The Glass Sho ~ Vicky Chow/Danielle Eva Schwob and Ashley Jackson

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My podcast The Glass Sho has a new home: PRX.ORG
Until I can figure out a way to move everything over to the new address, please feel free to enjoy the episodes on podomatic.com and iTunes.
In any event, I hope you all continue to enjoy the podcast.

The latest episode features interviews with Bang On a Can All-Stars’ pianist Vicky Chow and composer Danielle Eva Schwob and harpist Ashley Jennifer Jackson.

Ashley Jennifer Jackson has a debut concert for Lincoln Center tomorrow night (which will feature the debut of Danielle Schwob’s piece “Lights In The Dark” written for harp and string quartet), Sept. 20th at 8 PM at New York City Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center, Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center, Bruno Auditorium
The American Modern Ensemble Quartet will perform with Ashley in the second half of the program.
111 Amsterdam Avenue at W. 65th St, New York, NY 10023.
Admission is FREE, but tickets are still required; Please reserve here: www.chambermusicny.org/contact-us

Vicky Chow and I discussed her new releases:
Tristan Perich’s work Surface Image on New Amsterdam, which will be released Oct. 28th, and her recording of Steve Reich’s Piano Counterpoint, included on the Reich compilation Radio Rewrite, also including performances by Alarm Will Sound and Jonny Greenwood, and that will be released on Sept. 30 on Nonesuch.
Hear exclusive excerpts from these recordings on the podcast link below.

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The Glass Sho: Episode 21 (Vicky Chow/Danielle Eva Schwob & Ashley Jackson)

Billband ~ Live at LPR (A Review)

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Billband
Le Poisson Rouge, NYC
Sunday, February 10th, 2013

This is the first time that I’m reviewing a show that I watched online as opposed to having experienced it in person, so, my apologies for not having a more in-your-face perspective, but I can say with great certainty that Billband (ensemble that was originally formed by Bill Ryan; I interviewed him recently) was in supreme form as they ran through a set of mostly selections from the CD Towards Daybreak, whose release was the focus of the event.

The group, which features several members of Bang On a Can that we are familiar with (Ashley Bathgate, Vicky Chow, David Cossin) as well as violinist-composer Todd Reynolds, clarinetist Michael Lowenstern, and 2nd cellist Pablo Mojave-Veglia among others, has a very fusion-esque sound, especially on pieces like “Friction”, which opened the show. Its prog-like timing proceeded to set a wonderful pace for the rest of the evening.

“Sparkle” is one of my favorites, and it was every bit the delicate frosty chime dialogue that it is on the album. Following this was “Solitude In Transit”. This featured a great Far Eastern-style violin lead from Todd Reynolds, with which he managed to outshine his own recorded version from the album.

“Simple Lines”, a piece that Ryan had written in various versions for various configurations of instruments, was performed solo by Ashley Bathgate. Doing what she has been doing so effectively for several years, Bathgate bathed the audience in rich textures of layered loops of cello, mastering a technological art form and reinvention of a classical sound.

The ensemble returned for “Rapid Assembly”, and then played “Blurred”, which here sounded a bit more like the version from the Billband Blurred EP from 2004, featuring more ensemble than the recently-recorded trio version. They wrapped up the set with that same EP’s “Original Blend”, which displayed great lead voices from the violin, piano and clarinet.

Billbandlive3aBoth Todd Reynolds and Bill Ryan made introductions to these pieces, and I have to say I am a huge fan of the musicians speaking to the audience. If we continue to have the kind of rapport that these performers have, this is certainly one of the keys to gaining the interest of new audiences as well as maintaining audiences that are invested in and engaged with new music concerts.

Billband is a great showcase for Bill Ryan and its members, and I hope that this ensemble continues to produce even more progressive post-minimalism pieces as well as concerts as lively as this one.

