Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Delightful article

The latest installment from New Music Box on economics is a great read. Find it here. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


It's just been announced:
Letter of Distinction: T.J. Anderson, John Corigliano, and Ralph N. Jackson
Trailblazer Award: eighth blackbird

5:00-7:00 PM

Chelsea Art Museum
556 West 22nd Street (at 11th Avenue)
New York City, NY 10011

Check out their site to find out more and to attend (deadline is April 25th!)

Monday, March 26, 2007

Lettah to the Editah

Nice to see coverage of Concertante by the local Harrisburg paper this last week:

also a link to the Thursday promo piece on Mansurian and Ara:

It was interesting to read Mr. Dunkel's take on the flyer announcing the dates of the group's season. So the board president, Elizabeth "Bebe" Mullaugh has written the following to the Patriot News:

re: David Dunkle's review of Concertante (3/25/2007)
While pleased to see David Dunkle's review of Concertante's March 24 concert in Sunday's Patriot-News, as president of Concertante's board of directors, I am concerned that the focus on Concertante's "intention to leave Whitaker" may have left readers with an inaccurate impression of Concertante's relationship with one of our region's best cultural institutions.
Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts is a tremendous asset in our community and Concertante is honored to have been a resident company there since 1999. Whitaker's Sunoco Theatre is an excellent space for amplified music, musical theater productions and opera, however its size and acoustics make presentation of chamber music by small ensembles less than perfect. Concertante and the terrific staff at the Sunoco Theater have worked hard to address these challenges, including experiments with placement of the acoustical shell and even placing the entire audience on the stage, all in the interest of creating a compelling concert-going experience.
After much consideration, the ensemble decided to present two of its 2006-2007 concerts at the Rose Lehrman Arts Center at Harrisburg Area Community College. At the September concert, the audience and the musicians were extremely pleased with the intimate space and acoustics of the Rose Lehrman auditorium. Based on that experience, the board and ensemble decided to schedule all of Concertante's 2007-2008 dates there.
Saturday evening's "announcement" referred to by Mr. Dunkle was merely a program insert alerting audience members of our 2007-2008 dates and concert location. Whitaker Center has long been aware of the move and Concertante's relationship with Whitaker Center remains cordial and open. While we will miss our association with Whitaker as a resident company, we believe that being on campus at HACC will offer the added opportunity to attract students and faculty to the concerts, reflecting Concertante's mission to bring the beauty of live chamber music to increasingly diverse audiences. Concertante's move to Rose Lehrman is a logical one, not driven by economics or ill-will, simply a commitment to the music and our audience.
Elizabeth P. Mullaugh

McNees Wallace & Nurick LLC
100 Pine Street
P.O. Box 1166
Harrisburg, PA 17108-1166

There may be further coverage...and yes, for those playing at home, and for full disclosure, I'm a board member of Concertante. :)

Five in Six

Well, the answer could be 1.2...but it's not. I interviewed five composers in six days:
Pierre Jalbert on Tuesday.
Roxanna Panufnik on Thursday.
John Orfe and Tigran Mansurian on Saturday.
Derek Bermel on Sunday.

Plus more this week! What's that saying about March, in like a lion? No time, gotta go prepare for another interview...

Get out the vote

Yesterday's post also reminded me about the NSO touring Kansas...but I forgot to post the link to their it is, enjoy! More on the NSO and modern music soon - but for now, take a look at their May 17-19 concerts and you'll see changes, doh!

I also forgot to tell you that WITF has started it's 89.5 Classics, so go now and vote! You can vote weekly in the categories and you can also write in your favorite piece, if it's not shown in the poll. It'd be nice to have some "winners" in modern music scene!!!!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

At the speed of life

I've been extra busy these days, and have had a little bit of time to think about it.
If you know me at all, you know that I adore the music of Sir Andrzej Panufnik. Wednesday I met his daughter, Roxanna who is a talented composer as well. Thursday we had an interview for Composing Thoughts, and last night I heard her Love Abides premiered in Philadelphia. It was sublime.
[picture of Roxanna and John before the concert]

