Next Thursday, October 20, one week from tonight, I’ll be onstage at Miller Theatre at Columbia University – not performing, but interviewing formidable composer-pianist Frederic Rzewski. Our pre-concert interview is at 7:00, and at 8:00, expert new-music pianist Marilyn Nonken will play Rzewski’s famous classic The People United Will Never Be Defeated. This will be followed by the New York premiere of a new work, Rzewski’s Bring Them Home, featuring, besides Nonken, pianist Ursula Oppens and percussionists Tom Kolor and Dominic Donato. I’ll let you guess which recent war the title refers to.
The rather taciturn Rzewski tends toward the devilishly contrarian in public appearances; last time I ran into him was at an Ives festival in Berlin, where, asked to speak, he rose and announced, “I don’t know why they asked me here, because I really don’t like Ives’s music,” and soon sat down again. He’s a challenge to interview, but I’ve had a lot of good talks with him, and maybe I can draw him out comfortably. Hope to see some of you there.