Happy Anniversary to June in Buffalo

David Felder

This coming week, June in Buffalo celebrates its fortieth anniversary. The festival has been a vital presence on the new music scene, helping hundreds of composers to have the opportunity to get performances by world class ensembles and to participate in master classes with an extraordinary array of prominent composers. JiB has grown to encompass programs focusing on electronic music and a Performance Institute. This year’s schedule is particularly loaded, with a bevy of composers and prominent performers on hand to celebrate the festival’s forty year milestone.

I was fortunate to attend June in Buffalo in 1998, where I heard my Quintet played by New York New Music Ensemble, and again in 1999, where the Cassatt Quartet played my  String Quartet. Many of the composers I met at JiB have remained friends to this day and I treasure the memories that I have of the festival.

There’s another anniversary to be celebrated. David Felder has been JiB’s Artistic Director for thirty years. In an interview with Felder, you can learn more about the festival’s history. Below, there’s also a teaser video of an excerpt from Felder’s Les Quatres Temps Cardinaux, which Ensemble Signal and the Slee Sinfonietta will perform on Saturday, June 6th.

Anders Jormin – “Trees of Light”

Trees of Light

ECM Records

Lena Willemark voice, fiddle and viola
Anders Jormin double bass
Karin Nakagawa 25-string koto

Out this week on ECM Records, Trees of Light brings together traditional music-making from Sweden and Japan with jazz bass improvisations. This seemingly unlikely fusion works beautifully. Each member of the trio retains their own stylistic signatures and technical approach, yet the resulting colloquy finds many musical meeting places.

On “Lyöstraini,” a propulsive bass groove, diaphanous glissandos from the koto, and Willemark’s gently undulating singing craft a beguiling ambience. Partway through, roles reverse, Jormin takes a forceful solo, leaving the rhythm to be handled by koto and pizzicato fiddle. When Willemark’s singing returns, it is energized, full throated, and ebullient. “Dröm” begins with Willemark singing solo. Only gradually does the instrumental tapestry which surrounds her emerge. Eminently and memorably tuneful, Willemark’s vocals are abetted by shimmering strummed chords and a lithe solo by Nakagawa. Jormin combines walked lines with deftly employed plucked harmonics. “Urbanus” shows a more experimental side of the trio, with howls, whispers, shouts, and dolphin-cry glissandos pitted against dissonant breaks in the midst of a walking line from Jormin.

While this trio could be a single album experiment, the wide range of sonic combinations they display on the material here makes one hope that Trees of Light is just the beginning of this collaboration.

Decca Sound – the Mono Years

In music circles, there has been a lot of debate of late about the current vinyl revival. Are people drawn to LPs because they want a “warmer sounding” recording? Is it the artwork? Or is consumerism gone amok to blame?

If you can get past the heated rhetoric and have it in your budget to buy a hefty CD boxed set, the newly reissued Decca Sound -the Mono Years provides a sense of perspective on the advent of the LP.  Originally touted as “ffrr” – full frequency range recordings – the set includes releases from 1944-’56, as well as essays that help to put them into historical context.

There’s something here for nearly everyone. But I’m particularly drawn to the vintage Stravinsky recordings, including a performance of Petrouchka that appeared on the very first LP recording!