We travel far and wide on Now Is the Time, Sunday, September 8th at 10 pm, starting with Another Fantastic Voyage, a piano concerto by Dmitri Tymoczko. With tongue in cheek, Tymoczko skillfully performs pop exegesis on generic myths—knights on a king’s mission, for instance, or a campy Night on Bald Mountain—where everything turns out horribly wrong.
David Toub wrote mf originally for brass, but then arranged it for string quartet, a far but convincing leap for this homage to Morton Feldman (mf), all played at mezzo-forte (mf). Insistent, Playful, and Doleful are the movements in Richard Wilson’s limber Affirmations, a colorful jaunt for a mixed chamber ensemble of flute, clarinet, violin, cello, and piano.
The distinguished violinist Itzhak Perlman offers a glimpse into the classical Jewish Cantorial repertoire, and beloved liturgical and traditional works in new arrangements backed by chamber orchestra and Klezmer musicians. Mr. Perlman is joined by his dear friend and colleague, Cantor Yitzchak Meir Helfgot.
While rooted in the Cantorial-liturgical tradition of Jewish music, the ten tracks on Eternal Echoes: Songs And Dances For the Soul encompass a wide range of sonic modes and musical moods. The CD has just the right mixture of happy and sad, and laughter through tears.
Maybe this weekend you're traveling with Now Is the Time, Sunday, September 1st at 10 pm. We start with City Columns for orchestra by Shawn Crouch, and then go way, way out with Michael Daugherty's percussion concerto UFO. Evelyn Glennie solos, sometimes on unidentified pieces of metal, in the work that's all about Roswell and Area 51 and improvising in front of a large wind ensemble.
It's also the time of year for going back to school, and Matthew McCabe remembers his first music teacher in Everything Must Be Beautiful. The homage uses her voice, together with electronically processed sounds, in glorious, retro, two-channel tape. Whether you're here or far, far away (we stream online!), and whether you study, teach, work, or rest, have a great weekend!
American playwright Quiara Alegria Hudes on Crossover with Jill Pasternak, August 31, 2013
They say America is a country of immigrants. And it is that immigrant experience that we explore and celebrate on Crossover this week. A smash Broadway hit,In the Heightsdetails the life and survival of a family and their pursuit of happiness in the “promised land” of America. Set in the Washington Heights barrio of New York City, the characters wrestle with the heartache and the joys and the drama of “making it” in a country that is not their native land.
Guitarist Manuel Barrueco, on Crossover with Jill Pasternak, from 2010.
In the same vein, we reprise a conversation from 2010 with virtuoso guitarist Manuel Barrueco. A native of Cuba, he studied at the esteemed Esteban Salas Conservatory in Cuba, came to the United States as part of the Cuban exodus, enrolled in Baltimore’s, Peabody Institute, and in 1974 became the first classical guitarist to win the Concert Artists Guild award. He has recorded over a dozen albums for EMI and with every major orchestra along with Deep Purple and The Police.
Let's face it, for most people thoughts of brass conjure up either college football halftime bands or worse, the "sad tuba and trombone" music cues marking a game show loser (think The Price Is Right when the contestant gets the price wrong and doesn't win the car). Personally, the holidays are what comes to mind when I think of brass.
You might call these fantastic lullabies on Now Is the Time, Sunday, August 25th at 10 pm. The birth of a friend's daughter inspired Rick Sowash's Lullabye for Kara for cello and piano. Steven Gerber's Violin Concerto is a rocking to sleep, of sorts, of a work he began as a student at Haverford College but never finished. One part of it, however, was born anew as this concerto's first movement.
From solo strings to more—but synthesized—is Carl Berky's The Synthelating Mariachi String Band. In Secret Geometry, James Primosch uses electronic tape with piano, and between explosive Variations and a brilliant Toccata is a Nocturne in the true spirit of night-music: the other side of a lullaby, perhaps. Phillip Lasser focuses on the singer of the lullaby rather more than the song itself, in Berceuse fantasque for violin and piano.
The question—What Is American Classical Music?—comes to mind on Now Is the Time, Sunday, August 18th at 10 pm. The Symphony No. 1 of John Biggs is in the grand tradition we think of as “American,” with wide-open sounds and deep breaths from the prairies—first brought to us by Virgil Thomson of Kansas and Aaron Copland of Brooklyn. It’s as American as it gets.
The music of John Biggs grows honestly out of this tradition, but the very day in 1963 that the middle movement was completed, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. This Passacaglia of this American symphony, often performed separately as a memorial, lends added resonance to the entire work.
Carol Barnett takes two worlds that ought not go together—and makes them go together. The World Beloved, A Bluegrass Mass is remarkable because of its integrity. This is no simple Mass-with-a-banjo. Text is interpolated between the sections of the Mass, and the total result is solid, colorful—and uplifting. The bluegrass band Monroe Crossing joins Philip Brunelle’s VocalEssence in a work that could only have come to light in America.
Here in Philly, whenever someone needs a tenor sax player, the first call is to jazz great Larry McKenna. It's been that way for so long that most know his number by heart. And it's not just jazz bands that make that call.
It was that way when he backed Sinatra at the Latin Casino; when he was part of the "MFSB Orchestra" for Gamble and Huff backing Patti LaBelle, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes and other Philly greats; when director Alan Parker needed music and a player for the Nicholas Cage film, Birdy, and many other instances.
Join us this Sunday at 2 pm for a very special treat. It's the Philadelphia Orchestra's May 24th LIVE broadcast of a concert tribute to the Orchestra’s former Music Director Wolfgang Sawallisch. This was the first live Philadelphia Orchestra broadcast in 13 years, and a memorable event it was, featuring a performance by violinist Gil Shaham of the Brahms Violin Concerto. Yannick Nézet-Séguin is on the podium.
Stark contrasts play against each other on Now Is the Time, Sunday, August 11th at 10 pm. Zeitgeist performs In Bone-Colored Light, Jerome Kitzke's illumination of a late afternoon in an American landscape. Gabriela Lena Frank opens up the Indian and Spanish cultures of Peru for "Holy Mary, let's go dance," or Ccollanan Maria, a sighing, gospel-inflected work sung by San Francisco's Volti.
Maggi Payne finds music in sounds from the environment, processes them electronically, and attractive surprises result in System Test (Fire and Ice). And from Curt Cacioppo's recent CD Italia, Network for New Music performs Colomba Scarlatta della Libia, or Red Dove of Libya, a bubbling work of shadow and light.