Ensemble Modern Gives the German Premiere of Alvin Singleton's Again; New Recordings, Performances, and Perspectives
Nov. 01, 2020
Ensemble Modern, led by Vimbayi Kaziboni, performed the German premiere of Alvin Singleton's Again on November 7 as part of their Festival NOW! 2020 which is centered on "Afro-Modernism in Contemporary Music" and curated by composer and professor, George Lewis. The concert was streamed live on YouTube. Click here for a full line-up of festival events which include various panel discussions, concerts, and talks.
On November 2, Philip Brunelle, Artistic Director of Vocal Essence, presented an introspective feauture on Alvin Singleton's music as part of Brunelle's engaging "Musical Moments" series. View it here:
(Philip Brunelle discusses the music of Alvin Singleton on the "Musical Moments" series)
Additionally, on November 6, New Focus Recordings released Against Method, a recording which celebrates the 20th anniversary of the New York-based new music collective counter)induction. Included in this new release is the world premiere recording of Alvin Singleton's Ein Kleines Volkslied. The work was written for the Bang on a Can All-Stars in 1997 and is based on the Scottish folk song “Annie Laurie.” Singleton establishes fixed vocabularies of musical material for each of the instruments in this characteristically "downtown" lineup -- electric guitar, double bass, bass clarinet, piano, and vibraphone. The sparseness of the writing throughout much of the work gives way to density as he merges the disparate threads together into a brief closing climax. The work’s gesture towards populism is subverted by an injection of complexity and abstraction. The balance between populism and modernism notwithstanding, the playful pun on Mozart in the title sets the tone for this lightly bittersweet piece.
Against Method has already received excellent critical acclaim. Seth Colter Walls of The New York Times notes:
"...Singleton’s [composition, Ein Kleines Volkslied] is best appreciated as a part of his consistently striking catalog. In the second minute, entertaining handoffs between the electric guitar and bass clarinet prepare the listener for subsequent pairings (as with the vibraphone and piano, heard together in the third minute). The ensemble’s lineup adds a few guest players here to meet the composer’s instrumental requirements. Whether taking on Singleton’s crisp, songful cries or his denser hazes, this retinue handles the composer’s quick-changing music with grace."
Finally, audiences around the world were treated to a performance of Alvin Singleton's Jasper Drag, performed by Bent Frequency on November 6 as part of their virtual concert titled "From a Distance". Click here for details and a link to the livestream.
To learn more about Alvin Singleton, visit: schott-music.com.
for chamber orchestra
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Ein Kleines Volkslied (1998)
for chamber ensemble
Jasper Drag (2000)
for clarinet, piano and violin