It was stellar to meet her, and hard not to ask questions about Andrzej. I did work in a question about growing up with a artistic family and a father who was a composer. You'll have to tune into the show to find out the answers to that and much more.
Yesterday was filled also with other interviews (see the previous post below!) and as I was driving I could hear, but not see the big screen simulcast, of The Barber of Seville with former fellow WSU student Joyce DiDonato. Of course what I heard was sublime. Friends called at intermission and we talked about how stunning she was! I hope they encore it, I'd love to see it again, and may just have to go see one of the repeat performances live at the Met.
Here's a tidbit about Joyce and Un voce poco fa. I used to put together alot of concerts - especially in college, I would even conduct quartets given the chance. I began my debut with Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man to open the very first WSU Contemporary Music Festival. I also started the Wichita Chamber Orchestra, besides the Virtuosi di Wichita State - we'd do Haydn Symphonies, the gorgeous middle movement of Gorecki's Third Symphony and once I did the Marriage of Figaro for horn choir - hey, like I said I would do anything to conduct.
On one such outing with the first concert of the Wichita Chamber Orchestra, we did a concert with myself, Robert Glasmann guest conducted and our soloist was Joyce Flaherty (now DiDonato.) The program opened with Rossini's Italian Girl in Algiers Overture. Then Joyce sang Una voce poco fa from the Barber of Seville. Glasmann conducted Barber's Adagio (I sat in on viola!) and then we ended with Beethoven's First Symphony.
At the first rehearsal (all of the music was on loan from WSU's library) early in June before everyone left for summer festivals, we read the Rossini Overture. Bob was around for the Barber and Joyce was ready for the Rossini. Call me naive, but I hadn't realized there were two versions of the aria, one for soprano and one for mezzo. We started the aria, and Joyce stopped me. "What is that? What key are you in?!" Whoops. WSU only had the soprano version!
She sang it nevertheless. And with all the charm that is Joyce/Rosina.
Yesterday driving I smiled when Joyce was singing at the Met, and reminded me of 16 years ago on the summer day at Duerkson Fine Arts Center in the orchestra room. Bob laughed and shook his head at me. Guess that's one reason I never went into conducting...those small details.
BTW, you can hear and see Joyce on YouTube here. (in the right versions!)

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Putting busy in business

So my travels continue, fast and furious. Had a great interview with Roxanna Panufnik Thursday, then last night a yummy new pizza place discovery for me in Lemoyne with a friend before catching Concertante at Suba - if you were there, you had a blast, if not you're a square! Fear not, they are playing a killer concert tonight at Whitaker Center - go!!!!

I'm about to go interview the composer Tigran Mansurian this afternoon, then go to Philly for Love Abides premiere with Roxanna.
Tomorrow I talk with Derek Bermel in Philly as well.

I just finished an interview at WITF with John Orfe, the pianist from Alarm Will Sound - what a treat. His Chamber Symphony is premiered next Saturday at Dickinson - another don't miss concert. Here we are after the interview - keep an ear out for it over on Composing Thoughts, as I'll be starting a world premiere section!

For more concerts going on, check out Dick Strawser's blog.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Mid Week

It's been a very busy week, and I haven't written any updates in a while, so my apologies. Here's what I have been up to while NOT blogging.
Tuesday afternoon and evening I was back in NYC, for the presentation of the Stoeger Prize at the Chamber Music of Lincoln Center. See some more pictures from the event, and hear an interview with the winner, Pierre Jalbert, from that afternoon, here.

After the presentation and reception, I went to the New York premiere of The Juniper Tree, an opera written by Robert Moran and Philip Glass (yes, two composers!) It was real delight, and a delightful performance. After the concert, Moran and the librettist were interviewed onstage by John Schaeffer (not dressed for success - but for radio still, lol!) I have to say, Bob was in fine form and his typical feisty self.

Then last night I was in Philadelphia, catching a rehearsal with the Choral Arts Society and the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia in what will be a world premiere this weekend of Roxanna Panufnik's Love Abides. It was excellent to hear her music and meet her. (You may know I consider her father, Sir Andrzej Panufnik, the greatest composer of all time. I have to say the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.)

Tonight I'll interview Roxanna for Composing Thoughts and be back for the premiere Saturday night.

Tomorrow night is Concertante at Suba, playing a preview of their concert Saturday. Come one, come all!


Kudos to Josh Bell, this year's winner for the Avery Fischer Prize!
You can hear an interview I did earlier this year with Josh here; and read a concert review of him in Philadelphia here.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


It's coming soon!
From the Top, NPR’s phenomenally popular radio series highlighting the talents of young musicians age 8 to 18, comes to PBS television this April as From the Top: Live from Carnegie Hall. While the radio series continues uninterrupted, this new series of 13 half-hour television programs showcases the top-notch skills, offbeat humor, and compelling stories of America’s best young classical musicians. Celebrated pianist Christopher O’Riley, host of the radio series, fills that role on television as well, bringing stirring performances, engaging interviews, and a playful spirit to a family viewing audience. Occasional appearances by guest stars—violinist Joshua Bell, mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves, banjo player Béla Fleck, cellist Yo-Yo Ma—round out the offerings. For air dates and times, please visit To watch TV highlights, join us on YouTube at

