Monthly Archive: November 2008

North and South

Posted on Sunday, November 30, 2008

I'm currently working on two pieces at the same time, which happen to draw influences respectively from North and South America.

My solo harp piece for wonderful Bridget Kibbey's Carnegie Hall recital debut in April draws some inspiration from the vibrant joropo music from Venezuela. Most Joropo music that I know creates its cross-rhythms from a combination of harp, cuatro and maracas, so I'm giving Bridget a challenge to create them all by herself!

The other piece is for the Metropolis Ensemble, for a concert at NYC's funky Le Poisson Rouge this Jan 28th, it features my friends the Groanbox Boys and my piece will involve both the boys themselves, as well as elements of their North American-influenced style of playing.

More on the groan box concert shortly.

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A good time to be a bird

Posted on Thursday, November 6, 2008

Only 10 days after I heard A Bird in Your Ear had been selected for the finals of the National Opera Association Chamber Opera Competition, I'm delighted that the piece has also been selected for New York City Opera's Vox 2009 season. This will be a half-hour excerpt with full orchestra, choir and soloists, and will be performed at Skirball Center for the Performing Arts at NYU, next May. Exciting times for birds.

>> More about the opera here

Exciting times for birds, but perhaps somewhat hairy times to be at City Opera, after the news that Gerard Mortier has stepped down. I was relieved to read in a comment on La Cieca 's site the NYCO press release confirming VOX is still going ahead.

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Shake rattle and stomp

Posted on Monday, November 3, 2008

Dawn Upshaw and members of Ensemble ACJW yesterday

Some colorful reviews of yesterday's concert at Carnegie's Zankel hall, which was a riot, and a wonderful celebration of Dawn Upshaw's incredible range and versitility. The performance of Piosenki was spectacular all-round, Evan Hughes joined Dawn and ensemble ACJW, with the wonderful Steve Prutsman conducting. But the lagerphone also rightfully received plenty of the attention:

David Bruce incorporates his lagerphone into the final section of his vivacious song cycle “Piosenki” (in Polish, popular songs), which concluded the program and was its highlight.

Mr. Bruce’s lagerphone, a percussion instrument in the shape of a long stick, is covered with bottle tops (hence the “lager”) and other metal noisemakers and decorated with colorful streamers. When pounded on the floor, it produces a jingly sound akin to a tambourine’s but louder. The rest of the colorful score evokes Polish folk music and Slavic wedding bands with klezmer clarinet tunes, zesty piccolo riffs, syncopated rhythms and energetic fiddling. The audience laughed at the musical flatulence of “Smelly,” the fourth verse.

Vivien Schweitzer, NY Times

In the final Polish song of this ecstatic recital ... bass-baritone Evan Hughes picked up a four-foot-long thick stick decorated with bells, and stomped it repeatedly on the floor or dangled it with the bells jingling. And as he and Dawn Upshaw sung, the untranslatable words (Trumf, Trumf! Misia Bela!!) and the entire chamber orchestra wailed and trilled and the klezmer clarinet warbled and the drums drummed, not only this scrivener but everybody in the packed Zankel Auditorium wanted to thump and jingle along with Mr. Hughes and the now foot-stamping orchestra.

Harry Rolnick,

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