The Bandleader Career Resumes

I’m directing, this semester, a student ensemble for works of unspecified instrumentation. It’s above my accustomed course load, and takes up a chunk of my time, but I took it on out of guilt. I’ve felt terrible for years that our students graduate thinking that the sole available mode of modern music performance is faithful reading of scores elaborated in every detail of articulation and dynamics. Among the pieces we’re looking at and may perform are Riley’s In C (of course), Rzewski’s Attica and Les Moutons de Panurge, Glass’s Music in Fifths, Barbara Benary’s Sun on Snow, Christian Wolff’s Snowdrop, Rhys Chatham’s Guitar Trio (we have a lot of guitarists), and Samuel Vriezen’s The Weather Riots. (I directed the Dallas premiere of some of these pieces in 1976 at SMU.) It’s been a blast. Every music-reading level is accommodated, and people love working on In C and Music in Fifths. Plus, tonight we had our first read-through of Julius Eastman’s Gay Guerrilla, for electric guitars (it can be played by multiples of any instrument). I wonder whether the piece has been played since New Music America 1980, or whether it’s ever been played on guitars. The performance, at Bard, is December 14. I’ll keep you posted.