A Concert of New Music for Winds and Piano ~ A Review

The composers of New York Composers Circle April 21, 2015 New Music for Winds and Piano,
l-r: Max Giteck Duykers, David Picton, Peri Mauer, Gayther Myers, Susan J. Fischer, Richard Brooks, Eugene Marlow.


Concert of New Music for Winds and Piano
NYCC Concert
St. Peter’s Church, NYC
April 21, 2015

Written by Dave Hall

On Tuesday, April 21, 2015, I was pleased to attend a New York Composers Circle concert at St. Peter’s Church in New York City. Like previous NYCC concerts I’ve attended, this evening’s program, one dedicated to music for wind instruments, was varied and entertaining.

The evening began with a very beautiful piece for oboe, violin, cello and piano by Susan J. Fischer called “Intermezzo”. The next piece on the program was a work for solo oboe by Peri Mauer aptly called “Journey”. A fanciful piece that explored the full range and colors of the instrument, it was a beautifully vivid journey through sound and time. Next on the program was a work for flute, oboe, clarinet, horn and piano by Gayther Myers entitled “The Workday”. The composer, in his introduction to the piece, asked the audience to recall their average work day, with it’s ebb and flow of busy-ness, frustration, moments of calm, and finally, the end of the shift. The piece captured this very well and the interplay between the instruments was finely written and beautifully executed by the players. Following Mr. Myers piece was a work by Max Giteck Duykers called “Dark Body”. Scored for flute, violin, cello and piano, Duykers piece explored tone and rhythm in a series of short, exciting sections. It, too, was a very satisfying composition.

The second half of the program began with a four-movement work for oboe and guitar by David Picton. Called Turning Leaves for Sandy, this pastoral work with sections evoking first spring buds, summer passion, and fall colors traced the life of a year in a warm and elegant play between the oboe and guitar. Mr. Picton, a jazz player as well as a classical composer, injected an easy, melodic element into the evening’s program. The next piece in the concert, by Orlando Legname, was a two-part work for flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano, with conductor. Called Vortici D’etere, it was an interesting late acoustic work by the recently deceased Signor Legname, who was as well known for his compositions for electronic instruments as for those he’d written for traditional concert instruments. Following Mr. Legname’s piece was a delightful three-part work for flute and alto flute by Eugene Marlow. Called Trois Chansons pour une Poetesse, it was originally written as a work for solo flute, but some years after composing it Mr. Marlow decided it would work nicely as a duet. He was right; it was quite lovely. One hopes that the poetess he had in mind would have been pleased with the songs. The final work in the program was Richard Brooks’ “Into the Twilight”. Scored for flute, bassoon, violin, viola and piano, the piece is built on a simple melody stated in the bassoon followed variations expanding on the melody’s intervals. It was a straightforward yet very enjoyable piece.

Taken all together, the compositions made for an excellent evening of well-written music, with top-notch performances by Christa Robinson, Keve Wilson, and Virginia Chang Chien on oboe, Esther Noh on violin, John Popham on cello, Stephen Gosling on piano, Margaret Lancaster and Roberta Michel on flute, Christa Van Alstine on clarinet, Matt Marks on horn, Oren Fader on guitar, Nanci Belmont on bassoon, and Hannah Levinson on viola.



Dave Hall is a composer and songwriter based in New York City. A graduate of the Manhattan School of Music, he has written pop, rock, country, concert music, lyrics and music for musical theater, plus incidental music for theater and tv.  His children’s musicals have been produced at The Manhattan Children’s Theater and at the NY International Fringe Festival and his musical for grownups “‘Round Midlife” enjoyed an off-Broadway run in 2013. His newly released two-CD recording of song cycles, Songs of Boyhood and Songs of Brooklyn, are enjoying international radio play.

New York Composers Circle 2014 at DiMenna

Pictured L to R: Vasko Dukovski, Ismail Lumanovski and composer Peri Mauer1796499_10205460714383154_5908451674540784618_n

New Music for Clarinet, Piano, and Electronics
New York Composers Circle concert
Benzaquen Hall at DiMenna Center, NYC
October 24th, 2014
A concert review
Written by Roger Blanc

The New York Composers Circle kicked off its 2014-15 Season with “New Music for Clarinet, Piano, and Electronics”, a Friday evening concert in the upstairs space of the DiMenna Center in Manhattan. Jacob E. Goodman’s “Six Intermezzi” for piano performed by Craig Ketter began the program. Goodman, NYCC’s founder, showed his propensity for elegant modernist classicism in this well-wrought work, ably performed by Mr. Ketter. Peri Mauer’s “Morning, Night, & Noon” for clarinet duo followed next, juxtaposing a flexible and creative treatment of this pairing of instruments with the engaging spectacle of their quality performance by the duo of Vasko Dukovski and Ismail Lumanovski. “Three Preludes” for piano by Nailah Nombeko followed, performed again by Mr. Ketter. This was a pensive work, with some portions harmonically reminiscent of modern jazz. The first half closed with “Summer Souvenirs” for piano by Kevin McCarter, performed by its composer. This was a harmonically mellow work, and probably the most clearly tonal of the concert.

