Jenny Q. Chai at LPR ~ Preview (NOTE: IT’S BACK ON)

“I believe it’s extremely important to get peoples’ spirits up. By playing no matter what. After all, I was lucky to make it from China. I think it’s important and good chance to show we are not going to be defeated by this condition.”~Jenny Q. Chai

In the aftermath of this past week’s Hurricane Sandy, lower Manhattan slowly has been getting power restored, and Le Poisson Rouge is one of many venues that are reopening. Pianist Jenny Q. Chai is going to be taking the stage yet again in her first NY appearance since her Carnegie Hall debut this past April.

The concert will take place on Sunday, November 4 at 7:30pm (doors at 6:30pm). Ms. Chai will perform works by Satie, Schoenberg, Stockhausen, Scarlatti, Stroppa, and more. Le Poisson Rouge is located at 158 Bleecker Street in New York City. For more information or tickets ($15/$20), visit Continue reading

Vital Vox Fest 2012 ~ A Preview

The 4th annual VITAL VOX: A VOCAL FESTIVAL–an event that explores the myriad power of the human voice in its solo and ensemble forms across a multitude of genres–will take place at 8pm on October 29 and 30 at Roulette, located at 509 Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, NY. Tickets are $15 ($10 Students/Seniors/Members) and can be purchased at More information on the festival and the performers can be found at

Over the course of two diverse evenings, VITAL VOX will explore the theme of ‘vox electronics,’ featuring artists who expand their sonic vocabulary with electronics of all kinds. Performances will draw from wide-ranging international influences and genres including jazz, experimental, contemporary, free improvisation, world music, interactive electro-acoustic and audio sampling.

Having seen this festival last year with the likes of Iva Bittova, Gelsey Bell and Judith Berkson, I can say it was a really fascinating couple of nights, and it looks to be just as exciting this year!

Festival founders and curators Sabrina Lastman and Sasha Bogdanowitsch had just a little time to stop and discuss this year’s show.

CM: Can you talk about the festival this year and how it is different this time?

S&S: The festival is in its 4th year and this year it focuses on a new selection of artists to us who are composer performers, just like in years past. The main different aspect in this year’s festival is the two day theme of new vocal music with electronics of any kind, shape and size. For some artists this means processing & live looping, others it means interactive video and computer programs. The world of electronic music is an ever growing field and has brought a huge new palette to vocal music.

CM: Are there any specific people we should look out for at these shows?

S&S: As curators of the festival we are happy to bring artists that come from different musical backgrounds and vocal approaches. In the festival, we are interested in intermingling different generations of artists. For instance, those that have had long careers in the field mixed with younger musicians who are still developing their careers. We would like people to experience the festival in its entirety:

The October 29 program includes vocalist Philip Hamilton performing “Vocalscapes: Solitude”, vocalist/composer Sabrina Lastman performing her original piece “An Encounter with ‘El Duende’”, and Unearthish—a duo comprised of violinist/composer/vocalist Sarah Bernstein and percussionist/electronic musician Satoshi Takeishi—performing Bernstein’s compositions.

[Pictured right Pamela Z courtesy of Ars Electronica]
The October 30 program includes composer/vocalist/video and performance artist Lisa Karrer in collaboration with composer/multi-instrumentalist David Simons performing “Collision Theory: Works & Premieres for Voice & Multi-Media”, composer/vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Sasha Bogdanowitsch performing his new song cycle “Mirror Upon Mirror”, and composer/performer Pamela Z performing works for voice, live processing and video.

CM: Will there still be a Q&A segment at the end of the concerts? Those are always wonderful and informative.

S&S: We will have a talk back with artists and audience each night, so people will have the opportunity to interact with artists to get to know a little bit more about their work and creation process, etc.

UPDATE: The 2012 Vital Vox Vocal Festival, which was scheduled to take place October 29 and 30 at Brooklyn’s Roulette, has been postponed due to Hurricane Sandy.

New dates will be announced soon. Apologies for the inconvenience.

For more information, contact Jill Strominger: (617) 270-8853

Learn more about the Vital Vox festival at

Écouter ~ 3 Musicians Doing a Debut Album Together and IndieGoGoing It

When DC-area cellist Natalie Spehar met Canadian musicians Nikola Ragusa and Amelie Brodeur (both flutists; Amelie also plays other instruments), they found a lot of common ground as artists and decided to play together in Nat’s hometown of DC (BTW, they are also planning to do a show in Canada), and had such a blast with the performance that they have decided to do an album (which is slated to include the music of Villa-Lobos, Astor Piazolla and Marc Mellits), and with the help of IndieGoGo and you guys, they will be able to fund the packaging of the album. You can donate to this campaign up here or on the bottom. By the way, at this time, the name of the ensemble has yet to be fully decided (I think they should go with Écouter).

