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Jan. 03 2019

First Impression: A New Thing on New Music

Hello everyone! You may have missed my online presence or perhaps expected to see a December Student Composer of the Month. Moving forward, I don’t plan on making my online presence as dedicated to such a specific element of new music, and instead, I have a new… well, it’s not necessarily a blog, as my primary focus won’t be writing at length about new music, and it’s certainly not a podcast, but I don’t like the idea of calling it a list or a schedule, which is essentially what I’ll be providing for happenings in new music, and I think calling it a guide would imply that I have a higher degree of expertise than I really do… let’s just call it a thing for now. The entire purpose of this thing is to disseminate information about new music that goes on either in the Baltimore-Washington area or put on by people associated with the area, in classical music or involving classical musicians. For pieces not receiving their premieres, my limit for what is “new music” is within ten years, which still may be too old for some. I intend to have a new one of these things up around the beginning of each month to talk about what is going on in that month and the following ones, and anytime I receive an update (send me an email at jscherch@wbjc.com), I will update the current month’s post and update our social media platforms accordingly. That all being said, let’s have a look at what’s going on in new music this month!


The Prototype Festival in NYC kicks off on Saturday, January 5th, but if you haven’t made your plans to go up yet, you still have planning time to make it to Frances Pollock‘s Stinney: An American Execution, an opera she premiered to critical acclaim at 2640 Space on St. Paul Street while she was still a student at Peabody Conservatory. The New York premiere runs for two performances, on Saturday 1/12 at 5 PM and Sunday 1/13 at 3 PM, both in Florence Gould Hall at French Institute Alliance Française; find more information here.

Also happening in new opera is The Falling and the Rising, an opera with music by Zach Redler and libretto by Jerre Dye. The project was conceived by SFC Ben Hilgert of the U.S. Army Field Band, which rehearses in Fort Meade, and was premiered in April 2018 at Texas Christian Univeristy with the Field Band and students of the TCU School of Music. The next performances will be on January 12th and 13th at the Ailey Citigroup Theatre in NYC, and the opera will be performed by Peabody Chamber Opera at Baltimore Theatre Project February 7-10. More information here.


The In the Stacks series at the George Peabody Library has consistently drawn sellout crowds—the first 200 are admitted and the performances cost an honor-system donation—and they have put on excellent exhibitions of new and recent music. The next concert, In the Stacks: Part 3, features Baltimore’s Bergamot Quartet performing a program that takes its inspiration from the George Peabody Library’s unrivaled collection of ‘fore-edge paintings’—books with secret works of art hidden in the pages.


As part of the St. David’s Music Series (which we talk about on-air), baritone Rahzé Cheatham will perform a recital as part of the church’s annual tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr., including some works of his own composition.

In the following months, soprano and Peabody faculty member Ah Young Hong will perform a recital (featuring no new music, but she performs a lot of new music which I encourage checking out), and you’ll also have another chance to see the Bergamot Quartet at St. David’s in March.


You may also recall hearing about the Shriver Hall Concert Series on our air; on January 27th at Baltimore Hebrew Congregation, violinist Jennifer Koh and pianist Shai Wosner present the Baltimore premiere of Vijay Iyer’s Bridgetower Fantasy, paired with works of Beethoven including his Kreutzer sonata, originally dedicated to and premiered by George Bridgetower, a famous 18th-century Afro-European violinist, with the composer at the piano (the rededication to Kreutzer followed an argument over what Beethoven construed as Bridgetower’s insult of a female acquaintance).

Also coming up at Shriver Hall on March 24, clarinetist and composer Jörg Widmann performs the Baltimore premiere of his Quintet for Clarinet and Strings with the Hagen Quartet. The artists gave the work’s world premiere in 2017 in Madrid, and will give its U.S. premiere at Carnegie Hall two days prior to its Baltimore performance.


Baltimore new music ensemble Pique Collective is the musical guest at the Black Cherry Puppet Theater for their January Slamwich—an evening of puppetry and performance geared more towards grown-ups—though all ages are welcome! Show is 1/12, more information here.


The Peabody Wind Ensemble‘s upcoming concert on January 26th at 7:30 features a work by Peabody graduate Matthew Pellegrino called Winter Unending, Invincible Summer, along with standard and less-standard wind repertoire. We’re talking about this one on air, and listen for my interview with conductor Harlan D. Parker.


So this particular concert doesn’t feature any new music on it, but the soprano Katie Procell is a singer you should keep your eye on, as she specializes in new and only slightly less new music. On her concert I Have a Song to Sing O! she and her friends, pianist Valerie Hsu, tenor Ricardo Garcia, and bass-baritone Drew Holcombe will perform a free program of Gilbert & Sullivan at First & Franklin Presbyterian Church on February 2nd at 8 PM.


Part 20 of the Thrive Music Live series will feature Jeff Stern and Matthew Keown, performing a program entirely composed of new music on marimba and drum kit. The show is at 7:00 on Saturday, January 26th at Studio 5N, located at 302 E Federal Street in Baltimore.


The combined forces of the American University Symphony Orchestra, Chorus, and Chamber Singers are joined by the Strathmore Children’s Chorus and guest soloists Janice Meyerson and Baltimore-based baritone Rob McGinness to perform the North American premiere of Arnold Saltzman’s A Choral Symphony: Halevi. Completed in 2017, this large-scale composition is a lush and evocative symphonic setting of English translations of texts by the twelfth century Hebrew poet Judah Halevi. One afternoon only, February 24th at 4:30 PM at The National Presbyterian Church in DC.


Classically infused feminist pop band Outcalls, led by sopranos Melissa Wimbish and Britt Olsen-Ecker, have two shows coming up on February 9th and March 9th. Witness the impressive results when classical musicians start an indie rock band!


I was happy enough when the BSO performed Turangalîla this month; at the end of this month, part of their performance (January 31-February 2) will consist of Helen Grime’s Percussion Concerto, featuring Colin Currie, who premiered the work in London, also under Marin Alsop.


The St. John’s Western Run Parish Music in the Valley series’ next performance features icarus Quartet, consisting of two pianists and two percussionists, performing works by Paul Lansky, Alex Weiser, Brad Lubman, and a premiere by Michael Laurello. The show is Sunday, February 3 at 5:30.

If I’m missing anything, leave a comment below or send me an email at jscherch@wbjc.com.

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Our overnight programming, Music Through the Night, can be found by clicking here or calling us at 410-580-5800. The listings are Central time, so subtract a hour from when you heard the piece!

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