy, a performer in the Random Access Music concerts, brought homemade chocolate chip cookies.

    “I don’t have any bad habits,” Mr. Rorem said. “I don’t smoke; I don’t swear. But I like cookies.”

    Mr. Rorem, who is warm in casual conversation, has no reservations about giving terse feedback. When Ms. Enger came by on a recent afternoon to play some of his piano works — many of them gifts for friends and family, with sentimental dedications — she stopped and asked, “Did I interpret it too much?”

    “You did,” Mr. Rorem replied. “Just play it.”

    And Mr. Piercy’s first run-in with the composer, in the late 1980s, was during a rehearsal with a pianist who had the instrument’s lid down; Mr. Rorem stormed in shouting, “No lid!”

    Mr. Rorem has always had strong opinions about music; rarely have they been fashionable. But his insistence on tonality and his idiosyncratic style — a little French and a lot American — have outlasted the preferences of the 20th-century musical academy. Like vinyl records and sleek Danish furniture, Mr. Rorem has been both popular and passé, and just might now be ripe for resurgence.

    You would be hard-pressed to find greatness in Mr. Rorem’s vast oeuvre. But he has never aimed to be a Beethoven. (Indeed, he doesn’t even like that master’s music.) Still, there are rediscoveries to be made: “Air Music” (1974) feels as fresh as when it won the Pulitzer. And the pyrotechnic Toccata from his First Piano Sonata belongs in the rotation of encores.

    Mr. Rorem’s most recent major achievement was his 2006 opera adaptation of Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town,” the spare score of which is an ideal musical analogue to the source material. And he still reigns in the world of art songs, having written hundreds. The mezzo-soprano Susan Graham, who has recorded an album of his songs, described them as “straightforward and instantly relatable.”

    “His music wraps itself around you,” she added. “He has the gift for letting poetry sing, and he knows the human voice — the warmth and the timbres, and how to bring them out in exactly the right place.”

    3
    Mr. Rorem’s opera “Our Town,” seen here at the Juilliard School in 2008.Credit Michelle Agins/The New York Times

    Beyond music, Mr. Rorem is an icon of gay history. His published diaries, which total thousands of pages, are like sketches for his own “In Search of Lost Time”: panoramic and personal, with a cast of recognizable characters. There are jottings about anxiety, artistry and the loud air conditioner of Itzhak Perlman, his neighbor and bête noire — but the books are also cris de coeur for sexual freedom.

    At a time when gay characters in pop culture were often tragic, Mr. Rorem depicted himself as triumphant: handsome, talented and entirely sure of himself. With a candor that prefigured Edmund White, he wrote openly and proudly about his gay friends who shaped American culture, like Leonard Bernstein, Edward Albee and Aaron Copland. In the diary collection “Lies,” he documented, in painfully raw and incremental detail, the decline of his partner from AIDS complications.

    “I just wrote about all that because so what?” Mr. Rorem said. “I didn’t understand why anybody, including my parents, was particularly impressed. But I guess nobody else was doing it.”

    His diaries are also a log of health anxieties and suicidal thoughts; he seemed, when he was younger, to think constantly about death. Not so much anymore: Mr. Rorem said that “most people are worse off than I am,” which is an understatement for a spry man in his mid-90s who has always looked far younger than his years and thinks that it would be “kind of cute” to reach 100.

    “I’m not planning to die, ever, because I can’t quite figure out what it means to die,” he said. “What’s the point in living if you’re going to die?”

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    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
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  • richardmitnick 10:48 AM on October 29, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , George Balanchine, New York City Center, NYT, When City Center Was Balanchine’s House   

    From The New York Times: “When City Center Was Balanchine’s House” 

    New York Times

    From The New York Times

    Oct. 25, 2018
    Marina Harss

    Jacques d’Amboise, Patricia Wilde, Allegra Kent and Edward Villella talk about the roles they danced at the theater, which is celebrating George Balanchine and its 75th anniversary as a palace of the arts.

    1
    George Balanchine, right, rehearsing with Jacques d’Amboise at City Center. CreditJohn Dominis/The LIFE Picture Collection, via Getty Images

    When Lincoln Kirstein and the choreographer George Balanchine were attempting to get a company off the ground in the 1930s and ’40s, they had little more than a pickup troupe, with meager seasons and slender prospects. That began to change in 1948, when the company, the newly named New York City Ballet, found an institution willing to take it in: New York City Center.

    2
    The PAR Group

    The studios had splintery floors. The orchestra pit was cramped. There was practically no backstage space — and the stage itself was small.

    “I could do a couple of jumps and be past center stage,” said Jacques d’Amboise. He danced with the company during its City Center years, as did Edward Villella, who lived a brownstone away from the theater. “They used to deliver huge blocks of ice,” Mr. Villella said, “and they would take it into the alley in the back, and that was the air-conditioning.”

    Since those early days, the building, a fanciful Moorish-style structure built as a meeting place for the Shriners, a Masonic group, has been updated many times, most recently in 2011. In 1943, it became a temple for the arts, converted for that purpose by the civic-minded mayor Fiorello La Guardia. Tickets were kept affordable. In the ’40s, a prime seat went for $2.40, roughly equivalent to $35 today.

    When New York City Ballet was invited to become a resident company, in 1948, Balanchine got to work, developing his dynamic, streamlined American style.

    As part of a season celebrating the 75th anniversary of the building’s rebirth as a palace of culture, City Center is hosting a ballet festival, “Balanchine: The City Center Years,” from Oct. 31 through Nov. 4. The works included — 13 in all — were either created or performed there during City Ballet’s first decade and a half, 1948-64.

