On Saturday 6th June, Libera were due to perform a concert in Ely Cathedral in the UK. Due to the COVID - 19 pandemic, this event has been postponed - but......... there will still be a Concert - a Mini-Concert which will be shown online! Please join us at 7 30pm UK time, when we will be singing on-line with an orchestra like we've never done before! This will be shown as a YouTube Premier and the concert will be remain on-line after that first 'transmission'.
This concert is free for all to watch. But if you are able to make a donation to help us with the cost of presenting it we would be very grateful. UK Taxpayers can donate using JustGiving. All others can use Paypal.
Michael Whalen's "Sacred Spaces" is an epic recording nearly ten years in the making. Whalen said; "I have been pursuing a spiritual ‘awakening' for most of my adult life. Over the past decade, I realized that I am 100 percent responsible for whatever my relationship with a ‘higher being' might be." Filled with sonic landscapes built from hundreds of layers of sound, "Sacred Spaces" is Michael's tour-de-force electronic project, which seamlessly blends his natural gift for melody with fresh textures and percolating rhythms. Deeply inspired by Michael's film and TV work and his love for progressive rock, "Sacred Spaces" is the ambient recording of the year.
Michael Whalen spoke with Oregon's KBOG Radio about the recording. Listen to the attached interview
The pianist Igor Levit is always one-upping himself. His recordings have swollen from a collection of four Beethoven sonatas to the entire cycle; his performances, from a traditional recital to, as of Sunday, a livestream lasting over 15 hours.
In an extraordinary act of musical self-flagellation, Mr. Levit played Erik Satie's "Vexations" - a mysterious and absurd work consisting only of four lines repeated 840 times - to evoke and draw attention to the difficulties facing artists during the coronavirus pandemic. (Each iteration was printed on a single sheet of paper; they will be auctioned later to raise money for out-of-work musicians.)
"Vexations" performances are extremely rare, and typically presented as a roughly 19-hour relay with a long roster of pianists. But Mr. Levit - accomplishing the unthinkable, if inadvisable - did it alone in a Berlin studio, starting at 2 p.m. on Saturday and finishing at 5:30 a.m. Sunday, relatively early even with scattered intermissions.
If Mr. Levit's traversal, paid for using the $300,000 Gilmore Artist Award he received in 2018, was brisk, it was only for small stretches. The tempo direction is "très lent" ("very slowly"), which he started with and often returned to. But there were flashes in which he hurriedly pecked the keyboard as if jaded and exasperated, understandably dropping notes along the way.
"I got so tired that literally my fingers stopped moving," Mr. Levit said in an interview on Sunday. "Maybe a chord came a second late, but nobody died because of it. I'm OK with that; it's part of the performance."
At no point, he said, did he feel like he wasn't going to finish. And he avoided scaring himself beforehand with the piece's history, like in 1970 when Peter Evans quit after 595 repetitions, claiming to have had evil thoughts and visions. Pianists who take on "Vexations," he later said, "do so at their own great peril."
Mr. Levit may have felt confident, but his facial expressions betrayed frustrated exhaustion. He sometimes slouched or stared emptily into the distance, or held a palm to his reddened forehead - given a persistent sheen by sweat - as if in despair. The fascinating livestream occasionally slid into something more disturbingly voyeuristic, like witnessing a private crisis of faith and bracing for it to all go wrong.
But it didn't. If anything, Mr. Levit found renewed focus near the end, returning to a slow, even drawn-out tempo for what is inevitably an anticlimax. When I heard "Vexations" at the Guggenheim Museum in 2017, the audience didn't realize it was over until the pianist stood up from his bench.
There was clearer finality in Mr. Levit's performance. He had been tossing the sheet music of each repetition onto the floor, and once he got rid of the last one, he slowly closed the lid of the piano, held his face in his hands and walked away, nonchalantly picking his iPhone off a side table on the way out.
He slept for only a few hours before resuming his Sunday as usual. In the early evening, still riding a high from "Vexations," he spoke about his experience with it and what might come next. Here are edited excerpts from the conversation.
Where do you even start with preparing for this?
From the beginning of planning to the concert was about three and a half or four weeks. And I didn't train for it at all. I tried to play it at home, but without pressure and the actual thing happening - honestly, I got bored. There was no point of just playing it.
There couldn't have been any emotional preparation, but I did have a musical goal. I told myself: I am not playing performance art, not stoically in the same tempo. I wanted to just let myself go, to do as much as I could to make it like a piece, like storytelling.
