On Reading Emerson Tonight

Once again, pianist extraordinaire Sarah Cahill will perform my new work On Reading Emerson tonight at 8 at the Berkeley Arts Festival at the Jazzschool, 2087 Addison St., Berkeley - along with works by Rzewski, Polansky, Andrea Morricone, Elizabeth Lauer, and Phil Collins, every one of them written in the last ten months. … [Read more...]

Honoring Tenney

Composer Mark So is helping to organize a publication about James Tenney to accompany an upcoming festival of the great man's music at CalArts. He'd like to include the little tribute I wrote to Tenney here, along with all of the wonderful comments that were left in respose. Does anyone who left a comment object? Please either drop a note to Mark at mark_so@hotmail.com, or else leave a comment below granting permission. And thanks. … [Read more...]

Florida, Dresden PSAs

I'm composer-in-residence at the Atlantic Center for the Arts in February and March. I had announced here that the deadline for applying to join me there was October 20, but somehow it got extended until October 27, which is tomorrow. If you're still interested but hadn't made up your mind, or were afraid all those terrible things Ann Coulter is saying about me might be true (they're all false except the online casino addiction), you can still sign up through tomorrow here. I'd love to see you, it's been too long. Tonight's concert of … [Read more...]

Creeping Slowly to the Rescue

Does anyone still listen to Postclassic Radio? I wouldn't blame you if you'd quit, having heard everything on the long-stagnant current playlist over and over, but actually, according to my stats, listeners logged in 567 hours in September, at an average of 37 minutes per listening session, and the rate seems to be continuing for October. I'm teaching a five-course load this semester instead of my usual three, preparing for sabbatical, and in over my head, but I have lately been finding time to add some new tracks. If you're the guy who's … [Read more...]

The Myth of Precocity

Musico-scientific omnivore Brian McLaren points me to an interview with Malcolm Gladwell that debunks the significance of child prodigies. Gladwell was a child prodigy athlete who, as a teenager, found that his native talent was actually little better than mediocre. Becoming fascinated by the phenomenon, he studied it and found that the correspondence between remarkable early achievement and adult success in a field is actually almost statistically insignificant: ...the young Mozart's prowess can be chalked up to practice, practice, practice. … [Read more...]

Rouse Mastery, Nancarrow Mystery

Mikel Rouse's music for Merce Cunningham's dance eyeSpace, which I witnessed at the Joyce Theater in New York last night and is playing again tonight, was brilliantly post-Cagean. Cunningham and John Cage, as you know, made a decades-long joint career by making music and dance whose interaction was unplanned. Cage would make 20 minutes of music, Cunningham the same length dance, then just combine them, so that random coincidences could happen beyond the control of the creators. Mikel took the idea a step further - the dancers don't even hear … [Read more...]

Imminent Performances

Performances are coming thick and fast and sneaking up on me. Da Capo is playing my Hovenweep at Hofstra University this afternoon at a 3 PM concert: sorry I don't have the details, but I assume if you can get to Hofstra you can find it. This Sunday, October 15 at 4, Sarah Cahill will give the West Coast premiere, and I guess the official public world premiere, of my new piano piece On Reading Emerson, which she commissioned. It's at "one of the most idyllic places on earth," the Point Reyes Dance Palace at 5th and B Streets, Point Reyes … [Read more...]

Times Hails Composers, Accepts Earthy Speech

Gratifying unsigned item on the New York Times editorial page today: It's easy to see why New Yorkers, being who they are, would like to claim Steve Reich as their own. He is widely considered one of the most important living composers, who along with contemporaries like La Monte Young, Philip Glass, Terry Riley and John Adams -- and Charles Ives and John Cage before them -- changed the course of music in the 20th century. And he is still very much a force in the 21st. Incidentally, I also notice that Maureen Dowd was allowed to use the word … [Read more...]

Nothing Could Have Been Finer

My North Carolina weekend gigs were a pleasure, and I had a wonderful time with composers Mikel Rouse, in Chapel Hill, and Lawrence Dillon in Winston-Salem. With the latter, at the North Carolina School for the Arts, I performed with the Philidor Percussion Quartet (which I will put on my resume from now on) in my Snake Dance No. 2. The piece is one of my perennial exercises in playing complex rhythms in unison, and I had forgotten how much I love performing in it. Professor Dillon, whom I've corresponded with for years but had never met in … [Read more...]