Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Weill Violin Concerto

John GilbertBe sure to join us for the final concerts of the 2010 season.  This Friday and Saturday (November 12 and 13), Ars Nova Dallas presents the riveting violin concerto of Kurt Weill, a composer better known for his Broadway and theater music, with virtuosic soloist John Gilbert.  Also on the program is the lush Chanson et Danses by Vincent D'Indy and the world premiere of Federico Garcia's new work, Festive Fugue.  More info at www.dallasmodernmusic.org

Friday, November 5, 2010

WRR Classical 101.1 FM: WRR Classical 101.1 FM Live Radio interview today! http://ow.ly/355CW

Opening Night!

Join us for opening night tonight!  At 7pm, Ars Nova will present music by Boulez, Zare, and Garcia at Lakewood United Methodist Church.  At 9:30, move to Good Records for the Chameleon Chamber Group.  www.dallasmodernmusic.org for more info!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

2 Days to Go!

OnA 2009 Ars Nova Dallas Performancely 2 days until the 2010 season of the Dallas Festival of Modern Music opens!  Join us Friday or Saturday night at Lakewood Methodist Church (7pm) for Boulez, Garcia, and Zare, presented by Ars Nova Dallas!  Afterwords, move to Good Records for Chameleon Chamber Group (Friday) or Zanzibar Snails (Saturday).  More info at www.dallasmodernmusic.org

Monday, November 1, 2010

Composer Roger Zare

Roger ZareThe Dallas Festival of Modern Music is pleased to welcome composer Roger Zare to this year's festival.  In addition to Ars Nova Dallas' performance of his Songs of Li Po on November 5 and 6, a number of his works will be performed on Fox 4's Good Day on Wednesday, November 3.  Tune in during the 7am hour for this incredible event!  Learn more at www.dallasmodernmusic.org

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Following Friday, November 5th's Ars Nova Dallas concert, join us at Good Records for the Chameleon Chamber Group! http://ping.fm/iP6w5

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Chameleon Chamber Group

This year, the Dallas Festival of Modern Music is pleased to welcome the Chameleon Chamber Group to its Taste the Music series.  Come experience this unique and theatrical ensemble as they present their engaging program of classical and rock fusion.  Chameleon will be at Good Records on Friday, November 5, following the Ars Nova Dallas performance (approx. 9:30pm).  Make plans to attend now, or learn more at www.dallasmodernmusic.org 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Zanzibar Snails

The Dallas Festival of Modern Music is pleased to welcome Zanzibar Snails to the 2010 Taste the Music series.  Widely regarded as DFW's favorite experimental rock ensemble, the Snails will be performing at Good Records on Saturday, November 6, following the Ars Nova Dallas performance (approx. 9:30pm)  Join us for a night of great music, food, and drink!  More info at www.dallasmodernmusic.org

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

On the text

So, I promised to write a little about the text of my piece, and how I found it. The best way to introduce this is probably to show part of what I'm doing with it.

Beyond the meaning, inherent rhythm, or accent patterns of the text, for this piece I was interested in the semi-random arrangements of sounds, coming and going, returning or being abandoned for a while, that show up in any text. (In general, I like these semi-random processes, that are the result of systems and mechanisms, but as by-products, not as their main point; think of the random motions inside a typewriter, ... or, for that matter, those inside a piano.)

So, for example, the first line of the poem: Aquel que al verme, has sounds a-k-e-l-k-e-a-l. Only four sounds. "k" always followed by "e", "a" and "l" as appendices. Imagine "a" as an introduction to a statement ("k-e"), after which a rebound ("l") fades out. Then a pause, and according to the text the statement is then re-stated ("que"), and the other motives close off ("al"). A non-trivial unit of discourse!

And then the poem continues, after "verme" (variations on the k-e theme, with the predominance of the "e" motive), with "supuso mi paso". This is a whole new soundworld: the s-p-s interplay takes over, the e has disappeared for a little.

This is the kind of process I wanted for the piece. I had some texts in mind, that I've wanted to set to new works for a while, but somehow they didn't fit this idea as much. They were either too long (imagine a long poem set with every letter being a motive), or too meaningful, so that the references of its meaning would be too weighty to allow my very autonomous handling.