Lead by example

How NOT to write a classical music blog post, or a public radio blog for that matter:
All Classical Radio 89.9 FM
Shame on you KBPS...and especially you Eric.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Five Things about Chris Thile

I caught the second of "In Your Ear Redux" concerts at Zankel Hall with The Tensions Mountain Boys Saturday night, and I was happy I did!
1. Chris Thile (mandolin, voice and composer) is clearly a masterful musician. His new group The Tensions Mountain Boys (Chris Eldridge, guitar/vocals; Greg Garrison, Bass; Noam Pikelny, Banjo; Gabe Witcher, violin (nee fiddle)/vocals; and Thile) is a perfect match. They all connect with astounding playing abilities and a certain nonchalance on stage. Thile was downright comedic in his delivery: "You're all so kind to come here tonight, but why are you in your underwear? We dressed up!" and as the lighting changed for the evening's featured work, "Yeah, Blue! - uhm, of course, it's Bluegrass!"
2. The concert started with a few short selections before The Blind Leaving the Blind. It allowed the group to warm up, check things and was a delightful introduction. Thile has a "voice sweetly bland" and performs with a certain integrity and distinction.
3. The main work (really why I was at the concert in the first place) was The Blind Leaving the Blind. Terry Teachout* in his notes describes it as a "40 minute suite" and perhaps as a "cantata." Thile announced that there would be three definite stops, with tuning in between and that it might be considered in six sections.
It is a beautiful journey, with sometimes angular melodies (such as the second movement) and for me, the emotional pinnacle was the lengthy third movement. The finale is aptly virtuosic, but not as engaging as the middle movements.
I don't think this will translate well for others, the way Bach does or even the way Glass or Reich does in the hands of say Alarm Will Sound, but it is great music. I just believe this ensemble fits like a glove to the music and would not fit others - but I'm happy to be wrong on this point.
Suffice it to say, The Blind Leaving the Blind isn't a typical bluegrass jam or a stuffy cantata, rather a blend of genres and talents that only a virtuoso like Thile & company could pull off.
(*Small aside, I think Teachout was sitting just a row ahead of me at the concert - and John Adams was on the right side boxes - I even spied Dawn Upshaw as I was upstairs before the concert)
4. The concert had a certain flow and good feeling. The group jammed to a point of ebullience, and certainly communicated both musically and verbally this joy in performing. The audience was certainly into the groove as well, I don't know that I've felt such a vibe in a long time.
5. Thile announced that The Tensions Mountain Boys was the new group and they would continue on after tonight. They also came back and did encores for the ecstatic crowd, including a very fun blues tune which started completely a capella for all five. Even after this, the audience wanted more, but the house lights finally faded up with the realization that the magical night had come to a close.
[photos used by permission by Jennifer Taylor]

Sunday, March 18, 2007


Great crowd last night at Zankel, including John Adams, Dawn Upshaw and a very friendly audience, who adored Chris Thile.
Review will be posted tonight. Thanks to the guys at Sequenza21 for the press hookup!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Boss Hogwood?

Hmmm - an odd one:

The car had a confederate flag, okay - but the actors were just doing that, acting...wierd world we live in.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Happy St. Patty's Day

Enjoy an interview of mine with Ireland's (and the rest of the world!) favorite flutist, Sir James Galway for St. Patrick's Day.

Part 1 [mp3 file]
Part 2 [mp3 file]
Part 3 [mp3 file]

I'll be in NYC this weekend, and keep an eye out for a review at Carnegie's Zankel Hall of Chris Thile.

Big Organ in Vegas

Here's a great email from my friend Paul Hesselink:
I wanted to report to you on the four successful demonstrations of the organ in Doc Rando to four disadvantaged schools this week. At 9:45 on Monday we hosted Howard Hollingsworth Elementary school children (Doug Wilson, Principal)(about 225). At 11:00 we hosted students from Robert Lake Elementary (about 175). On Tuesday at 9:45 students fromGarside Middle School (about 250) came for the program, and at 11:00 Rose Warren elementary School students (about 280) were the audience. So, about 925 young students and teachers came to Doc Rando Hall those two mornings. NO ONE in those audiences had been there before. All costs were underwrittenby the School Community Partnership Program. There were 14 buses at a cost of about $110 per bus.
The students were VERY well-behaved, asked interesting and perceptive questions, and many took photos with their camera phones! A friend of mine in the school district had "cringed" when she heard which schools were participating and said she would "pray for me" having to face these "tough" schools.I had no problems, partially, I think, because the students were REALLY fascinated by the appearance of the organ, and, of course, the sound of the instrument is really impressive.
I suspect most of the students had never heard a pipe organ, and nobody knew of the Maurine Jackson Smith Memorial Organ at the University. Mrs. Beverly Mason, Assistant Director of the Partnership Program, will be soliciting evaluations fromthe participating schools. I hope those evaluations will help us improve subsequent presentations.
We had prepared a "fact sheet" which was distributed to teachers at the schools to do preparation for the students if they wished. I am attaching that, also for your information. [see below]
Thanks to Shireen Beaudry for her hard work in helping to set this pilot program up. Also thanks to members who helped at the demo sessions:
Doug Wilson for playing the Bach "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor" for the session of the Hollingsworth students, Barbara Giles, Doris Francis, Shireen Beaudry and Steve Wright for assisting at the sessions.

