Wednesday, January 30, 2019

You will like the music you hear during puberty





Guitarist Adam Neely explains “Why Pop Music Sounds Bad (to You)”


You tend to like the music you are hearing during puberty, about age 13 for girls and 14 for boys. 
   
I can remember that around age 15 I became more used to postromantic music, like the ends of Rachmaninoff, Grieg and Tchaikovsky piano concertos.

The music heard at the time of puberty will often rouse people with Alzheimer's and helps with music therapy in assisted living centers or nursing homes. 
  
At the time, “The Twist” and “Long Tall Sally” is what I remember from pop music.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Sebastian Letocart's "Fantasy for Piano"



Here is Sebastian Letocart’s new Fantasy for Piano (or "Fantaisie", 6 min), with score, presumably performed by the composer (whose primary instrument is organ). 


It’s more like a fantasy and fugue, as the fugal part starts at about four minutes.

The work has lots of scales and repeated figures with a toccata-like effect.  There is an informal atonality reminiscent of the late Scriabin sonatas, and there are some loud tone cluster chords that may be similar to the mystic chord.  There is no key signature, but sometimes there is a tonal center around C.  There are many changing unusual time signatures. The very end is loud, after a “die in”.

Letocart also wrote a completion finale for Bruckner’s Ninth Symphony.
  
Let’s see if this new composition gets interest in the United States. On Facebook, he calls himself Abes Tracotel.  He lives in Belgium, not far from Germany.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

"Dear Evan Hansen": "#YouWillBeFound"



Today, at MCC Northern Virginia, there was a performance of the song “#YouWillBeFound” from the Broadway Musical “Dear Evan Hansen”, by Benj Pasik  and Justin Paul, with a book by Steven Levenson. Both composers wrote music and lyrics, and they also wrote lyrics for “La La Land” (Cole Delbyck, Huffington Post).
  

Later the words say “You are not alone.”

It is performing at the Music Box Theater in New York on 45th St, as well as London and Toronto.  This is probably a good reason for an Amtrak ride.
  
Rev. Emma Chattin gave a sermon “Finding Yourself (Right Now)”.  She mentioned the idea of a "Jubilee" (Day of Justice) every 50 years in tribal Israel when debts were wiped clean and all property was redistributed. 

Monday, January 21, 2019

CD "Live from Cuba" from Washington DC Gay Men's Chorus, recorded when US Embassy in Cuba reopened in 2015



At a Christmas concert of the Washington DC Gay Men’s Chorus Dec. 8, 2018, I purchased a $20 CD of the group’s “Live from Cuba” event.

The eleven songs were performed from the Casa de Las Americas on July 17, 2015 (except for #4, “Karma Chameleon, performed by Mano a Mano – Cuba’s Gay Men’s Chorus) which was performed at the Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples, Havana.  The concert marked the opening of the US Embassy in Cuba under Obama on July 20, 2015. 
  
  
There are eleven songs.  (1) Proud (with the lines “make us feel Proud”) (2) True Colors (3) Over the Rainbow (4) (above) (5) Beautiful City (6) MLK (with baritone soloist) (7) Impossible Dream (8) Hallelujah (9) If We Only Have Love (10) Que Nos Olgan (“Make Them Hear You”) (11) And So It Goes.

In fact, the choir of the First Baptist Church of the City of Washington DC made a 5-day trip to Cuba in the spring of 2017. 

Here is an article by Mimi Whitefield in the Miami Herald on the Cuban economy as it is now. 
  
It’s well to remember that in the latter part of 1980 (well before the AIDS crisis) the gay community especially in southern states (all the way to Texas, where I lived then) was asked to help house people (often LGBT) who had fled Cuba with the Mariel Boat Lift.  That is prescience of the LGBT asylum seeker issue in more recent years (even before Trump).

First picture, from Wikipedia: By U.S. Department of State from United States - U.S. Flag Flaps Outside U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba, Public Domain, Link

Monday, January 14, 2019

Pianist Estrin compares the piano sonatas of Mozart with early Beethoven sonatas




On Living Pianos Videos, pianist Robert Estrin explores the differences between Mozart and early Beethoven piano sonatas.


He compares the Mozart Sonata #10 in C, K. 330, with the Beethoven Sonata #10 in G, Op.14 #2.

