Jeffrey Zeigler soundchecking at Bargemusic (Photo courtesy of Mohammed Fairouz)
Bargemusic Here and Now Series: Mohammed Fairouz
Featuring Rachel Barton Pine, violin
Lara Downes, piano
Jeffrey Zeigler, cello
Karen Kevra, flute
Fulton Ferry Landing, NY
Friday, September 20th, 2013
Bargemusic at first felt a bit too small for this particular program of Mohammed Fairouz’s music and its worldly feel, but having the grand view of the harbor and the boats outside the big window made me rethink that notion.
The evening’s program, consisting mostly of New York premieres, was a very compelling set of music for a first-timer hearing the works of Mr. Fairouz in one setting.
It was a delight to hear Lara Downes’ performance of the Piano Miniatures in their entirety (The collection’s 6th piece titled “Addio” can be heard as the closer on Downes’ Exiles Cafe CD). Fairouz’s piano writing, mostly leaning towards romantic in style, is very passionate and thoughtful, with seemingly many variants on the types of pianistic moods of the old school, and the pieces served as a great starter for Fairouz’s program. Continue reading
The cast of the Calliope Theatre Company playing the cast of Six Windows–Photo courtesy of Mike Zurkhulen
Calliope Theatre Company
Six Windows presents
A Hero of Our Time
Written by Will Arbery
Directed by Will Dagger
Medicine Show Theater, NYC
Friday, July 26th, 2013
What a pleasant return to the theater for me to come to a show like Six Windows presents A Hero of Our Time performed by the Calliope Theatre Company. Directed by Will Dagger and written by Will Arbery, who also happens to be one of the actors playing characters named after themselves, the play, a comedy, is basically the play that happens after the play that we were “supposed to have seen”, which would have been the group’s final performance of an adaptation of Lermontov’s A Hero of Our Time with a paper-littered set (which is what we walked into the theater seeing), but as the play begins, instead of the Lermontov story, we are treated to the fictional cast of this production doing a roundtable talk-back session with the audience, and even though I knew this was the actual play starting, I thought that they really wanted questions from us–I shyly lowered my hand after being ignored (The acting bug in me was aching to come out again). Continue reading
From L to R: Noah Drew and Kate Tucker, stars of Everything Went Down
[a film review]
Everything Went Down
Starring Kate Tucker and Noah Drew
Directed by Dustin Morrow
Little Swan Pictures
1 hour, 25 minutes
Rating: Not rated
If you are a fan of the indie musical Once, you will probably enjoy Everything Went Down just as much–Like that film, this one takes the musical genre into a much more incidental and realistic world, and still manages to leave one feeling the music as both a delightful standout and an equal narrative to the dialogue as opposed to just being in the background.
EDITOR’S NOTE: By the way, I did do a preview for this film about a year ago at this time when it was still getting backing for its completion, and even interviewed both Kate Tucker and the film’s director Dustin Morrow if you would like to check those out
The Loom Ensemble performing excerpts from Erosion: a Fable during their CD release party at Theaterlab (Photos courtesy of Loom Ensemble)
World in One Pan Arts Collaborative
Album Release Concert
Featuring live excerpts from Erosion: a Fable
Music by Sasha Bogdanowitsch and Loom
Also featuring SoCorpo (Sasha Bogdanowitsch & Sabrina Lastman)
Choreography by Neva Cockrell
Thurs, April 11th, 2013
In such a small space as the room inside TheaterLab, which felt to me more like the space where Loom rehearses, there was quite a sparkling little program in the guise of a CD release party that was put on by the Loom Ensemble with a great deal of spirit and warmth that would entertain anyone that appreciates the craft of both music and dance. Continue reading
Lauren O’Connell doing a soundcheck at The Slipper Room (Photo courtesy of Julia Nunes)
The Slipper Room
Lower East Side, Manhattan, NYC
Wed, March 27th, 2013
The Slipper Room, with its quasi-burlesque atmosphere and perhaps the tiniest stage I’ve ever seen big names performing on (I’ve done grade-school performances on bigger stages), was the venue where singer-songwriters Nataly Dawn (Pomplamoose) and Lauren O’Connell did their 2-night NY stand on a current U.S. tour together.
