American composer, conductor, and pianist Charles Wuorinen has passed away. Wuorinen was the first person to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize for an electronic music work, Time’s Encomium. He was also a MacArthur Fellow and received numerous other commissions and awards. His book, Simple Composition, is one of the clearest explications of composing using 12-tone techniques.
He was my teacher at Rutgers University for four years, where I was studying for the Ph.D. in Music. One of the best sight-readers I have met, his musicianship was impeccable and intellect formidable.
Saddened to learn of the passing of composer and conductor Oliver Knussen. One of the truly great musicians of our time, Knussen had received an honorary doctorate from the Royal Academy of Music, where he was Richard Rodney Bennett Professor of Music, just a few days ago.
A renowned pedagogue as well as a superlative conductor of contemporary music, Knussen held positions with such organizations as London Sinfonietta, Aldeburgh Festival,Tanglewood, BBC Symphony, and Birmingham Contemporary Music Group.
While not as prolific as some of his contemporaries, his catalog included a number of high quality works. Knussen will be remembered for compositions such as his two Maurice Sendak operas – Where the Wild Things Are and Higglety Pigglety Pop – orchestra pieces such as the Horn and Violin Concertos andFanfare with Fireworks, and his settings of WaltWhitman and, in a Requiem for his late wife Sue, Emily Dickinson and W.H. Auden. Knussen’s final work, O Hototogismu!, consisted of adaptations of 17th-19th century Haiku poems for soprano and ensemble. It was premiered at Aldeburgh in June 2017.
All of us at Sequenza 21 are saddened to learn of the passing of Matt Marks. A musical polymath, he was a composer, new music advocate, provocative Twitter presence, co-founder and key organizer of New Music Gathering, and a versatile performer, both a vocalist-actor in various projects and a founding member of the ensemble Alarm Will Sound, in which he played French horn and for which he did imaginative arrangements.
I met Marks on several occasions, but will allow his close friends and family to share reminiscences of a more personal nature. Among all those who knew and encountered him, either as a social media presence or “IRL,” his intelligence, sense of humor, persistent advocacy for gender equality in concert music and other worthy causes, and formidable talent will be sorely missed. Condolences to the many people whose lives he touched.
Steve Smith, writing in 2010 in the NY Times, profiledA Little Death, Vol. 1, a performance piece and recording with soprano Mellissa Hughes for New Amsterdam. It served as an introduction to Marks’s music for many.
Arrangement of “Revolution Number 9” for Alarm Will Sound:
The extraordinary jazz guitarist John Abercrombie, has died at the age of 72. A player equally comfortable in acoustic and electric settings and in the roles of leader and accompanist, Abercrombie played in a variety of styles, encompassing free jazz, fusion, and standards. He was a consummately versatile, tasteful, and imaginative musician.
A large body of his work was recorded, from 1974, by ECM Records. His last release, Up and Coming, playing in his regular quartet with Marc Copland, Joey Baron, Drew Gress, was released earlier this year by the label. Other prominent collaborations include his Gateway trio recordings with Dave Holland and Jack DeJohnette, duo recordings with fellow guitarist Ralph Towner, and his appearance on Charles Lloyd’s recording “The Water is Wide.”
Saddened to hear of Lindsey Christiansen‘s passing. She was a voice teacher at Westminster Choir College, where I teach, for over thirty years.
My favorite Lindsey story in which I was involved:
We were working on the honors program, Lindsey teaching me how best to advise students (I learned a lot in that meeting).
At one point she turned to me and said,”there are some truly brilliant people at Westminster.”
She mentioned some of the BHP faculty, then paused and said, “You might be. I’m not sure about you yet.”
In our last email exchange, I reminded Lindsey how much she meant to me and so many. She responded, ”I’m glad to have you on my team.”
I am sure that Lindsey was a brilliant and guiding light for the students with whom she came into contact. As an institution, Westminster Choir College is impoverished by the loss of her. As a colleague, I feel cheated out of years more to learn from her. And the laughter we shared as we did in that meeting. I will miss Lindsey.
I didn’t know Pauline well but we were Facebook friends: she always liked it when I shared cat pictures. We recently connected on Academia.edu. I had looked forward to exchanging ideas in that forum and wish that it were to be so.
Earlier this year, when I was being treated for cancer, Pauline was an encouraging presence. I’ll miss her.