Did it leave you in any sort of pain?
I'm not making this up: I'm feeling really good. I have no back or hand issues, no headache.
What about psychologically?
There were moments of anger, there were moments of fear, sadness, devastation. But these were touchable moments for me more than anything psychological. In the middle, I looked at where I was and thought: There are still 590 to go, what the heck? It took me about half an hour to get through that, but it was really the only moment where I thought, not that I wasn't going to make it, but that I was annoyed.
I feel like that showed in your playing.
I just let myself go. And I wasn't thinking about questions about the dynamics; it was just following my emotions. Sometimes that was just counting every single number. But there were also moments where I was thinking about how I'm playing this piece while the U.S. is burning. This country I love so much - I felt a great level of despair and anger. I can't tell you that it translated into the music, but it at least translated into me. A very long part of the performance was driven by this thought.
Were you keeping up with the news during the intermissions?
This was the first time since the bloody iPhone was invented that I didn't have it with me for 16 hours! But I had seen the news from Minneapolis the night before.
Then what were you doing when you weren't playing?
Peeing. Sorry if that's not a good answer. But I was drinking water all the time, probably five and a half liters at least. I was really sorry to have to stop. I do not like intermissions; it's really hard to stand up. I wish I could play concerts without them.
What comes after something like "Vexations"?
I honestly don't know. This morning, my friends came over for coffee and I opened my iPad and Googled "the longest piano pieces ever." And 90 percent of what comes out is Sorabji. Then Frederic Rzewski's "The Road," which is an incredible cycle. He once told me it's like "War and Peace" music.
So you're not going to just take a break.
Are you kidding? Of course not.
PHOTO: Stephan Zwickirsch
At the end of every month, the NPR Music team picks their favorite albums and songs. Everyone has their passions and they vary widely, from the Atlanta rapper Deante' Hitchcock to the Australian ambient artist Madeleine Cocolas.
On this week's show, we hear the No. 1 albums and songs of May as picked by our staff. There's the Portland band MAITA, which features a singer who entered our Tiny Desk contest in 2018. We also have the 20-year-old Eve Owen (who released an album produced by The National's Aaron Dessner), a team-up between classical guitarist Sharon Isbin and Indian sarod master Ayaan Ali Bangash, and Buscabulla, a duo from Puerto Rico who met in New York City and returned to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria to rediscover their home. And then there's brilliant jazz guitar playing from the Kurt Rosenwinkel Trio and joy from Scotland's Vistas.
"Love Avalanche" a cool East-meets-West raga featuring multiple Grammy-winning classical guitarist Sharon Isbin paired with the Indian sarod master Ayaan ali Bangash. - Tom Huizenga
In episode 921 of "ANIMAJAZZ", conceived and conducted by BRUNO POLLACCI , broadcast on TUESDAY 2 June at 20.30, on PUNTORADIO, also streaming on www.puntoradio.fm and in an immediate podcast on http: // animajazz. eu will be the protagonists of the evening, which include; "The Dream"; by ODED TZUR from "Here Be Dragons"
Here Be Dragons is the ECM debut of New York based, Tel Aviv born tenor saxophonist Oded Tzur, one of the most strikingly original musicians to have emerged from Israeli's creative jazz scene in recent years, and the leader of an outstanding group.
Oded Tzur has found a new and personal sound for the tenor saxophone. Inspired by his extensive studies from 2007 onward with bansuri master Hariprasad Chaurasia, he has mastered the graceful slides of Indian classical music and brought raga's sense of pitch fluidity and microtonal shading into a jazz context. His pieces elegantly explore and unfold their melodic and atmospheric implications in a context of subtle group interaction. Structurally, each of Tzur's compositions on Here Be Dragons sets out to develop a "miniature raga" over a moving bass, juxtaposing two musical concepts. Oded: "The dialogue between these dimensions takes us wherever it takes us." The ragas deployed in the pieces "Here Be Dragons", "20 Years" and "The Dream" are of Oded's creation, while "To Hold Your Hand" uses an Indian scale called Charukesi and operates on similar principles. He stresses, however, that "raga is, for me, a universal concept. I hear its connection to synagogue prayers, or to the blues – a marvellous creation – and to music all around the world." Ancient and modern traditions are referenced in Oded's work, including traditions of storytelling. "If music has the ability to tell stories," suggested All About Jazz, "saxophonist Oded Tzur proves himself one of the jazz world's premier storytellers." Tzur's concept is also broad enough to embrace some unexpected song choices, and the album concludes with a tender interpretation of "Can't Help Falling In Love", made famous by Elvis Presley.
