Tag Archives: Miller Theatre

A bright, musical — and FREE — way to end a dull, gray Tuesday

Miller Theatre’s Pop-Up Concerts are back

Ugh. It’s pretty grim to realize it’s only Tuesday. And what a nasty Tuesday it has turned out to be.

But there’s something happening tonight that’ll put a drink in your hand, a smile on your face and send you back out into the world with a head full of music: Pop-Up Concerts at Columbia University’s Miller Theatre.

And it won’t cost you a dime.

Here’s the deal: One Tuesday a month, this very cool program takes over the theater for a quick, casual get-together that ends in a very cool concert. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Grab a free drink (thanks to Harlem Brewing Co.) when you get there, and hang out with fellow music lovers until the show starts at 6.

Tonight’s program is Minimalism’s Evolution. Sure, it sounds a little heady, maybe even academic. This is happening on an Ivy League campus, after all. But this series isn’t like any college course you might remember. Pop-Up Concerts let you get up close and personal with the artists in an informal performance that lasts just an hour.

Be sure to save the dates of the next two installments of Pop-Up Concerts: Nov. 13 of 120 Years of Solo Piano and Dec. 11 for John Zorn for Strings.

Tonight you’ll get three members of the awesome Ensemble Signal: Courtney Orlando on violin, Lauren Radnofsky on cello and Paul Coleman on sound.

Read on for the full program and all the details you need to get there. Continue reading

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Music of Julia Wolfe

Bang on a Can cofounders Julia Wolfe, David Lang and Michael Gordon. (Photo copyright 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

We’re a little overdue with sharing this, but better late than never:

Bang on a Can cofounder and composer Julia Wolfe gets the full attention on Miller Theatre’s Composer Portraits series on Thursday, Feb. 3.

The show features two New York premieres that demonstrate the depth and breadth of Julia’s work.

On the 80-minute program are Cruel Sister (2004), based on a grisly English tale of sibling rivalry, and Fuel (2007), a collaboration with filmmaker Bill Morrison that examines the impact of our dependence on the title subject.

“I’m thrilled the pieces are going to be done. They really haven’t been done together like this in the U.S.,” Julia says. “The intensity and the driving, relentless aspect of my writing is there in these pieces.”

You can hear more of Julia’s thoughts on the program in Miller Theatre’s video preview of the concert. You can read the complete program notes here.

Julia’s music will be performed by the incomparable New Music ensemble Signal, led by Brad Lubman, the concert will also include an onstage discussion with Julia and WNYC’s John Schaefer.

For more from Julia Wolfe, read her interview about this performance in The New York Times.

8 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 3. Miller Theatre at Columbia University, 116th St. & Broadway. http://www.millertheatre.com. $25. Tickets are available online or at the box office.

Signal tackles Helmut Lachenmann tonight

Composer Helmut Lachenmann joins Signal Enselmble and JACK Quartet to celebrate his 75th birthday on Saturday night.

German composer Helmut Lachenmann celebrates his 75th birthday at Columbia University’s Miller Theatre tonight when he joins Signal Ensemble and  JACK Quartet for the final Composer Portrait concert of the Miller season.

Lachenmann says he believes in “music which, in order to be grasped, does not require a privileged intellectual training, but can rely uniquely upon its compositional clarity and logic.”

The audience will have the rare chance to hear Lachenmann playing 2 of his solo piano works, and he will also be joining Signal as the spoken text soloist on one piece.

Additionally, cellist Lauren Radnofsky (Signal’s executive director) will be playing Pression, a wild 1969 piece for solo cello, The JACK Quartet (which includes violist John Pickford Richards, well known to New York audiences for his work with Alarm Will Sound) will be joining Signal in the ensemble and also performing his most difficult string quartet.

Here’s a video of Lachenmann speaking about his work:

And go to YouTube to see and hear Lachenmann playing his Wiegenmusick, which is on tonight’s program.

This is one of Signal’s biggest projects to date, and is expected to lead to a CD/surround sound DVD release.

It’s also a chance to hear the wonderfully flexible and talented Signal, directed by Brad Lubman, perform Lachenmann’s challenging compositions, which are somewhat different than its typical repertoire.

The program covers four decades of Lachenmann’s composing life with these pieces: Wiegenmusik for solo piano (1963), Pression for solo cello (1969-1970), Ein Kinderspiel for solo piano (1980), String Quartet No. 2 Reigen seliger Geister (1989) and …Zwei Gefühle… featuring Lachenmann himself as spoken-text soloist (1991-1992).

The evening will also include a discussion with Lachenmann and Yale professor Seth Brodsky. It should be an amazing evening of music.

Composer Portrait: Helmut Lachenmann, 8 pm tonight, Thursday, April 1, Miller Theatre,  116th St. & Broadway on the campus of Columbia University. Tickets $25, available online and at the door.

A musical road trip from 802 to 212

The 802 Tour: Thomas Bartlett, Nadia Sirota, Nico Muhly and Sam Amidon.

The 802 Tour: Thomas Bartlett, Nadia Sirota, Nico Muhly and Sam Amidon.

When Sam Amidon, Thomas Bartlett and Nico Muhly took the stage of Miller Theater at Columbia University last night, it was immediately apparent that the audience was in for an unusual show.

Nico was quick to point out that this performance of what they have been calling The 802 Tour (all three headliners are originally from Vermont, in area code 802), was going to be a collaborative thing, not a conventional presentation of three separate sets. For reasons that were not made clear, violist Nadia Sirota was absent from the announced lineup, although ACME, an ensemble of which Nadia is a part, performed beautifully with the three headliners.

The evening, part of the Wordless Music Meets Miller Theatre Festival, was never less than interesting, even during moments when it felt like a shakedown run or a dress rehearsal — a strange feeling given that The 802 Tour started rolling over a year ago. It was marred by technical problems with the sound. Nico, Thomas and Sam are not just Vermonters, but longtime NYC collaborators — Thomas and Sam made music together in Vermont, and Nico and Thomas met when the latter was, briefly, a student at Columbia.

The three clearly have grown quite comfortable with each other over the years. And that comfort level allowed them to reach for new sounds and play around with their styles. Early on, Nico’s super-strong personality threatened to turn the evening into a celebration of excess. Nico overindulged in effects and beats, overpowering Sam’s beautifully fragile vocals in the first number. And Thomas seemed spurred on by Nico, joining in some over-the-top piano flourishes. But things started coming together as the evening went on.

Nico, who noted that last night was the 10th anniversary of his arrival at Columbia as a freshman (he graduated with a Columbia-Juilliard degree), stuck mostly to compositions from his days at the university. His Skip Town is a piece that starts strong but seems to morph in an unsettling way near the end. Quiet Music — the title of which he described as “a lie” — proved to be a perfectly polished piano gem.

Nico’s string arrangements for songs from Thomas’ forthcoming Doveman album ran hot and cold. The first number was nearly swamped by washes of strings and Nico’s electronic wizardry, but Thomas’ subsequent songs, including Angel’s Share, were beautifully augmented by ACME’s reading of the Nico-penned strings.

The closing number of the main set, The Only Tune, written by Nico for Sam, was a spectacular, multi-layered reinvention of a traditional folk tune that let Sam play his voice off against a beautiful violin line (played effectively by Yuki Numata, a terrific young violinist, who recently moved to NYC from Miami, where she was a member of the New World Symphony) , and experiment with banjo and guitar against well-arranged effect. It was a potent reminder of what such great talents are capable of producing.