After a brief intermission the concert resumed with the sole work involving electronics, Max Giteck Duykers’ “Theia” for bass clarinet & electronics. Bass clarinetist Christa Van Alstine was required to trigger a computer-driven accompaniment via foot switches while performing her own acoustic part in normal fashion, a challenge she met ably in this unusual and interesting work. Next was “Two Piano Pieces” by Emiko Hayashi, performed by Martha Locker; this work seemed to positively reference the the styles of all three of the major “Second Viennese School” composers in one respect or another, and all within a modest formal framework. NYCC Executive Director Hubert Howe’s “Pentachordal Etudes #4 and 5” for piano (performed effectively by his son Jonathan Howe) followed next on the program; the well-balanced works featured pitch-selection techniques used previously by the composer, as well as a continuous contrapuntal web texture characteristic of a number of his pieces. The final works on the program, “Four Piano Pieces for Maestro Hsu”, were again performed with aplomb by the indefatigable Craig Ketter. Composer Raoul Pleskow explained how these formidable pieces were composed with pianist Samuel Hsu in mind, both during and subsequent to the pianist’s life; their powerful and expressive pianism brought the evening’s concert to a fitting and successful conclusion.


Roger Blanc, M.M., studied with David Diamond and was an assistant teacher in Ear Training at Juilliard for three years. His music
has been performed at Alice Tully Hall, The Whitney Sculpture Court and overseas. He has worked extensively in music for television
(David Letterman), film (Frida), recording (Paul Simon), and live performance (Miles Davis).

THE SNOW MELTS TO REVEAL NEW MUSIC ~ Review of A Night of New Music for Voice and Piano

Pictured below, from L to R: Heather Meyer, Robert S, Cohen, John Eaton, Christopher Berg, Daniel Neer, Peri Mauer, Debra Kaye, Jennifer Griffith, Patricia Leonard, Christopher Oldfather, Sharon Harms, Valerie Gonzalez.nightofnewmusic--groupphoto

New York Composers Circle
New Music for Voice and Piano
St. Peter’s Church, NYC
March 6, 2014

Written by Ted Gorodetzky

Neither inches of unwelcome snow nor blustery winter temperatures can keep a good concert down. The proof was last week’s presentation of new music from the New York Composers Circle concert at Saint Peter’s Church in midtown Manhattan. Forced to reschedule from their original January date due to weather none of us now miss, all composers and performers were remarkably able to reassemble on March 6th for a stimulating and varied evening that featured three premieres amongst the program of New Music for Voice and Piano. Continue reading

The Danish String Quartet in Sedona ~ A Review


Chamber Music Sedona
The Danish String Quartet
St John Vianney Church
Sedona, AZ
February 2, 2014

Here it is, my very first review from my new home in Sedona, AZ!

And how timely is it that this wonderful ensemble, the Danish String Quartet, have a show right on the weekend of my very first week being here? I could not have planned this any better!

And all people are talking about otherwise on this day was the Super Bowl 😉 I couldn’t even see it anyway since the place I was staying at didn’t have cable.

St. John Vianney Church at first seemed like a very unlikely place for a progressive chamber concert, but remembering having seen Lisa Moore doing
something considerably more experimental at a previous event at a NY church, it then felt like the norm. Continue reading

Music of Mohammed Fairouz at Bargemusic ~ A Review

Jeffrey Zeigler soundchecking at Bargemusic (Photo courtesy of Mohammed Fairouz)jeffreyzeigler

Bargemusic Here and Now Series: Mohammed Fairouz
Featuring Rachel Barton Pine, violin
Lara Downes, piano
Jeffrey Zeigler, cello
Catalyst Quartet
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

Ashley Bathgate & Eleonore Oppenheim at Drom ~ A Review

Eleonore Oppenheim soundchecking at Drom (Photo courtesy of Ashley Bathgate)eleonoreoppenheimdrom

Ashley Bathgate, cello
Eleonore Oppenheim, bass viol
Drom, NYC
Sunday, September 8th, 2013

I was really thrilled to check out a brilliant pair of post-minimal string music sets from Bang On a Can All-Stars’ Ashley Bathgate and Victoire’s Eleonore Oppenheim at the Lower East Side venue Drom this past Sunday night. The two string soloists are both very talented artists in their field, both as members of their respective ensembles as well as solo artists, not to mention that they are both also founding members of the group Bonjour (also scheduled to appear soon at Drom) with fellow bassist Florent Ghys.