Lauren O’Connell made her entrance with barely a reaction from the audience (I know the sound of 2 hands clapping is not totally celebratory, but I was happy to be the one that provided it because her appearance, for me, is celebratory), but by the time she settled in and gave this barroom-sized crowd her music and her charm as a performer, she successfully won them over. With an old acoustic guitar and singing in a purely crisp Americana voice that recalls Emmylou Harris, Lauren O’Connell did some great live renditions of her current standard repertoire such as “Oncoming Traffic”, “White Noise”, “I Will Burn You Down”, “I Belong To You” (sung with fellow songster Ryan Lerman, who is along on this tour with them), and “Chicken Wire” (with a surprise appearance by Julia Nunes, a close friend and colleague of both O’Connell and Dawn). I have to say that my greatest take-away from having seen Lauren performing live in person is watching her body language as a performer–Something very free and natural about the partial twist or two-step that her leg tends to do while singing and playing. It’s not a distraction by any means (certainly not any more than Elton John raising his right-handed eyebrow when he performs), but I can’t help but adore seeing that. Continue reading
Photo courtesy of Stephen Taylor
The Music of Missy Mazzoli
Missy Mazzoli, piano
Also featuring Joshua Anderson, clarinet
Brian Barone, electric guitar
Rachel Choe, flute
Kristen Dubenion-Smith, mezzo-soprano
Joseph Magar, bass
Lauren Rausch, violin
Bethany Pietroniro, piano
Christy Muncey, conductor
An Die Musik
Tuesday, March 5th, 2013
Written by Megan Ihnen
Missy Mazzoli’s music introduces the audience to a composer that is an adoring tailor of sounds. She presents a love of the simple and strong, but with affection toward idiomatic embellishment. The performers of Baltimore’s Evolution Series were able to capture that care during Tuesday evening’s concert at An Die Musik with the composer in attendance.
During the pre-concert interview with Evolution Founder and Artistic Director, Judah Adashi, Mazzoli provided insight not only into her music but her journey as a composer as well. When her teacher John Harbison encouraged her to go to the Netherlands to study with Louis Andriessen, she could not have predicted the musical ethos she would experience there. She remembered, “The government was just throwing money at the arts and you had the feeling that you could indulge your wildest dreams.” It seems that Mazzoli’s time abroad allowed her a freedom to pursue her aims as a composer even when she returned to the States. Working as Meredith Monk’s personal assistant and with Phillip Glass during her tenure as Executive Director of the MATA Festival, influenced her style as well as her ability to advocate for her music. Currently in a three-year residency with Opera Philadelphia, Mazzoli expressed an appreciation for the unique storytelling of the form. Continue reading
This has not been a year where a lot of things jump out at me. I guess it’s safe to say that I am not a great music journalist when not every recording comes out and speaks to me in such a powerful way. Other people seem to find various strong points even about music they find only marginally satisfying. I tend to be less outspoken. I’m also still the sole writer and operator of this page, so, that is another factor, when it is very difficult to have the ability to even make the time for every recording and rank them accordingly.
I also have to say that it’s really against my personal beliefs to have a list of “best” albums in an order that gives the impression that I think certain recordings are better than others. Yes, I do have favorites, but it’s tough when you want to make a big list, and you put really good albums at the bottom end of it. And what are the factors that put lesser or greater value on those picks, exactly? I had a list last year, and even though I swore that it was not a list in the order of greatness, I still had the Hilary Hahn Ives recording listed first. That was definitely pointed out right away, but I still feel that I broke my own rule for the sake of Hilary Hahn, almost to the point that I was being biased. I do really like her Ives album, but I suppose that it was easier to start with that. I randomly listed some other releases last year, some of which I actually reviewed on the blog and others I didn’t, but did hear beforehand. Leah Kardos’ Feather Hammer was, for sure, a dark horse candidate for album of the year, and, in my opinion, a debut CD (even though she’d made music previously as My Lithium & Me) that surely sounds like a recording that’s going to be a difficult one for Ms. Kardos to top in the years to come.
Getting back to 2012, I think it’s easier to just talk about the year in music when I look at it this way: There were quite a few really good moments, but this year for me, Silfra by Hilary Hahn and Hauschka is definitely the clear winner if I were to choose a winner. Being that I like HH and everything, that is a certainty, but when I heard about it and I saw the cover, I knew that it was not going to be like the rest of her catalog. Continue reading
When I first saw the TwtrSymphony project unfolding on twitter, it was quite an interesting prospect–Even though we’d seen the YouTube Symphony twice now, with 2 completely different rounds of musicians that played two programs of mostly classics, this was an all-new concept where the musicians would stay at home and record their parts from there, and the piece would be an original one by composer/TwtrSymphony founder Chip Michael.
Chip spoke about the concept in an interview we did last June.
We’re working with entirely new music, written specifically for the musicians we have. During the audition process, we had guitarists, saxophonists and a recorder player want to participate. Everyone was welcome to audition. The final orchestra has both an electric guitar and a classical guitar, a full range of saxophones as well as the standard compliment of orchestral instruments. The music we’re playing reflects those unique instruments as part of the full ensemble.
Rather than playing pieces from the existing repertoire, we chose to play original pieces limited to 140 seconds in a nod to the 140 character limit Twitter imposes. Twitter is conversation encapsulated, distilled to it’s core elements. The music of TwtrSymphony has to do the same thing. Each movement of our symphony “Birds of a Feather” is complete in the details you’d expect from the traditional four movements: the first movement is Sonata-Allegro form, the second movement is slow, the third movement is ostensibly a minuet and trio and the final movement is a theme and variation. The music captures the essence of the classical forms we know and presents them in less than 2 minutes and 20 seconds.