So I called my brother, who knows a lot about poetry. Who, what period, should I look into? As I was trying to explain what I needed, he offered several suggestions, but each had something that didn't appeal to me. Little by little we defined what it was I was looking for, and when he thought he had understood---wanting to confirm---he said: "oh, something like 'aquel que al verme...'"

---Yes, yes, something like that, let me see, let's write it down... Wow, this works, and, here, this is great, wow! What was it? "no supo", or "ignoraba"?
---Oh, it was "ignoraba", but "no supo" makes more sense, with the reference to "supuso"

And so on. After that conversation I knew the piece was coming along.

An update: today I finished the score of the "Festive Fugue" for Ryan Ross. I look forward to this!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Coatroom Concerts

I get quite a few press releases about very interesting new music events every day, but a concert series in a coat closet? This feels like a first. Chris Kallmyer has organized "four resident ensembles, 96 composers, 350+ new works, and over 400 concerts inside a coatroom, under the stairs in the lobby of the Hammer Museum"  in Los Angeles. The performances take two minutes a piece and are performed for the gathered Saturday afternoon audience members two at a time. Also, it is free. For once, I really wish I lived in L.A.  To read more, visit http://ow.ly/2GAmh

Thursday, September 16, 2010

My introduction (Federico Garcia, featured composer)

Hi everyone! I'm so excited to be the featured composer at Dallas this year! It's a great opportunity to get to meet and work with people who believe as much as I do in new music and in sharing it with the public.

I'm writing two pieces for the festival, one each for co-directors Jordan and Ryan. I'll be sharing the instrumentation of the rest of their programs: one of the pieces goes with Le Marteau (wow, I'd be excited even just to get to hear this live!), and therefore I am writing for mezzo, guitar, flute, viola, and three percussionists... the other one is for a larger ensemble, namely the 'orchestra' of Kurt Weil's violin concerto (ditto about hearing this).

So, two pretty different pieces. The chamber wind ensemble (the piece for Ryan) is a 'festive fugue'. Upbeat, fun, a little flashy... I'll be done with it very soon. The other one is one of those things... I have thinking about it for months, and each step is a major effort.

I was just working on it, and made a big step. Feeling a little drained for the day, I decided to start my posts on this blog. First time I do something like this (talk, let alone write, much less blog, about a piece I'm writing), but it adds to the excitement.

So for today I'll leave you guys with the text of the piece. It's by my brother, who has written some wonderful texts in the past (one of them I already set to music). I'll tell you how I (we) got to this text in a future entry. But here it goes:

Aquel que al verme
supuso mi paso muy firme
y al irme
me auguró ventura,
no supo que yo a esas alturas
tornaba y no iba del alba al ocaso
(Nicolás García De Castro, Colombia, 2000)

It's dense in meaning (each word meaning several different things) so it's been hard to translate. This is my current version:

He who in seeing me
took my step for quite firm,
and as I left
bid me good fortune,
did not know, by that point,
that I turned, did not go, from dawn to sunset.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Vocal Phenom Bryn-Julson Advises Festival

