Opera.

I have always thought that opera storylines are a bit over dramatic, but I think the format requires it. Recently I saw an article on Andante about a new Tonya Harding/ Nancy Kerrigan opera?

I think it is a little absurd for an opera, but who am I to judge. There has been a Jerry Springer opera, so why not. In fact, I am working on an opera storyline that is terribly over dramatic. It is an 11-century crusade tale about a nun that runs away with her Turkish lover once she reaches the Holy Land.

Anyway, here are a few other possible story lines for operas that are more along the same lines of Harding/Kerrigan.
(This list is completely stolen from my buddy, Marc.)

1.) The Rodney King incident (featuring the powerful aria, “Put that camera down and help me, motherf****r!”)

2.) The capturing of Saddam Hussein
(featuring the rousing chorus, “We Got ‘im!”)

3.) The Chernobyl incident
(featuring yet another powerful aria, “Whoops“)

4
.) The story of John Bobbitt (featuring a lovely aria for counter-tenor, “
My Love Flew Out the Window
“)

5.) The Mary Kay Latorneau(sp?) story (featuring the chorus, “
Don’t Tell Mama
“)

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Wow! THE Helmut Lachenmann?!

I was browsing around the wonderful information super highway when I decided to go to Wal-mart.com and look at CD’s. In the past I have actually found a few (very few)new music CD’s there.

I began a search for recordings by the Darmstadt composer Helmut Lachenmann when I came across this.

Apparently Lachenmann is branching out. I know that a lot of composers mellow out as they get older and may become a little Neo- Romantic, but this is completely unexpected.

Read the section labeled, About the Album.

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Webern Day.


Tomorrow is Webern Day.

It is the 60th anniversary of Webern‘s death. BBC Radio 3 is celebrating with a Webern-palooza event. His complete works, in chronological order, will be broadcast throughout the day.

(So that means approximately one work every other hour or so. Right?)

In the evening there will be a panel discussion about Webern’s life and later works with Webern biographers Malcolm Hayes and Katherine Bailey as well as the British composer Julian Johnson.

p.s. Julian Johnson is the author of the wonderful book, “Who Needs Classical Music?”

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Happy Birthday.

“Great art presupposes the alert mind of the educated listener”

Arnold Schoenberg
(1874-1951)

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Katrina and the Waves

One of my ealriest memories is of Hurricane Frederick in 1979. I was standing on my front steps watching the tall pines sway in the first winds of the storm. A gust of wind came up and knocked me off of the steps and gave me a cut on the forehead; I was only two and a half at the time, and I still have the scar.

Monday I saw a category 5 hurricane. It was the most devastating thing I have ever seen in my life. I saw gigantic pine trees fall around me like dominoes, cars getting smashed with debris and power lines whipping in the 150 m.p.h. winds.
My family and I are fine. There are still people that I do not know where or how they are. Communication in southern Mississippi is so bad right now. Radio and cell phone towers are demolished. If landline phones are working people can usually only call locally and some are lucky enough to call out of state but not in state.

The heat is still unbearable. Temperatures are in the upper 90s and the heat index is higher. The electricity and water went out in Hattiesburg, MS on Monday morning. Water is not expected to be back in order in Hattiesburg until Labor Day. Electricity will not be back online for another 4 to 6 weeks. Most roads are still impassable. Many buildings are twisted like Frank Gehry designs.
Last night my wife and I evacuated to Arkansas with fellow blogger Al Theisen and his fiancee and composer Marc Ballard. We may return after water is back online.
As of last night we still have not seen anyone working on power lines and FEMA still has not shown up with water.

It is going to get really bad. It has not gotten there yet, but people are not getting water or ice. People on the Mississippi coast and in Louisiana are worse off than we are in Hattiesburg but it is like hell.

Please encourage people to donate money and goods to help the millions of victims of Hurricane Katrina. Because there are literally several million people whose lives have been completely turned upside down by this storm.
Please help these people if you can.

Composer and Hurricane Evacuee

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“When I am king, you will be first against the wall.”

Thanks Alex Ross, for letting us know.

Thom Yorke of Radiohead is now blogging.

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Mississippi Burning.

Yesterday, Jerry has announced the coming of Autumn in NYC, but down here in Mississippi we are still hovering around 100 degrees.

(We don’t really have Autumn down here, but we do have a few different seasons: shrimp season, crab season, crawfish season, hurricane season and Mardi Gras season.)

Ok, sorry about the non sequitur.

To get away from the heat I have been staying indoors and visiting different new music websites. I have found a few cool sites that allow you to listen to a wide variety of new music.

Here is a list of my favorites:

New Music Jukebox.

This one is one of my favorites. I can poke around and listen to cool American music all day on this site.

The Jerusalem Music Centre.

I was introduced to this site by a friend. You can access any of the performances from their 2001 season up to their current season. Just click on the live music button on the site. The music ranges from Bach and Brahms to new music concerts of Ligeti and Rihm.

American Mavericks.

This is probably my favorite site. Not only does it include the SF Symphony w/ Michael Tilson Thomas conducting American masterpieces by maverick composers, it also includes an enormous list of interviews with composers (which is what makes this site one of my favorite sites). American Mavericks is also a thirteen part radio show on American music hosted by the wonderful Suzanne Vega; each of the shows can be accessed as well.

http://musicmavericks.publicradio.org/listening/

Art of the States.

Another goodie. This site is an archive of performances of new American music. It has a wide variety of composers, from Adams to Zorn.

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odd inspiration.

The other day I had a conversation with composers Al Theisen and Marc Ballard about inspiration. We began talking about weird noises or happenings that have inspired us.

My story of odd inspiration:

I was shopping with my wife when I heard a cell phone ringing on the next aisle. I know I must have incorrectly heard the ring tones but it sounded like a very odd Ligeti-esque ringtone. It also reminded me of the French composer Christian Lauba who writes a lot of music for the saxophone using vast amounts of extended techniques.

The owner of the cell phone answered it quite promptly, so I did not hear it ring a second time. For the rest of the day I kept thinking that the ringtone could not have possibly sounded the way I heard it. I thought it sounded really cool, but hearing only part of the ringtone from a distance must have distorted it (at least in my ear’s opinion).

The snippet kept playing in my head, stuck on repeat. A few days later, I began working on a solo alto saxophone piece entitled, Figment. The ringtone became the inspiration for the fast very active last part of Figment. The section uses a few different multiphonics and overall it sounds similar to what I heard that day in the department store.

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Blogger Counter Theory. —– nothing about music here.

I have come to the conclusion that the blogger comment counter works similarly to our Electoral College.

I have decided that each blog is allocated x-number of comment numbers. For our discussion let’s say there are only 435 comment numbers allowed. As a new post is made a comment number is taken from an older post and is used on a newer one. Similar to how our electoral college redistributes the electoral votes after a census. The actual comments never disappear, but the comment counter slowly counts down until it reaches zero.

I believe this theory on the disappearance of the blogger counter numbers holds more water than my old theory – thieving gnomes.

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Two Quotes.

People whose sensibility is destroyed by music in trains, airports, lifts, cannot concentrate on a Beethoven quartet.
-Witold Lutoslawski

Extraordinary how potent cheap music is.
-Noël Coward

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