Tag Archives: Iva Bittová

TwoSense: Old guard piano meets new guard cello

Australian pianist Lisa Moore and American cellist Ashley Bathgate join forces as TwoSense.

We at Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? can’t think of a better way to kick off the New Year than with New Music.

So we’ll be at (Le) Poisson Rouge in Manhattan on Tuesday night, Jan. 4, for the New York City debut of TwoSense. It’s a New Music Super Duo and commissioning powerhouse comprising Lisa Moore, the superb Australian pianist who was a longtime member of the Bang on a Can All-Stars, and Ashley Bathgate, the Saratoga Springs, N.Y., native who’s the All-Stars’ latest cellist. Oh, and in addition to playing their primary instruments, both women will sing. Lisa will also play melodica, while Ashley adds kick drum to the duo’s sound.

Ashley and Lisa are both passionate about New Music and are a joy to watch and hear.

Ashley Bathgate at (Le) Poisson Rouge in September, 2010. (Copyright 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

Here’s how they describe the mission of TwoSense:

TwoSense is a concert series and commissioning venture established by Ashley Bathgate and Lisa Moore presenting new, experimental commissions paired with mainstream works for cello and piano and guest artists. Both emerging and distinguished composers are writing works for TwoSense. The TwoSense mission seeks to ensure the inclusion of this music in the library of great chamber music. Please join us! PS – all the composers who are alive will be there!

And if the mere presence of Ashley and Lisa isn’t enough to persuade you to attend, check out the guest performers: Iva Bittová, voice/violin, Kelli Kathman, flute and Andy Akiho, steel pans.

Iva Bittová, Czech violinist, vocalist and composer, will join TwoSense at (Le) Poisson Rouge. (Copyright 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

And then, as TwoSense says, all the living composers on the program will be in attendance. That list includes: Akiho, Bittová, Stephen Feigenbaum, Paul Kerekes, Jerome Kitzke, and Kate Moore. They’re also performing music by Leos Janacek.

TwoSense. 6:30 p.m. (show at 7:30), Le Poisson Rouge, 158 Bleecker St., Manhattan. Tickets are $15 and available by clicking here, or call (212) 505-FISH (3474).

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Finding light at the end of a subway tunnel

AMY X

My first exposure to Amy X Neuburg (please no period after the X!), the San Francisco-based avant-cabaret singer-percussionist, came at NYC’s Symphony Space during the 2003 Bang on a Can Marathon. She did a riveting set of live-looped, manipulated vocals and percussion that left a strong impression on me. Unlike so many singers who emphasize such vocal manipulation, Amy demonstrated from the first note that she had a strong voice. She wasn’t using her electronics as a crutch for a weak vocal instrument, but as a way to express her art and enhance a beautiful natural instrument.

In a chat after her performance, I talked to Amy about her voice, and she explained that she had operatic vocal training, but her art led her in a different direction.

Amy has always gone her own way. In the Nineties she mined a pop vein with her Amy X Neuburg and Men ensemble, then stuck mostly with solo cabaret-style performance in subsequent years, turning out beautiful recordings like Six Little Stains in 2003 and Residue the following year.

Her wonderfully inventive mind and obvious love of all sort of musical styles makes her a delight to hear and see, but a bit of a marketing challenge. Is her act cabaret, musical theater, performance art, contemporary classical? The labels don’t really matter. She’s a massive talent whose work is always fresh and entertaining.

Amy, who rocks a vintage Lisa Loeb-ish look, is back with an ensemble on The Secret Language of Subways. This time it’s Amy X Neuburg & The Cello ChiXtet, a trio of female cellists. With its blending of her voice, electronics and the full range of the cellos — which may well be the most expressive string instruments around — TSLOS is Amy’s best work yet. The 13-song cycle works well as a story arc —  a sort of unstaged musical — but the indivdual songs are so finely crafted and tuneful that they can  stand on their own quite well.

Amy says the project grew out of her love for the “expressive voice-like quality, enormous pitch range and dramatic look of the cello — I felt I had found a sort of instrumental kindred spirit to my own voice.” Continue reading