Recognized as one of the most authoritative interpreters of vocal music of the 20th century, Phyllis Bryn-Julson commands a remarkable repertoire of literature spanning several centuries. Born in North Dakota, she began studying the piano at age three. She enrolled in Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, studying piano, organ, voice and violin. She received an Honorary Doctorate from Concordia in 1995. After attending the Tanglewood summer music festival, she transferred to Syracuse University, studying voice with Helen Boatwright, completing her BM and MM degrees. During these college years, she made her debut with the Boston Symphony in Boston, Providence, RI, and Carnegie Hall in New York. She ultimately sang with this orchestra and the New York Philharmonic dozens of times.
Ms. Bryn-Julson collaborated with Pierre Boulez and the Ensemble Intercontemporaine for much of her career, taking her to numerous festivals in Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the former Soviet Union, and Japan. She has premiered works of many 20th century composers, some of which were written for her. Included in this list are Boulez, Messiaen, Goehr, Kurtag, Holliger, Tavener, Rochberg, Del Tredici, Rorem, Carter, Babbitt, Birtwistle, Boone, Cage, Felciano, Wuorinen, Aperghis, and Penderecki.
In recent years, Ms. Bryn-Julson gave performances of Kurtag's Kafka Fragments in New York at the Guggenheim Museum with Violaine Melançon, violinist. She took part in the Radical Past series in Los Angeles, giving four performances of the great works of Milton Babbitt, John Cage, Cathy Berberian, and Luciano Berio. She toured with the Peabody Trio throughout the United States and Canada, and recorded works of Samuel Adler for the Milken Foundation in Barcelona. She also toured with the Montreal Symphony, performing the award winning opera Il Prigioniero by Dallapiccola. Performances occurred at Carnegie Hall, and in Montreal. Following this, she premiered the same work in Tokyo, Japan, where it was staged and televised. With Southwest Chamber Music Society, Ms. Bryn-Julson has performed and recorded the complete works of both Ernst Krenek and Mel Powell. Last season she premiered and recorded An American Decomeron by Richard Felciano, commissioned by the Koussevitsky Foundation, and written for her and the Southwest Chamber Music Society.
With over 100 recordings and CD's to her credit, Ms. Bryn-Julson's performance of Erwartung by Schönberg (Simon Rattle conducting) won the 1995 best opera Grammaphone Award. Her recording of the opera Il Prigioniero by Dallapiccola won the Prix du Monde. She has been nominated twice for Grammy awards; one for best opera recording (Erwartung), and best vocalist (Ligeti Vocal Works). She has received the Amphoion Award, The Dickinson College Arts Award, The Paul Hume Award, and the Catherine Filene Shouse Award. She was inducted into the Scandinavian-American Hall of Fame in 2000. She was the first musician to receive the United States - United Kingdom Bicentennial Exchange Arts Fellowship. She received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Syracuse University, the Peabody Conservatory Faculty Award for excellence in teaching, and the Peabody Student Council Award for outstanding contribution to the Peabody Community.
Ms. Bryn-Julson has appeared with every major European and North American Symphony Orchestras under many of the leading conductors such as Esa-Pekka Salonen, Simon Rattle, Pierre Boulez, Leonard Slatkin, Leonard Bernstein, Claudio Abbado, Seiji Ozawa, Zubin Mehta, Gunther Schuller, and Erich Leinsdorf.
Ms. Bryn-Julson's students continue to win prizes and awards, and have made careers in some of the leading opera houses and orchestral venues. They have had contracts in opera houses in Zurich, Duesseldorf, Vienna, Paris, Lyons, London, and Sydney, and in America, the Metropolitan Opera, Houston, Minnesota, Philadelphia, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.

The Dallas Festival of Modern Music proudly welcomes Ms. Bryn-Julson to the festival's Artistic Adisory Board. Phyllis was gracious in her praise of Dallas' newest contemporary music organization.
"It is always a great pleasure to support a festival that aims to bring the new to its audiences with not only solid performances, but fundamental knowledge and education as well. Congratulations to this wonderful group of performers." The Dallas Festival of Modern Music will be held this November 5-14, 2010 in venues across Dallas. For more information, visit dallasmodernmusic.org or facebook.com/dallasmodernmusic. 

Saturday, September 11, 2010


The Dallas Festival of Modern Music is proud to present, from the University of North Texas College of Music: NOVA, the nationally recognized new music ensemble. This concert will take place in Dallas on Monday, November 8.

Nova is the new music ensemble of the University of North Texas. Nova’s mission is to provide students and audiences with an engaging diversity of musical, aesthetic, and cultural experiences. Repertoire includes classics of the modern era alongside music by younger and less familiar composers. Nova provides students with the opportunity to perform fresh and exciting contemporary works. Collaborations with faculty and guest composers give students insight into the process of creating new music.

Recent performances have included music of Elliott Carter, David Lang, Frederic Rzewski, Steven Stucky, Giacinto Scelsi, Nick Didkovsky, Libby Larsen, Judith Shatin, James Tenney, Isang Yun, Christian Wolff, John Cage, Stefan Wolpe, and Charles Ives. Nova has recently collaborated with guest composers Augusta Read Thomas, Mario Davidovsky, and Dexter Morrill, as well as UNT faculty and student composers.

The ensemble’s instrumentation varies by semester. Projects each term include solo, chamber, and large ensemble works. Faculty and guest performers often join the ensemble, further enhancing students’ understanding of contemporary performance issues.
NOVA is lead by distinguished flutist and interpreter of contemporary music, ensemble director Elizabeth McNutt.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Noise: Yo-Yo, Chacona

Juan Arañés's "Un sarao de la chacona," from Villancicos y Danzas Criollas; Jordi Savall leading Hespèrion XXI and La Capella Reial de Catalunya; Alia Vox 9834, also download.