We remind you that "ANIMAJAZZ" can be heard on TUESDAY at 20.30 in immediate podcast on http://animajazz.eu and the "DOWNLOAD" of the episode can be made, free of charge, from the podcasts area. Happy listening. "ANIMAJAZZ" in collaboration with the PISA ACADEMY OF ART. SEE THE PAGE
The Tiny Desk is working from home for the foreseeable future. Introducing NPR Music's Tiny Desk (home) concerts, bringing you performances from across the country and the world. It's the same spirit - stripped-down sets, an intimate setting - just a different space.
Lara Downes thrives on collaboration. Her new album features Toshi Reagon, the vocal ensemble MUSICALITY and the string quartet called PUBLIQuartet. But in this intimate piano recital from her home in Sacramento, Calif., her only collaborators are her son Simon, who takes on cinematography duties, and her beloved pooch, Kona.
The songs, all from her recent album Some of These Days, might be old, but they are strong statements that resonate in new ways. From Margaret Bonds, one of the first celebrated African-American women composers, there's "Troubled Water," a poignant riff on the spiritual "Wade in the Water" that Downes says takes a "journey from classical virtuosity to gospel, jazz, blues and back again." Samuel Coleridge-Taylor's arrangement of "Deep River," for Downes, now represents "crossing over" the coronavirus crisis, while Florence Price's "Some of These Days," is a vision of better times ahead.
In a moment of vulnerability, Downes admits that not being out on the road – performing, embedded in communities and working with young people – makes her feel "not very useful." But in these performances there's a sturdiness and purpose that provide both comfort and the strength to carry on. Very useful, indeed.
"Margaret Bonds: Troubled Water"
"Samuel Coleridge-Taylor: Deep River"
"Florence Proce: Some Of These Days"
"Violins of Hope is an artistic and educational project composed of instruments that were owned by Jewish musicians before and during the Holocaust." - James A. Grymes, author of Violins of Hope
Violinist Niv Ashkenazi plays one such violin for this recording, and states in the booklet, "I have chosen Jewish repertoire from throughout its lifetime..."
Mr. Ashkenazi is an alum of the Perlman Music Program, and I often hear hints of Perlman in his playing. With this particular violin, his tone is gorgeous - husky and full of texture, perfectly suited to this music. He plays with passion and exceptional musicianship. There are times where I could do with less portamentos (for example, the opening Dauber Serenade and, especially Williams's Schindler's List Theme, here arranged for violin and piano), but elsewhere his playing is naturally expressive and free of excessive emoting.
As to the repertoire, listening to it from beginning to end, one gets the feeling of routine; it ends up sounding a bit too much of the same thing. However, taken in smaller chunks, one hears more variety and much very good music (most of which I was not previously familiar with). Highlights for me are Julius Chajes's The Chassid, and the very rhapsodic Three songs Without Words, by Paul Ben-Haim.
Mr. Ashkenazi benefits enormously throughout from the superb piano accompaniments played by Matthew Graybil, also a masters graduate from The Juilliard School. The recorded sound is excellent - warm, clean and intimately mic'd.
This is an interesting project and an interesting recording. Once again, Albany Records provides an invaluable addition to the recorded repertoire with an emphasis on American performers. I can recommend this CD to anyone with an interest in this project, and this particular program of music by Jewish composers. The entire production is first-rate and I enjoyed it.
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Guitarist John Scofield celebrates the music of his friend and mentor Steve Swallow in an outgoing and spirited recording, made in an afternoon in New York City in March 2019 - "old school" style as Scofield says, acknowledging that more than forty years of preparation led up to it.
The 'Bang on a Can Marathon,' still lovably scruffy online / The New York Times
Posted: May 4, 2020 12:00 AM
| By: Admin
With the performing arts landscape ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic, a new online ecosystem has risen - temporarily, we hope - in its place.
There have been the stalwarts: The pianist Igor Levit livestreamed a daily "house concert," 52 of them, before bringing the project to a close on Monday. There have been archives: The Detroit Symphony has dozens of beautifully recorded concerts available, free, at the touch of a button. There have been worldwide musical meditations over Zoom, string quartets lovingly reconstituted through editing software, and the Budapest Festival Orchestra's regular "quarantine soirees."
But the long, live spectacles - like the Bang on a Can Marathon, streamed over six hours on Sunday - are what's gotten us through.