Guide for a Visit to Nevada’s Largest Pipe Organ
Planning and Construction
The Maurine Jackson Smith Memorial Pipe Organ in Doc Rando Recital Hall on the UNLV campus, was a gift to the university and the community from the Edward D. Smith family in memory and in honor of Maurine Smith who was an accomplished organist here in Las Vegas. Mrs. Smith died October 1, 1999, and a family dedication celebration was held on the completion of the instrument October 1, 2004.
When the monetary gift to purchase the organ was given, the Music Department established a Search Committee for identifying a builder of the instrument. Eighteen builders from around the world---England, Italy, Denmark, Germany, Canada and the United States---were considered. The choice was made to contract for the instrument with the Rudolf von Beckerath organ building firm of Hamburg, Germany. This company has been building fine organs since 1949.
The building of this organ, from the time of signing the contract to completion, took about four and a half years. The case, pipes, wind chests, and mechanism were constructed piece by piece in the Hamburg factory by 21 artisans over a period of about 10 months (25,500 man-hours), and then securely packed into three semi-truck-sized waterproof and sealed containers. These containers were then loaded on a ship in the Hamburg harbor and made the five-week sea voyage to Los Angeles. After a customs inspection, the containers were unloaded on flat bed trucks and driven to Las Vegas. They arrived in Las Vegas mid-June of 2004. Fitting all the pieces of the organ together and then regulating each pipe so it sounds right (a process called “voicing”) took the next 3 ½ months.
Facts About the Organ
It is the largest pipe organ in Nevada.
It stands 25 feet high on the stage of Doc Rando, and is about 8 feet deep and 20 feet wide.
The organ console has three keyboards called “manuals” and a pedal keyboard which the performer plays with his feet.
The organ has 38 “stops” and 53 “ranks” (“sets” of pipes).
There are 2,810 pipes ranging in size from 16 feet long to less than 1 inch long.
The organ weighs 9,750 tons
Cost: $560,000
Physical Appearance of the Organ
As one faces the organ, one sees silver colored pipes, symmetrically arranged in “flats.” These pipes are referred to as the “façade” or “face” of the organ. The facade contains the largest pipes from the Principal 16’ of the Pedal Division (played by the pedal keyboard), pipes from the Principal 8’ of the Great Division (played from the middle keyboard) and pipes from the Principal 4’ of the Positiv Division (played from the lowest keyboard). The remaining pipes of the organ (more pipes than are visible) are behind the “façade” pipes. Some of the pipes inside the case are made from wood. The wood case of the organ is fashioned from beech wood. The accent color of red was chosen by the company and is, appropriately, one of the UNLV school colors.
The four “divisions” of the organ have differing tonal qualities. The Pedal Division contains the largest pipes which produce the lower pitches of the organ, giving the sound “foundation” and depth. The Great Division (middle keyboard) has the loudest pipes giving the sound substance and weight. The Positiv Division (bottom keyboard) has brighter and more delicate sounds than the Great Division. The Swell Division (top keyboard) has its pipes enclosed in a large box which at the front has “shutters” which can be opened and closed by the organist by use of a foot pedal, thereby making the sounds from the box to appear louder and softer. The sounds can be soft and delicate, or loud and aggressive. This division is located at the very top of the case and behind. (It is not visible from the front seats in the hall.) The organist has a huge variety of sounds from which to choose. The organist must select by use of the “stops” (knobs on the console which either turn on or turn off a set of pipes) the sounds which are appropriate for the pieces played.
Families of Sound
The sounds of the pipe organ are classified into two types: labial (referring to the “lips”) and lingual (referring to the “tongue”). These terms designate how the tone is produced.

