MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

Tribute to Clara Schumann

On Sunday 28 March at 5pm PST, Port Angeles’s Music on the Strait — the Strait of Juan de Fuca, that is — presents Tribute to Clara Schumann from the shores of Lake Sutherland. The performers include co-artistic director James Garlick (violin), Saeunn Thorsteindottir (cello), Orion Weiss (piano), and Nathan Hughes (oboe). Violist and Music on the Strait co-artistic director Richard O’Neill, who just won the Best Classical Instrumental Solo Performance Grammy Award, will introduce.  The concert can be accessed for free here.

Program:

Clara Schumann: Three Romances for Violin and Piano, Op 22 

Robert Schumann: Three Romances for Oboe and Piano, Op 94 

Johannes Brahms: Wiegenlied and Liebestreu arr. for Cello and Piano

Clara Schumann: Piano Trio, Op 17

My story for the New York Times on Clara Schumann’s 200th birthday can be read here.

Filed under: chamber music, music news

Bang on a Can Marathon Live Online

For MaerzMusik 2021, Bang on a Can has curated a special edition of its online Bang on a Can Marathon: four hours of live performances from both sides of the Atlantic. Bang on a Can Marathon Live Online – MaerzMusik Edition will be presented by Berliner Festspiele on Sunday, 21 March 2021 from 3pm-7pm ET.

The Bang on a Can Marathon is one of many events taking place during the MaerzMusik Festival 2021, running March 19-28. MaerzMusik 2021 aims at providing a variety of online experiences: world premieres recorded with state-of-the-art 360° camera and 3D sound technology, binaural audio streams, live-streamed concerts, pre-produced concert films, music videos, documentaries, lectures and talks.

In addition to the artists of the Bang on a Can marathon, works by Jessie Cox, Halim El-Dabh, Jessica Ekomane, Beatriz Ferreyra, Carlos Guitérrez, Sofia Jernberg, Marisol Jiménez, Hannah Kendall, Daniel Kidane, Tania León, Bernard Parmegiani, Éliane Radigue, Manuel Rodríguez Valenzuela, and many others can be experienced.

These digital productions are connecting the physical locations Haus der Berliner Festspiele, Chamber Music Hall of the Philharmonie, Zeiss-Großplanetarium, SAVVY Contemporary, silent green, Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, Université du Québec à Montréal, and Schloss Rheinsberg, as well as private apartments and studios around the world where music, language, and moving images are being created for this festival. The full festival programming is available here: www.berlinerfestspiele.de/maerzmusik-en

The Bang on a Can Marathon is free to watch, but viewers are encouraged to consider purchasing a ticket. Doing so helps Bang on a Can and MaerzMusik to pay more players, commission more composers, and make more music. 

Bang on a Can Marathon Live Online – MaerzMusik Edition

Set times are approximate and subject to change. 

3PM NEW YORK | 8PM BERLIN

Daniel Bernard Roumain Why Did They Kill Sandra Bland? performed by Arlen Hlusko

Arnold Dreyblatt

Mazz Swift

Rohan Chander or THE TRAGEDY OF HIKKOMORI LOVELESS from FINAL//FANTASY performed by Vicky Chow

4PM NEW YORK | 9PM BERLIN

Kristina Wolfe Listening to the Wind performed by Molly Barth

Miya Masaoka

Aeryn Santillan disconnect. performed by Ken Thomson

Adam Cuthbert

5PM NEW YORK | 10PM BERLIN

Ken Thomson Birds and Ambulances performed by Robert Black

Tomeka Reid Lamenting G.F., A.A., B.T., T.M. performed by Vicky Chow

Steve Reich Vermont Counterpoint performed by Claire Chase

Christina Wheeler

Molly Joyce Purity performed by David Cossin

6PM NEW YORK | 11PM BERLIN

Tyshawn Sorey

Jeffrey Brooks Santuario performed by Mark Stewart

Moor Mother

Bill Frisell

Marathon Program Info

Filed under: festivals, new music

Remembering Paul Taub (1952-2021)

Some thoughts on the wonderful and irreplaceable Paul Taub. May his memory be a blessing.