Natalie and Nikola had a few minutes to discuss the project.

CM: How did this project come about?

Natalie: This project was the result of a spectacular “tweet-up” really! :) Nikola and I met about a year ago when his online blog, Arts Avenue, was launched, and he interviewed me for a feature on the site. We had a great conversation and it was obvious to me right away that we shared a similar interest and enthusiasm for managing the administrative and marketing end of a freelance music career–and in particular, making connections and collaborations happen over the wonderful social media networks available today.

So, when Nikola and Amelie decided to take a tour that dipped into the US, we knew right away that we had to find a chance to really take our international friendship to the next level, and create something special that we could share with other music lovers. I jumped on booking one of my favorite recital spots in DC, Church of the Holy City, whose directors do a wonderful job themselves of sharing unique performances with the DC community–and we picked some rep, set dates, and made it happen! We had a great turn out and a wonderful time getting to know each other in the process, and knew right afterward that we needed to pursue the chance to do it again. This time, we’re flipping the travel adventure–and I’m going to Canada! We are looking forward to sharing music that we love with audiences there–and also investing time in our first recordings together to commemorate this friendship. Continue reading

Maya Beiser’s Elsewhere at BAM (A Review)

Maya Beiser and Helga Davis performing in Elsewhere at BAM (Photo courtesy of Rebecca Greenfield)

Beth Morrison Projects
A Cello Opera conceived by Maya Beiser and Robert Woodruff
Maya Beiser, cello
Helga Davis, vocals
Music by Missy Mazzoli, Eve Beglarian, and Michael Gordon
Words by Henri Michaux and Erin Cressida Wilson
Choreography by Brook Notary
Film by Peter Nigrini
Brooklyn Academy of Music, NYC

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Written by Jeremy Shatan

The “story” of Lot’s wife – no more than a sentence in Genesis – is like a tea bag. Add the boiling water of imagination and emotion and it can expand into a fascinating and complex brew. This is precisely what Maya Beiser and her collaborators have done in “Salt”, the stunning third section of her “CelloOpera,” Elsewhere, which finished its four-night run at the Brooklyn Academy of Music last Saturday. With music by Missy Mazzoli and words by Erin Cressida Wilson, the unnamed wife of Lot, who was turned into a pillar of salt in punishment for looking back on Sodom, becomes a stand-in for the suffering of women across centuries and cultures – painful torments that often seem to take place “elsewhere.”

Wilson’s lyrics turn Lot’s wife into a three-dimensional character, a woman locked in a brutal marriage (and by the end of the piece, in jail) who is forced to give up her home and looks back, not in anger or curiosity, but because she recalled “The first painting our girl ever drew – forgotten and still-taped above the kitchen sink.” In performance, Lot’s wife is embodied by the astonishing Helga Davis, a pure theater artist with a gorgeous voice and true commitment to her craft. Using precise movements and a diverse array of voices, Davis is riveting. At one point the lights behind the stage went to full brightness and I took a quick look around the nearly sold-out theater. Not one person was anything but rapt and completely focused on the performance. Continue reading

CD Review: Matt Siffert, Morningside

I have to say that what I like about Matt Siffert’s EP Morningside right off the bat is that he gives you two straightforward tunes and then an instrumental that sounds like a music cue piece from the Rocky soundtrack–The piece I’m thinking of there is “Philadelphia Morning”, but this is “Daybreak in Alabama”, so, I don’t know if that’s a coincidence, but it’s like Matt Siffert read my mind and knew exactly what that piece would remind me of, and he instinctively knew my taste as well. Get out of my head, Matt Siffert!

“I Think of You Less” has a riff that recalls Dylan’s “Ballad of a Thin Man” with its honky-tonk stagger. “Riverside Drive” and “She’s so Enthusiastic” seem to be much more in tandem with a sort of Billy Joel or Ben Folds if those guys were living in Williamsburg. Very good rock-pop chamber arrangements with a sweet cello and mournful French horn.

This being his debut EP, I look forward to Matt’s full albums.

Click here to buy/stream Matt’s EP Morningside

RTB’s Opera Shorts 2012 ~ A Preview

Poster concept by Scottie Roche

Remarkable Theater Brigade presents its fourth annual Opera Shorts—an eclectic, electric evening of opera miniatures—at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall on October 19 at 7:30 PM

Opera Shorts 2012 features ten 10-minute operas by a powerhouse line-up of living composers including Carlisle Floyd, Bern Herbolsheimer, Seymour Barab, Graham Robb, Ben Bierman, Richard Burke, Patrick Soluri, Randolph Coleman, Christian McLeer and David Morneau.