Labial pipes are constructed as simple whistles and in the organ are of three varieties: principal, flute and string.
Lingual pipes are what organists refer to as “reeds.” Their sound is produced by a brass reed in the foot of the pipe, much like that found in and functioning as the reed in a clarinet mouthpiece.
Brief History of the Organ
The organ traces its history back to the 3rd century B.C. By 900 A.D. instruments were large and loud. During the Middle Ages the organ became identified as the instrument used in the church. It flourished in Western Europe during the Renaissance and became the fully “modern” instrument we see today around 1600-1650, especially in northern Germany. The development of the organ reflected national musical styles in different countries—Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, England and Spain. We have organ literature as from as early as 1100 A.D. Thus, the repertoire for the instrument is certainly one of the largest for any existing instrument today. Johann Sebastian Bach contributed enormously to the literature, and organists consider him “their composer.” Mozart referred to the organ as the “King of Instruments.” Today, many composers continue to write exciting pieces for the organ.
The Host and Presenter for the Introduction to the Pipe Organ
Your guide during the introduction to the organ is Dr. Paul Hesselink. He has had a 26-year teaching career in the Department of Music at Longwood University in Virginia. Since his move to Las Vegas in 1993, he was for 12 years the Dean of Nevada School of the Arts. Now retired from NSA, he continues to serve (since 1994) as an adjunct faculty of organ studies at UNLV. He holds the degrees Bachelor of Arts in Music (Hope College in Michigan), Master of Arts in Organ Pedagogy (The Ohio State University) and the Doctor of Musical Arts in Organ Performance (University of Colorado, Boulder).

You can also hear my story about the dedication of the organ here. [real audio file]

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

And I'm thankful!

There's a nice article in many respects, about the generation of young women violinists:
The violin femmes
By Kyle MacMillan, Denver Post, Fine Arts Critic

You can read the entire article here.

You can also hear some of my interviews with these violinists, a blogposting and audio here for Janine; and here, here, here, here, here, here, and here for real audio files with Hilary.

Sad but true?

I think I know him! (Shar's maestro)

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Small World

So it's been a wacky few days, is something in the water? I was contacted, within a 12 hour time span, by two brass players (?!) that I knew in Wichita, but had lost contact.
Turns out a french horn player played this weekend in Harrisburg, and lives up in State College. He saw my picture in the HSO program and recognized me from the Wichita Symphony and WSU where we went to school. He sent an email to work and got ahold of me. I'll try to catch a concert with his orchestra with in May, when another horn playing friend of ours from "wheatshocker" days will play there.
Then last night I got an email from a trombone player I knew in Youth Symphony oh so many years ago. He's in LA now with his own ensemble, and had seen a comment from a post I'd left on Sequenza21 about reviewing cds.
Small world.

Monday, March 12, 2007

New content

Enjoy some recent interviews from this weekend:
First, there's Sebastian Currier, this year's Grawemeyer Award winner, at Composing Thoughts.
Then check out the discussion of their upcoming concert with Quartetto Gelato on the New Releases Blog.

Don't forget, you and your guest have a chance to go to hear CONCERTANTE!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Lost Hour

In honor of Daylight Savings Time, a quote (ala Terry Teachout) for today:
"...We took Manhattan without the bitters,
we're stayin' put, last call for quitters,
soon it will be just babysitters..."
Here's to Love! from the Down with Love soundtrack (Lyrics by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman)

Friday, March 09, 2007


(PA NEWS) Harrisburg, March 9th, 2007 - ClassicallyHip and John Clare have been awarded the infamous GROWL MY EAR Award in Classical Music playing. It was announced tonight by irritated listeners to Clare's violin playing and by readers of his annoying blog posts. No doubt hitting the wolf on his chinese violin led to the judge's decision for the GROWL MY EAR this year. Second place went to Nepomuk and the White Viola.

Clare will address and dismay the local chapter of the Nat'l Assoc of Fired Public Radio Employees on March 10, 1007 in Hannover. His topic will be music, and he will incorporate his violin into the presentation.

In real news, Wichitans can hear some great chamber music at the Artichoke (I used to get great food there and play South Park Pinball!) when the Chiara String Quartet plays next Friday, the 16th of March. See & hear more here.

Thursday, March 08, 2007


Classical news - Composer news - Chamber Music news
“Static,” a chamber music work by American composer Sebastian Currier, has earned the 2007 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition.
The name of the six-movement piece for flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano reflects “different meanings of the word ‘static,’ which can be a state of quiet balance or the erratic noise between radio stations,” said Marc Satterwhite, a UofL music professor who directs the music award.
“This emotionally complex work explores a huge range of instrumental color within a fairly small ensemble,” Satterwhite said.
Currier, who teaches at Columbia University, studied at the Manhattan and Julliard schools of music. His winning work was commissioned by Copland House of Cortlandt Manor, N.Y., for its resident ensemble, Music from Copland House, with funds from Meet the Composer, a national organization supporting new works by composers.
The ensemble premiered the piece at Columbia’s Miller Theatre in February 2005 and recorded it for Koch International Classics. The work, named winner of the 21st Grawemeyer music prize at a UofL Symphony Orchestra and Wind Symphony concert today in Carnegie Hall, was selected from among 153 nominations worldwide.