Billband (page on Bill Ryan.com)
Bill Ryan.com

Grand Band Strikes LPR Again (A Review)

Grand Band soundchecking before the concert (Photo courtesy of Vicky Chow)grandbandsoundcheck

Grand Band @ LPR
Featuring Lisa Moore, Isabelle O’Connell, Vicky Chow, Blair McMillen, David Friend, and Paul Kerekes, pianos
Le Poisson Rouge, NYC
Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

Written by Tristan McKay

Grand Band, New York City’s new music keyboard sextet, returned to Le Poisson Rouge this week to perform Simeon ten Holt’s magnum opus, Canto Ostinato. This evening marked their third appearance as a group—the first being at the Bang on a Can Marathon at the Winter Garden last June, followed by a concert at LPR of works by Julia Wolfe, Philip Glass, Kate Moore and Steve Reich in August. The sizzling, feisty and dazzling energy of Grand Band’s first two performances was this time substituted with a different brand of virtuosity: Canto Ostinato is a mystical, enchanting, and meditative epic, brilliantly and vividly animated by six of the most active and celebrated contemporary pianists around: Lisa Moore, Isabelle “Izzy” O’Connell, Vicky Chow, Blair McMillen, David Friend, and Paul Kerekes.

Canto Ostinato, composed in 1976 and first performed in 1979, is the most famous and frequently performed piece by Dutch composer Simeon ten Holt, who passed away last November. Despite this claim, I have never seen any of his music programmed in the city, and neither had anyone that I told about the concert. Grand Band dually honored the composer’s passing and did a service to the audience in bringing this work back to our collective attention. Continue reading

Bill Ryan ~ On Towards Daybreak, Billband and LPR

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Composer Bill Ryan had some time to talk to me about his new CD Towards Daybreak, which is about to drop on January 29th, and also the upcoming CD release party at Le Poisson Rouge on Sunday, February 10th at 7:30 PM. Click here for info/tickets or on the link at the bottom.

CM: Can you please talk about the new album and its music? I understand the pieces are very personal for you. 

Bill: It’s definitely a personal album, with the music being a general reflection of my life for the past several years. The most impactful events to me were the loss of both parents. A few pieces address that specifically, but that loss reaches into all the music on the CD. There’s also music that comes out of the joy of continuing to raise my three children, living in the midwest, teaching, and other things. I suppose that’s natural–that as one gets older and accumulates life experiences–that these events inform who you are and the work you do. For a long time though, I rarely set out to write a piece about anything except the sound. Now, somehow, life has a way of getting into the music. Continue reading

Lisa Dowling

Australian-born double-bassist/composer/vocalist/DJ Lisa Dowling is about to turn “Dirty Thirty” and celebrate it with a concert on Monday, October 1st, kicking off Vicky Chow’s Contagious Sounds series at 8 PM at the Gershwim Hotel. Lisa will be giving people a really good cross-section of her great artistry, and as you’ll see on this page, there’s much that she has already done in that vein. She had some time to talk about that stuff as well as that great Ear To Mind concert we covered here at The Glass.

You may know her also from the two NY ensembles Concert Black and Heavy Hands, and her gig as a DJ, but just to listen to what she does on an instrument that doesn’t seem to get nearly as much face time as the cello, violin or piano, and adding other elements, you’ll see she is an amazing solo performer.

BTW, programming note: The Glass will be streaming the concert as it happens. Continue reading

Grand Band at LPR (A Review)

Clockwise from left: Izzy O’Connell, David Friend, Paul Kerekes, Blair McMillen, Vicky Chow and Lisa Moore (Grand Band) performing at Le Poisson Rouge, August 7th, 2012 (Photo courtesy of Karen Chester)

Grand Band
Featuring Lisa Moore, Isabelle O’Connell, Vicky Chow, Blair McMillen, David Friend, and Paul Kerekes, pianos
Le Poisson Rouge, NYC
August 7th, 2012

Whatever your thoughts are about all-piano duos or ensembles (MY first thoughts are of acts like Ferrante & Teicher or The 5 Browns, though I also enjoyed Anderson & Roe), this first-ever full concert set at Le Poisson Rouge by the NY-based new music ensemble Grand Band, the group that was co-founded by Isabelle “Izzy” O’Connell and Lisa Moore, and was done so for the Bang On a Can Marathon, has been an electrifying blast of teamed-up keyboard prowess that for me had much more the effect of Fats Domino, Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis when they played a hot rock and roll riff together on an old TV special.

