The Outside-One’s-Ism Student

In comments, Ernest asks (and I'd rather address this than the article I'm supposed to be writing today):I was always curious about what a student could do if their professors genuinely dislike the music they create. It seems like a giant imposition on the student to alter his style just to fit his or her teacher's expectation of good music. Is this at least expected of the student in so far as the course is concerned? I don't want to seem like I think this is the norm, but there has to have been overzealous teachers who try to discourage them … [Read more...]

Already Against the Next War

Sarah Cahill has finally given me a recording of my political piece War Is Just a Racket, which she premiered last March, and I've posted it to my web site. The program notes, detailing the text by General Smedley Butler and context, are here. Sarah does a beautiful job, as always. … [Read more...]

The Minimalist Alliance

As my co-director David McIntire so aptly said in his opening remarks to the Second International Conference on Minimalist Music, minimalist music has always stressed community - not only in its unison-rhythmed, non-soloistic ensemble style, nor in its tendency to bring an audience together in a kind of mass ecstasy, but in the collective enthusiasm it kindles among its devotees. This was evident in the first conference in 2007, and became even more apparent last week in Kansas City. That group of us who attended both conferences - myself, … [Read more...]

Conference Blog Goes the Way of Other Good Ideas

Well, the idea of a conference being blogged daily by the co-director of same conference has pretty much been derailed. I'll have to wrap it up when I get back. Let me leave you for now with another group photo, taken remotely by Scott Unrein on the roof of his apartment building. This followed Sarah Cahill's absolutely dynamite recital, in which the revival of Harold Budd's Children on the Hill rang out perfectly; as Scott said, close your eyes and that was Budd up there playing. Sarah closed with Terry Riley's sophisticatedly jaunty "Be Kind … [Read more...]

Political Interlude

Here in Missouri I saw a car festooned with the most virulent anti-Obama bumper stickers, plus one that read: "I'll be as gracious to your president as you were to mine." That settles something I'd wondered about: a lot of the anti-Obama vitriol, I feel certain, is little more than revenge for decent peoples' justified anger over things W. Bush actually did, and for the Right's embarrassment for having supported a moron, while we have a nice, well-spoken, dignified president. … [Read more...]

Narayana’s Cows with the Perfect Sauce

The big minimalist event today was maximalist indeed - a celebrity dinner party at Arthur Bryant's, just about the most famous barbecue place in the world. The photo below just postdated Mikel Rouse's departure, but still we had Rachel McIntire (David's daughter, video-documenting the conference); composers Paul Epstein, Charlemagne Palestine, and Scott Unrein; pianist Sarah Cahill; and musicologists Keith Potter, Dragana Stojanovic-Novicic, and Pwyll ap Sion: For over a decade I had pictured Arthur Bryant as some really plush, elegant place, … [Read more...]

Watching History Turn on a Dime

What an amazing first day of the 2nd International Conference on Minimalist Music. Maarten Bierens from Belgium demonstrated how Louis Andriessen's subtly subversive use of quotations gave his music a dialectical significance quite foreign to American minimalism; Pwyll ap Sion detailed the amazing range of self-quotation in Michael Nyman's output. But what blew me away were three papers on Phill Niblock by Keith Potter, Richard Glover, and Rich Housh, who had gotten access to Phill's files and could exhibit the varied ways he shapes his slowly … [Read more...]

D-Day Minus One

David McIntire and I had been wanting to visit the grave of Virgil Thomson, and came up with a minimalism conference as the simplest way to create the opportunity. So early this morning four of us headed off for Slater, Missouri (pop. 2083), the town Thomson was born in. Only we found the town more willing to take credit for a different favorite son:This led to my idea for my paper for the next conference: "The Great Escape and The Mother of Us All: Slater's Impact on Modernism." But I digress. We (that is, Scott Unrein, Andrew Granade, myself, … [Read more...]

D-Day Minus Two

Kansas City ain't Wales, but it has its impressive features:One of them is Luyben Music at 4318 Main Street, the kind of old-fashioned, full-of-obscure-scores-oh-my-god-look-at-this music store that I thought had ceased to exist. I bought scores to Milton Babbitt's All Set, Elie Siegmeister's Third Symphony, Max Reger's Requiem, Martin Bresnick's My Twentieth Century, Henry Brant's Ice Field, a slew of Arvo Pärt choral music, John Becker's Third, and Philip Glass's Arioso No. 2 (one of his pre-minimalist pieces), all for whatever prices they … [Read more...]

November Already

I am not the first person to play through Dennis Johnson's November, but on August 12 I became apparently the first person to listen to an entire recording of it. You can be the second. In honor of the sixth anniversary of this blog tomorrow (Saturday), among other things, I have uploaded a complete performance of November, one of the earliest (1959) major minimalist works. The first public performance of the piece since the early '60s at least will take place in Kansas City on September 6, with myself and Sarah Cahill alternating at the … [Read more...]

Great Moments in Music History

Composer Mikel Rouse carries a sketch pad with him wherever he goes. Today I ran across this treasured cartoon he drew in 1993 depicting himself, me, and Ben Neill sitting at Rudy's Bar at 44th and 9th, as we did almost weekly (they with beers and me with a scotch, scrupulously so depicted), capturing the moment at which we went from merely talking about the kinds of multitempo structures we were interested in to actually considering it a new musical movement. Mikel and Ben look 16 years younger here than they do now, but somehow I already look … [Read more...]

Minimalists Prepare for Counterattack

I have been too busy to give timely notice to the nice attention that Galen Brown (whose paper on minimalist means and ends will be featured) has given to our minimalism conference over at Sequenza 21 via an interview with me, in my usual punchy style. … [Read more...]