About Sebastian Currier
Sebastian Currier’s music has been called “music with a distinctive voice” by the New York Times and “lyrical, colorful, firmly rooted in tradition but absolutely new” by the Washington Post.
A faculty member at Columbia University, Currier lives in Manhattan. He taught at Julliard School of Music from 1992 to 1998 and holds a doctorate in musical arts from Julliard, where he studied with American composer Milton Babbitt.
Currier grew up in a musical family, born in Huntingdon, PA. His mother, Marylin, and his brother, Nathan, are also composers. His father, Robert, was a violist and string teacher.
In 2005, the Berlin Philharmonic presented a full evening of Currier’s chamber music. Last year, he returned to Berlin for the premiere of his work “Broken Minuets,” performed by harpist Marie-Pierre Langlamet and the Oriol Ensemble.
His “Microsymph,” described as a large-scale symphony squeezed into only 10 minutes, was commissioned by the American Composer Orchestra and premiered at Carnegie Hall in New York. The piece, recorded by Frankfurt Radio Orchestra, has been performed by the San Francisco Symphony, Gewandhaus Orchestra, Eos Orchestra and National Symphony Orchestra.
“Aftersong,” a piece he wrote for violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, has been performed at Carnegie Hall, Symphony Hall in Boston, the Barbican in London and Grosses Festspielhaus in Salzburg.
Currier also has written works using electronic media and video, including “Nightmaze,” a multimedia piece filled with images of strange road signs that loom up along a dark highway. A compact disc of his string quartets recorded by the Cassatt Quartet causes listeners to “think about music itself,” said a New York Times critic.
Among his other compositions are “Verge,” “Crossfade,” “Scarlatti Cadences and Brainstorm,” “Remix,” “Quiet Time” and “Night Mass.”
Currier has received several prestigious music awards, including the Berlin Prize, Rome Prize and an academy award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He has held fellowships with Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Arts and residencies with two of the nation’s foremost artist colonies, McDowell and Yaddo.His works are published by Carl Fischer in New York.

One of us

Turns out, I'm "one of us." (hmmmm, like Spartacus?)

On a completely different note, Happy International Women's Day! Tonight you can hear music from women on WITF, from 7 to 9pm.

Great expectations

Interviewed a charming composer yesterday at WITF who lives in our listening area, James Brody.
[photo by Andrew Gena]
And the production of new Composing Thoughts are underway - the new season starts Sunday March 25th, with Michael Torke.
[photo by Andrew Gena]

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


Something new here at ClassicallyHip, but certainly not for the last time.

So, how would you like to hear a world premiere? Tigran Mansurian has written a new work for string sextet, featuring the viola. It's a One plus five commission by Concertante.

So, send me an email [] with the subject line "free tickets" - and how to get ahold of you (name, address, phone) - and you could win a pair of tickets to Concertante's concert on March 24th, 2007, 8pm at the Whitaker Center in Harrisburg, PA.

You'll also have a chance to meet the musicians and discuss the music (Martinu and Brahms are also on the program.)

Please, only enter once. A winner (or two?!) will be drawn on Thursday, March 22nd - announced both on the blog and by your contact info.
Good luck!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Coming soon!

This is most excellent!
From a release from Molly Sheridan:
EXCLUSIVE: Meredith Monk and Björk in the studio together for the first time
New York, NY - The American Music Center is pleased to announce the launch of Counterstream Radio (, a showcase for new music by United States composers, on March 16 at 3 p.m. EST.
To mark the official station launch, Counterstream Radio will broadcast an exclusive conversation between two extraordinary vocal artists: Meredith Monk and Björk.
It was during her days playing drums in an Icelandic punk band that the then 19-year-old Björk first heard Monk's Dolmen Music and was entranced. Years later, after she covered Monk's "Gotham Lullaby" on a world tour with the Brodsky Quartet, the two women struck up a correspondence, but they never had the opportunity to meet in person. Never, that is, until the American Music Center invited them into the studio to record this special presentation, hosted by pianist and radio producer Sarah Cahill.
Monk, the pioneering songstress whose multifaceted performance art has captivated audiences for two generations, and Björk, the Icelandic pop star who has become the darling of "serious" composers and critics everywhere, compare their working processes and their inspirations for creating such unique music for the human voice during this hour-long program of conversation and music.
Following this debut broadcast on March 16, listeners will be able to tune in to Counterstream Radio and hear influential music of many pedigrees 24 hours a day. Drawing from the American Music Center's substantial recordings library, the station will stream programming remarkable for its depth and eclecticism-including the works of composers such as Elliott Carter, John Cage, Bill Frisell, Kid 606, Abbey Lincoln, Milton Babbitt, Philip Glass, Morton Feldman, Laurie Anderson, and hundreds more.
Counterstream radio is supported in part by a major grant from the New York State Music Fund, an innovative program created by the Office of the New York State Attorney General to make contemporary music of all genres more available and accessible to diverse audiences and communities within New York State. The fund grew out of settlements with major recording companies investigated for violating state and federal laws prohibiting "pay for play" (also called "payola").
Links to Counterstream Radio

