Kendra Emery ~ On The Banglewood Experience and Related Things

Kendra Emery performing at the Bang On a Can Summer Festival in North Adams, MA; July 2013 (Photo courtesy of Ivan Singer)kendraemeryivansinger

Saxophonist Kendra Emery is a musician I very recently met in the audience at this year’s Bang On a Can marathon in NY this past June, and at the time I had no idea she was going to be selected as one of the fellows appearing at the Summer festival at MASS MoCA the following month. During that period, I noticed lots of interesting activity in music and clips being posted online from the events that took place, and suddenly it seemed that she was among lots of great influences, and was becoming one of the most up-front individuals participating at the festival. An article that was picked up by Rolling Stone even covered this event, which surely must have attracted some audience members from outside the culture. Since then, she has updated her website and she’s commissioning new works, and even recording her own improvs (You can hear them either on her webpage or on her Soundcloud page). Continue reading

Battery ~ Randy Woolf and Kathleen Supove Kickstarting a Kickboxing Piece

Randall Woolf and Kathleen Supove–Photo courtesy of Randall Woolfrandywoolfkathysupove

Composer Randy Woolf and his wife pianist Kathleen Supove have made many interesting collaborative efforts together, but this one will probably be very hard to beat. They have been working on Battery, a concerto for piano and orchestra–a different kind of piano concerto that involves choreographed boxing. Sounds crazy in print, but if you take a look at what Kathleen does in the video link below, you’ll see she’s up for the boxing aspect of the task as well as the piano one.

The premiere of Battery will take place Feb 23, 2014, and the folks that are working with Randy and Kathy are choreographer Heidi Latsky and ensemble Le Train Bleu, with conductor Ransom Wilson. The funds of the campaign will be going to them.
Click here or on one of the bottom links to contribute.

Randy and Kathy had a minute to talk to us about it. Continue reading

Gregg Kallor at Subculture ~ Concert Preview

Photo courtesy of Steve PoolGregg Kallor - Steve Pool

Courtesy of Two Sheps That Pass

Gregg Kallor is the recipient of an Aaron Copland Award for composition. One of ten composers nationwide selected for this prestigious residency, Kallor composed a concerto for piano and orchestra during his time at the home of the late eminent American composer. He also began several chamber music pieces while he was there, including “Undercurrent” for cello and piano – which he will premiere at SubCulture tonight at 7:30 PM with Laura Metcalf (cello).

Kallor’s new album, A Single Noon, is a nine-movement piano suite – a musical tableau of life in New York City told through a combination of classical composition and improvisation. Kallor premiered the suite at Carnegie Hall in 2011. Five-time GRAMMY®-nominee Fred Hersch calls it “the work of an extraordinary pianist, a composer of great distinction and a true conceptualist… this ambitious and unique suite really takes us somewhere that is very deeply heartfelt and dazzlingly executed. This is 21st-century music that has clearly absorbed the past and looks to a bright and borderless musical future.”

Kallor’s first music video, “Espresso Nirvana” (think caffeinated hijinks), is set to the sixth movement of the suite. His new music video, “Broken Sentences” (set to the 2nd movement), will be released tonight at SubCulture. It celebrates one of the most exciting public arts programs in NYC: the Sing For Hope Pianos – 88 artist-designed pianos that were placed in public spaces all around the 5 boroughs for anyone to play. Art for all.

Trailer for “Broken Sentences”

Gregg Kallor
SubCulture, 45 Bleecker St, Downstairs
7:30pm
$20

ETHEL ~ On Documerica and Related Things

ETHEL are L-R: Ralph Farris, viola; Tema Watstein, violin; Kip Jones, violin; Dorothy Lawson, cello; Photo courtesy of Stephanie Berger 9101612096_c9f4147912_k

The great NY ensemble ETHEL had a few minutes to sit down and chat about the current tour and their stage project Documerica, which will be presented this coming October 2nd through the 5th at BAM (Click here for info).

CM:  I’ve interviewed some of the former members of ETHEL separately, and also Kip and Tema separately last year when you guys just joined. What has it been like these days for the group? You’ve been together 16 years?

Dorothy: We’re getting into our 16th season, I think, yes!

Ralph: But it feels like 17! [laughs] Continue reading

Rebekah Heller at Spectrum ~ A Review

Photo courtesy of Glenn Cornettrebekahhellerspectrum

International Contemporary Ensemble
presents
Rebekah Heller, bassoon
Spectrum, NYC
Saturday, August 24th, 2013

The set ICE bassoonist Rebekah Heller put on for her CD-release party for the solo disc 100 Names at NYC’s Spectrum was a great collection of stark but robust compositions, all of which were from the disc. The live performances were quite identical in sound, but to see Ms. Heller at work giving the most experimental bassoon concert I certainly have ever seen in my lifetime was a treat to savor for many ages.

After an introduction by her ICE colleague, flutist Claire Chase (who produced the album), Heller started the program with Edgar Guzman’s “∞¿?”, a piece where the bassoon is interchanging and blending with a recorded buzz feedback in such a perfect pitch you almost can’t hear where one ends and the other begins.

