Various Announcements

I hope that the music world has been focusing plenty of attention on Sarah Cahill's recent concert at San Quentin of works Henry Cowell wrote while he was incarcerated there. The more I read about it, the more historic it sounds, not only in terms of an understanding of Cowell's life, but also in terms of touching the musically talented inmates held there now. Apparently there's a long tradition of music as an outlet for prisoners there, Cowell being only the most celebrated (if that is the proper word yet) example. Minimalists in the news: … [Read more...]

Unfortunately Not Lost in Translation

Juhani Nuorvala tells me that my Finnish debut, his playing of Fugitive Objects, went well. But he adds, "the problem with these microtonal concerts is that the intervals are so small there's never enough time for a decent drink." (Sigh.) … [Read more...]

Should Have Played Long Night, Methinks

I find out too late to make the trip, but Juhani Nuorvala informs me that he's playing my retuned keyboard piece Fugitive Objects on a program of experimental music in Helsinki tomorrow. There's also music by Pauline Oliveros, Steve Reich, Roger Smalley, Maija Hynninen, Timo Tuhkanen, and others, plus a celebration of Alvin Lucier that extends through the 26th. Helsinki, of course, will be the site of the 2015 minimalism conference, and I'm much looking forward to being there myself in a year and a half. … [Read more...]

Mainstream Camouflage

Pardon a little self-indulgence, but wow, what a great gig I had in Buffalo today. It was a Gann/Ives program at the Unitarian Universalist Church; Paula McGirr sang my song "Faith" (which she'd sung 25 years earlier) and Ives's "Serenity," and Daniel Bassin conducted The Unanswered Question and my Transcendental Sonnets, with the UUCB Choir and members of the Buffalo Philharmonic. TS was a stretch for the choir, but they sang their hearts out, were totally focused, the momentum grew with each movement, and it was one of those occasions in … [Read more...]

Those Unitarians Don’t Hold a Grudge

I have two public gigs this month. The first is this Sunday, Jan. 12, at 2, when I will appear on a panel at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum called "John Cage and the Contemporary Cultural Landscape," being presented in connection with an art exhibit on the theme of silence. I appear to be the only musicologist, along with featured artists Xaviera Simmons and Simon Blackmore, and Fluxus curator Jon Hendricks. The Aldrich is at 258 Main Street in Ridgefield, CT. The more ego-gratifying event will be a performance of my Transcendental … [Read more...]

The Return of Pythagoras

Make sure you don't miss David First's cosmic and bumptiously entertaining article "The Entertainer" that went up on New Music Box today. Along with his own personal view of music history, it's a plea for composers to start making music that actually heals people and makes life better, a return to the Renaissance concept of music as magic. As someone who's followed David's career closely for a quarter-century, I can attest that this is an endpoint he's been visibly and aurally heading towards for decades. And I'm very sympathetic. It was … [Read more...]

Echoes Among the Young

From my minimalism seminar, I received analysis papers on Reich's Double Sextet, Dan Becker's Gridlock, Rzewski's Coming Together, Pärt's Tabula Rasa and Fratres, Laurie Spiegel, and Mikel Rouse's Dennis Cleveland. My 20th/21st-century history class yielded papers on Ives; Laurie Anderson; Julius Eastman (an analysis of Evil Nigger); a comparison of Emeralds, Eliane Radigue, and La Monte Young as drone groups/composers; Steve Reich (by a kid who had sworn he had no interest in minimalism); Cage as postmodernist; Henry Flynt and Milton Babbitt … [Read more...]