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Sep. 03 2019

First Impression: You Should Really Read This Book

By John Scherch | Posted in First Impression, Host Blogs, New Music | No Comments

I read a book recently that sums up quite a few of the problems that new music has connecting with wider audiences, specifically regarding diversity. NYU Director of Piano Studies Marilyn Nonken’s new book Identity and Diversity in New Music: The New Complexities can be found here and, after you’ve read up on what’s going on in the DMV this month, go ahead and read the book as well; it’s a very engaging and interesting (and quick) read despite its appearance as an academic text. Also, when I post it (soon), listen to the interview I had with her in her studio at NYU Steinhardt. Then go support new music! There’s plenty going on this month.

IN SERIES STARTS THE SEASON STRONG

Since this issue was delayed past Labor Day, we’ve already missed an IN Series performance at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage (more on that in a bit), which previewed their new take on Shakespeare’s Tempest that incorporates the music of Billie Holiday, appropriately titled Stormy Weather. Performances of that work begin in October; more information here.

As for more imminent doings, their performance this month is a new look at Puccini’s Madama Butterfly (simply titled Butterfly), stripping the work of its oft-criticized exoticism and returning the structure of the source material, which to me seems like a similar approach to their reinterpretation of Handel’s Serse that closed out last season. There are opportunities to hear the work in both Italian and English, and performances run September 5-22 at the Source Theater in DC’s Cardozo neighborhood, with two performances at the end of the run at Baltimore’s Theatre Project; information and tickets are here and here. Also, there’s prepared piano.

Given the problematic nature of this piece, IN Series is hosting two Director’s Salons at Source, the first discussing race and the second discussing gender, as they relate to Puccini, his contemporaries and predecessors, and opera in general.

KENNEDY CENTER OPENS THE REACH, AND OTHER DOINGS

The Kennedy Center opens its new REACH campus on September 7th with a festival of artistic activities, including performances of new music and off-centered classical-adjacent material by Kronos Quartet, Roomful of Teeth, a collaboration between Mason Bates and Daniel Bernard Roumain (more on him later), Afro Blue and Soloman Howard, Baltimore Boom Bap Society, and many more. Also check out the Kennedy Center’s main events calendar, where classical-style music by indie rock stalwarts Elvis Costello and Jim James make appearances, among others.

SYMPHONY NUMBER ONE: AWAKENED

For two years, Symphony Number One has presented the arrangements of other composers created by Arnold Schoenberg and his students in the early 20th Century. This September, SNO will perform the music of the man himself, Schoenberg’s Chamber Symphony No. 1. Their featured composer for this concert will be James Lee III, with his own extended work for chamber orchestra. Performances are Saturday the 7th at 8 PM and Sunday the 8th at 3 PM.

THE 2640 PROJECT

Three powerhouse musicians descend upon 2640 Space in Charles Village for a concert of 20th and 21st century music; Baltimore saxophonist Tyrone Page Jr. will perform a TBA program of new works, soprano Bonnie Lander and San Diego violinist Batya Macadam-Somer will perform Kurtag’s Kafka Fragments, and Macadam-Somer will perform excerpts from a work she premiered last year, Carolyn Chen’s Some Dragons. The show is on Friday the 13th and doors open at 7:30.

MILESTONES

Composers Peter Dayton and Christopher Lowry (piano and viola, respectively) will perform a program of their works for viola and piano on Friday the 13th at Studio 5N, celebrating the Centaur Records reissue of Lowry’s Milestones: Viola Music in the Third Millennium. Baltimore pianist Aaron Thacker joins Lowry at the end of the program for his Suite for Viola and Piano. The show begins at 8 PM; Dayton and Lowry will also perform one of Dayton’s works at the DC New Music conference (more on that in a bit).

THIS MONTH IN OUTCALLS

Baltimore classical music’s favorite pop project Outcalls (led by sopranos Melissa Wimbish and Britt Olsen-Ecker) have two shows this month; one at Checkerspot Brewing Co. on the 14th at 11 AM as part of their kid-forward “Brew House Rock” series, and one headlining a bill at Ottobar on the 28th (doors open at 7).

MIND ON FIRE AND A MEETUP

Mind on Fire concludes their series of concerts at the Pratt libraries with a show at the Federal Hill branch, featuring trombonist Sarah Manley, electronic musician Jason Charney, and bassist Kassie Ferrero, on the 14th at 3 PM. Preceding the performance at 1:30 will be New Music Baltimore‘s second meetup at the library, which collegiate and graduate music students are encouraged to attend, featuring a talk from members of Mind on Fire before the show.

NEW MUSIC DC 2019

District New Music Coalition invites you to attend its second annual contemporary music conference, open to anyone with an interest in new works, from music students to professors, recording engineers to arts administrators, performers to composers, and all music lovers. The conference runs from September 14-15, and details can be found here and here.

AFRO HOUSE CONCERT NO. 9

Afro House presents its ninth concert featuring the works of Scott Patterson, celebrating Baltimore’s extraordinary maker scene. The featured maker at this performance will be Motzi Bread, who work to create accessible food and end hunger in Baltimore, and will offer a complimentary tasting. The show is on the 14th at 7 PM at a private location, revealed upon buying a ticket.

THRIVE NO. 24

Thrive Music Live presents violist/composer Jessica Meyer and soprano Melissa Wimbish, performing a concert of works for voice and solo stringed instrument (they doin’ the violin and cello parts w/ viola), featuring two of Meyer’s own works and a piece by Gustav Holst. This is a limited-capacity show on the 29th at 1 PM at a private location, which will be revealed upon confirming your attendance (there is a suggested donation).

VOODOO CONCERTO AT THE BSO

On the last weekend of the month (the 27-29), the BSO presents, alongside the overture the Verdi’s La forza del destino and Tchaikovsky’s 4th symphony, Daniel Bernard Roumain’s Voodoo Violin Concerto, with the composer as the soloist. Tickets and information are at the BSO’s website.

FIRST FRIDAY: THIRD PRACTICE

Since there won’t be much October before this concert, I’ve decided to include the first concert in Third Practice‘s residency at St. David’s, which will be on October 4th. Monteverdi’s cycle La Sestina and Benjamin Britten’s much-loved Hymn to St. Cecilia bookend an exploration of madrigals and part-songs old and new with works by Martinů, Rorem, Ligeti and the U.S. premiere of Tawnie Olson’s Child’s Play. The concert will be at 7:30.

Can you tell it’s back to being music season? Let me know if I’ve missed anything!

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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