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Oct. 01 2019

First Impression: Improvising and Composing

By John Scherch | Posted in First Impression, Host Blogs, New Music | 1 Comment

As part of last month’s annual High Zero Festival, a series of performances of improvised music, I attended a talk on improvisation itself. Discussions were had about how improvisation played a role in the panel’s music, whether it was composed or performed. Thinking about how improvisation plays a role in composition, there have been in classical music many moments for performers to improvise their own interpretation of the score. Something as small as a performer’s phrasing could be a form of improvisation, at the very least if the composer didn’t specify it. One could question (perhaps thinly) the amount of improvisation that can be involved in a piece before it ceases to be composed, or perhaps, ceases to be classical in style. The quickest counter to that argument is that the composer can call for improvisation, but I would say that the premise is flawed; I don’t think that the style is of that great a concern, but I think fans of classical/experimental/art music would enjoy it, and that is why there are a few improvisation-heavy shows on our list this month.

FRED FRITH TRIO AND JAMAL MOORE

One of the musicians on the improvisation panel at High Zero was Jamal Moore, a multi-instrumentalist, composer, educator, and Baltimore native. He’ll be on a bill October 3rd at 2640 Space in Charles Village with the Fred Frith Trio, an experimental group from Oakland. Doors are at 7, music goes from 8-10.

THIRD PRACTICE BEGINS ST. DAVID’S RESIDENCY

Vocal ensemble Third Practice presents their first concert in their residency at St. David’s in Roland Park, featuring a program of madrigals and part-songs that will also include the U.S. premiere of Tawnie Olson’s Child’s Play. The concert is Friday, October 4th at 7:30.

MIND ON FIRE SINGS

Presenting the music of Meredith Monk, Laura Steenberge, Eve de Castro-Robinson, and a premiere by James Young, Mind on Fire will perform their first ever a cappella concert at Lovely Lane United Methodist Church in Charles Village. Also on the bill is saxophonist Andrew Bernstein of the band Horse Lords and the Karagoz Theater Company. The show is at 8 PM on October 12th.

NEW GUITAR MUSIC AT BROWN MEMORIAL

Baltimore guitarist Sean Brennan presents a program of new music for classical and electric guitar at Brown Memorial Park Avenue Presbyterian Church, featuring works by Marek Pasieczny, Ingram Marshall, Clarice Assad, Natalie Draper, Nigel Westlake, Leo Brouwer, and Andrew Norman. The show is Sunday, October 13th at 6 PM.

TARIQ AL-SABIR KICKS OFF THE EVOLUTION SERIES

Composer, singer, and Baltimore-bred New Yorker Tariq Al-Sabir will be the first featured artist of the Evolution Contemporary Music Series, performing a program of his works at An die Musik on October 15th at 7.

DARING GREATLY

Tenor saxophonist, composer, and educator Derrick Michaels presents a concert of spontaneously composed music at An die Musik on October 16th at 8 PM. He will be joined by harpist Jacqueline Pollauf, trumpeter Brent Madsen, and double bassist Zachary Swanson.

DETACH MODE WITH PIQUE COLLECTIVE

Baltimore new music ensemble Pique Collective presents a Detach Mode concert, which is 60-70 minutes of uninterrupted music that is selected to encouragemeditation through deep listening. Participants are invited to find a position on the floor or in the room that is comfortable, and we provide eye-masks to remove the visual stimulus of a concert. The concert begins with a bell or singing bowl and short guided meditation. The participants can then listen intently, listen casually, or allow themselves to completely fall asleep. The session concludes with the bell and an awakening. This will be at Movement Lab in Remington on October 19th, starting at 8 PM.

THE THIRTEEN AT 2ND

The Thirteen present an exploration of some of the most beloved English-language composers, featuring works by Thomas Tallis, Benjamin Britten, Pulitzer Prize winning composer Caroline Shaw, and selections from the distinctly-American Sacred Harp repertoire, as part of Community Concerts at 2nd, located at Second Presbyterian on Saint Paul Street in Guilford. The show is on October 20th at 3:30 PM.

INDIGENOUS PEOPLE’S DAY AT ST. DAVID’S

The Recital and Evensong for Indigenous People’s Day, October 20th at St. David’s Church, will feature a performance of Jerod Tate’s “Found Again” by the ensemble Words & Music, to settings of text by Poet Laureate Joy Harjo. The recital is at 4:30, followed by an Evensong led by the Choir of St. David’s.

LIVEWIRE 10

UMBC’s Livewire new music festival celebrates its tenth anniversary this year, with performances by Ruckus, Third Practice, the Inscape Chamber Orchestra, and UMBC student composers and performers, as well as the chamber opera Pendulum Clocks by Rahilia Hasanova and a series of lecture recitals. The festival runs from October 24-26, and more information is at their website.

HOPKINS SYMPHONY FEATURES WORLD PREMIERE

The Hopkins Symphony Orchestra, led by Jed Gaylin, will open the HSO Grand Opening of Shriver Hall with What Remains, a new HSO-commissioned work by Linda Dusman, who is also on faculty at UMBC. Also on the program, which will be on October 26th at 7:30 PM, is music by Rodrigo and Berlioz.

THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI

For Halloween (on the day, at 7:30 PM), Occasional Symphony presents a live scoring of the 1920 Robert Wiene horror classic The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, featuring classical favorites, commissions from their 2012 film scoring project by James Young and Scott Lee, and world premieres composed by Joshua Bornfield, Stephen Edwards, Haley Olson, and Kristina Wolfe. Tickets and more info can be found at their website.

VISUAL SOUNDS AT UNION

To give you a heads up so you aren’t only hearing about it from me on the day, Pique Collective presents “Visual Sounds” at Union Collective on Friday, November 1st, 2019. The musicians will interpret a variety of graphic scores and make use of various visual elements which will yield surprising sonic results. Doors open at 7pm and music begins at 8pm.

As always, if I missed anything, let me know!

John Scherch

About

The newest announcer and WBJC's evening and Listener's Choice host, a former heavy metal program director and erstwhile enthusiast, and Peabody graduate in voice and pedagogy, both of which he still practices. Full bio here.

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