Category Archives: American music

Overtures, Fanfares, and Brass on Now Is the Time

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Eric Whitacre

On Saturday, February 18th at 9 pm, Now Is the Time presents a taste of the upcoming Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia “Sounds of America” concert. We hope you can join us for a different look at some of the composers who will be represented on those February 26th and 27th concerts.

On Silver Wings for band is by Kenneth Fuchs; so is the overture for orchestra Discover the Wild. Eric Whitacre’s Her Sacred Spirit Soars finds a place here, as do three short works by John Corigliano for brass quintet, Antiphon, Fanfares to Music, and the Overture from his Gazebo Dances. All these come from a brand-new CD by the Gaudete Brass, celebrating Corigliano’s 75th birthday a few years ago.

Daron Hagen’s Concerto for Brass Quintet centers the program, and is a tour de force. In five movements for brass quintet alone—Sennets, Melodia, Invention, Romance, Tuckets—it’s a brilliant, strong work.

PROGRAM:
Kenneth Fuchs: On Silver Wings
John Corigliano: Gazebo Dances, Overture
Daron Hagen: Concerto for Brass Quintet
John Corigliano: Antiphon
Eric Whitacre: Her Sacred Spirit Soars
Kenneth Fuchs: Discover the Wild
John Corigliano: Fanfares to Music

Every Saturday night at 9 Eastern, Kile Smith plays new American classical music on WRTI’s Now Is the Time, at wrti.org and on HD-2. At wrti.org click on the Listen: Classical button at the top of any page. Thanks for supporting American contemporary music on WRTI! 

Ironworks on Now Is the Time

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Joseph Bertolozzi making music in Paris (Franc Palaia, c2013)

It’s heavy metal on Now Is the Time, Saturday, January 14th at 9 pm on WRTI.org and WRTI-HD2. Techno DJ Steve Bowman starts us off with Pinches of piano and electronica. That’s followed by David Dzubay’s Brass Quintet No. 1 from way, way back in 1988. The Prism Saxophone Quartet becomes a sextet for Dear Lord, a Coltrane arrangement by Dave Liebman (joining in on soprano).

If you want to look for something blessedly difficult to categorize, look no further than Paul Epstein and his serial/post-minimal/relentlessly attractive piano piece, 72:7/11/13, as rigidly constructed and as seemingly spontaneous a bit of music that you are likely to find. Bora Yoon sings, plays, and delights in Weights & Balances, and if you think a brass quintet was metallic, how about Frank Lynn Payne’s Quartet of Tubas?

Joseph Bertolozzi takes mallets of all sizes, including a hunk of tree trunk, to Paris, whacks the Eiffel Tower everywhere he can (he had permission, we think), records thousands of sounds, then goes back to the studio and makes music. Ironworks is one of the arresting pieces from his recent CD, Tower Music.

PROGRAM:
Steve Bowman: Pinches
David Dzubay: Brass Quintet No. 1
John Coltrane, arr. Dave Liebman: Dear Lord
Paul A. Epstein: 72: 7/11/13
Bora Yoon: Weights & Balances
Frank Lynn Payne: Quartet for Tubas
Joseph Bertolozzi: Ironworks

Every Saturday night at 9 Eastern, Kile Smith plays new American classical music on WRTI’s Now Is the Time, at wrti.org and on HD-2. At wrti.org click on the Listen: Classical button at the top of any page. Thanks for supporting American contemporary music on WRTI! 

A Dream of Waking on Now Is the Time

beckerfadeMusic of memories sleeping and waking inhabit Now Is the Time on WRTI this Saturday, December 10th at 9 pm. A sparkling duo for violin and piano is A Dream of Waking by Dan Becker, and Elizabeth Brown walks us through the mnemonic device of remembrance in The Memory Palace for a trio of flute, cello, and piano. Brown is the flutist, also. Curt Cacioppo takes us through his own memories of Italy in his string quartet Divertimenti in Italia.

The sliding jazz of Adam Berenson’s Prose Surrealism leads us into the Wordsworth-inspired Evening Voluntaries of William Kraft for French horn, and then Dan Becker closes the program with a re-imagining of Bach in ReInvention 3F.

PROGRAM:
Dan Becker: A Dream of Waking
Elizabeth Brown: The Memory Palace
Curt Cacioppo: Divertimenti in Italia (String Quartet No. 6)
Adam Berenson: Prose Surrealism
William Kraft: Evening Voluntaries
Dan Becker: ReInvention 3F

Every Saturday night at 9 Eastern, Kile Smith plays new American classical music on WRTI’s Now Is the Time, at wrti.org and on HD-2. At wrti.org click on the Listen: Classical button at the top of any page. Thanks for supporting American contemporary music on WRTI! 

Two Composers Defining America

On the next Discoveries from the Fleisher Collection, Saturday 3 Dec 2016,  5–6 pm on WRTI:

conversebuschFrederick Shepherd Converse (1871-1940): Serenade (c.1903)
Converse: The Mystic Trumpeter (1904)
Carl Busch (1862-1943): Omaha Indian Love Song; Chippewa Lullaby, from Four North American Legends (1918)
Busch: Elegie (1899)
Converse: Flivver Ten Million (1926)

In January we began a survey of the history of American orchestral music with George Bristow, born in 1825. Now in December we end 2016 with two composers who lived into the 1940s, wrapping up an American century with Frederick Shepherd Converse and Carl Busch, representing American music as well as any other two.

