New things are created out of old on Now Is the Time, Saturday, May 17th at 9 pm at wrti.org and WRTI-HD2. David Gompper worked with Austrian violinist Wolfgang David on a new concerto before it was a concerto. For violin and piano, the work evolved through rehearsals and performances until Gompper felt it was ready, and then he orchestrated it as his Violin Concerto.
John King began four movements of AllSteel, for the string quartet Ethel, on September 10th, 2001. After the attacks of the following day, he added four more. A violent electric-guitar sound-world breaks through in the four 9/10 movements, but the even-numbered post-9/11 movements all have the word Peace in their titles. AllSteel ends with Peacerises.
Dan Becker pours Bach inventions through a post-minimalist filter into an electronically processed keyboard to come up with wonderfully twisting pieces. Energy and humor accompany the sand shifting under our feet in ReInvention 2C.
When you think female trumpeters, Alison Balsom usually comes to mind first. But there's another lady that's about to give Ms. Balsom a run for her money. Enter Norwegian-born Tine Thing Helseth. In urgent demand as a fast-rising soloist, the 26-year-old trumpeter, whose first name is pronounced "tina ting," has already performed with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, The Norwegian Chamber Orchestra, Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, and the list goes on...
Somebody's looking out for us on Now Is the Time, Saturday, May 10th at 9 pm at wrti.org and WRTI-HD2. Genius loci is the spirit of a place, guardian spirit, or guardian angel; Frank Brickle's short work Genius Loci for mandolin and guitar is both whimsical and expansive. The Stone Tower looks over the artist colony of Yaddo, and is also the name of the first movement of Ned Rorem's Flute Concerto, written for Jeffrey Khaner, who performs it here.
Prism Saxophone Quartet founder Matthew Levy begins and ends the program with music from his new CD, People's Emergency Center. That's the name of a shelter helping women and children in West Philadelphia. It, too, is a first movement title, of Been There, music from a documentary about PEC. It's for Prism plus bass, drums, guitar, and another saxophone, as is Brown Eyes, which carries with it another great spirit. Matthew Levy had it performed at his wedding.
Virtuoso violinist Anne Akiko Meyers tells the story of seeing an old Jack Benny routine on TV. Mr. Benny had two violins: an el cheapo model, and an expensive Stradivarius. He wanted to show the difference between the two instruments. The comedian launches into Mendelssohn on the el cheapo and gets, "...squeak, SQUEAK, SQUONK, squeal..." Benny then picks up the Strad and plays the same piece. "...Squeak, SQUEAK, SQUONK, squeal..." Yes, comedy. But Meyers' point was that it's not really the instrument that makes the artist.
Two violin concertos breathe the air of outdoors on Now Is the Time, Saturday, May 3rd at 9 pm at wrti.org and WRTI-HD2. Neil Rolnick at Harvard was looking for extra work, and answered an ad for a gardener. It happened to be at the house of the world-famous Bauhaus architect, Walter Gropius. In Gardening at Gropius House, for chamber ensemble with computer, Rolnick combines his love of two things in art that he hopes are not in conflict: avant-garde modernism and a good tune.
Twilight, Midnight, Romance, and Dawn are some of the movement titles in Ned Rorem's Violin Concerto. He almost named the piece Concertino or Variations, since there is no real program behind the music. Still, that combination of lightness and gravity, which suffuses all of Rorem's works, breathes of spring, and of air.
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.
We dream our lives and live our dreams on Now Is the Time, Saturday, April 19th at 9 pm at wrti.org and WRTI-HD2. Bright Sheng's romantic orchestral work China Dreams includes movements called The Stream Flows and The Three Gorges of the Long River. The tragedy of U.S. duplicity before and after the Battle of the Little Bighorn is the subject of We Need to Dream All This Again. Jerome Kitzke writes, "let's dance, and call it praying," as he honors the Native American building of a new life by dreaming that life.
Clarinet and four-hand piano unfold through digital delay in the evocative Passage Through a Dream by Phillip Schroeder, and Zeitgeist closes out the show with the humorous and quirky Getting Your Z's (Or Not) by Janika Vandervelde.
We arrive at the corner of Jazz and Classical on Now Is the Time, Saturday, April 12th at 9 pm at wrti.org and WRTI-HD2. Chicago a cappella scats with Pleasure the music of Malcolm Dalglish, and solo piano tries out David Baker's Jazz Dance Suite as well as The Blue Hula by Tobias Picker.
John Musto's Divertimento for chamber ensemble has jazz and popular music overtones, but there's no mistaking the straight-ahead jazz worldview in three works by Philadelphia's Adam Berenson (even if he turns a corner here and there), from his brand-new 2-CD release Lumen. He's the pianist, along with bass and drums, in his Late 20th Century Stomp, Emotional Idiot, and Respectable People.
WRTI celebrates Passover with two great specials:A Musical Feast for Passover with Itzhak Perlman: Wednesday, April 16 at 7 pm on WRTI HD-2 and the All-Classical stream at wrti.org, and The Passover Story with Theodore Bikel: Saturday, April 19 at 11:30 am on Crossover.
Network For New Music, the award-winning new music ensemble and organization based in Philadelphia, looks at the music of the eclectic composer and pianist John Harbison at concerts and workshops from April 4 to 6, featuring music inspired by jazz, poetry, and American popular song.