A few random notices:I neglected to note that my profile of the composer Alvin Singleton is out in Chamber Music magazine this month (somewhat overshadowed by Frank Oteri's long article on - uvallpeople - Charles Wuorinen). I've always been impressed by Singleton's music, and I grew more and more so researching this article. I think calling him a Downtowner would be a stretch, but he's certainly an imagist in the Messiaen-Shapey-Feldman vein, and his best music is accessible without being obvious, and soulful. I am informed of two gaffes I … [Read more...]

When Playing the Notes Is Enough

One (or two) of my favorite Cage pieces is (are) the little-known Experiences Nos. 1 and 2. The first one, supposedly written in 1946, is for two pianos, the second from 1948 for solo voice. I say "supposedly" because the solo voice version, written on an E.E. Cummings poem, uses the same melody as the piano duo version from two years earlier, and it seems odd that Cummings' phrases would have fit so snugly the melody that Cage had earlier written for pianos. I discovered both pieces on the old Voices and Instruments vinyl disc of 1976 on Brian … [Read more...]

How to Write Your Own John Cage Story

Try this one: My mother used to teach piano, and got her Master's Degree in music ed. One summer when I came home from Oberlin, I brought her a cassette tape of the music I had had performed during the year. She played it, and didn't say much right away. Later that day, she suddenly sighed with relief and said, "I'm so glad you're not writing 12-tone music." Now, imagine me reading that slowly, with pauses between the phrases, and with David Tudor making electronic noises in the background. Doesn't that sound like it could fit in the … [Read more...]

Everything’s Up to Date

It's official: the Second International Conference on Minimalist Music will take place September 2 to 6, 2009, at the University of Missouri at Kansas City. (The first, you'll remember, occurred last September at the University of Wales at Bangor.) Composer David McIntire and I are codirecting it. David has been very busy, lining up speakers, arranging ensemble performances, allocating spaces, and having biweekly meetings with interested colleagues. For my part, I've already sent him several encouraging e-mails. We're tentatively planning to … [Read more...]