Monthly Archives: June 2013

Ancient Stories on Now Is the Time

LakeAverno480Stories of suffering and joy define our culture on Now Is the Time, Sunday, June 30th at 10 pm. Elena Ruehr’s Averno sets the poetry of Pulitzer-winning Louise Glück, the 2003–04 U.S. Poet Laureate. The door to the underworld in Roman myth is at Lake Averno or Avernus (left). Averno the cantata explores cycles of death and growth in the story of Demeter’s daughter Persephone and her abduction by Hades.

Chelm in Poland is the venue for countless tales of Jewish humor, such as the man who leaves for a new city, gets turned around during the night, and walks back to his hometown thinking it’s a new place. There are three sections to Sages of Chelm by Matthew H. Fields; we’ll have time to hear the last. Following I. Khutzpah and II. Tsores (“Troubles”), we’ll listen to the happy resolution in Simchas, which means “Joy.”

from Matthew Fields: Simchas, from Sages of Chelm 

PROGRAM:
Elena Ruehr: Averno
Matthew Fields: Simchas, from Sages of Chelm

Every Sunday night at 10, Kile Smith brings you Now Is the Time, all styles of contemporary concert music by living American composers on WRTI-HD2 and the all-classical stream at wrti.org. Here are the recording details and complete schedule.

Now Is the Time: The People United Will Never Be Defeated

Rzewski480It’s a monument of contemporary solo piano literature on Now Is the Time, Sunday, June 23rd at 10 pm. Frederic Rzewski’s The People United Will Never Be Defeated is a staggering set of 36 variations on a Chilean folk song for solo piano.

Beginning with a simple statement, Rzewski weaves a complicated scheme of penumbras of the tune. Some are complicated, some are bluntly simple. For all its interweavings, the work grows into a musical edifice that is frankly gorgeous. Nicolas Slonimsky calls Rzewski (a virtuoso pianist as well as composer) “a granitically overpowering piano technician, capable of depositing huge boulders of sonoristic material across the keyboard without actually wrecking the instrument.” This is music that must be met.

from Frederic Rzewski: The People United Will Never Be Defeated 

PROGRAM:
Frederic Rzewski: The People United Will Never Be Defeated

Every Sunday night at 10, Kile Smith brings you Now Is the Time, all styles of contemporary concert music by living American composers on WRTI-HD2 and the all-classical stream at wrti.org. Here are the recording details and complete schedule.

A Horse with No Name

[Published in the Broad Street Review, 15 Jun 2013, under the title A horse with no name? Why not?]

For 40 years, since the band America came out with the song “A Horse With No Name” (see below), I knew one thing for sure. I was absolutely certain that in the desert you can’t remember your name.

Why? ’Cause there ain’t no one for to give you no pain.

Can’t remember your name.

And it made a kind of sense. We usually remember our names, I think most of us anyway, and most of us aren’t usually in a desert, and… that horse had no name, but maybe that was just the guy talking, maybe he couldn’t remember that either, ’cause it was hot (“the heat was hot,” he says, that’s a quote, unlike some other heat, I guess, that isn’t so much) and… you know, it kind of fit together, the not knowing names thing.

But now I find—I looked it up on Wikipedia and YouTube and all sorts of places we didn’t have in 1972—that, no no no, in the desert you can remember your name.

Can remember.

You’re asking yourself why, and of course you are; I don’t blame you. I ask this myself. Why, in the desert, can you remember your name? And if you can, I mean, big whoop, why even mention it?

(We usually remember our names, right? So what’s the big whoop about the desert? It’s like, I’m walking around, knowing my name like usual, but now I’m, I don’t know, browsing in the Classical CD section at Barnes & Noble and whoa, I remember my name here too! I think I’ll write a song!)

Well. I’ll tell you why.

’Cause there ain’t no one for to give you no pain, that’s why.

Well there ain’t no one in the Classical CD section either, to give me pain or not to give me pain, so what’s the big whoop about the desert?

OK, that’s got nothing to do with it. But neither does heroin, which is what horse means, wink wink, because “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” is about LSD and so is “White Rabbit,” but they mean absolutely nothing, which is what good drug songs ought to mean.

So to sum up: For all these years I was absolutely certain of this one thing, and here it’s the opposite. Aaannd for the same reason. And all I keep thinking is: that poor horse.

La la, lahh, la, la-la la, la la-la, lahh, la. La la, lahh, la, la-la la, la la-la, lahh, la.

Requiem for a Requiem on Now Is the Time

BrokenGlass480It’s surprising remembrance on Now Is the Time, Sunday, June 16th at 10 pm. In her Cantata da Requiem, World War II Poems of Peace, Gloria Coates gathers unlikely texts—including a BBC 1942 weather report—into a haunting cry.

