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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Saturday, January 22, 2011

It Seems Idiotic

I have a few friends who just don't understand why I love the comic strip Mary Worth so intensely. Maybe they will understand after clicking here:

via The Comics Curmudgeon.

Monday, January 17, 2011

One More Thing

I mentioned that Bang on a Can All-Star Ashley Bathgate and All-Star emerita Lisa Moore are playing at today's Ecstatic Music Festival marathon opener; I didn't mention that they'll also be playing (as "TwoSense") a set in Manhattan Friday night (when, conveniently, the Festival has nothing scheduled) at "The Little Church Around the Corner" (1 E 29th): Bresnick, Chopin, Janacek, Prokofiev, Schnittke, $25 ($15 students)(suggested!), 7:30 pm.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Take Ecstasy with Me

Look I know I haven't mentioned this before and I REALLY SHOULD HAVE but you guys kind of have to go to the Ecstatic Music Festival that Judd Greenstein is curating at Merkin. It starts tomorrow, Monday afternoon, Jan. 17 (Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, so you're off work!), and runs for freakin' MONTHS. Here's the program for tomorrow's FREE marathon, which starts at 2 and for seven hours, with lots of breaks and refreshments and whatnot so you're not being held prisoner or something:
Ne(x)tworks plays a piece by Julius Eastman (no not THAT piece, it is MLK Day, do you want to get us all in trouble)
Timo Andres plays Ives and Andres
Face the Music plays Missy Mazzoli and Christine Southworth
So Percussion plays So Percussion
Chiara String Quartet plays Jefferson Friedman
NOW Ensemble plays Greenstein
John Matthias, Adrian Corker & Andew Prior play Matthias
Julianna Barwick sings Barwick
Vicky Chow plays Daniel Wohl
Corey Dargel (w/ NOW Ensemble and Nathan Koci) sings Dargel (Other People's Love Songs, complete!)
Ashley BathgateLisa Moore play Kate Moore
Ashley Bathgate plays Michael Gordon's Industry
Gabriel Kahane sings and plays Gabriel Kahane
Nadia Sirota & Nico Muhly play Muhly
and Buke & Gass collaborate with Mazzoli's Victoire on some awesome new thing.
That's just the first day! I kind of CAN'T NOT go to this.

Here's the whole page for the extended festival. I hope you'll reconize some incredibly serious names here: Dan Deacon, Darcy James Argue, Vijay Iyer, Doveman, Owen Pallett, Clogs, Sarah Kirkland Snider, John Medeski, AND MANY MORE.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Hilary Hahn Has Commissioned a Shitload of New Encores

So over my Xmas vay kay in Cali (don't you hate people who say vaykay) (or Cali) I had a nice conversation with my violinist brother about Hilary Hahn's playing, possibly because both I AND a student of his bought him her recording of the Tchaikovsky/Higdon concerti for Xmas. I told him he has to watch this
  and he talked about how he heard from a friend about how even when she was just a kid her work ethic was utterly ridiculous, like just HOURS spent in a practice room, and now that's probably how come she has some of the strongest, cleanest technique in the biz. Now I played violin for many years, but if you ever heard me drag bow across string you'd understand that I don't necessarily have a terrific grasp of the finer points of violin technique, so it was gratifying for me to hear somebody who knows more about these things than I do say that yup, she has an incredibly strong left hand ("Just as I suspected!" —Einstein over here), and it was also interesting to hear his take on the Higdon concerto, namely that he did NOT believe, as I did, that it was likely to take off as a part of the violin repertoire, just because it's so damn difficult: "There are parts of that piece I listen to," (I'm paraphrasing) "and I think to myself, I could never play that! Which isn't a feeling I get when I listen to Ysaÿe or Paganini."

BUT ALL OF THESE SPARKLING INSIGHTS ARE JUST LEADING UP TO THE BIG ANNOUNCEMENT that following the awesome success of her Higdon concerto commission, Hilary Hahn has commissioned TWENTY-SIX MORE PIECES from twenty-six different composers, short works for violin and piano. There will also be a twenty-seventh commission later this year, to be awarded according to some unorthodox scheme yet to be announced; I hope that this scheme will be somehow YOUTUBE-related, because of course the one thing classical music needs right now is one more YouTube Symphony or YouTube Choir or some shit like that. Or maybe it will be Crowdsourced or Wiki'd or Tumblr'd or something similarly WEB TWO POINT OH. Hilary H: jackin' her strat.

I TEASE, but seriously, but no but seriously, what's really interesting here is not the HOW of the commissions but the WHO. I mean I don't even know who all of these people are, but LOOK:

Franghiz Ali-Zadeh
Post-Soviet, Mugham-influenced, prepared piano–playing Azerbaijani lady

David Del Tredici
Neo-Romantic American gay

Jennifer Higdon
Pulitzer-winning composer of concerti for Hilary Hahn and eighth blackbird

James Newton Howard
Bigshot Hollywood film composer dude

David Lang
Pulitzer-winning Bang on a Can person

Edgar Meyer
Bluegrass/jazz/classical bassist (you may remember him from such Yo-Yo Ma collaborations as APPALACHIA WALTZ)

Michiru Oshima
Japanese composer for cartoons, which sounds like I'm being dismissive if you're not a total nerd for these things and therefore aware that they are a REALLY BIG DEAL in the enormous parallel universe that exists right next to the world of concert music but seldom overlaps it

Krysztof Penderecki
If you're reading this you already know who Penderecki is (actually I'm sure that goes for David Lang too, but)

Einojuhani Rautavaara
If you're reading this and know who Penderecki is you should probably also go find out who Rautavaara is

Max Richter
Pianist/composer, formerly of Piano Circus, who has also put out some pretty boss solo records—think "ambient"?

Somei Satoh
Extremely awesome Zen-influenced Japanese composer guy

Elliott Sharp
Improv guitarist and experimental composer

Valentin Silvestrov
Arvo Pärt's favorite composer, one of my favorites too, you REALLY REALLY need to get into him
And the rest:
Lera Auerbach
Richard Barrett
Mason Bates
Tina Davidson
Avner Dorman
Søren Nils Eichberg
Christos Hatzis
Bun-Ching Lam
Paul Moravec
Nico Muhly
Mark-Anthony Turnage
Gillian Whitehead
Du Yun
Going down the list, that's a pretty good breakdown, right there, of "serious" vs. "popular" traditions, ladies vs. gents, "Western" vs. non-, and so forth. This is a shockingly well-rounded commissioning program for a mainstream classical artist! Even if you hate 24 of these composers with a passion, there are gonna be two on here whose music you just live for. I'M GOING TO ALLOW THIS, y'all, and I am very much looking forward to hearing what comes of it.