Tag Archives: Wordless Music

Tito Muñoz named music director of Ensemble LPR

Tito Muñoz

New York native takes baton for (le) poisson rouge nightclub’s resident orchestra as it prepares to reveal its first full season of concerts

(Le) Poisson Rouge

(Le) Poisson Rouge today announced the appointment of conductor Tito Muñoz to lead its bespoke house orchestra, Ensemble LPR.

LPR is one of New York City’s leading music venues, featuring everything from rock and folk to classical. But from its inception, LPR has been a champion of modern classical music, or so-called New Music.

Muñoz takes the baton just as the ensemble is preparing its final concert of  2012 as it accompanies British composer-performer Max Richter in the U.S. debut of his “Vivaldi Recomposed: The Four Seasons,” with violin soloist Daniel Hope.

Two performance of “Vivaldi Recomposed” are scheduled at LPR next month. Click here for more details and tickets.

(Both Richter performances will also stream live on LPR’s streaming channel.)

“Ensemble LPR is a special voice in the music world; an ensemble capable of performing anything, breaking barriers and genres,” Muñoz said in a statement released this morning. “I am excited to bring my passion for versatility and artistic excellence to the group, and look forward to all of our future musical adventures.” Continue reading

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Quest for the grail: Lincoln Center Out of Doors version of A Crimson Grail for 200 electric guitars to be released on Nonesuch

It’s been a long time coming. First it was rained out in 2008. Finally, after a great deal of additional planning and with the blessing of the weatherman, Ronen Givony of Wordless Music and Bill Bragin, director of public programming at Lincoln Center, managed to stage the NYC version of Rhys Chatham‘s A Crimson Grail for 200 Electric Guitars (Outdoor Version) at Lincoln Center Out of Doors last season. (Loyal Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? readers will remember our coverage.)

Composer Rhys Chatham conducts his A Crimson Grail at Lincoln Center Out of Doors in 2009. (Copyright 2009, Steven P. Marsh)

On Sept. 14, a recording of that monumental performance is being released by Nonesuch. What a long, strange trip it’s been.

The magnificent, drone-based piece was mind-blowing in performance. Damrosch Park seemed ready to levitate from the amazing sonic pressure from the volunteer guitarists (plus 16 bassists and the sound of one hi-hat cymbal keeping the beat). I’ve heard the recording of the indoor Paris version of the piece, and while it’s amazing, it doesn’t quite do justice to the work. But I have high hopes that Nonesuch’s effort will top that.

Here’s the press release:

Nonesuch Records releases A Crimson Grail—Rhys Chatham’s work for large electric guitar orchestra—on September 14, 2010. Written in 2005 as a commission for the city of Paris, A Crimson Grail premiered at the basilica of Sacré-Coeur. It was created to work with the specific architecture of the basilica, making use of its natural 15-second reverberation time. The musicians surrounded the audience, creating an antiphonal effect with the sound moving around the space from area to area. Scored for as many as four hundred guitarists, an orchestra of approximately 125 musicians performed the premiere, to great acclaim.

The Dallas Observer said of a recording of that concert, “Beautifully intricate and harmonically dense, A Crimson Grail is nearly ambient in tone while pursuing a beauty that never seems beyond its scope.” When Lincoln Center Out of Doors and Wordless Music invited Chatham to mount A Crimson Grail in New York at the Lincoln Center Out of Doors Festival, the composition had to be completely reworked for the acoustics of an exterior, non-reverberant setting. The Nonesuch recording captures the subsequent 2009 performance, in Lincoln Center’s Damrosch Park, with 200 electric guitars, 16 electric basses, 5 conductors, and percussion.

Rhys Chatham is a composer, guitarist, and trumpet player from Manhattan, currently living in Paris. He was the founder of the music program at The Kitchen in downtown Manhattan in 1971 and was its music director between 1971–73 and 1977–80. While at The Kitchen he was responsible for programming more than 250 concerts of living composers including the NEW MUSIC / NEW YORK Festival, which was the prototype upon which the NEW MUSIC AMERICA Festival was later based. Chatham studied under, was influenced by, or has collaborated with Maryanne Amacher, Don Cherry, Tony Conrad, Jon Hassell, Charlemagne Palestine, Eliane Radigue, Terry Riley, Frederic Rzewski, Morton Subotnick, Serge Tcherepnin, and La Monte Young, among many others.

Click through to the jump for Givoney’s personal account of the journey from an idea in 2007 to a reality n 2009.

Continue reading

Missy Mazzoli’s making an uproar

Composer and performer Missy Mazzoli. (Photo by Stephen Taylor)

Composer Missy Mazzoli‘s having a great year — and it’s only February. She’s been working hard to get her music heard, and it’s really coming together.

Tomorrow night and Sunday, her chamber opera Song from the Uproar is being performed by students from the Bard College Conservatory of Music Graduate Vocal Arts Program, run by the estimable soprano Dawn Upshaw. It’s part of an opera triple bill, which also includes Vinkensport, or The Finch Opera, a world premiere by David T. Little, and L’Enfant et les sortilèges by Maurice Ravel  in the amazing Sosnoff Theater on the Bard College campus in Annandale-on-Hudson. For more info about those shows and to buy tickets, priced from $20-$75, click here. If you’re willing to take a randomly assigned seat, you can pay just $10 by clicking here and using the password “triplebill.”

The lyrical piece examines the life of 19th Century Swiss explorer Isabelle Eberhardt, with text inspired by and responding to her journals, which Missy set to music for soprano and small ensemble, against a backdrop of film by Stephen Taylor. A 40-minute version of the piece presented last May at Galapagos Art Space in Brooklyn was enchanting and provocative entertainment.

Missy’s opera will be heard again in New York City in the spring, when it’s presented as part of New York City Opera’s Vox showcase of new operas. Although Vox hasn’t formally announced its season yet, Time Out New York‘s Olivia Giovetti reveals in an interview with Missy that it’ll be held April 30 and May 1 this year. Although the venue has not been announced, Vox has been presented for the past four years at Skirball Center for the Performing Arts at New York University.

Missy Mazzoli and her quintet Victoire.

Then, in her rock-club guise as leader of the quintet Victoire, Missy will be performing in March and April with American Composers Orchestra.

The first show is at 4 pm Sunday, March 21, at Dweck Center at the Brooklyn Public Library, Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn.  Admission is free. Call (718) 230-2100 or click on www.brooklynpubliclibrary.org for more information.

The second show (on a bill also featuring Arp & Anthony Moore) is presented as part of the Wordless Music Series at 7:30 pm on Wednesday, April 7 at (Le) Poisson Rouge, 158 Bleecker Street, Manhattan.  Tickets are  $15. Call (212) 505-FISH or click here.

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.