Wendy Richman’s vox*viola project

Singing violist Wendy Richman

My dear friend and collaborator, singing violist Wendy Richman has undertaken a campaign to fund her first solo album, vox*viola. Consisting of pieces for singing violist by Lou Bunk, Christian Carey, Jason Eckardt, Stephen Gorbos, Jose-Luis Hurtado, Everette Minchew, Arlene Sierra, David Smooke, and Ken Uenothe recording will be released via ICE’s TUNDRA imprint on New Focus Recordings

Wendy first premiered my piece, He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven, a Yeats setting, in 2010 at a show that Kay and I presented at Bushwick Starr Theatre in Brooklyn. I selected the text because it was one of the readings at Kay’s and my wedding. In fact, the composition was a first anniversary present to Kay. It is inscribed:

Dearest Kay,

They say that the proper gift for a first wedding anniversary is paper. I hope you don’t mind that mine includes notes. 

All my love,

C

Wendy has been a true champion of the piece, and has since performed it in Ohio and Alabama. Other champions need mentioning: Mezzo-soprano Megan Ihnen and violist John Yuan have performed Cloths of Heaven as a duo and Megan and mezzo-soprano Ellen Broen have also performed a voice-piano version with pianists Graeme Burgan and Jonathan Palmer Lakeland. Megan has even switched roles and performed it in a higher key with a violinist.

 

All of this to say that Wendy’s commission sparked my inspiration, and gave impetus to a piece of mine that has had a larger life than many, and that makes me all the more grateful to her. I am thrilled that she will be recording the piece and am excited by the works that are alongside it on the program; many are by close friends which makes this project feel particularly close-knit. She has made an IndieGoGo page for her funding campaign for the recording. You can check it out here.

 

The Chieftains: “The Foggy Dew” (SoundCloud)

An early photo of Paddy Maloney (center) and the Chieftains

Happy St. Patrick’s Day. Today my parents would have been married 49 years. We miss Dad, especially on this day. He loved the Chieftains more than most music, so I’m sharing one of their best recordings below, courtesy of Soundcloud.

Khasma Duo Plays Romig (CD review)

tstp

Time Seems to Pass

James Romig

Khasma Piano Duo: Ashlee Mack, Katherine Palumbo, pianos

Parallax Music Press CD/Download

 

Composer James Romig’s piano duo work Time Seems to Pass, a nearly forty-minute opus commissioned and performed by Khasma Piano Duo (Ashlee Mack and Katherine Palumbo), is something of a turning point in his work. In recent years, Romig has undertaken several residencies at parks and similarly verdant venues. Concurrently, his music has become more expansive. Under girded by the rationale of extended twelve-tone techniques in the pitch and rhythmic domains, Time Seems to Pass’s surface is prevailingly gentle and gesturally supple. Individual lines move independently, interweaving a complex interaction that yields a sonorous sheen of resulting harmonies. Khasma perform the work delicately but with a strong sense of rhythmic coordination.

jamesromigleavesfrommode

1989066

For an overview of Romig’s other music, Leaves from Modern Trees (also Parallax) is a strong compilation of his chamber music from 1999-2016. Khasma may also be heard on their debut recording Switchback (self-released), which features compositions from their 2014 Call for Scores by Michael Ippolito, Marti Epstein, Symeon Waseen, Lawrence Moss, Cosimo Colazzo, and Jean Ahn.Links to listen further and buy here.

 

Tarik O’Regan on NMC (CD Review)

Tarik O’Regan

A Celestial Map of the Sky

Hallé

Hallé Youth Choir

The Manchester Grammar School Choir

Jamie Phillips conductor

Sir Mark Elder conductor

NMC Recordings CD

 

Tarik O’Regan’s music has appeared upon some thirty recordings, but NMC’s CD, A Celestial Map of the Sky, is the first entirely devoted to his orchestra music. The disc supplies an excellent overview of the British composer’s work. The title piece is persuasively performed. The Hallé Youth Choir and The Manchester Grammar School Choir make music worthy of cherubim and the Hallé Orchestra accompanies them with clustered harmonies that glow. The piece has a fascinating back story: it was inspired by two woodcuts of the celestial hemispheres engraved by Albrecht Dürer in 1515. These are among the oldest “star charts” that have been found in Europe. Latent Manifest takes its inspiration from a few centuries later, in a single gesture from a Bach violin sonata which then undergoes procedures of expansion until it positively flourishes. Premiered at the BBC Proms, Latent Manifest is a muscularly orchestrated work that features Hallé’s formidable brass section to stirring effect.

 

O’Regan is of Moroccan descent on his mother’s side. When he was growing up, he lived for a time in Africa. Raï and Chaâbi present elements of African folk music through a Western lens.

Components from that tradition – African instruments, choices of timbre, and, particularly, rhythmic patterns – enliven both pieces. It is here that O’Regan’s music takes on its most “post-minimal guise,” exploring percussive ostinatos punctuated by strings. Here and elsewhere, the orchestral forces are martialed with incisive command by Jamie Phillips and Sir Mark Elder. The disc is capped off with Fragments from Heart of Darkness, a suite of instrumental music from O’Regan’s chamber opera based on the Joseph Conrad book. It begins suitably mysteriously with sinuous chromaticism but gradually moves toward another bevy of ostinatos, first folk-tinged and then martially stentorian.