Having a solo set each, Ashley’s set launched with Icelandic composer Daniel Bjarnason’s 3-movement piece Bow To String, with the ambient textures typical of the sound of Bedroom Community combined with the grittiness of Ashley’s downtown influences.
The soundbite-threaded mania of Yoav Shemesh’s “Empty City” was a big jolt, reminiscent of some of the best music of Jacob TV.
Bill Ryan’s “Simple Lines” and Jacob Cooper’s “Arches” both beautifully rounded out Bathgate’s set.

With her own selected stock projection of vintage b&w footage, Eleonore’s set began with my favorite moment of the evening: Ashley joining her onstage for Oppenheim’s own arrangement of Bjork’s “Pleasure Is All Mine”. The two artists’ performance of this work definitely made me want to see this kind of duo on a more regular basis.

Florent Ghys’ “Crocodile” was a delight of stereophonic clanging. Angelica Negron’s “La Isla Magica” and Jenny Olivia Johnson’s “Home” were two more sonic works of new music industrialism.

Both these artists were at their peak on this evening. I definitely love to come to NY to hear these great people, and I was very thrilled to see Eleonore for the first time solo, as I love her work in both Victoire and Bonjour.

Ashley Bathgate ~ Cello
Eleonore Oppenheim ~ Bassist

Rebekah Heller at Spectrum ~ A Review

Photo courtesy of Glenn Cornettrebekahhellerspectrum

International Contemporary Ensemble
Rebekah Heller, bassoon
Spectrum, NYC
Saturday, August 24th, 2013

The set ICE bassoonist Rebekah Heller put on for her CD-release party for the solo disc 100 Names at NYC’s Spectrum was a great collection of stark but robust compositions, all of which were from the disc. The live performances were quite identical in sound, but to see Ms. Heller at work giving the most experimental bassoon concert I certainly have ever seen in my lifetime was a treat to savor for many ages.

After an introduction by her ICE colleague, flutist Claire Chase (who produced the album), Heller started the program with Edgar Guzman’s “∞¿?”, a piece where the bassoon is interchanging and blending with a recorded buzz feedback in such a perfect pitch you almost can’t hear where one ends and the other begins.

Another favorite moment was Marcelo Toledo’s “Qualla II”, a piece that brilliantly displays what sounds like the ICE ethic at work. Like Claire Chase, Rebekah Heller uses every fiber of her being to extract the most primal noise from a traditional classical instrument and rebrands it for the new music world. Between the rapid keyboard fingering with and without notes, and the animalistic sounds Heller puts back into the instrument, the work bears the earmarks of an outstanding signature piece for the soloist.
Marcos Balter’s “…and also a fountain” continues the primal sounds with the addition of spoken word from Heller, while accompanying herself with ambient percussion.

The piece that wrapped up the evening’s program (“10pm, Ixtab”) was a chaotic duet with its composer, Du Yun on vocals. Heller ends it with a marvelous sequence of extended notes.

Rebekah Heller (Her artist’s page on ICEorg.org)

Sasha Siem at Joe’s Pub (A Review)


Sasha Siem
Joe’s Pub, NYC
Monday, July 22nd, 2013

At the site of what has become Amy Schumer’s TV home, Joe’s Pub, UK singer-composer Sasha Siem flew in and delivered what felt like an all-too-brief set of short art songs, most of it from her new CD Most of The Boys. The presence of Sasha in a dark dress reminiscent of Stevie Nicks, along with some well-orchestrated chamber backing from a string trio-plus-drummer really made for an eclectic evening.

Songs like “Tug of War”, “Proof”, “Most of The Boys”, “Kind Man’s Kiss”, and “So Polite” were delivered with an incredible speed and unfounded character that only Sasha would be able to interpret. The small chamber group (featuring violinist Jeff Young and cellist Isabel Castellvi) were definitely the kind of ensemble that contributes to blurring the line between indie and indie-classical.