An internationally acclaimed flutist and pioneer of Seattle’s new music community, Paul Taub died at his home in Seattle on March 13 after a heart attack. He was 68.

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Paul Taub’s last performances were with the organist Joseph Adam, on 26 February 2021 as well as in the video shown above, which premiered online on 28 February but was prerecorded for a program titled Solo Flute Spectacular. For the latter program, he played from Barang I (1974) by Barbara Benary (1946-2019) and the Air in G Minor (1947) by Lou Harrison (1917–2003).

His very last live performance took place on 26 February at Seattle’s St. James Cathedral. For this live concert stream, titled A Musical Prayer, Paul and Joseph Adam performed the following program:

Jehan Alain, arr. Marie-Claire Alain: Trois Mouvements for flute and organ
Alan Hovhaness: Sonata for Ryūteki and Shō, or Flute and Organ
Julie Mandel: Every Monday for flute alone (world premiere)
Anna Bon di Venezia: Sonata No. 1 in C major, Op. 1, No. 1 for flute and organ

Filed under: music news, new music, Seattle Chamber Players

Happy Birthday, J.S. Bach!

Byron Schenkman & Friends presents an homage to the Thomaskirche Cantor with Happy Birthday, J.S. Bach! This concert features Joshua Romatowski on flute, Ingrid Matthews on violin, Caroline Nicolas on viol, and Byron Schenkman on harpsichord.

In addition to works by J.S. Bach, this program includes music composed around the time of his birth by Isabella Leonarda and Johann Kaspar Kerll.

 This is a free digital concert and will be streamed at 7:00pm PST on Sunday, March 21, 2021; it will remain available at Byron Schenkman & Friends and on BS&F’s YouTube channel.

The video link above is to BS&F’s February concert, Piano Songs & Fantasies, which offered a remarkable program of Mozart, Teresa Carreño, Florence Price, Johannes Brahms, Margaret Bonds, Hale Smith, and Franz Schubert.

PROGRAM:

Johann Sebastian Bach: Sonata in D major, BWV 1028, for viol and harpsichord
Johann Kaspar Kerll: Passacaglia for harpsichord
Johann Sebastian Bach: Partita in A minor, BWV 1013, for flute
Isabella Leonarda: Sonata, op. 16, no. 12, for violin and continuo
Johann Sebastian Bach: Adagio Cantabile in G major, BWV 1019a, for violin and harpsichord

Filed under: Bach, Byron Schenkman

Nicholas Cords Offers Comfort and Connection with Touch Harmonious

For Strings magazine, I recently spoke with the wonderful violist and musical thinker Nicholas Cords about Touch Harmonious, his new solo album from In a Circle Records.

The story begins on p. 10 (pdf download).

Filed under: Strings

Emerald City Music’s Spring Online Offerings

Emerald City Music has announced a series of concerts and musical events through May. Every month features a new cast of musicians who perform, share about their craft, and provide insights into the music they perform. The series is filmed in collaboration with two New York City-based filmmakers, Tristan Cook and Zac Nicholson, who bring their own artistic merits to this unique experience of chamber music. 

All concerts will be available on Emerald City Music’s website and Vimeo platform for one month;  at which point the next performance premieres. Listeners have a choice of how to gain access: pay for each performance for $20 (which supports future listening experiences) or share it on social media to gain free access. 

Currently in rotation: The Calidore String Quartet pairs two quartets recently recorded for their newest album, Babel. These two works by Robert Schumann and Dmitri Shostakovich stem from bleak periods when each composer suffered, and overcame, depression. Their music transmits what occurs when music substitutes for language. In the case of Shostakovich, words aren’t enough to fill the void of forbidden speech. Schumann uses music to sing the name of his wife, Clara.

