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Posts tagged 'Christopher Cerrone'

Weekly Playlists: Christopher Cerrone

Life during COVID-19 has fundamentally changed the landscape of new music: at least for the time being, concerts, rehearsals, recordings, and composing have all been transformed into solitary activities, connected through technology. But in the spirit of connection and collaboration, PSNY wll be publishing weekly playlists of our composers' works, especially those that can be a source of healing, contemplation, and inspiration. 

To kick off our series, we begin with none other than Christopher Cerrone, whose music evokes an unparalelled poetic lyricism, both in his settings of poetry and his instrumental works. 

1. "Swept Up Whole," from The Pieces that Fall To EarthCerrone's 2015 song cycle commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and recently recorded by Wild Up for New Amsterdam Records:

2. Goldbeater's Skin, for mezzo-soprano and percussion quartet, from 2017:

3. Meander, Spiral, Explode, Cerrone's 2019 Concerto for Percussion Quartet and Orchestra, commissioned and premeired by Third Coast Percussion, with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago:

4. Breaks and Breaks, Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, commissioned and premiered by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in 2018: 

Christopher Cerrone's "The Pieces that Fall to Earth" Released on New Amsterdam Records

Christopher Cerrone's long-awaited album, The Pieces that Fall to Earth, has recently been released on New Amsterdam Records. This new album collects three vocal cycles, all performed by the Los Angeles-based collective Wild UpThe Pieces that Fall to Earth, with soprano Lindsay Kesselman; The Naomi Songs, sung by vocalist Theo Bleckmann; and The Branch Will Not Break, sung by a chorus of eight vocalists. 

The three vocal cycles collected on The Pieces that Fall to Earth each draw their text from different contemporary poets: Kay Ryan, Bill Knott, and James Wright. In each cycle, Cerrone activates the subtle and powerful affective worlds created through his setting of these poems to music, marrying the modernist and avant-garde sound-worlds of composers such as Luciano Berio and Morton Feldman with more traditional strophic settings of lush and memorable vocal melodies. 

Cerrone notes, “These authors profoundly inspired the music that I wrote. I feel that by setting their disparate languages, I have composed three works that are kindred spirits, but whose differences are as profound as their similarities.”

The blog I Care if You Listen recently premiered a music video for "Swept Up Whole," from the album's titular vocal cycle, featuring soprano Lindsay Kesselman. As Cerrone writes,

In “Swept Up Whole,” the narrator sings “You aren’t / swept up whole, / however it / feels. You’re / atomized. The wind / passes. You / recongeal. It’s a surprise.” This film, conceived of by Evan Chapman and Kevin Eikenberg of Four/Ten Media, takes this poem and reimagines its themes visually and chronologically.

The Pieces that Fall to Earth has already been celebrated with an album release concert in Los Angeles; on August 2nd, the album will see another release event at New York's Areté, featuring Theo Bleckmann singing The Naomi Songs in an arrangement for piano and voice, accompanied by Timo Andres, who also wrote liner notes to the album. Rachel Lee Priday will perform Cerrone’s Sonata for Violin and Piano with Andres, and percussionist Andy Meyerson of The Living Earth Show will play a solo version of Cerrone’s meditative A Natural History of Vacant Lots." Cerrone will also accompany soprano Alexandra Smither in his work "I will learn to love a person."

Christopher Cerrone's "The Insects Became Magnetic" Premieres at LA Philharmonic

On November Sixteenth, the Los Angeles Philharmonic will premiere their newly-commissioned work by Christopher Cerrone, entitled The Insects Became Magnetic. Cerrone's choice of title comes from a poem by Adam Clay, in which the poet elegiacally ruminates on nature, music, and materiality. Looking at a painting, birds become "the trash scattered in the air"; the hull of a car emerges; the poet responds with his own hope: "I hope the insects become magnetic // to eat plastic hillsides, to pull a drone down, even." 

Cerrone's composition reflects this merging of organic life with technology: it begins with sound heard as "noise", the squeal of a laptop's speakers feeding back signal from its own microphone. Clay's poem continues: "And music is the fluttering trash / in the collage or painting or whatever / we want to call it;" Cerrone that noise, that  "fluttering trash," and with the same laptop, began to manipulate it into something otherwise. This is not a simple transformation from noise to signal, but rather a kind of collage in which the distinction fades away. 

The collage is unabshedly poetic: electronic textures meld with insect-like, near-electronic sounds from an expertly-orchestrated percussion section, and delicate sonorities emerge from hyper-precisely notated wind, brass, and string sections. The effect of this piece is almost static, a kind of nocturnal rumination on gentle feedback. Indeed, listening to the piece mirrors the final vision from Clay's poem, of the music-like panting-collage in which insects become magnetic: "It is under glass so I place / my face up against the reflection and wait for it to pull me inside."

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