Weekly Magazine

October mockingbird curating other birds’ songs

NEW THIS WEEK

STATE OF THE ARTS

ARTS COUNCIL FOR MONTEREY COUNTY files its first annual report. “We have had a successful and productive year, and are proud of the impact we made with so many students, seniors, veterans, artists, arts organizations and nonprofits that provide art programs, especially during the pandemic,” writes executive director Jacquie Atchison. “October is National Arts & Humanities Month (NAHM), a national celebration of arts and culture in America.” Click HERE

DÍA DE MUERTOS STARTS EARLY

SANTA CRUZ MUSEUM OF ART AND HISTORY hosts a month-long celebration from October 9 through November 2, featuring performers from Senderos. Click HERE

VIRTUAL CALENDAR

THE MIRÓ QUARTET plays a recent Kevin Puts string quartet commissioned by Chamber Music Monterey Bay. SANTA CRUZ BAROQUE FESTIVAL launches a new podcast series hosted by board chair Keshav Batish. HOWARD BURNHAM performs “Amid the Brave . . .” Anne Brontë and Family online webinar. JEWEL THEATRE’S Kennedy: Bobby’s Last Crusade resumes. FOR DETAILS AND LINKS, CLICK HERE

THIS LAND IS YOUR LAND

THE NATIONAL ANTHEM that came from radical roots. Click HERE

THE UNIQUELY COMPLEX STANLEY CROUCH

ADAM SHATZ remembers the late jazz man and jazz pundit. “He lived for music and argument.” Click HERE

THE ‘PHILOSOPHY’ OF MUSIC

A LANGUAGE OF IMAGINATION like no other. Click HERE

JIMI HENDRIX & JANICE JOPLIN 50TH

BOTH ROCK STARS died in 1970 at the age of 27.

NOW HEAR THIS: THE SCHUBERT GENERATION

FRANZ SCHUBERT composed 1,500 works, but his genius wasn’t recognized until after his death at age 31. The Vienna native never found success in his hometown, then the world’s musical capital. Host Scott Yoo goes to today’s musical capitals to meet tomorrow’s most promising artists—all of them Schubert’s age during his career—to understand Schubert’s life through some of his greatest music and learn what it takes for a young classical artist to make it in the 21st century. To watch the entire episode, click HERE

THE HYPERTRAGIC NOTCH

THE ONLY piece on this delightful new American Gifts actually composed for marimbas is Michael Tilson Thomas’ Island Music of 2003. The others are arranged from piano works. The CD’s title alludes to Simple Gifts, a shaker song attributed to Elder Joseph Brackett (1797-1882) that Aaron Copland made famous in the ballet Appalachian Spring; it was arranged here from a piano improvisation by Penny Rodriguez. MTT’s Island Music is an ambitious rondo (a classical form that alternates between a recurring principal theme with different material sandwiched in, like ABACA, etc.) that was inspired by a holiday house in Bali that contained a gamelan orchestra. Born in LA, MTT shared a keen affinity for Pacific Rim music styles and dedicated the work to the most noteworthy practitioner, Lou Harrison. (He also wrote it in memory of Harrison’s partner Bill Colvig and of composer Ingolf Dahl who was one of MTT’s most influential teachers.) The A theme first appears in the short Introduction to Part I: “Thoughts on the Dance Floor,” where it first takes on its definitive form. (The Bali house was also a dance pavilion.) Part II: “In the Clearing” changes moods to a more thoughtful reflection on sad memories “of those no longer with us” and grows more lyrical until dissolving into arabesques. Part III: “Ride Outs” grows more animated and its final coda is “very much indebted to both Beethoven and James Brown.” The piece was originally intended for a single marimba but with the urging of Jack Van Geem and Nancy Zeltsman takes its final form as a kind-of concerto for two ‘solo’ marimbas plus two ‘tutti’ marimbas and two percussionists. At 31 minutes, it is the longest piece on the album. Simple Gifts is also alluded to in the first of the seven short movements of Irving Fine’s Music for Piano (1947). Fine (1914-1962) was a pupil of Nadia Boulanger, like Copland; these enchantingly simple pieces conceal a complex mastery of style. Another Boulanger pupil was Roger Sessions whose Sonata No. 1 for Piano (1930) was also adapted for two marimbas on this occasion. A short andante serves as introduction to the first allegro. Subtle allusions to Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt and/or Bach will catch any ear for such details. SM

FRESH REVIEW/PREVIEW

HOWARD BURNHAM’S Amid the Brave… Anne Brontë and Family upcoming this Saturday. Click HERE

CRY NO MORE

MET OPERA Chorus with Rhiannon Giddens.

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER: @PerfArtsMtyBay

Scott MacClelland, editor; Rebecca CR Brooks, associate editor

 

Weekly Magazine

NEW THIS WEEK

MELINDA COFFEY ARMSTEAD launches a new OLLI four-part livestream ZOOM series on the piano music of Frédéric Chopin on Thursdays, 10 am, starting October 1. Click HERE 

MEMBERS OF ONE FOUND SOUND stream chamber music on a virtual watch party this Thursday. FROM ST IGNATIUS PARISH streams “Sing a Joyful Noise,” the last in its series, on Thursday. SANTA CRUZ BAROQUE FESTIVAL presents nyckelharpa virtuoso Olov Johansson (pictured) in concert with Lux Musica at the weekend. JEWEL THEATRE COMPANY will stream Kennedy: Bobby’s Last Crusade, written and performed by David Arrow. SUNSET CENTER begins a new ‘drive in’ concert series. FOR DETAILS AND LINKS, CLICK HERE

‘MOONLIGHT’ SONATA

MONGKOL is a 61-year-old former logging elephant. His captive-held life was spent hauling trees in the Thai forest. He lost his right eye and tusk in this brutal practice. Mongkol was rescued and brought to Elephants World to spend the rest of his days relaxing peacefully in freedom by the River Kwai. Paul Barton discovered Mongkol is an extremely gentle, sensitive elephant who enjoys music and plays to him occasionally in the day and night. Click HERE and be sure the sound is turned on.