Tickets for the New Yorker Festival are now on sale. I have two events in the mix: an evening of conversation and music with a promising young cellist named Yo-Yo Ma, on Saturday, Oct. 2, at 7PM; and an audio-driven lecture entitled "Chacona, Lamento, Walking Blues," on Sunday, Oct. 3, at 4PM.

Read the rest: http://ow.ly/18X8jP

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Cage at 98

Noise: Cage at 98 - Laura Kuhn has an update on recent Cage doings.


John Cage - 4'33" by David Tudor

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Schoenberg's Poetry

When the pianist Steven Beck played Stravinsky, Schoenberg and Debussy at Bargemusic on Friday evening, the intellectual rigor of the early-20th-century works on the program was a palate cleanser after the heady emotions in the flurry of Schumann and Chopin bicentennial events this season.

Read more at http://ow.ly/2wt27

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Passenger

Dmitri Shostakovich recognised it 42 years ago, when his composer-friend showed him the score. Russian critics said it when the opera finally received a concert premiere in December 2006. Packed houses in the Bregenz Festspielhaus for the first staged production have been in no doubt about it, and nor has the German press: The Passenger is a masterpiece.

Read more at http://ow.ly/2sFRg

Friday, August 20, 2010

Chance Encounter on the Tiber

For centuries, the most well-known transformations of public space have been massive, expensive architectural interventions. The High Line in Manhattan is just one of the most recent examples. In the 1980’s William Whyte highlighted the success and failures of public spaces in New York in his study, The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces. Whyte pointed the way towards a viable, low-cost, high-impact alternative way to revitalize public space that did not rely only on design.

To read more, go to http://ow.ly/2sFPk

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Glass Cello Concerto: Review

Cabrillo festival wraps up with Philip Glass's Cello Concerto and Other Delights -

SAN JUAN BAUTISTA -- The Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music wrapped up here Sunday with a formidable program in the historic Mission. The place was redolent of frankincense -- Latin Mass had ended only an hour before the music began -- and the festival orchestra played like a bunch of sharpshooters under the baton of Marin Alsop...


Monday, August 16, 2010

Berg at Bard

“My job tonight is to allay any residual fears you might have,” the conductor Leon Botstein said from the stage of the Sosnoff Theater at the Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College here on Friday night.

Was there a hint of concern in his statement? Perhaps. For the 21st season of the Bard Music Festival, which started on Friday, Mr. Botstein and his collaborators are focusing on the life and times of the 20th-century Viennese composer Alban Berg.

Read more at http://ow.ly/2qvw1

Innovative Programming

Muse: Arts, Culture & Lifestyle News - Bloomberg http://ow.ly/2pBrF We need this kind of programming in Dallas.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Smith receives Bruno Walter Conducting Fellowship

Congratulations to DFMM Artistic Director and Conductor Jordan Randall Smith for receiving a Bruno Walter Conducting Fellowship with the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music. Smith led the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra in Roger Zare's 'Aerodynamics' in the world premiere of the version for small orchestra. The performance was featured on the festival opener, the "In the Works" concert featuring the works of three up-and-coming composers, including
Mr. Zare and performances by seven young conductors, including Mr. Smith. The festival closes this weekend.

Smith said of the experience, "this year was my second time to attend the Cabrillo Festival, but nothing can prepare you because no two years are ever alike at this festival. It may be in the same quirky town of Santa Cruz, same fantastic weather, but every year occupies a completely different sound world as different composers come and contribute their unique voices."

Jordan Smith was one of seven conductor-participants in the Conductors Guild Workshop (partnering with the Cabrillo Festival) chosen from over 100 applicants from across the world to come to Santa Cruz, California. There, he had the opportunity to work with musical luminaries such as the legendary Gustav Meier, MacArthur Genius Grant recipient and world-renowned conductor Marin Alsop, and members of the Billboard sensation Eighth Blackbird in the world-famous summer hub for contemporary music performance. (Eighth Blackbird and Cabrillo Festival Orchestra Violinist Matt Albert pictured is pictured above in the workshop with Jordan Smith conducting.)

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Composer Jennifer Higdon said "[He's] doing a great job. [Jordan's] conducting is full of energy, and it really adds a lot to the performance. You can really sense that."

Cabrillo Music Director and Conductor Marin Alsop said that his work was, "well done, very good."