Nice News

Some nice composer news from Minnesota...learn more about it here.
And find out about some John Cage news here!

Monday, March 05, 2007

They're back baby!

Cleveland rocks, and you'll be able to hear them soon!
From a press release from Rebecca Davis:
Hamburg, March 2007.
One of the world’s elite orchestras is recording again – and Deutsche Grammophon is its proud partner.

Deutsche Grammophon takes pleasure in announcing this association with The Cleveland Orchestra, long regarded as one of today's pre-eminent ensembles, with the release of The Cleveland Orchestra's recent performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, recorded under the baton of Cleveland music director Franz Welser-Möst, at their January 2007 concerts in Severance Hall, the orchestra’s magnificent home.

Of their interpretation of the Ninth, the Miami Herald wrote: “One would expect Welser-Möst and the Cleveland Orchestra to put on an impressive display in the music of Beethoven. But the soaring, eloquent performance heard Friday night was remarkable even by the Clevelanders' elevated reputation.”

In the symphony’s finale, The Cleveland Orchestra is joined by the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus and four outstanding vocalists, all with connections to Deutsche Grammophon.

Making her Deutsche Grammophon debut is the exciting young Canadian soprano Measha Brueggergosman, whose new exclusive contract was recently announced. She sings alongside the celebrated German bass, René Pape, another Deutsche Grammophon exclusive artist.

Two American singers complete the impressive line-up: mezzo-soprano Kelley O’Connor has been garnering widespread critical acclaim for her starring role in Deutsche Grammophon's 2007 Grammy®-winning recording of Osvaldo Golijov’s opera Ainadamar, while Frank Lopardo, one of today’s most distinguished lyric tenors, has already been featured on numerous important Deutsche Grammophon recordings.

In his first Deutsche Grammophon recording project is Franz Welser-Möst, now in his fifth season as The Cleveland Orchestra’s music director and his second season as the Generalmusikdirektor of the Zurich Opera. This Austrian-born maestro is in constant demand by the world’s leading concert and opera organizations. Beginning next season at the Vienna State Opera – where in November 2005 he participated in the gala concert celebrating the 50th anniversary of the house’s post-war reopening – Welser-Möst is conducting the new production of Wagner’s Ring. His extensive discography includes a number of award-winning recordings.

Michael Lang, President of Deutsche Grammophon, says: “Ever since our first collaboration with Cleveland’s great orchestra back in 1975, the Deutsche Grammophon catalogue has been immeasurably enriched with their benchmark performances of music by wide-ranging composers from Beethoven to Berlioz.”

Matthew Cosgrove, Deutsche Grammophon’s Vice-President of Artists & Repertoire, remarked: “To forge a closer connection with a great orchestra is a significant artistic undertaking for a classical record company, and few orchestras in the world enjoy the prowess and prestige of Cleveland’s. This is an auspicious occasion for Deutsche Grammophon.”

The Cleveland Orchestra’s Executive Director, Gary Hanson, stated: “To re-enter the recording arena with such a partner as Deutsche Grammophon is important to the Orchestra, and we are pleased to renew our association with this renowned label. We look forward to the Deutsche Grammophon release of the Cleveland Orchestra recording of Beethoven’s Ninth, marking their first with Music Director Franz Welser-Möst.”

Maestro Welser-Möst adds: “To this day, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony remains powerfully relevant, as it is a high point in humankind’s coming to terms with being human. I feel a special affinity for this symphony and am very pleased that our new recording of it will be appearing on Deutsche Grammophon, which has such a long and distinguished Beethoven tradition.”

Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with The Cleveland Orchestra and Chorus conducted by Franz Welser-Möst will be released by Deutsche Grammophon in summer 2007.

