Piano Music to Leave Iraq By

“We must see that peace represents a sweeter music, a cosmic melody that is far
superior to the discords of war,” said Martin Luther King in his Nobel Lecture. Pianist Sarah Cahill took the phrase “A Sweeter Music” for her project of 18 anti-war (or pro-peace) works that she’s premiering this year. I’m happy to say that one concert in that series will take place this Thursday evening, March 12, at 8 at Merkin Hall in New York City, and that it will include the world premiere of my War Is Just a Racket. It’s an odd piece for me, written for a pianist speaking a text while playing, and I hope it works. Sarah’s husband John Sanborn has made video to accompany all the pieces; you’ll recognize the name as the artist who does all of Bob Ashley’s video, and I’m honored to have a connection to his work. The concert is part of Jon Schaefer’s New Sounds Live series, so I guess you’ll be able to hear it on radio as well. The whole program is:

Preben Antonsen (b. 1991): Dar al-Harb: House of War
Kyle Gann (fl. 1440s): War Is Just a Racket
Frederic Rzewski: Peace Dances
Jerome Kitzke: There is a Field
Phil Kline: The Long Winter
The Residents: drum no fife: Why We Need War
Terry Riley: Be Kind to One Another (Rag)

This is the penultimate of the clump of seven commissions I had in 2007-8. The final one to be played will be The Planets, written for the Relache Ensemble, of which they had to delay both the performance and recording of by a year due to budget difficulties. I’m told the world premiere of the new movements will come this May 28 in Philadelphia, the full set in September, and the recording over the summer. Details later.
UPDATE: I heard Sarah play the piece today, and she makes it work. I’m astonished. I didn’t even intend the piece to sound as good as she makes it sound. She also played me Riley’s rag, which is one of his best keyboard works yet, fun, bouncy in his personal way, and really tight and well-shaped.


  1. Joe Kubera says

    I SO wish I could go. By unfortunate coincidence, Tom Buckner’s concert at Roulette is on the exact same night, and I’m playing. Why must the fates do this to us?