Marin Alsop coaches Jordan Smith at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music

Jordan Smith and Roger Zare have marked this performance as the beginning of a fruitful composer-conductor relationship. Mr. Smith spoke about Zare's score, "It is a fantastic piece of music, simply electric from tiny sparks to giant cracks of lightning." The concert was unusually well-attended considering that the concert contained no headliners; it was completely full of young conductors performing as-yet unknown composers. However, they were most appreciative, giving the performers a "curtain call" of sorts (the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium did not have a literal curtain but the conductors and composers were called back to the stage at the end of the performance). After the performance, Smith immediately began to make plans to engage Zare for this year's Dallas Festival of Modern Music. "Roger is an extremely gifted composer with very mature musical thinking and offers a very compelling musical story in each of his pieces. I can't wait to work with him again."

This year's Dallas Festival of Modern Music takes place this November 5-14, 2010. For more information, visit www.dallasmodernmusic.org

For more information about Jordan Smith, visit www.jordanrsmith.com

For more information about composer Roger Zare, visit www.rogerzare.com

Thursday, August 12, 2010


YouTube - John Adams: Harmonium (1980) - excerpt


More great american composers at www.dallasmodernmusic.org.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Cabrillo Festival

Review: Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music kicks off fantastic 48th season « All the conducting masterclasses

For adventurous listeners, the search for new music can be an exercise in frustration. Even the most forward-thinking orchestras tend to relegate contemporary works to opening-act status: a single piece at the start of a concert as a kind of aural appetizer.
At the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, new works are always the main course. Under music director Marin Alsop, the annual event offers a total immersion experience, exploring a full range of stylistic concerns and often presenting young composers before they become household names. In the process, Cabrillo has become a summer mecca for musicians and a premier musical destination for audiences.

Read the rest: http://ow.ly/2mMJ9

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Batter my heart

Always a great source for information on contemporary composers.

Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise: Batter my heart (redux) http://ow.ly/2mDws

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Paulo Moura, Force in Brazilian Music, Dies at 77

Paulo Moura, a virtuoso instrumentalist and a composer, arranger and orchestrator of numerous styles of Brazilian popular music, died on July 12 in Rio de Janeiro. He was 77.  

Read the rest: http://ow.ly/2eifi

Monday, July 19, 2010


YouTube - Ryan Ross Conducts Joan Tower's Petroushskates.

more -

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Music Review - Philharmonic and Shanghai Symphony in Central Park

Mother Nature must have been watching out for the New York Philharmonic on Tuesday night when this summer’s Concerts in the Parks series began on the Great Lawn at Central Park. For the first time in the 46-year history of this summer music tradition, the Philharmonic was sharing a parks program with a guest ensemble, the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra. All day Monday the forecasts were predicting a strong likelihood of thunderstorms. 

Read the rest - NYTimes.com http://ow.ly/2bJmy

Friday, July 16, 2010

What Composers Talk About

I'll bet that if you ran a new-music series and gave composers the following choice - "We'll either give you a $500 honorarium, or you can have $100 and talk about yourself to the audience for 20 minutes" - almost all composers who aren't in dire financial straits would choose the latter option. When the subject is ourselves, we do not like to shut up. I was on a panel of composers last night preceding the Cutting Edge series concert at Symphony Space, and the desire to chatter on was palpable. William Bolcom was the grand old man of the group, and seemed accustomed to occupying a stage by himself; we all deferred to him and let him talk most. Two of the other composers had, in fact, been students of his. Composer Victoria Bond, who runs the series, has clearly been in the moderation business a long time. She cut off each composer as graciously as though he had come to the end of a prepared text.

Read the rest - http://ow.ly/2cqKb

Sunday, July 11, 2010

2010, here we come

Whew! It's been a while. So many things to report, so little time...

Hang on folks, we're only days away from significant changes to the site. If you want a sneak peak, visit us here, but BE WARNED. The site is under massive construction and may have a few things out of place.

To give you a little taste, this upcoming season’s highlights include:

· Ars Nova Dallas performances of Kurt Weill’s Violin Concerto, with violinist John Gilbert, and Boulez’s Le Marteau sans Maître

· World premieres from the pen of Columbian composer Federico Garcia

· Guest artist Jeffrey Vickers

· Thousands of children involved with Musicalive!

Mark your calendars for November 5-14th and check back soon for more details!