Me, at least. "Event TV" in an on-demand age, these musical epics, like Rosie O'Donnell's special edition of her old variety show, the Metropolitan Opera's At-Home Gala and the Sondheim at 90 tribute, have brought me laughs, tears and hundreds of gleeful texts with friends and colleagues as we've watched, alone together. The beauty and commitment of the performances, however homespun and technically limited, and the joyous intensity of the kibitzing - the palpable collective energy of it all - have approximated what I love about going to the opera or theater.
The Met online could hardly be more different than the Met at Lincoln Center. But the lovably scruffy Bang on a Can stream on Sunday was pretty much akin to any of the lovably scruffy annual marathons put on by this new-music collective since the late 1980s. Hosted, as always, by Bang on a Can's founding trio - the composers David Lang, Michael Gordon and Julia Wolfe - the performance had some Zoom-muting snafus in place of the old microphone ones, but the genial vibe and leisurely pace were the same as ever. The main difference between this and previous years? On Sunday, the program ended, gasp, early.
The final performance, the pianist Vicky Chow's unhurried rendition of John Adams's "China Gates," was a kind of bookend benediction to the start of the marathon, when Meredith Monk sang her aching "Gotham Lullaby" as a kind of prayer for a wounded city.
In between, as ever with Bang on a Can, were a couple of dozen performances, a range of styles and generations. Young artists like Adam Cuthbért, who gave his own woozy piece for trumpet and electronics, and the vocalist-flutist Nathalie Joachim shared the digital space with veterans like George Lewis, who played trombone in flickering, cacophonous duet with a computer-controlled acoustic piano.
These were all solo performances, but electronic looping turned some of them into de facto ensembles, as when the cellist Ashley Bathgate, playing Robert Honstein's "Orison" in her purple-tinged childhood bedroom in upstate New York, built a series of long notes into hovering, luminous chords; Meara O'Reilly recorded a lively duet with herself.
Cassie Wieland's "Heart" for hammered dulcimer, played by Adam Holmes, sweetly shimmered. The clarinetist Eileen Mack built, alongside electronic evocations of wind and rain, to a slow, dirty dance in Anna Clyne's "Rapture." In the middle of Shelley Washington's sinuously grooving "Black Mary" for baritone saxophone were charming little staccato folk-ish passages.
The percussionist Steven Schick, playing ferociously in his garage in San Diego while narrating part of Brecht's "Life of Galileo" - the requirements of Vinko Globokar's "Toucher" - was perhaps the most virtuosic. But I also enjoyed Miya Masaoka's echoey twang on the ichi-ten-kin, a one-string koto; Dai Wei's "Songs for Shades of Crimson," an impassioned aria played by the violinist Todd Reynolds; and Mark Stewart's gently glistening guitar playing. Another guitarist, Mary Halvorson, managed to sound smiling and sober at once, with melodies of glittering sensitivity that fragmented into kaleidoscopic phrases.
Canonical Minimalism, out of which Bang on a Can emerged with its own rock-inflected sensibility, was there in Mr. Adams's "China Gates," Steve Reich's burbling "Vermont Counterpoint" and a bit of Philip Glass's "Einstein on the Beach." But far more present was the collective's progeny: the milky repetitive vibraphone of Molly Joyce's "Purity" and Ian Chang's raucous electronic nocturne, streamed - with strobes flashing - from a darkened room, like a Brooklyn loft party.
It wouldn't be a Bang on a Can Marathon if there weren't a couple of ponderous performances, or meandering ones that were ideal soundtracks for bathroom breaks. But that's all part of the fun, and I'll be there - texting thumbs ready - for the next one, streaming June 14.
Commissioned for Hadelich by Carnegie Hall, mystery sonatas premiered in April 2014 in Zankel Hall, where it was praised by The New York Times as a display of "magisterial poise and serene control." Lang, who held Carnegie Hall's Richard and Barbara Debs Composer's Chair at the time, conceived the piece as a modern reinvention of Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber's Mystery Sonatas. While von Biber's Sonatas expressed his inward thoughts on Christian theology and the Mystery of Christ, Lang's take is decidedly secular.
"I decided to make my own virtuosic pieces about my most intimate, most spiritual thoughts," Lang explains, "[but] mine are not about Jesus, and the violin is not retuned between movements. I did keep one of Biber's distinctions. He divides Jesus's life into three phases-the joyous, the sorrowful, and the glorious. The central pieces of my mystery sonatas are called ‘joy,' ‘sorrow,' and ‘glory,' but these are all quiet, internal, reflective states of being."