Anthony de Mare ~ On Liasons II: Re-imagining Sondheim


On Saturday, March 9 (7 pm), as part of Symphony Space’s The Music of Now Series, pianist Anthony de Mare returns to the Peter Jay Sharp Theatre for the second installment of Liaisons: Reimagining Sondheim from the Piano. Marrying his reputation as a champion of contemporary classical music with his deep respect for legendary musical theater composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim, de Mare is building a unique piano repertory by commissioning 36 leading contemporary composers from the classical, jazz, theater, and film worlds to write short solo piano pieces inspired by Sondheim’s music.

Anthony de Mare’s sold-out Symphony Space concert last April featured seventeen of the commissioned works, including pieces by Steve Reich, William Bolcom, Fred Hersch, and Marc-Anthony Turnage. On March 9, de Mare will premiere fifteen new compositions by Eve Beglarian, Jason Robert Brown, Mary Ellen Childs, Michael Daugherty, Peter Golub, Annie Gosfield, Phil Kline, Nico Muhly, John Musto, Thomas Newman, Eric Rockwell, Frederic Rzewski, Rodney Sharman, Bernadette Speach, and Nils Vigeland. The works draw on famous and lesser-known Sondheim songs from Sunday in the Park with George, Sweeney Todd, A Little Night Music, Follies, Company, and other shows.

For tickets/info, click here or on the link on the bottom.

Anthony de Mare had a few minutes to speak about the beginnings of the project and the workings of the production. Continue reading


Valgeir Sigurðsson

Photo courtesy of Samantha West

Iceland’s Valgeir Sigurðsson, composer, producer/engineer, founder of both Greenhouse Studios (where he has recorded a huge list of artists such as Björk, Feist, Sam Amidon, and Hilary Hahn) and the record label Bedroom Community, has spared a few moments to speak with us about his own project titled The Architecture of Loss. An amazing work that is a collaboration with Stephen Petronio that premiered in NY earlier this year, it is also a compelling CD of music all on its own. You can purchase the CD up here or on the link on the bottom.

CM: First of all, to start off, thanks so much for this opportunity, it’s an absolute pleasure to get this from you!
The music on The Architecture of Loss CD is beautiful and stirring, and it plays really well as a stand-alone work. Can you talk about how this project came about?

Valgeir: Stephen Petronio, a New York based choreographer, invited me to collaborate on The Architecture of Loss with him and his dance company. He presented the title to me, and I wrote most of the score before he started the choreography–I wanted it to stand alone as a recorded piece as well. Continue reading

Nadia Sirota ~ On Drones & Viola

Nadia Sirota w/Valgeir Sigurðsson (Photo courtesy of Manic Owl Works)

Violist and Q2 host Nadia Sirota is back here once again taking a break from the activity-filled life she has for a few seconds to talk about Drones & Viola, the second installment of Nico Muhly‘s Drones series of digital EPs, which is set to drop on Monday, July 23rd (Below is an excerpt from the recording you can hear now to tide you over). We also talked about working with her longtime friends and colleagues Muhly and producer Valgeir Sigurðsson. Continue reading

Nico Muhly ~ On Drones

Nico Muhly had time to talk just a little about Drones, the series of recordings that started with a project he did with pianist Bruce Brubaker (whom I interviewed earlier this month) and turned into this project that is being released in three separate digital EPs; Drones & Piano, Drones & Viola and Drones & Violin.

Muhly explains, “The whole Drones project is something I’ve been thinking about for quite a while. I’ve always loved drone-based music. Bruce and I worked together on a kind of open-format piece–that Haydn thing–and I knew that he would be receptive to the idea of doing something slightly stranger. A lot of music with pre-recorded electronics requires a slavish adherence to the tape, or at least some pretty firm points of alignment. I’ve been trying to resist that with this project. A lot of the interactions between the louder moments in the solo part and the louder parts of the tape are, therefore, sort of random. Bruce’s recording works one way, his performances might align in a different way. And other pianists have totally different relationships to the more flexible elements of the piece, which is to say, the timing”.

The Drones series’ next 2 installments will be done differently than the Piano recording.
“[The violin and viola installments] are actually both for piano and solo strings. I think the one for Bruce is the only one, right now, that is going to exist live with an electronic element. I’ve enjoyed playing violin with the violinist for whom I wrote it, Pekka Kuusisto, although I can foresee a way maybe for him to play a few of the movements solo or with electronics. In fact, I’ve heard him play the first movement as an encore after various concerti by having the orchestra hum or play the two pitches that make up the drone.”

Nico Muhly: Drones & Piano (Part V; Bruce Brubaker, piano; Nadia Sirota, viola; Nico Muhly, drones)

Click here to purchase/download Drones & Piano

Nico Muhly (

Bruce Brubaker

Pianist Bruce Brubaker, a man very talented and prolific through his writings online and his activities as a teacher and curator, has taken time to talk to a man that feels rather under-educated as any kind of musician or authority on music (Hint: that would be moi) and sparked up a wonderful discussion about his process in recording his 6th release as a pianist, the new Nico Muhly project Drones & Piano (The first section of a 3-section work to be continually rolled out this year) and going through the process with producer Valgeir Sigurðsson at the now famous Greenhouse Studio in Iceland.

CM: Can you please talk about Drones & Piano and where it started for you?

BB: It started as a commission. I commissioned the piece from Nico, and it was funded by the Gilmore Festival, the music festival in Michigan. I think it’s the first Drones & piece, and then it’s grown, because Nico got interested in writing more and more drones pieces. There’s the piano one, there’s the viola one, which Nadia [Sirota] and I also recorded in Iceland, and there’s another one for violin, which is being done. Continue reading

Nadia Sirota

“I always describe the viola as something that is kind of the wrong size for its body. It sounds like a man singing very high or a woman singing very low. And there’s something about that in-between-ness that is very attractive to me and the challenge of overcoming the fact that, physics-wise, it’s actually proportioned incorrectly, in other words, for a viola to be the right size for the length of its strings to play very easily, it would be something like the size of a small cello…There’s something about reaching in and having to get around that imperfection that really appeals to me, honestly.” Continue reading

A Very Hilary Blog Post IV: The Encore Contest

Photo courtesy of Glenn Ross

When Hilary Hahn announced the In 27 Pieces: The Hilary Hahn Encores project, it sounded like an incredible concept of the likes that had never been tried. I know that she had mentioned in passing that she was going to have some sort of CD that would feature all-new contemporary encores, but I don’t think anyone anticipated that it would be an epic 27 pieces, and from composers as diverse as Jennifer Higdon, Du Yun, Nico Muhly, Mason Bates, Somei Satoh, Edgar Meyer, and James Newton Howard (composer of The Village soundtrack). She’s already been premiering 13 of the pieces in concert and intends to do so with the second half next year, and the 27th will be among them. The recording of the CD is supposed to begin after the performances this season, and she plans to release it sometime in the 2013-14 season. Continue reading