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.


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.


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

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.


Innovative Programming

Muse: Arts, Culture & Lifestyle News - Bloomberg 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

For more information about Jordan Smith, visit

For more information about composer Roger Zare, visit

Thursday, August 12, 2010


YouTube - John Adams: Harmonium (1980) - excerpt

More great american composers at

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.

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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)