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Joan La Barbara Performs "The Wanderlusting of Joseph C." at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Celebrated composer and vocalist Joan La Barbara has long worked at the nexus between artistic disciplines, collaborating with fellow composers, performers, and artists across a wide spectrum. In 2017, La Barbara premiered a new song cycle, "The Wanderlusting of Joseph C.", inspired by the filmmaker, sculptor, and visual artist Joseph Cornell. Working with novelist Monique Truong, La Barbara has created a song cycle for four singers, singing texts inspired by Cornell's neologism "wanderlusting", which turns the German compound word "Wanderlust"—the desire to travel—into an English gerund, a kind of nominal state that is always-already informed by action. 

On April 13thLa Barbara, accompanied by Lauren Flanigan and Mario Diaz-Moresco, performed three songs from The Wanderlusting of Joseph C., as well as "Windows" and "Habité par ses rêves et les phantasms"—the latter taking its title from a description of Cornell by the painter Dorothea Tanning—at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in the galleries housing their exhibition, "Birds of a Feather: Joseph Cornell's Tribute to Juan Gris". This environmental performance puts La Barbara's work in immediate and visceral contact with Cornell's work, provoking connections between music, art, and text. The project was developed in association with American Opera Projects.

Writing in The New York Times, Seth Colter Walls celebrated La Barbara's performance, commenting on her longstanding role in "shap[ing] experimental sound in New York," and praising the unified breadth of La Barbara's style between the extended vocal techniques of "Windows" and the "wounded grandeur" evoked in "The Wanderlusting of Joseph C."   

La Barbara spoke about her long-standing interest in Cornell in 2014, in anticipation of a performance at Roulette. Check out the video below:  

Vijay Iyer Performs with Jennifer Koh at National Sawdust

On March 31st, PSNY composer Vijay Iyer will perform on an all-star program at Brooklyn's National Sawdust that features Jennifer Koh, Tyshawn Sorey, Nina Young, and Du Yun. The program features premieres of new duos for Koh and their respective composers, in a commissioning program run by the arco collective called "Limitless." Iyer has already worked extensively with Koh, composing the violin concerto Trouble and writing Bridgetower Fantasy for her "Bridge to Beethoven" program.

For "Limitless", Koh seeks to address what Douglas Shadle calls the "burden of sameness" in American orchestral culture. In an interview with Steve Smith, Koh asks: 

My question is, why aren’t we doing more – or what can I do more, as an artist – to counteract what I see? What do we do within the industry, in terms of programming? I think finally people are now saying, “Hey, there’s no women on these programs,” whereas five years ago it was the same thing, except nobody was actually doing research. So the reason I created “Limitless” was because oftentimes people are just not seen, and not acknowledged. “Limitless” was about imagining a future in which people are seen, bringing us together and getting rid of the boundary between composer and performer, and really advocating for this new movement of community.

On March 31st, Koh and Iyer will continue to ask these questions—and to seek out the beginnings of an aswer. 

Christopher Cerrone Portrait Concert at Columbia's Miller Theatre

Christopher Cerrone has taken inspiration for many of his works from the worlds of literature and poetry; on March 29th, he will see the premiere of a new work entitled "A Natural History of Vacant Lots" that instead draws from the poesis of the urban landscape.

Echoing the etymological root of the term "poesis" (ποίησις)—to bring something into existence that did not exist before—Cerrone's new piece takes inspiration from a 1987 book that surveys the life that emerges from vacant city lots, a cyclical process that unfolds organically and that can create surprising results. As Cerrone told Broadway World, "Though the growth of the material is extremely gradual, the things that emerge from the cycle of chords are sometimes surprising and veer quite far from the original material." This material is heard developing around the audience in a dimly-lit concert hall, emerging from two vibraphones and several loudspeakers into what New York Magazine calls a "dense sonic tangle."

A Natural History of Vacant Lots will be performed by Third Coast Percussion, with whom Cerrrone has worked extensively, and who co-commissioned the work along with Miller Theatre. Third Coast will also perform Cerrone's 2016 Goldbeater's Skin, accompanied by the soprano Rachel Calloway, and his 2012 work Memory Palace, arranged for percussion quartet. Check out the solo version of Memory Palace below. 

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