Tag Archives: Michael Lowenstern

Todd Reynolds, Sxip Shirey and friends steal the show

Sxip Shirey, Todd Reynolds and friends at Lincoln Center Out of Doors. (Photos © 2011, Steven P. Marsh)

How often do you go to a show and feel like you’ve heard such an amazing opening act that you’re ready to skip the headliner?

Not often, I’ll bet.

Todd Reynolds

But that’s exactly the way I felt at Lincoln Center Out of Doors on Wednesday night, Aug. 10. It was another triumph in New York’s best free outdoor concert series, which The New York Times describes perfectly as “generous, warm, high-spirited real entertainment for a big audience.”

Don’t get me wrong, Laurie Anderson was the headliner of the free show in Lincoln Center’s Damrosch Park. She is — and was that night — amazing. But openers Todd Reynolds and Sxip Shirey, joined by six violinists and a tuba player, blew the house down with their collaboration. I could have gone home floating on air after their set, feeling perfectly satisfied.

Lou Reed slips heads backstage at Lincoln Center Out of Doors.

Todd, the inimitable Digifiddler, kicked off his set with some of the inventive work from his new album, Outerborough. Laurie’s husband, Lou Reed, slipped through the crowd and backstage while Todd was really wailing on “Crossroads,” a Michael Lowenstern-composed “duet” with bluesman Robert Johnson.

In short order, Todd was joined by six more violinists, each of whom is pretty amazing in his or her own right (Caleb Burhans, Conrad Harris, Pauline Kim Harris, Yuki Numata, Courtney Orlando, and Ben Russell). The Sxip, the multi-instrumentalist clown prince of the NYC indie music scene entered along with Adam Matta (the Human Beatbox) and tuba player Don Godwin of Raya Brass Band. (Check out a rehearsal clip of Todd and Sxip cutting loose here.)

The energy that flowed among all these talented musicians as they jammed onstage was palpable. And there was lots of love flowing from stage to audience and back again.

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New Music’s next wave

ICR DDS GVSUNME

Remixer Dennis DeSantis, in the shadows, left, with the Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble at (Le) Poison Rouge. (Photos copyright 2009, Steven P. Marsh)

I saw and heard the future of New Music on Sunday night, and I am happy to report the future is bright.

ICR Sax Solo

A saxophone solo opens the performance of "In C."

The Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble, which burst onto the scene with its fabulous 2007 performance (and followup recording) of Steve Reich‘s “Music for 18 Musicians”, filled (Le) Poisson Rouge last Sunday night with the sounds of another 20th Century classic — Terry Riley‘s “In C.”

ICR Jad

Radio Lab host Jad Abumrad was master of ceremonies.

Riley’s piece is more of a challenge than Reich’s because it is less structured, more mutable and highly shaped by the musical personality of the performers. The 15 talented players in GVSUNME — most of them students — played an engaging version that they made their own with the use of electronics and flourishes like a saxophone solo  to open the performance.

Sunday’s concert was a celebration of the release of In C Remixed, GVSUNME’s double-CD recording of In C and 18 remixes by 16 artists. The ensemble’s recording of “In C” clocks in at just over 20 minutes. For Sunday’s concert, the group played for about an hour. That’s the other major variable of the piece — it’s written in such a way that it can be as long or short, within certain limits, as the players want it to be.

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