Philip Blackburn remixes Robert Moran’s 9/11 memorial Trinity Requiem, combining the shards of that beautiful piece into something new and lovely, Requiem for a Requiem.

David Chesky’s Psalm III for string orchestra hints at resurrection, and the Quartet No. 3 of Philip Glass, a memorial to the Japanese author Yukio Mishima and originally for string quartet, is made new in the liquid playing of the Oasis Saxophone Quartet.

from Philip Blackburn: Requiem for a Requiem 

PROGRAM:
Gloria Coates: Cantata da Requiem
Philip Blackburn: Requiem for a Requiem
David Chesky: Psalm III
Philip Glass: Quartet No. 3, Mishima Quartet

Every Sunday night at 10, Kile Smith brings you Now Is the Time, all styles of contemporary concert music by living American composers on WRTI-HD2 and the all-classical stream at wrti.org. Here are the recording details and complete schedule.

Plain Truths in Ocean Grove

Jeremy Gaylon

I’m delighted that Jeremy Galyon, the wonderful bass/baritone who premiered my Plain Truths, will reprise some of it Sunday July 7th at the Ocean Grove Chamber Music Series in Ocean Grove, N.J.

Jeremy’s taking the song cycle from the coastal town of Newburyport, Mass., for whose 10th Annual Summer Music Festival it was commissioned, to the Jersey shore.

I composed Plain Truths on texts by Newburyport authors: fiery abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison (two excerpts from his newspaper The Liberator—one from the first and one from the last edition), “Annie Lisle” writer Henry S. Thompson (an original tune for this song), the uniquely eccentric “Lord” Timothy Dexter, and the romance novelist Harriett Prescott Spofford. She wrote this about the people of Newburyport: “These sea-coast people see the world and learn.”

The texts and more information on Plain Truths are here.

Thank you, Jeremy, can’t wait to hear your gorgeous singing in Ocean Grove!

Elena Smith and Her Graduation Recital

NelliePostElena Smith, finishing 12th grade and entering Temple University in the fall as a student of Jeffrey Solow, gave a recital May 31st to celebrate her graduation. She is home-schooled, so this served in lieu of a cap-and-gown graduation ceremony. Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Abington filled up with friends on this Friday evening to hear her not only on cello, but also on viola da gamba in the Abel.

Our good friend and colleague Kenneth Borrmann accompanied at the piano; we’re so fortunate to be surrounded by lovely musicians who are lovely people as well. Thanks also to Charles Tolton for recording this (the entire recital is below), to Pastor Tavella for his heartfelt invocation, to the Donnellys and everyone for the reception, and to our church for opening its doors. All these people are blessings to us.

Nellie honored me by playing my Spirituals for cello, and so beautifully. My thoughts about our middle daughter, and about her music-making, are included in my, well, baccalaureate sermon I suppose it was, at the end. To say that Jackie and I are proud of her is woefully to understate the case, as it is true of her two sisters.

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750). Suite II in D minor, BWV 1008
Prelude
Gigue

Carl Friedrich Abel (1723-1787). Allegro in D minor, WKO 208, from 27 Pieces for Bass Viol

Robert Schumann (1810-1856). Fantasiestücke, Op. 73
1. Zart und mit Ausdruck
2. Lebhaft, leicht
3. Rasch und mit Feuer

Gabriel Fauré (1845-1942). Elégie, Op. 24

Kile Smith (b. 1956). American Spirituals, Book Two, for Cello and Piano
1. Jesus, Master, O Discover
2. When the Stars Begin to Fall
3. Little David, Play on Your Harp

(Encore) Schumann. Träumerei

Nellie’s Dad’s speech

Thrum on Now Is the Time

Thrum480It’s all movement and angles on Now Is the Time, Sunday, June 9th at 10 pm. Sergio Cervetti’s two harpsichord pieces Candombe and Alberada spin and dance, while Elizabeth Brown’s chamber work Liguria bends deliciously (she’s also the flutist).

Another composer/performer is the Philadelphia area’s Steve Bowman, whose electronic Odd Angle of the Isle is mixed down from live club dates (no sequencers! no multi-tracking!). Steven Winteregg imagines an orchestral bullet train speeding through France with a brisk TGV, but David Evan Thomas’s Thrum nudges the Minneapolis Guitar Quartet through layers and soft waves to close the program.

from Steve Bowman: Odd Angle of the Isle 

PROGRAM:
Sergio Cervetti: Candombe
Cervetti: Alberada
Elizabeth Brown: Liguria
Steve Bowman: Odd Angle of the Isle
Steven Winteregg: TGV
David Evan Thomas: Thrum

Every Sunday night at 10, Kile Smith brings you Now Is the Time, all styles of contemporary concert music by living American composers on WRTI-HD2 and the all-classical stream at wrti.org. Here are the recording details and complete schedule.