While the focus of the October 19 show is firmly on the composers, there are some exceptional singers on board as well including Metropolitan Opera baritone Chris Trakas, soprano Danya Katok, who recently debuted at New York City Opera and operatic baritone, and Broadway actor Dewey Moss, as well as soprano and co-founder of RTB Monica Harte. The instrumentation ranges from colorful chamber ensembles to the exotic Peruvian percussion box, the cajón. Richard Burke made a special arrangement of his opera Sacred Tree for this evening’s performance including piano, string quartet and woodwinds.

RTB co-director and co-founder Christian McLeer speaks about this year’s program.

“This year we’re doing a darker piece of mine called ‘Puppet’ with Dewey Moss, and we’re really honored and excited that Anthony Laciura from Boardwalk Empire is directing it! One of the biggest ones we have now is Carlisle Floyd, and he’s been rehearsing his piece ‘Pilgrimage’ down in Florida–Chris Trakas is going to sing on that one. We also have a piece by Ben Bierman called ‘Come To Spain’, which is very jazzy–It’s kind of romantic, but he has a great way of using melodies, especially with complex jazz chords like 9ths, 11ths and 13ths! Patrick Soluri, who we’ve had on every program so far, is returning as well with another comedy piece called “Polka” which takes place in the 90s and has a wedding setting.”

Danya Katok returns in the production this year, and she had a few minutes to discuss her beginnings with RTB.

“I met Monica [Harte] because we were both students at the CUNY Graduate Center–it was a contemporary performance practice class, and she heard me sing, and then she invited me to sing with her company. I thought it was really fun to work with them! I was in Christian McLeer’s ‘Sonata’ and Tom Cipullo’s piece ‘The Husbands’. Originally that piece was a song, and then they decided to stage it, which I thought was really clever. With ‘Sonata’, since it was a world premiere, we didn’t really know what we were getting into, and it had never been done before, so, when I first got it, before the staging rehearsals, it was a bit like ‘I don’t really understand what this is’, but it was much clearer when they started staging it, and it was great fun working with Dewey. He’s such a great actor to work against. He gives you so much to play with, and that’s a great pleasure as well.”

The program:
Seymour Barab: “All Mine”
Benjamin Bierman/Earl Shuman: “Come to Spain”
Richard Burke: “The Sacred Wood”
Randolph Coleman/Lawrence George: “Threnody”
Carlisle Floyd: “Pilgrimage”
Bern Herbolsheimer: “Quartet”
Christian McLeer: “Puppeteer”
David Morneau/Brantley Aufill: “Ballad of Milt Famey”
Graham Robb/Jim Stewart: “Flora and the Prince”
Patrick Soluri/Royce Vavrek: “Polka”

Christian McLeer: Sonata (Danya Katok, soprano; Dewey Moss, tenor)

Click here to buy tickets for Opera Shorts 2012

RTB | New York’s New Music

BODYART with PUBLIQuartet (A Review)

West 4th Music Collective
with PUBLIQuartet
Baruch College, NY
Friday, October 5th, 2012

Written by Sharon Mizrahi
© 2012 Sharon Mizrahi

A look through the program for BODYART’s debut of Loft reveals several poetic epithets about the dance company. The collaboration, launched in 2005, features “human theatre,” captivating viewers with “moving imagination.” At the Baruch Performing Arts Center, founder and artistic director Leslie Scott illustrated this expressive approach by attempting to unite her “human theatre” with live music.

The opening movement quickly blossomed into a play on both geometry and gender from the all-female group. Jagged twirls and angular arcs peppered the choreography, though the dancers achieved fluidity nonetheless. Intriguing was the use of techniques frequently performed by male-female pairs, such as lifting one another into the air and launching elaborate back-twirls. Yet often the lifts and twirls would taper off in the final few seconds, seemingly propelled by too little force. Continue reading

A Riot Girl Opera Review ~ Marie Incontrera’s Grand Premiere of At The Other Side of The Earth

Ilana Zarankin as the liberated half of Aurora (Photo courtesy of Matthew Linitz)

At The Other Side of The Earth
A Riot Girl Opera
Music and libretto by Marie Incontrera
Directed by Jasmine Presson
Wow Cafe Theater, NYC

Thursday, Oct. 11th, 2012

The first thing that you see when you walk into the very small room that is the Wow Cafe Theater is the scrim that serves as the graffiti wall backrdrop for At the Other Side of The Earth, Marie Incontrera‘s new one-act opera, and it is laden with slogans that are all at once relevant, not only for gay people but also for people in general that are conscious of current events, like “Free Pussy Riot”, “It gets better”, “Out loud and proud”, “R.I.P. Matthew Shepard”, and there were also two rather prominent visuals: a rainbow-colored fist with a spiked bracelet with the word “pride” over it, and two interlocked women’s lib symbols. Indeed, this was not only relevant to the plot of our opera, but it was like a sonic banner that made its message loud and clear to an unassuming audience–a call to arms for human rights, gay rights and equality, sexual freedom and expression. A message that is still privy to controversy to this day. Continue reading