Another favorite moment was Marcelo Toledo’s “Qualla II”, a piece that brilliantly displays what sounds like the ICE ethic at work. Like Claire Chase, Rebekah Heller uses every fiber of her being to extract the most primal noise from a traditional classical instrument and rebrands it for the new music world. Between the rapid keyboard fingering with and without notes, and the animalistic sounds Heller puts back into the instrument, the work bears the earmarks of an outstanding signature piece for the soloist.
Marcos Balter’s “…and also a fountain” continues the primal sounds with the addition of spoken word from Heller, while accompanying herself with ambient percussion.

The piece that wrapped up the evening’s program (“10pm, Ixtab”) was a chaotic duet with its composer, Du Yun on vocals. Heller ends it with a marvelous sequence of extended notes.

Rebekah Heller (Her artist’s page on ICEorg.org)

Donal Fox ~ On Jamming with Hilary Hahn at Skaneateles

Donal FOX(Lou Jones)

Pianist-composer-improviser Donal Fox is performing this year at the 34th annual Skaneateles Festival.
Known for some incredible work in both jazz and new music, Donal has also been very active as a collaborator and experimentalist in merging styles. Besides his solo appearance at the upcoming festival on Thursday, August 15th at 8 PM, he’ll be playing with none other than a longtime favorite of The Glass and a veteran of this festival, Hilary Hahn, on Saturday the 17th at 7:30 PM at a special evening devoted to a collaboration never before seen by the public, and something that promises to be a real treat for both fans of jazz and classical. Hilary will also be appearing on Friday the 16th playing a solo recital at 8 PM.

Donal had a few minutes to talk about the show. Continue reading

Sasha Siem at Joe’s Pub (A Review)

sashasiemjoespub

Sasha Siem
Joe’s Pub, NYC
Monday, July 22nd, 2013

At the site of what has become Amy Schumer’s TV home, Joe’s Pub, UK singer-composer Sasha Siem flew in and delivered what felt like an all-too-brief set of short art songs, most of it from her new CD Most of The Boys. The presence of Sasha in a dark dress reminiscent of Stevie Nicks, along with some well-orchestrated chamber backing from a string trio-plus-drummer really made for an eclectic evening.

Songs like “Tug of War”, “Proof”, “Most of The Boys”, “Kind Man’s Kiss”, and “So Polite” were delivered with an incredible speed and unfounded character that only Sasha would be able to interpret. The small chamber group (featuring violinist Jeff Young and cellist Isabel Castellvi) were definitely the kind of ensemble that contributes to blurring the line between indie and indie-classical.

So Polite (live with the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra)

As a performer, Sasha Siem is a delightful composer/performer of art songs that, for fans of a very tasty and simultaneously light flavor of music, provides a great rival to artists like Bjork and Sufjan Stevens, and leaves an audience wanting even more. She did do a very short encore (it was 20 seconds), but I believe she is on to something.

Sasha Siem.com

Sasha Siem ~ On Most of The Boys and the Joe’s Pub show

sashasiem2

UK composer-vocalist Sasha Siem is releasing her first full-length CD this month, Most of The Boys, and she will be appearing at New York’s Joe’s Pub on July 22nd at 7 PM. Click here for info/tickets or on the link on the bottom.

Sasha had a few minutes to talk to us about the show, which will be a paired-down version of the concert done earlier this year the UK (shown in the video below).

“At the Royal Opera House concert, we had a string quartet, and it was so much fun and exciting for all of them as well because we had Zack Winokur, who was choreographing. He’d also worked with ICE, and he did various experiments with the relationship between movement and sound, and he was getting them to move around the stage. What I think worked was that it wasn’t arbitrary. It began to move in such a way that it was really kind of an urge out of the music somehow, and we were in counterpoint with the sonic world.”

Most of the Boys – Behind the Scenes

“The stage in Joe’s Pub is tiny, so, this will be an acoustic live version without movement. We just recorded the full cycle in Iceland with Valgeir Sigurðsson–That was such a great experience! He’s just a wonderful person to work with! We’re putting together a plan for releasing that at the end of the year, so this is like a little taster of that cycle in its entirety, which we haven’t yet done in New York, so, we’re really looking forward to that!”

Kind Man’s Kiss – Sasha Siem feat. Mivos Quartet

Click here for info/tickets for Sasha Siem at Joe’s Pub

Sasha Siem.com

in performance: Rhymes With Opera presents “Criminal Element”

Chris McGovern:

Megan Ihnen reviewed the Baltimore performance of the newly-staged version of David Smooke’s Criminal Element

Originally posted on The Sybaritic Singer:

Settling into David Smooke‘s nonopera, “Criminal Element“, is akin to letting a book of Rorschach paintings fall open in front of you. As each of the five scenes unfolds, the pages of that book flip in the breeze. That is to say, a nonopera in an invented language can take on myriad meanings and plays out the perceptions of those watching and listening. Gazing around the sultry Area 405 in Baltimore on Saturday night, there could have been as many interpretations of Smooke’s work as there were people crowded into the performance space. Rhymes With Opera singers Elisabeth Halliday, Robert Maril, and Bonnie Lander with the SONAR new music ensemble quartet under George Lam‘s conducting excelled in the performance of this work creating numerous audience entry points to a work that could be intimidating to some. Rhymes With Opera also used the evening as…

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