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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Bang on a Can Marathon, June 22, 2014

Listeners of the webcast are probably familiar (perhaps too familiar) with my admiration for Bang on a Can, the New York based organization founded and run by composers Michael Gordon, David Lang and Julia Wolfe to promote their own, and other similarly minded composers' music. Their aesthetic is to basically (and this is my own generalization here) augment or perhaps subvert, various 20th century composition techniques with outside elements like jazz, rock, world and early musics. Besides promoting their own work, Band on a Can serves as a forum for the work of their colleagues, peers, students, teachers and influences.

One of the most visible and popular presentations is their early summer marathon concert in New York City. This is the first year various stars have aligned enough for me to attend, and it was a worthwhile experience. What follows is a brief rundown of the day.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Preview - RIP Messrs. Goffin, Hyla and Silver

I'm plotting out some tributes in this week's webcast for the three great yet diverse musicians who died in the last week or so, the quintessential hard-bop pianist Horace Silver, the brilliant popsong lyricist Gerry Goffin, and the under-appreciated, multifaceted composer Lee Hyla.

Doing some research while trying to decide whether to feature Hyla's bass clarinet or violin concerto, I came across this article which certainly shows some similarities between his and the blog's ideals - the melange of influences, the idea that the audience has an active role in the musical experience, and others. A mutual music biz acquaintance actually tried once to get us to meet and talk, thinking we'd get along well, but it didn't really come off.

Anyway, the bass clarinet concerto is a better fit, the violin concerto is too long, but the first ten minutes or so make a distinct section (including an amazing solo cadenza) which could be cleaved off to fit in. Which ever doesn't get played tomorrow will probably show up later.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Peter Serkin endorses the webcast...

... Well not really, but I think this quote from the great eclectic pianist about his own programming is simpatico with a program that will combine Elvis Costello and Marshall Crenshaw with Stravinsky and Berio because they're all using accordions.
I prefer programs which are neither overly ingratiating nor didactic. I think that programs show integrity when there is no attempt to win anyone over at all. We can welcome programs that are somewhat challenging. It is out of respect for the intelligence of an audience that one plays programs that may not be particularly easy to listen to, but that present something genuine, with integrity. Anyhow, how can one possibly determine what is “easy” or “difficult” to listen to for someone else—is Beethoven really easier to listen to than Wolpe or Wuorinen? In any case, we do not need to shirk from that which may be more outrageous and provocative; people do want to hear interesting music.
You can find the whole interview here.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Preview / Warning

June is National Accordion Awareness Month, something I can hardly let go uncelebrated. Therefore a large part of this week's webcast will be devoted to increasing your awareness.

Choice of repertoire was capricious and arbitrary, as usual. No attempt at comprehensiveness was made. I kept coming across the same Frankie Yankovic CD at one of my regular thrift shop stops, but I was able to resist, and not buy it just to put it on the webcast (your welcome). There will be no polkas or Lady of Spain. There will be Berio, Ligeti, and Stravinsky among others. There's an Astor Piazzola that might not make the final cut. Nor is there any Weird Al. Nor that Who song.

My criteria were
  • 1.) Does this have an accordion on it? 
  • 2.) Do I like it?
If the webcast doesn't satiate you, the Somerville Arts Council is sponsoring Squeezebox Slam 2014, featuring accordionists strolling around the city before gathering in Seven Hills Park (behind the Davis Square T-Station) for a performance.

Tune in and enjoy!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Makanda Project with Oliver Lake at the BPL, Dudley Square, May 30, 2014

The Makanda Project is dedicated to performing works by the late saxophonist and composer Makanda Ken McIntyre. The pianist and band leader John Kordalewski was given access to many unperformed tunes and scores, and has assembled a band featuring several of Boston's best musicians (among them John Lockwood, Charlie Kohlhase, Kurtis Rivers, Yoron Israel and Jerry Sabatini), plus the occasional special guest, to bring them to life. Their home base is the drab but cozy auditorium at the Boston Public Library's Dudley Square Branch (beautifully lit up at night), in the desire to present the music in the community where McIntyre grew up.

Domenico Scarlatti and John Cage, together at last!

Here's something right up my alley, that you all may also enjoy -- the pianist David Greilsammer alternating pieces by Domenico Scarlatti and John Cage recorded live at (Le) Poisson Rouge. Courtesy of Q2, the fantastic new-music internet radio station in New York.