MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

Satyagraha Comes to LA

My article on the production of Philip Glass’s sublime Satyagraha is here (starting p. 24).
The production, directed by Phelim McDermott and conducted by Grant Gershon, runs till November 11. (Video above from its first staging at English National Opera.)

Filed under: essay, Grant Gershon, Phelim McDermott, Philip Glass

Intermission Over

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Filed under: photography

Another Tokyo Night

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Filed under: photography

Andrew Norman’s Sustain

I finally had a chance to listen to Sustain, the major new Andrew Norman piece, thanks to the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s online, on-demand (free) broadcast of the 4 October 100th-anniversary season kickoff concert, conducted by Gustavo Dudamel.

The entire program is terrific: Esa-Pekka Salonen’s LA Variations and the Beethoven Triple Concerto on the first half, with Sustain, an LA Phil commission and receiving its world premiere here, filling the second. But you should especially get excited about Norman’s composition. It’s a big piece, ambitious, visionary, otherworldly, spun from fascinating aural patterns that seem to wormhole and teleport across vast astronomical spaces.

Such purposeful originality here: the multilayered connotations of the title are by no means merely incidental. There’s no question now that Norman is a major, significant voice. Especially given its spatial conception, Sustain obviously has to be experienced live. But I highly recommend checking out the broadcast while it’s still available as a temporary compromise.*

Mark Swed writes: ” In an exceptional feat of musical transformation, we wind up in an indefinable new dimension. This is something new.”

And in the New York Times, Seth Coulter Walls discerns “a sublime new direction for the composer”: “Over the final third of ‘Sustain,’ this unusual merger between restraint and hyperactivity could hypnotize … Even when the dynamic level increases to an undeniable roar, there is a smoothness to the piece.”

*Look for the little link button (a bit hard to find) on this page, right below the words “in case you missed it – or want to relive the magic – we’re bringing it to you here on KUSC.org on demand!”

Filed under: Andrew Norman, Los Angeles Philharmonic, new music

Within and Without: Addressing Citizenship through Artistic Engagement


Cal Performances at Berkeley has an especially compelling season lined up and is genuinely engaged with issues critical to our time — including the premiere of a new work commissioned by composer Jimmy López and writer-playwright Nilo Cruz. Here’s my preview:

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Filed under: Cal Performances, Jimmy López, Uncategorized

Hip To Be HIP

Cracked Orlando

Enraged Alcina (Jacqueline Horner-Kwiatek, mezzo-soprano) casts a curse on the love of Angelica (Sharon Harms, soprano) and Medoro (Brian Jeffers, tenor); from Jonathan Dawe’s Cracked Orlando: dramma per musica e fractals at Juilliard, 2017; photo by Nanette Melville

My story on the creative connections between early music performers and contemporary composers is the current cover story in Early Music America Magazine‘s fall 2018 issue:

When early and new music intersect, alliances are opening up a sense of fresh potential for both sides …

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Filed under: early music, feature, new music

Apocalypse Not Yet: Jaap van Zweden and the NY Phil Combine New Work with Bruckner 8

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Jaap van Zweden; image (c) © Hans van der Woerd

Here’s my review of Jaap van Zweden and the New York Philharmonic in their recent program of a new work by Conrad Tao and Bruckner:

It’s been a month of firsts for the New York Philharmonic: along with the start of its inaugural season with music director Jaap van Zweden, each programme since the opening gala has included a world première…

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Filed under: Jaap van Zweden, New York Philharmonic, review

Heavenly Bodies

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From the Met’s show Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination.

Filed under: art exhibition, photography

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