New Englander Converse could be a model for the American composer at that time. The son of a wealthy businessman, his musical gifts overrode his father’s desire for him to join the business. He studied composition with John Knowles Paine and George W. Chadwick, then went to Munich and studied with Chadwick’s teacher Joseph Rheinberger. Returning to the States, he taught at Boston’s New England Conservatory of Music (Chadwick having in the meantime become its director), then at Harvard. But after only eight years total of teaching, Converse left academia to compose full-time.

He wrote choral, orchestral works, and operas. The Irish-themed The Pipe of Desire was the first opera by a native-born American to see the stage of the Metropolitan Opera. The small Serenade for strings was followed by his grand tone poem based on Walt Whitman, The Mystic Trumpeter, premiered by the young Philadelphia Orchestra in 1904.

That and his much later Flivver Ten Million have become his most-played orchestral works. Flivver humorously celebrates the ten-millionth Ford Model T to roll off the conveyor belt. Converse said he wondered “what Mark Twain would have done with such a theme if he had been a musician.”

The Danish composer and violinist Carl Busch studied in Brussels and Paris, and at 25 was invited to Kansas City, Missouri by the Danish consulate there. He formed a string quartet, came to America, and stayed. He became the leading musician in Kansas City, directing the Philharmonic Choral Society and the Kansas City Symphony Orchestra.

Busch fell in love with American Western and Native American cultures. Many of his works use home-grown melodies, including, in his Four North American Legends, Chippewa tunes. The so-called Indianist Movement in music, though a short-lived phase, grew out of the urge to find unique American folk elements from which to craft an American classical music. The irony that Americans were partly spurred on in this quest by foreigners has not been lost. Antonin Dvorak famously wrote the very thing in the 1890s while here, and the Danish-American Carl Busch was one of those who led the way.

An All-Philadelphia Now Is the Time

boathouserowdayNow Is the Time jumps into the Giving Thanks for Philadelphia weekend on WRTI Saturday, November 19th at 9 pm. All the composers and many of the performers live in and around Philadelphia, or studied here. Retired Haverford College professor Harold Boatrite’s music is always smart and tuneful, and his Sonata for Flute and Piano is no exception. Daniel Kellogg and Zhou Tian both went through Curtis, and both have their works played here by Mimi Stillman, from her CD Odyssey.

David Bennett Thomas teaches at Philadelphia’s University of the Arts and is here represented by Sketches for Flute and Guitar. Vistas is by Ingrid Arauco, one of Boatrite’s successors at Haverford, and David Laganella (from Penn a while back), leaves us with a luscious Sundarananda, celebrating the woodworked sculpture of another Philadelphia-area artist, George Nakashima.

from Zhou Tian: Duet for Flute and Piano 

PROGRAM:
Harold Boatrite: Sonata for Flute and Piano
Daniel Kellogg: Five Sketches for Solo Flute
Zhou Tian: Duet for Flute and Piano
David Bennett Thomas: Sketches for Flute and Guitar
Ingrid Arauco: Vistas
David Laganella: Sundarananda

Every Saturday night at 9 Eastern, Kile Smith plays new American classical music on WRTI’s Now Is the Time, at wrti.org and on HD-2. At wrti.org click on the Listen: Classical button at the top of any page. Thanks for supporting American contemporary music on WRTI! 

The 15th Anniversary of 9/11: Wings of the Morning

worldtradecenterNow Is the Time, Saturday, September 10th, 9 to 10 pm. On this eve of the 15th anniversary of 9/11, we remember the lives lost to terror, and vow to live on. Aquilo is the Latin word for the wind that comes from the northeast; Arlene Sierra evokes that, air, and fire in this orchestral work.

Andy Teirstein’s What Is Left of Us sets poetry of Mahmoud Darwish in this ballet, ingeniously scored for solo voice with a three-voice choir, viola, and cello. The novel about 1922 Berlin is behind City of Shadows, where Scott Wheeler also salutes Weill’s Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny and Copland’s Quiet City.

The Life Sketches of Nils Vigeland, for solo piano, wends its way from Wild Hopes to a Barcarolle, with Trumpets and dances along the way. Vigeland wrote this in 1994 in memory of the composer/pianist Yvar Mikhashoff.

Ron Nelson is a composer and jazz pianist who not only studied with Karlheinz Stockhausen and Stefan Wolpe, but has also performed with Pat Martino. Wings of the Morning references Psalm 139: “Whither shall I go from thy spirit?… If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.”

PROGRAM:
Arlene Sierra: Aquilo
Andy Teirstein: What Is Left of Us
Scott Wheeler: City of Shadows
Nils Vigeland: Life Sketches
Ron Thomas: Wings of the Morning

Every Saturday night at 9 Eastern, Kile Smith plays new American classical music on WRTI’s Now Is the Time, at wrti.org and on HD-2. At wrti.org click on the Listen: Classical button at the top of any page. Thanks for supporting American contemporary music on WRTI! 

Three Things I Learned from Gregg Smith