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Monthly Archive: March 2008


Bird Premiere

Posted on Monday, March 24, 2008


The premiere performances of A Bird in Your Ear at Bard College, NY, were a great success at the weekend. I hope to have some better pictures and samples later, but for now here is one with all the soloists:



and one of me with wonderful Dawn:



And here is a taster:

Taster

Numbers 2-3 - I was a nightingale








Number 4 - The nightingale sings








Number 5 - Ivan went out walking








Number 6 - When the storm was over








Bard College Orchestra & Choir, conducted by James Bagwell, Yulia Van Doren soprano, Sungeun Lee tenor, Yohan Yi Baritone, Chanel Wood Soprano, Rie Miyake Soprano, Kristin Ezell Soprano, Melissa Wegner,Soprano, and Tania Rodriguez Mezzo-Soprano.font>

Want to hear it all? Click here to listen to the complete first performance



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Kylisms

Posted on Thursday, March 20, 2008


A very nice collection of quotes by Kyle Gann, collected by his students. My favourites are:

One of the ways you know you're developing as a composer is when people start performing your pieces better.

- this is so true and I take it to mean that if a piece sounds badly played, it's usually your fault as the composer (OK Maybe not always!)

I can write a good piece of music in three weeks. A bad one takes me six months.

One can prove by analysis that, in reality, Webern's music is highly unified. But art isn't about reality: it's about appearances.


- I love that one.

Mystery is easily achieved. It's clarity that's difficult.


Subtleties tend to get lost in performance. That's why Beethoven was so successful - he didn't put any subtleties in his music.


I don't get this one, though:

Stravinsky was the master at sustaining a musical idea.


Isn't Stravinsky's success based on the fact that he knows when to stop an idea? One day I hope to ask Mr Gann about that one.



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Dawn, Doug and Virgil

Posted on Monday, March 17, 2008


A nice profile of Dawn Upshaw in the Observer:

http://music.guardian.co.uk/classical/story/0,,2265712,00.html

The article mentions my Bird opera, which is deep in rehearsal here at Bard College, and all going very well. The other half of the programme is Virgil Thomson's 4 Saints in 3 Acts, which from the bits of rehearsal I've seen is one strange piece - it seems to be trying to out-Satie Satie. The composer himself described it as 'seriously obscure' in this fascinating article on the piece in the NY Times from 1986
http://www.nytimes.com/books/97/07/06/reviews/thomson-saints.html

"Stage directors are thrown by the very idea of it." Thomson says, but at Bard, director Doug Fitch is bringing it all marvellously, zanily and suitably surreally to life.



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Lili Boulanger Memorial Fund Award

Posted on Thursday, March 06, 2008




I'm delighted to have just been awarded this year's Lili Boulanger Memorial Fund Award, for "composers of exceptional talent and integrity". The fund was set up by the great French teacher Nadia Boulanger, in memory of her Prix de Rome-winning sister Lili, who died tragically young. Past winners have included Derek Bermel, George Benjamin and Per Norgard, so it's quite an honour; and I'm of course especially grateful to Osvaldo for nominating me.



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