 

Those who would like to hear a bit of the composer’s famed vocal music aren’t left wanting by this project. A bonus download-only track, “Now Fatal Change,” features countertenor Ryland Angel and violinist Lara St. John. A reworking of material found in Chaâbi, with a text originally set by Henry Purcell, it is an attractive piece fetchingly performed by the duo. Angel has a rich, resonant voice that handles both registral edges of the vocal part with ease. St. John draws similarly plummy tone from her instrument, finely tuning the many passages of multiple stops and performing ostinato sections with verve.

 

He may be as prolific as all get out, but A Celestial Map of the Sky marks itself as a special project in O’Regan’s catalog. Recommended.

Hayes Biggs played by Thomas Stumpf (YouTube)

Pianist Thomas Stumpf’s latest Albany Records recording features composer Hayes Biggs’s first Piano Prelude, The Secret the Silent Lazarus Would Not Reveal. Based on the poem, “The Afterlife,” by Billy Collins, it is a virtuosic traversal of the piano’s low register, featuring sepulchrally jazzy chords and ominous angular melodies.

Stumpf’s Reflections on Time and Mortalitya two-disc set, also includes pieces by Chopin, Debussy, Janàcek, Bartók, John McDonald, and Yehudi Wyner.

Moon Duo: “Lost in Light” (Soundcloud)

Moon Duo - Jasmine Pasquill

Moon Duo’s Occult Architecture, Vol.2 is out on May 5th, 2017 via Sacred Bones.

Moon Duo Tour Dates:
Sat. March 11 – Mexico City, MX @ Festival NRMAL
Wed. Mar. 15 – Newcastle, UK @ Northumbria University
Thu. Mar. 16 – Manchester, UK @ Band On The Wall
Fri. Mar. 17 – London, UK @ Heaven
Sat. Mar. 18 – Paris, FR @ Le Trabendo
Sun. Mar. 19 – Nancy, FR @ L’Autre Canal
Mon. Mar. 20 – Zurich, CH @ Plaza
Thu. Mar. 23 – Budapest, HU @ A38
Fri. Mar. 24 – Graz, AT @ Orpheum Extra
Sat. Mar. 25 – Vienna, AT @ Chelsea
Mon. Mar. 27 – Leipzig, DE @ UT Connewitz
Tue. Mar. 28 – Berlin, DE @ Bi Nuu
Wed. Mar. 29 – Copenhagen, DK @ Pumphuset
Thu. Mar. 30 – Oslo, NO @ Bla
Fri. Mar. 31 – Stockholm, SE @ Kagelbanan
Sat. Apr. 1 – Gothenburg, SE @ Pusterviks
Mon. Apr. 3 – Groningen, NL @ Vera Club
Tue. Apr. 4 – Amsterdam, NL @ Paradiso Noord
Wed. Apr. 5 – Eindhoven, NL @ Effenaar
Thu. Apr. 6 – Brighton, UK @ The Haunt
Fri. Apr. 7 – Leeds, UK @ Brudenell Social Club
Sat. Apr. 8 – Glasgow, UK @ Stereo
Fri. Apr. 21 – Chicago, IL @ Empty Bottle
Sat. Apr. 22 – Detroit, MI @ El Club
Sun. Apr. 23 – Toronto, ON @ Horseshoe Tavern
Tue. Apr. 25 – Montreal, QC @ La Sala Rossa
Wed. Apr. 26 – Boston, MA @ Great Scott
Thu. Apr. 27 – Brooklyn, NY @ Rough Trade
Fri. Apr. 28 – Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brenda’s
Sat. Apr. 29 – Washington, DC @ DC9
Sun. Apr. 30 – Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Tavern
Thu. June 8 – Ravenna, IT @ Beaches Brew
Sat. June 10 – Barcelona, ES @ Unload Club
Mon. June 12 – Bilboa, ES @ Kafe Antzokia
Tue. June 13 – Madrid, ES @ Caracol
Wed June 14 – Biarritz, FR @ Wheels and Waves Festival
Thu. June 15 – Montpellier, FR @ Le Rockstore
Mon. June 19 – Antwerp, BE @ Trix
Tue. June 20 – Brussels, BE @ Les Ateliers Claus
Sat. June 24 – Sat. July 1 – Roskilde, DK @ Roskilde Festival
Fri Aug. 18 – Parades De Coura, PT @ Parades de Coura

Goldfrapp: “Ocean” (YouTube)

Photo: Alison Goldfrapp

Goldfrapp’s new LP, Silver Eye, is out March 31st via Mute. A more synth-filled adventure this time around, which one can hear on the album’s leadoff track “Ocean.” While not all of their tour is confirmed as yet, there are dates (below) in the New York and Philadelphia areas.

Silver Eye Tour Dates:
20th March – O2 Academy, Oxford – SOLD OUT
21st March – The Junction, Cambridge – SOLD OUT
23rd March – The Leadmill, Sheffield – SOLD OUT
24th March – BBC 6 Music Festival, Glasgow – SOLD OUT
27th March – Roundhouse, London – SOLD OUT
24th April – Theatre Of Living Arts, Philadelphia
26th April – Brooklyn Steel, New York
27th April – Brooklyn Steel, New York 
8th July – Blue Dot Festival
14th July – Latitude Festival