Joan Tower ~ Interview/Preview of Her Birthday Concert at Symphony Space

Composer Joan Tower had a few minutes to speak with me about her birthday concert on…her birthday of all things! And I don’t care how old she is!

The concert titled “Happy Birthday, Joan Tower” is being thrown on Thursday, September 6th at Peter Jay Sharp Theater at Symphony Space in New York, and it is scheduled to feature such wonderful soloists as Blair McMillen and Carol Wincenc, as well as violinist Emma Steele and the Escher String Quartet among others.
Joan–well, yes, her too, after all the party is for her! Continue reading

Mrs. President Goes To New York (A Review of The Preview)

Valerie Bernhardt as Victoria Woodhull–Mrs. President (Photo courtesy of Sophia Negron)

Anchorage Opera
Mrs. President, composed by Victoria Bond
A special preview concert
Libretto by Hilary Bell
Leonard Nimoy Thalia at Symphony Space, NY
Monday, July 9th, 2012

This preview of Mrs. President, Victoria Bond‘s opera about women’s equality pioneer Victoria Woodhull that is set to have its official premiere in Anchorage, AK this October, was presented as simply a “Mrs. President in Concert”, with the principal singers performing in concert wardrobe instead of the costumes you’d expect to see for the fully-staged opera, and the music was performed not by an orchestra, but with piano accompaniment by Richard Gordon.
And there was also no chorus. The concert reveals Mrs. President to be sort of a work-in-progress.
Having said this, I’m happy to say that this preview of Mrs. President was far from disappointing. Even the trappings of a non-staged preview of an operatic work don’t necessarily stop the work from revealing its true beauty, and potential vibrancy. Continue reading

This Is Just To Say: Live Art II (A Review)

Coco Karol (Image courtesy of A. Mert Erdem)

Ear To Mind
This Is Just To Say: Live Art II
Leonard Nimoy Thalia at Symphony Space, NY
June 16, 2012

The smaller theater known as the Leonard Nimoy Thalia at Symphony Space is probably one of the most appropriate venues for a show like Live Art II. Its darkness and intimacy spoke just as much, if not more, to the starkness of the music works.

Judith Ring‘s “Mouthpiece” was played as a pre-recorded a cappella piece with only the barely-lit closed curtains on the bare stage, and it came across as a dark overture to the evening’s proceedings. The atonal vocals were like the sound of cold wind on a night in a strange house.

Nomi Epstein‘s “piano and soprano” was presented just as starkly by vocalist Megan Schubert and pianist David Kalhous with the addition of a visual art light show provided by Naho Taruishi. Schubert’s vocal has an almost viola-like timbre that has a tendency to be chilling, especially when she performs avant-garde works (It reminded me very much of her performance of John Cage’s Ryoanji at a concert I reviewed last February). The visual element started out as just a simple straight line of light that moved very slowly across the screen, and just as slowly became fully lit as a sort of sunrise image and then went dark again with the line in a diagonal position. Continue reading

A Great Noise at Symphony Space

Cutting Edge Concerts
Great Noise Ensemble
Conducted by Armando Bayolo
Guest soloist, Cornelius Dufallo
Leonard Nimoy Thalia at Symphony Space, NY
April 16, 2012

DC’s Great Noise Ensemble made a vibrant and yet intimate New York debut at Symphony Space. The contemporary music ensemble, performing in the smaller room known as Leonard Nimoy Thalia, and the ensemble not having its full lineup on this occasion, presented a night of works for varied paired-down ensemble setups. Each of these selections was presented by composer Victoria Bond, who acted as emcee and conducted interviews with each composer of the program’s works that was present (Save for the absent Marc Mellits, who conductor/composer Armando Bayolo spoke for–Bayolo also interviewed Bond for her piece). Continue reading