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).


My Favorite CDs of 2013


Ok, so, first of all, this list is really late, please accept my apologies for that.
Another thing is that I decided that I can’t rank things anymore as it never seems like a fair assessment for anyone to be ranked higher or lower than anyone else, therefore this list is in NO PARTICULAR ORDER, so there is no “number one pick” or “lowest on the list” placement here.
These were the recordings in new music that truly stood out for me.
I also must apologize that I’m not a very good writer in discussing what makes this music tick for me–Can I just say there was something about it that stood out? It would be crazy for me to simply repeat that over and over for them all. I haven’t figured out why this is, maybe I just need a bigger vocabulary. And I also have chosen not to write CD reviews anymore for this reason.
But anyway, I hope everyone appreciates the picks and why I have placed them here.

I do want to point out about In 27 Pieces that I’m so glad it was finally released and we got to hear these pieces after only hearing them described to me by some of the composers, it was worth the wait. I’m also glad Hilary finally offered up some serious scraping that she held back on when I heard her play Antheil live a few years back.


Towards Daybreak ~ Bill Ryan, Billband

100 Names ~ Rebekah Heller

In 27 Pieces: The Hilary Hahn Encores ~ Hilary Hahn, Cory Smythe

A Single Breath: Beethoven’s Last Three Piano Sonatas ~ Beth Levin

A Single Noon ~ Gregg Kallor

Corps Eqxuis ~ Daniel Wohl, TRANSIT

The Spirit of the Garden ~ Rose & The Nightingale

Prelude Cocktail ~ Lawler + Fadoul

Voyages ~ Conrad Tao

I Do (The Wedding Album) ~ Polkastra

Death Speaks ~ David Lang, Shara Worden, Maya Beiser

Exiles’ Cafe ~ Lara Downes

23 rubai’yat ~ John King, Jenny Lin

Baroque ~ Nadia Sirota

Evensong ~ Caleb Burhans

Glass: Concerto Fantasy/Mohammed Fairouz: In The Shadow of No Towers (Symphony #4) ~ Paul Popeil, University of Kansas Wind Ensemble

There was also one particular pop album I liked last year:

No Sugar Added ~ Fight The Fear (a great local band here in CT that hopefully will be going places soon 😉 )

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

Six Windows Presents A Hero of Our Time (Theater Review)

The cast of the Calliope Theatre Company playing the cast of Six Windows–Photo courtesy of Mike ZurkhulenSONY DSC

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

Everything Went Down Pretty Good

From L to R: Noah Drew and Kate Tucker, stars of Everything Went Down EWDbar

[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

Continue reading

Loom Ensemble ~ Erosion CD Release Party (A Review)

The Loom Ensemble performing excerpts from Erosion: a Fable during their CD release party at Theaterlab (Photos courtesy of Loom Ensemble)_MG_7991

World in One Pan Arts Collaborative
Loom Ensemble
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
TheaterLab, NY
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