Filed under: chamber music, music news

Multi-cultural Odes: Jessie Montgomery in Profile

Here’s my latest story for Strings magazine:

An unmistakable harmony holds sway in Jessie Montgomery’s creative work. Her attunement to larger cultural contexts is eloquent and persuasive. Take Banner, Montgomery’s contribution to the tributes marking the U.S. National Anthem’s bicentennial in 2014. A compact, powerful piece for string quartet and string (or chamber) orchestra, Banner confronts what she calls “the contradictions, leaps and bounds, and milestones that allow us to celebrate and maintain the tradition of our ideals”…

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Filed under: American music, Strings

Damien Geter’s Cantata for A More Hopeful Tomorrow

Following the premiere of Damian Geter‘s short film Cantata for A More Hopeful Tomorrow last November, The Washington Chorus has now made the audio recording available to download and/or stream via multiple platforms. 

The Washington Chorus is among the first choirs in the country to release a recording that was produced 100% remotely – all choral singers along with guest soloists Aundi Marie Moore (soprano) and Seth Parker Woods (cello) recorded their parts from home during the pandemic. Complete list of streaming platforms.

Influenced by stories of hope and the disproportionate impact that COVID-19 has had on the Black community, The Washington Chorus and Artistic Director Dr. Eugene Rogers commissioned composer Damien Geter and Emmy award-winning filmmaker Bob Berg both from Portland, Oregon, to produce a short music film that premiered in November 2020. The work features soprano Aundi Marie Moore, cellist Seth Parker Woods, and over 100 singers of The Washington Chorus.

“It was important for The Washington Chorus to step forward with musical space for reflection, healing, and hope amidst the COVID-19 global health pandemic and America’s long overdue reckoning with historic racial injustices,” says Stephen Beaudoin, TWC Executive Director.

Filed under: American music, choral music

From Easter Island, a Pianist Emerges

Here’s my latest story for The New York Times. Deeply grateful to Mahani Teave for sharing her story, as well as to David Fulton, John Forsen, Gayle Podrabsky, and Elizabeth Dworkin for their generous insights.

“From her home, halfway up the highest hill on Rapa Nui, Mahani Teave was describing the power of nature there to overwhelm….”

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Filed under: New York Times, pianists

RIP Lawrence Ferlinghetti (1919-2021)

Poetry as an “insurgent art,” the poet as storyteller, as painter: the many-faceted artist Lawrence Ferlinghetti has died at the age of 101 in his beloved San Francisco.

As a young man freshly armed with a comparative literature doctorate from Paris, Ferlinghetti arrived in San Francisco in 1951. He resembled, in his words, “the last of the bohemians rather than the first of the Beats.” See the New York Times assessment here, which adds: “San Francisco remained close to his heart as well, especially North Beach, the traditionally Italian-American neighborhood where he lived for most of his adult life” — and where he joined with Peter Martin to open the City Lights Pocket Book Shop in 1953 (each invested just $500).

“City Lights quickly became the hangout of choice for the city’s radical intelligentsia, particularly Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Gregory Corso and the rest of the Beats,” writes Emma Brown in The Washington Post. “The doors stayed open until midnight weekdays and 2 a.m. weekends, and even then it was hard to close on time. From its earliest years, it stocked gay and lesbian publications.”

A brave opponent of censorship and a pioneer of independent publishing, Ferlinghetti sustained his credo about art’s potential to change our world (as quoted in NPR’s appreciation): “I really believe that art is capable of the total transformation of the world, and of life itself. And nothing less is really acceptable. So I mean if art is going to have any excuse for — beyond being a leisure-class plaything — it has to transform life itself.”

He also said: “Everyone is a poet at 16, but how many are poets at 50? Generally, people seem to get more conservative as they age, but in my case, I seem to have gotten more radical, Poetry must be capable of answering the challenge of apocalyptic times, even if this means sounding apocalyptic.”

Here’s a group of photos taken outside City Lights showing an impromptu memorial on Tuesday.

Filed under: poetry

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