RIP Oliver Knussen (1952-2018)

Knussen Honorary Doctorate RAM July 2018
Oliver Knussen received an honorary doctorate from the RAM on 5 July 2018.

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 and Fanfare with Fireworks, and his settings of Walt Whitman 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.

 

RIP Matt Marks (1980-2018)

Matt Marks

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 Gatheringand a versatile performer, both a vocalist-actor in various projects and a founding member of the ensemble Alarm Will Soundin 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.

Read and Listen Further: Matt Marks

Matt Marks on Twitter.

The Matt Marks Music Page (personal website).

Matt Marks at New Music USA.

A 2017 review in the New York Times of Marks’s opera Mata Hari.

And a scene from the opera:

Mata Hari from PROTOTYPE Festival on Vimeo.

Steve Smith, writing in 2010 in the NY Times, profiled A 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:

Performance with Hotel Elefant:

RIP Klaus Huber (1924-2017)

Huber_Klaus

The formidable Swiss pedagogue and composer Klaus Huber died last week, aged 92. Among his students were Kaija Saariaho, Wolfgang Rihm, Brian Ferneyhough, and Toshio Hosokawa,

Below is one of my favorite works by the composer, his Quintet for Strings, performed by the Arditti Quartet and violist Garth Knox.

RIP John Abercrombie (1944-2017

 

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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.”

RIP Pierre Henry (1927-2017)

pierre henry two views

Pierre Henry, the father of musique concrete, and the grandfather of all of us in the electroacoustic music field, has died at the age of 89.

William Grimes has more about Henry’s life and visionary status in an obituary published in the New York Times

Lindsey Christiansen: An Appreciation

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.”
Laughter ensued.

 

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.