When the group made their debut as Grand Band at the BOAC Marathon at WFC’s Winter Garden in June, they had 6 Steinway & Sons grands rented out at their whim, but for this affair, they had to settle for the next best thing–digital Yamaha pianos (and one Roland). But I can say this for sure–the sound of these keyboards still came across like 6 grand pianos in that room, perhaps a bit drier than at the Winter Garden, but they definitely made the right adjustments for volume calibration. Continue reading

Isabelle O’Connell

Photo courtesy of Jennifer Warren

Irish-born pianist Isabelle O’Connell (aka “Izzy”) is another great piano soloist I’ve come to learn about in the new music world. Along with an impressive solo career, she’s the brain-child of the fabulous project for 6 pianos called the Grand Band, a super ensemble that grew out of the initial performance of Julia Wolfe’s “my lips from speaking” from several years previously, and eventually became a massive blend of multiple pianos that was one of the major highlights of the Bang On a Can marathon this past June.
The Grand Band are in fact going to be performing a full-concert at Le Poisson Rouge in New York on Tuesday, August 7th at 6:30 PM, and they will be playing both the Julia Wolfe piece and the Steve Reich “Six Pianos” piece they performed at BOAC along with a whole list of other works.

Izzy had time to chat via Skype. Continue reading

John Cage ~ Concert for Piano and Orchestra (1957-58)

John Cage: Concert for Piano and Orchestra from Avant Media on Vimeo.

As part of the 2012 Avant Music Festival’s “Cage, Unlocked” program, an excerpt of the 20 minute performance of John Cage’s seminal “Concert for Piano and Orchestra” performed in celebration of Cage’s 100th Birthday.

John Cage (1912-1992)
Concert for Piano and Orchestra (1957-58)
Vicky Chow, piano
Orchestra (loadbang):
Alejandro T. Acierto, clarinets
Jeffrey Gavett, voice
William Lang, trombone
Andrew Kozar, trumpets
Gelsey Bell, voice
Drew Blumberg, violin
Nicole Camacho, flutes
Victor Lowrie, viola
Kryssy Wright, chance-determined lighting design

Recorded on February 11. 2012 at The Wild Project, NYC

EDITOR’S NOTE: The group is still trying to raise money through KICKSTARTER for the CD Cage, Unlocked, and you can take part in this as well!

Click here to donate to Avant Music’s Kickstarter campaign for the Cage, Unlocked CD

Avant Media

Randy Gibson ~ On Kickstarting Cage, Unlocked

Pictured L to R: William Lang, Vicky Chow, Drew Blumberg, and Randy Gibson performing John Cage’s “Four3” at the John Cage at 100 show in NY; 2/11/12; Below, Vicky Chow performing the Sonatas and Interludes also at the Cage at 100 show (Photos courtesy of Hugh Burckhardt for Avant Media)

Composer and founding member of the music collective Avant Media Randy Gibson had some time to speak with us about a campaign he started on Kickstarter (the fundraiser of choice these days) for a new CD of the music from a concert I actually went to–The John Cage at 100 concert that was held during the Avant Music Festival back in February in NY (I even reviewed this concert on my one-time haunt Sequenza 21). That concert was a great display of the diversity of the Cage catalog and the fascinating difference in tonality between the earlier and later works, and we also saw that some of the works are obviously not yet suitable for Cage beginners.
The CD features selections from the concert performed by Vicky Chow, loadbang, Megan Schubert and Gelsey Bell among others.
If you want to contribute, click up here or on the big link at the bottom. Continue reading