Hearing a performance

How important is seeing a performance and hearing a performance at a concert?
I just read this from ArtsJournal - an article from the Baltimore Sun:
The dancer also can seem unconcerned about engaging in a conversation with his audience. Glover's habit of dancing with his back to the ticket buyers riles some critics. Others see in this practice merely the necessity for Glover to make eye contact with the musicians who surround him on stage. It is very clear that Glover considers Higgins and Kim and the others equal partners in an intimate and engrossing conversation. And, how can he talk to them if he's not looking at them?

Does it bother you (critics and audience members alike) when a soloist makes eye contact with say the oboist playing a line, and doesn't face the audience completely? What about players who close their eyes while playing? Is that rude?
Does any of it matter when the performance is stunning and moving?

I'm interested in knowing your thoughts, share them in the comments below!

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Tired of politics?

I am so tired of every four years, political candidates wasting millions of dollars and yet the country neglects the arts. So I'm asking instead of giving to so-and-so politician, make a contribution to an artist - me!
Click on the donation button on the right hand side of the screen. Amounts over $2,000 (US) take alot of rigamaroll via paypal, so for the time being, I'd request you keep it at or under $1,999.99.
Your donation will help with an upcoming book project, violin strings, travel for this blog and for my website,
Thanks so much!

Friday, March 02, 2007

No fanfare

Welcome the Public Radio Program Director's blog to the blogosphere.
The funny thing? Nothing on their website about it.
Thanks Current for the link!


I'm the father. Not Gavin.

Don't Walk, Run!

Get your tickets for the Baltimore Symphony's 2007-2008 season. It's the first full season with Marin Alsop as director, and get this, eleven, yes, 11 living composers will be on hand talking about their music and in some cases conducting it!
Check it out here.

Oh, and Marin is conducting the world premiere with the Pittsburgh Symphony of John Corigliano's Percussion Concerto with Evelyn Glennie next year too.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Do you believe studies?

This reported over on ArtsJournal from the Telegraph:

The shocking truth about sex and violas
Are we our own worst enemies? Is the world of classical music too stuffy by half? Certainly Muso magazine seems to think so, writes Julian Lloyd Webber
Are we our own worst enemies? Is the world of classical music too stuffy by half? Certainly Muso magazine seems to think so.
According to its website, Muso is "the groundbreaking magazine for the younger, more open-minded generation of classical music fans". And, following Muso's survey into the sex lives of classical musicians, its editor, Femke Colborne, isn't a happy bunny.
Not that the musicians themselves weren't responsive - they seemed only too ready to spill the beans on their sexual shenanigans. It's the reaction to her Valentine's Day jape from the rest of the profession that's riled her.
"Are classical music and fun mutually exclusive?" asks Colborne, who adopts a rather fetching pose herself above her steamy editorial. "This industry [sic] could gain a lot from lightening up a bit. Musicians are forever complaining about the lack of prominent classical coverage in the national papers; but by adopting these kinds of attitudes they are probably deterring the media, who are understandably reluctant to publish content that is stuffy, elitist and, well, boring to everyone who is not part of that 'serious' circle."
Phew! But Colborne is only just hitting her stride: "Classical music gets a lot of bad press from a bunch of pretentious old gits trying to impress each other with how much they know about it, but Muso gives it the vibrant, fun and colourful image it deserves."
So it's odds on that Colborne's next project won't be a rewrite of How to Make Friends and Influence People, but, while I am distressed by such blatant ageism, I do believe that the young lady has a point. After all, composers from Arnold (whose Grand, Grand Overture was scored for "full orchestra, organ, three vacuum cleaners, one floor polisher and four rifles") to Zemlinsky (whose opera The Dwarf features delicious black comedy) have always acknowledged the place of humour in music, and they have never exactly been averse to a bit of rumpy-pumpy.
As to the survey itself, there are a few startling results. Viola players, it seems, are "most likely to have sex on a first date", "most likely to have had sex three or more times in the last week" and "most likely to have had 10 or more sexual partners" (presumably not all at once).
Perhaps it's because they have so little time left to practise that violists are the constant butt (forgive me) of jokes such as: "How do you know when a viola's being played out of tune?" Answer: "The bow is moving."
Predictably, guitarists were "the most likely to have had a one-night stand" and tuba players not only played "the least sexy instrument" but were also "most likely to be single". Of course, had Colborne come to me I could have saved her a lot of unnecessary angst as the answer to the survey's key question - "Which musicians make the best lovers?" - was obviously "cellists".

Of course, I don't believe this study at all. And as always, ClassicallyHip is willing to go to the mat, so to speak, and find out.