    3
    George Balanchine-From New York City Center

    “What we’ve tried to do,” Arlene Shuler, City Center’s president and chief executive officer, said, “is represent the full range of what was performed here during Balanchine’s time.” Two of the ballets, “Symphony in C” and “Concerto Barocco,” were part of the company’s very first program at the hall. “Tarantella” was the last to premiere there, in 1964, before the company moved into a shiny and vastly more spacious new building at Lincoln Center.

    3
    The dancer Jacques d’Amboise. Vincent Tullo for The New York Times

    4
    Mr. d’Amboise in the title role of George Balanchine’s “Apollo” in 1962. “I want American boy!” Mr. d’Amboise said Balanchine told him. “He wanted me to be a wild, untamed youth, not just look pretty and make poses.”CreditJack Mitchell/Getty Images

    5
    Patricia Wilde in 1963. Ms. Wilde was often thrown into roles at the last minute: “Mr. B would always say, ‘Pat can do it!’”CreditJack Mitchell/Getty Images

    See the full article for the individual artist images and acccounts.

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    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 7:45 AM on October 28, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Watermill", BAM Fisher, , Jerome Robbins, NYT   

    From The New York Times: “A Robbins Rarity, ‘Watermill,’ Reimagined as a Chamber Piece” 

    New York Times

    From The New York Times

    1
    Joaquin De Luz as the protagonist of Watermill. 2018 Though the dancer either moves in slow motion or is still for long periods, the role has always been given to an experienced powerhouse dance hero.Credit Andrea Mohin/The New York Times

    Oct. 25, 2018
    Alastair Macaulay

    Jerome Robbins was so much a master of entertainment in ballet and on Broadway that many of his admirers were disappointed when he showed a need to experiment. Especially in the years 1969 to 1972, as he recommitted himself to ballet after 25 years of Broadway success, he made new efforts at seriousness and extended structures. For some, this showed a new maturity that made him seem, during a shining era for dance, the most marvelous choreographer of the moment. Others found this later Robbins to be grandiose and pretentious.

    In “Watermill” (1972), he made a prolonged essay in Asian-related dance drama that’s surely the least dancey piece of his long career.

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    Nikolaj Hübbe in Jerome Robbins’s Watermill at the New York State Theater 1972. Credit Erin Baiano/Paul Kolnik Studio

    Its premiere was greeted by boos and cheers alike. Some have always found it soporific, but it’s a piece that merits reconsideration, influenced by both Japanese Noh drama and the theatrical productions of Robert Wilson. Teiji Ito’s sparse music employs Asian instruments; the décor features three vast sheaves of rushes or hemp. The work was made for New York City Ballet, which revived it every so often until 2008. Teiji Ito’s sparse music employs Asian instruments; the décor features three vast sheaves of rushes or hemp. Now, impressively and touchingly, it’s been reimagined as a chamber piece by the choreographer Luca Veggetti. Whereas it used to project into the breadth and depth of the New York State Theater (today’s David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center), this week it plays to an audience seated on three sides of the stage at BAM Fisher, with no one more than a few rows away. Instead of City Ballet dancers, here it’s performed by students from the Conservatory of Dance at Purchase College, SUNY. On the backdrop, a single large crescent moon is stationary, whereas in City Ballet’s production it changed and traveled. The small Japanese paper lanterns, tiny beside the vast sheaves, that dancers used to hold are now glass-like bulbs illuminated by electricity.

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    Quaba Ernest and Aleksandra Gologorskaya from the Conservatory of Dance at Purchase College in Robbins’s “Watermill.” 2018 Credit Andrea Mohin/The New York Times.

    Though these aspects have been lost or altered, I nonetheless like the intimacy of this reconceived version. You can even say that it rescues Watermill, which in its 2008 revival made no great impression, by reconfiguring it at closer quarters.

    “Watermill” is a memory ballet. The role of the protagonist — who either moves in slow motion or is still for long periods — has always been given to an experienced powerhouse dance hero: Edward Villella in the original production, Nikolaj Hübbe earlier this century and now Joaquin De Luz (less than two weeks after his retirement from City Ballet). Photographs of Mr. Villella still show how mightily he projected in a vast theater.

    Mr. De Luz’s stillnesses are often poignant. As he sits or lies at the side of the stage, the others dancing at the center seem to be people he’s recalling, in numbed pain, at his life’s end. His mouth, face and stance take on a gaunt quality. We’re distanced from him even while he remains a focal point. And when he strenuously waves two vast rushes in the space above him, he seems to be wrestling with his own thoughts.

    Although “Watermill” has none of the humor of Samuel Beckett, it has the layerings of Beckett’s “Krapp’s Last Tape”: At least two other male dancers seem to be versions of the protagonist’s younger self. One of these conducts an intensely erotic pas de deux with a woman not only slowly but with freeze-frame emphasis: This registers as the hero’s coolly dreamlike recollection (very “Krapp”) of an encounter that was once supremely important.

    There’s enough here to demonstrate Robbins’s mastery — we’re shown different kinds of time, various layers of space, in a drama like little else in ballet. Although I still don’t think it’s one of Robbins’s great works, it’s good to see it again: It exemplifies his admirable willingness to go where he had not gone. There are other Robbins pieces — notably “Mother Goose Suite” (1975) and “Ives, Songs” (1988) — that I hope do not fall into neglect. They should still show fresh aspects of his skill that extend our idea of dance theater.

    See the full article here .

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