A string quartet and a solo cello breathe on Now Is the Time, Saturday, November 8th at 9 pm at wrti.org and WRTI-HD2. Michael Hersch wrote the Sonata No. 1 for Unaccompanied Cello when he was all of 23 years old, and already, his dark, simple lines reached through the air to brilliance. The inner virtuosity of emotional movement looms over this music.
Simplicity and small steps also mesmerize within the writing of Lois V Vierk. Into the Brightening Air, inspired by Yeats and dedicated to composer/pianist Mel Powell, takes a quartet of strings on an unexpected journey past familiar landscapes. The windows are down and the wind in our face both soothes and surprises.
We remember the living and the dying on Now Is the Time, Saturday, April 26th at 9 pm at wrti.org and WRTI-HD2. The music of Michael Hersch is always strong, always dark, and always provocative, but its true power lies in its vibrancy, always reaching out to us. Images from a Closed Ward refers to drawings by Michael Mazur of psychiatric patients. The lithographs and the music are tough but compelling; the sadness is deep, but the humanity, sublime. The Blair String Quartet plays this riveting 13-movement work.
A separate string orchestra piece that is also part of her second symphony, Ghosts of Judith Lang Zaimont salutes the composers Scriabin, Britten, Ravel, Berg, Christopher Rouse, and Laurie Anderson. But—and this is important—it is by no means a pastiche of other styles. Ghosts is a thoroughly integrated work of imagination and depth.
Philadelphia has produced its share of opera singers. But what about operas themselves? Conservatives might say we have quite enough of them already. Nonetheless, there are currently six operas in the making in our region - one, each, by Jennifer Higdon, Missy Mazzoli, and Melissa Dunphy, and two from Andrea Clearfield. But the Philadelphia Inquirer's David Patrick Stearns tracked down the one who crossed the finish line first - Havertown-based Michael Hersch - only to ask, is this really opera?
Michael Hersch's opera, On the Threshold of Winter, premieres next summer in New York by the Nunc new music ensemble.
Susan Lewis considers the art of Jun Kaneko, whose costumes and sets are featured in Madama Butterfly, the Opera Company of Philadelphia's latest production. Kaneko's sculptures are on view in four different venues around the city.
David Patrick Stearns speaks with Michael Hersch. The Philadelphia-based composer has a world-premiere performance of an evening-length work for French horn and cello coming up, and a CD of his cello sonatas being released soon.