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Posts tagged 'New Music USA'

The Daedalus Quartet Premieres Fred Lerdahl's "Chaconne"

Fred Lerdahl's writing for string quartet has, since 1978, played with musical form and syntax to achieve strikingly dramatic and engaging works. Lerdahl's three string quartets can be heard on a pristine recording performed by the Daedalus Quartet, for whom Lerdahl's Third Quartet was commissioned in 2008, completing the trilogy.

Now Lerdahl, with support from New Music USA, has written another work for Daedalus—entitled Chaconne—which diverges from Lerdahl's asymmetrical "spiral form" and instead explores the symmetrical periodicities inherent in the form of the chaconne. Eight bars of paired symmetrical phrases spell out the name of the Daedalus Quartet in the names of pitch-classes, using the German spelling of Eb (D-A-E-D-A-Es); Lerdahl uses this motive throughout the work to make a piece that is, in his words, "outward and transparent, one that projects delight in playful patterns."

Listen to Lerdahl's first three quartets performed by Daedalus below. 

Tim Munro's "Recounting" Features Soper, Cerrone

The flutist Tim Munro has recently described his work as an artist as storytelling: communicating from one person to another using the media of instrument, sound, and performance. After a long tenure with the Grammy-award-winning ensemble eighth blackbird, Munro has been developing a solo performance practice which explores the boundaries of his instruments—flute, breath, voice, speech. His upcoming solo performance at Columbia's Miller Theatre, entitled "Recounting", focuses on the moments between wakefulness and sleep, featuring works that weave between these two states. 

Christopher Cerrone's Liminal Highway, commissioned by Munro with assistance from New Music USA to be premeired on November 10th, is written for flute and four-channel electronics, and begins from the moment of "falling asleep in transit." This work serves as the impetus for the entire program, which includes five additional works—featuring appearances by soprano and composer Kate Soper, vocal ensemble Face the Music, and lighting designer Mary Ellen Stebbins. Soper and Munro will perform her 2011 work, Only the Words Themselves Mean What They Say, which sets text by Lydia Davis. Echoing Cerrone's evocation of an "altered state", Soper's work questions the one-ness of the performer, turning a single "instrument" into a site of multiplicity. 

PSNY Remembers John Duffy (1926-2015)

John Duffy was truly a monumental figure in American music. From humble beginnings in the Bronx, where he was one of 14 children to an Irish immigrant family, he went on to compose over 300 works for orchestra, chamber ensemble, television, film, and stage, and is largely responsible for the concept of a composer-in-residence, now adopted by nearly every major orchestra, through Meet the Composer (now New Music USA)—an organization he started in 1974 and ran for several decades. Duffy's musical compositions tread a path between a distinct sense of Americanness, evident in his interest in American history, politics, and culture, and a sense of Modernity, made audible in his unique compositional voice. We've featured some of his works before on PSNY, and encourage you to take a second listen. 

Duffy's passing this past December has lead to an outpouring of remembrances, memorials, and personal stories about this truly amazing figure. In the New York Times, William Grimes writes of Duffy's days as a night guard in a department store, when he would go to jazz clubs to see composer/performers such as Thelonious Monk and Charlie Parker, leading him to a life-long advocacy for jazz composers in America. In New Music Box, current New Music USA president Ed Harsh writes,

A gathering of voices would be entirely appropriate to John’s devotion to the American ideals of democracy and pluralism. He was known to list the quality of “tolerance” at the top of his list of values he appreciated most. The example of his own life suggests something broader, more positive and more proactive than mere tolerance. He was omnivorously curious about and respectful of all music. Even if a given artist’s work might not have been to his taste, he would be interested to know more about it, to understand a bit better what drove its creation. What’s more, he wanted others to be interested, too.

The comments on Harsh's memorial reveal Duffy's deep and long-reaching influence on a wide section of American music. Composers, performers, educators, and presenters such as Charles Wuorinen, Ursula OppensCharles Amirkhanian, and many others have added their voices to Harsh's rememberance. With this short tribute, we hope to add ours, too. 

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