So Polite (live with the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra)

As a performer, Sasha Siem is a delightful composer/performer of art songs that, for fans of a very tasty and simultaneously light flavor of music, provides a great rival to artists like Bjork and Sufjan Stevens, and leaves an audience wanting even more. She did do a very short encore (it was 20 seconds), but I believe she is on to something.

Sasha Siem.com

in performance: Rhymes With Opera presents “Criminal Element”

Megan Ihnen reviewed the Baltimore performance of the newly-staged version of David Smooke’s Criminal Element

The Sybaritic Singer

Settling into David Smooke‘s nonopera, “Criminal Element“, is akin to letting a book of Rorschach paintings fall open in front of you. As each of the five scenes unfolds, the pages of that book flip in the breeze. That is to say, a nonopera in an invented language can take on myriad meanings and plays out the perceptions of those watching and listening. Gazing around the sultry Area 405 in Baltimore on Saturday night, there could have been as many interpretations of Smooke’s work as there were people crowded into the performance space. Rhymes With Opera singers Elisabeth Halliday, Robert Maril, and Bonnie Lander with the SONAR new music ensemble quartet under George Lam‘s conducting excelled in the performance of this work creating numerous audience entry points to a work that could be intimidating to some. Rhymes With Opera also used the evening as…

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Bang On a Can at Rite of Summer (A Review)

Bang On a Can All-Stars at Rite of Summer Festival on Governors Island–Photo courtesy of Reilly Grahamrrite4fixed by Reilly Graham

Rite of Summer Festival
Bang On a Can All-Stars
Governors Island, NYC
Saturday, July 13, 2013

I have never been to Governors Island (at least I don’t think I have in many years–something about it seemed familiar to me), and I basically was walking towards the side of the island where I believed the site of the Rite of Summer concert was going on. I felt worried when I saw a tent area that sort of looked like a stage-area with no people, thinking I’d traveled all the way to the island to find a canceled show, but after hearing the strains of a distorted cello in the distance…I KNEW that was our show! I kept walking and found the Bang On a Can All-Stars set underway.

I’m very glad that I was familiar with Michael Gordon’s “Industry”, and Ashley Bathgate being given a rare solo moment in the band’s set was exciting to see. To hear such a furiously-played amplified piece for electro-acoustic cello in an outdoor concert definitely made me think of Hendrix at Woodstock. As the rest of the group took the stage, guitarist Mark Stewart, who was making the announcements between the pieces, wondered aloud “If Jimi played the cello…”

The rest of the prepared first set went equally as well with some more All-Stars classics–David Lang’s “Sunray” (written for his father’s 80th birthday), Julia Wolfe’s “Lick” (designed after a funky James Brown piece in the way Julia Wolfe does it) and Louis Andriessen’s “Worker’s Union” (perhaps its most intense performance ever). The group, even with 2 people subbing for Robert Black and Ken Thomson (Gregg August and Michael Lowernstern, respectively, and did so so effectively that I hadn’t even noticed those guys weren’t there) and the looming threat of a downpour as the sky was only giving us a partly sunny day–on top of this the band was working with generated electricity in the aftermath of the facility’s power source being jeopardized by Hurricane Sandy, and at one point the sound cut out, yet you could still hear them–There seemed to be nothing that would make these guys stop or slow down.

After the break, there would have been a second set where the group was going to feature a Mark Stewart solo, repeat “Sunray” and “Lick” and wrap up the show with Thurston Moore’s “Stroking Piece #1” (Loved hearing that at 2012’s marathon), but during Mark Stewart’s solo performance of Steve Reich’s “Electric Counterpart”–replete with gorgeous looping effects on top of an already gorgeously-played guitar part, the rain creeped up on the event and finally managed to put a damper on it. Probably for the best since safety is the priority over the show (regardless of the “show must go on” credo), but the group definitely made the absolute best out of their circumstances and turned in some effectively executed repertoire for a summer concert.

Even though they only feature a few concerts each summer, Rite of Summer is a really good festival that brings new music performances to both the fans of the genre and the general public with some potential new fans.

There’s a couple more dates of Rite of Summer if you would like to check it out:

Saturday, August 10th 1pm & 3pm (raindate August 11th):
An Homage to Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring: Ljova and Friends/Fireworks Ensemble

Sunday, September 1st 12pm-5pm (raindate September 2nd):
RITE-A-THON: Blair McMillen, Pam Goldberg, Tigue, Theo Bleckmann, Classical Jam and more

Bang On a Can.org

Rite of Summer.com