Unusual ensembles blend their voices on Now Is the Time, Sunday, August 4th at 10 pm. W.A. Mathieu vaulted into stardom among jazz cognoscenti when, at 22, he wrote all the arrangements for the 1959 Stan Kenton album Standards in Silhouette. He went on to help found Chicago's Second City improv troupe, and writes music and books melding Western and Eastern traditions.
For All sets Gary Snyder's original Buddhist- and Native American-tinged poetry, as well as a translation of Chinese poet Han Shan. The early-music Galax Quartet, combining gut-stringed violins, cello, and viola da gamba, accompanies contralto Karen Clark.
Ezra Laderman writes for an orchestra of cellos in Parisot, named for the director of the Yale Cellos, Aldo Parisot. Laderman further subtitles the five movements for cellists Gregor Piatigorsky, Pablo Casals, Emanuel Feuermann, János Starker (who died in April 2013), and Parisot. A cello ensemble produces one of the most beautiful out-of-the-box sounds in music, and Laderman varies the texture and motion exquisitely.
Out of machinery, music on Now Is the Time, Sunday, July 28th at 10 pm. Dan Trueman combines hi- and lo-tech into gear that audibly shines in neither Anvil nor Pulley. He founded and directs the Princeton Laptop Orchestra, but fell in love with the Norwegian Hardanger fiddle (pictured). That sound, and its rustic, dust-raising energy infuses this work. nAnP features that fiddle, Trueman's computing expertise, a turntable, and his brilliant collaborators So Percussion.
A computer is a tool "that hides its purpose," Trueman says, but a piano is a machine we think we know well. One of the more difficult tasks in composing is to write a work for two pianos that make both pianos sound necessary. Riffing in Tandem succeeds by joining the lyricism of Rodney Rogers with virtuosity that is always musical. How can music come from machines, even machines we know well?
The big news this week was the birth of Prince George Alexander Louis, the new Duke of Cambridge. Plenty of sleepless nights certainly await the Royal parents; so this new collection of lullabies may be just what the royal doctor ordered.
David Cohen speaks with Jill Pasternak on Crossover, July 20, 2013
This week we feature a musician who has gone well beyond his role as an entertainer to become an active member of humanitarian causes he believes in. In an effort to fight hunger, David Cohen co-founded the Ocean Grove Music Arts Festival from which all proceeds go directly to the Food Bank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties in New Jersey.
He also initiated the website PhiladelphiaClassicalMusic.com to promote classical music in the area, and established PhiladelphiaGuitarNews.com with the same goal in targeting guitar players in Philadelphia.
His newest album David Cohen: Guitar pays homage to his late wife, Tatyana, who recently lost her battle against ovarian cancer. The CD is an intimate celebration of love and life and the brave battle she and so many other women have fought. A portion of the proceeds of the album will support the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, where David assists in the development and implementation of patient and family- centered care philosophy and practices. Saturday, July 20, 11:30 am to 12 noon.
Heat isn't all there is to summer on Now Is the Time, Sunday, July 21st at 10 pm. Gao Hong not only composed Guangxi Impressions, but also plays the pipa, or Chinese lute, on her work, along with the Minneapolis Guitar Quartet. It includes Summer Cicada and Celebrating the Harvest. Ronald Perera follows with Five Summer Songs of Emily Dickinson, looking at changing gardens, jostling winds, and reveries.
Two composer/guitarists round out the program. Van Stiefel always wondered why there weren't more violin/guitar duos in the literature, so he wrote one, Smoke and Mirrors, using violin with electric guitar. John King's Lightning Slide imagines blues for the string quartet Ethel. Its movements are Swing, Sweet, and Sweat: if heat isn't all there is to summer, sometimes it just seems that way.
from The $100 Guitar Project. Joe Berger: D & B Eurotunnel
Two guys buy a cheap guitar and get all their friends to write for it on Now Is the Time, Sunday, July 14th at 10 pm. Nick Didkovsky and Chuck O'Meara set some ground rules: keep the guitar for a week, don't alter it, and pay to send it to the next person. Other than that, just have fun. Out of two CDs' worth of short pieces on the album they call The $100 Guitar Project, we'll hear a dozen, ranging from metal to metaphysical, from downtown to out there.
Keeping to the guitar motif is George Crumb's paean to the dogs in his family over the years, Mundus Canis for solo guitar and percussion. There's also lots of guitar and percussion in a live excerpt from Annie Gosfield's written-and-improvised Daughters of the Industrial Revolution. David Leisner's trio for flute, guitar, and cello sounded vaguely Italian to him, so he gave it an Italian title, Trittico. Finally, Steve Bowman assembles his keyboard/computer electronica from live performances; Gutterball sounds all the world like electric guitar to us; other than that, it's just fun.
We reflect on the Battle of Gettysburg’s 150th Anniversary on Now Is the Time, Sunday, July 7th at 10 pm. Warren Swenson sets the Civil War poetry of Moby-Dick author Herman Melville in Battle Pieces. Infused with the musical accents of the time and with riveting word pictures, Battle Pieces honors, in Lincoln’s undying phrase, “the last full measure of devotion” given at Gettysburg.
Dedications of other sorts round out the program. In the short brass piece Numbering the Stars, Rodney Rogers quotes the 19th-century hymn “Wondrous Love.” Sarah Meneely Kyder sets a poem of her sister’s, using text from their father in World War II, in Letter from Italy, 1944. With Zoë Cansdale of Hartburn, Dick Hensold remembers the life of a young woman taken too soon, in music for pipes that is both poignant and uplifting.
Jill Pasternak speaks with Joyce DiDonato on Crossover, November 2012
Mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, the brightest new light on the operatic horizon, graces us with her new release, Drama Queens, on the Virgin classics label. Her interpretation of works by Baroque composers such as Orlandini, Handel, and Monteverdi knocks your socks off. And in a blazing red silk gown, she breathes life into her ancient "heroines" - jealousy, tenderness, and passion - unchanging in the scheme of life. Saturday, July 6, 11:30 am to 12:30 pm on Crossover with host Jill Pasternak.
from Matthew H. Fields: Simchas, from Sages of Chelm
Stories of suffering and joy define our culture on Now Is the Time, Sunday, June 30th at 10 pm. Elena Ruehr’s Averno sets the poetry of Pulitzer-winning Louise Glück, the 2003-04 U.S. Poet Laureate. The door to the underworld in Roman myth is at Lake Averno or Avernus. Averno the cantata explores cycles of death and growth in the story of Demeter’s daughter Persephone and her abduction by Hades.
Chelm in Poland is the venue for countless tales of Jewish humor, such as the man who leaves for a new city, gets turned around during the night, and walks back to his hometown thinking it’s a new place. There are three sections to Sages of Chelm by Matthew H. Fields; we’ll have time to hear the last. Following I. Khutzpah and II. Tsores (“Troubles”), we’ll listen to the happy resolution in Simchas, which means “Joy.”
from Frederic Rzewski: The People United Will Never Be Defeated
It’s a monument of contemporary solo piano literature on Now Is the Time, Sunday, June 23rd at 10 pm. Frederic Rzewski’s The People United Will Never Be Defeated is a staggering set of 36 variations on a Chilean folk song for solo piano.
Beginning with a simple statement, Rzewski weaves a complicated scheme of penumbras of the tune. Some are complicated, some are bluntly simple. For all its interweavings, the work grows into a musical edifice that is frankly gorgeous. Nicolas Slonimsky calls Rzewski (a virtuoso pianist as well as composer) “a granitically overpowering piano technician, capable of depositing huge boulders of sonoristic material across the keyboard without actually wrecking the instrument.” This is music that must be met.