The character of each Sonata seems lighthearted at first.  The Mozart seems elegant and “perfect”.  Beethoven, who after started his compositional career about three decades later, keeps surprising you.  Furthermore, Beethoven’s treatment of the sonata development section is much more dramatic and extensive.
  
It would be good to look for a comparison of Haydn and Beethoven.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

The Living Earth Show performs Dennis Aman's Prelude and Fugue #1



Here’s The Living Earth Show’s performing Dennis Aman’s Prelude and Fugue #1 (for wine box guitar and percussion).

  
Andy Meyerson and Travis Andrews from the group performed Jan. 7-8 at for the Metropolis Ensemble on Rivington St in Soho In New York City.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Not exactly peripeteia




I did take a look at the modernized website for Brooklyn-based composer Timo Andres, this time just the keyboard works. I’ll link to the performance of a short work called “Wise Words”, which was written for the former president of Nonesuch Records. (The title reminds me of the play "Wise Guys", May 15, 2011.)

The work sounds a bit impressionistic but has some alberti arpeggio work that reminds me of how the Schumann Fantasy opens.

I wanted to listen to the "Moving Etudes", a 3-piece set.  The last one is available on the site, and sounds impressionistic to my ear.  But it would be nice to hear the entire set to look at what the concept of the entire set or “suite” is. 
  
I notice that scores (conventional or PDF) are available for sale.  This seems more common now as composers have to make a living, off commissions but now off sales of printed music – but normally that would seem to attract pianists who actually want to play the pieces. 
  
Maybe it would be a good idea for composers to put their larger works (but not yet well known) on Amazon for normal (credit card) purchase like much classical music as MP4 files, especially for Prime members.  I do sometimes purchase music or film this way (on Amazon Prime) for online viewing or listening.
  
I’ll be gearing up to make some of my own music more performable soon, as I have discussed with some friends in NYC this past week. 
  
  
For today’s link, here’s what happens when pianist Henri Herbert plays jazz at a public piano.

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Can whales and dolphins compose music worthy of performance? It seems so



Karen Weintraub has a New York Times article describing the songs of whales, especially humpbacks.  These Whales Are Serenaders of theSeas; and It’s Quite a Racket”.
  
It seems whales can compose music of some sophistication.  They get other males to sing in unison with them, but some whales will break off and not conform. The idea is to find females.  That may be true with birds, but the actual music is more complicated and worthy of being studied as music, maybe eve being performed by experimental groups.
  
  
Does this fit the pattern with humans that, for the most part, composers were men until at least the mid nineteenth century, after which female composers gradually got more notice (like Amy Beach). 
    
 Classical music originally reflected religious values but in time may have also served a socializing purpose.

Saturday, January 05, 2019

Matthew Schultheis: young composer with interesting chamber music, sometimes recalling Berg



Matthew Schultheis, 21, is listed among Metropolis Ensemble’s composers for a 2019 event called “A Stone’s Throw” (in their new space in NYC in SoHo).  He grew up in northern Virginia.  I’m not sure if he attended the Potomac School (like percussionist Grant Hoechst, who had appeared at Trinity Presbyterian Church in 2012).

Here is a piece for eight players, “The Temptation of St. Anthony”, for eight chamber players.  The historical person appears to be Anthony of Padua.  Is this related to the annual Camino Walk in northern Spain?   The work has four movements and the style seems dodecaphonic. 

  
He conducts his own Chamber Concerto for 15 players (17 min), which has three movements. 
  
The first movement is called “The Party” and has some nice repeated block chords with harmonic effects at about 5:00, on top of the atonality  (a little more like some of my writing in the Third Sonata, first movement development section).    The second movement is “Grave, lyrical”, and it stretches out fragments of a melodic line over a lot of atonal backdrop. The melody indulges some repeated notes and scales.  This leads without pause to the finale, “Inescapable”, as if a (Netflix) horror movie? You get some snippets of jazz themes over top of the clatter below. The work ends abruptly with percussion.  Was this work inspired by Alban Berg’s “Chamber Concerto”?  My ear didn’t pick up any idea that two movements are combined (Ralph Vaughn Williams did something like that in the Eighth Symphony).
  
It’s still before Epiphany, so we see Schultheis playing in piano four hands (with Mark Fleisher) “The Birthday of a King”, here.

I don't know if composers put themselves on Linked In, but Google showed only his namesakes.