AN OPERA ABOUT AMERICAN GUN CULTURE

LEI LIANG and Matt Donovan’s one-act Inheritance gets a definitive recording. Click HERE

AN EXCEPTIONAL LEADERSHIP OPPORTUNITY

IF YOU are willing to relocate to New York City, the American Composers Orchestra (ACO) is looking for a new CEO. ACO is the only orchestra in the world dedicated to the legacy and future of orchestral music by American composers. Through concerts, readings, professional development and education programs ACO identifies today’s brightest emerging composers and champions prominent established composers. ACO increases regional, national and international awareness of the infinite variety of American orchestral music, reflecting gender, ethnic, geographic, stylistic and generational diversity in its programming. Click HERE

NEW SERIES FROM THE KLEIN COMPETITION

THE INTERNATIONAL annual Irving M Klein competition in San Francisco for young string players will offer a new Klein@HomeHour at the beginning of each month.

 

BALTIMORE SYMPHONY TURNAROUND

MARIN ALSOP’S orchestra has just reached a new five-year agreement between musicians and management—the first long-term contract since the last ended in 2016. Click HERE

ABANDONING 2020-21 SEASONS

THE MET OPERA is now hoping to stage performances in the fall of 2021. Click HERE

THE VAN CLIBURN INTERNATIONAL PIANO COMPETITION pushed back from 2021 to 2022, its first ever postponement. Click HERE

ANOTHER LONG SONG

FIRST THERE WAS John Cage’s As Slow as Possible, an organ work with a performance time of 600 years. Then came Jem Finer’s Longplayer, a thousand-year piece, being performed in an abandoned London lighthouse; it just reached its 20th anniversary. Click HERE

A BLACK OPERA SINGER IN PORTLAND?

APPARENTLY that’s still a non-sequitur in 2020 Oregon, 65 years after Marian Anderson broke the color barrier at the Metropolitan Opera.

 

“A HATEFUL BEAUTY”

THE ECONOMIST reviews Alex Ross’ Wagnerism: Art and Politics in the Shadow of Music. Hitler casts as long a shadow over Richard Wagner as Wagner casts over art. So argues Alex Ross, the music critic of the New Yorker, in his gigantic new book, “Wagnerism.” Fifty years after the German composer’s death in 1883, his operas became “the chief cultural ornament of the most destructive political regime in history.” Yet, says Mr Ross, the Nazis made use of Wagner “only when he was shorn of his ambiguities, and even then his presence in mainstream Nazi culture was less pronounced than many accounts let on.”  To read the complete review, click HERE

THE HYPERTRAGIC NOTCH

CRAIG HELLA JOHNSON, founding director of Conspirare, produced this CD of new music for the unusual combination of voices and guitar quartet(s) by composers Reena Esmail, Nico Muhly, Kile Smith and by Johnson himself. The biggest piece on the program is Muhly’s How Little You Are (2015) a 40-minute, six-movement “meditation” on texts of pioneer women in 19th century America. (Muhly has staked a major claim as an opera composer, most recently Marnie, based on the Hitchcock film, that was premiered at the English National Opera and staged by the Met in 2018.) For How Little Johnson conducts the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, the Texas Guitar Quartet, the Austin Guitar Quartet, soprano Estelí Gomez (a Watsonville native, member of Roomful of Teeth and regular with the Carmel Bach Festival Chorale) and the Conspirare chorus. There are extensive passages for guitars only, with the chorus singing the words in a haunting declamatory style, variously musing on a reverence for nature, the death and burial of a young boy by his grieving family, a nocturnal image with a ghostly howl from a distance, springtime, a nocturne about a cowboy singing songs (opening with a solo guitar and a big solo for Gomez) that recalls the song ‘O bury me not’ and finally “The night herders.”

Kile Smith’s The Dawn’s Early Light of 2019 uses texts by Sarah Winnemucca Hopkins, the first Native American woman to write an autobiography, Life Among the Paiutes, published in 1883. The subjects carry titles: “Sarah Winnemucca,” “My grandfather jumped up,” “While they were fishing,” “The Paiutes are not fond of going to war,” “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “I shall be beautiful.” The LA Guitar Quartet and Conspirare are joined by solo cellist Douglas Harvey, who also joins Conspirare for Johnson’s The Song That I Came to Sing of 2019, with a text by Rabindranath Tagore. The program opens with Esmail’s When the Guitar of 2018, a Hindustani-flavored musing on trust, tenderness, warmth and “deeply resonant spaces within ourselves.” Many Indie labels, like Delos, favor “project” programs. Craig Hella Johnson, composer of the acclaimed Considering Matthew Shepard, can be counted on for such projects and for high quality music of our time. SM

THE TULIP HEROINE WITH A GOLDEN HEART

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER: @PerfArtsMtyBay

Scott MacClelland, editor; Rebecca CR Brooks, associate editor