Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Chronicle of February 2008

February 2

Berio's Sequenzas. Rose Theatre, New York, NY. "[W]hen they are heard together, a sort of continuity emerges" [Steve Smith, The New York Times, 2/5/08].

February 3

Death of Jorge Liderman (b. Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1957), struck and killed by a train, in an apparent suicide. "A 50-year-old man who was struck and killed by a train in BART's El Cerrito Plaza Station on Sunday morning has been identified as Jorge Liderman, a prominent local composer and a professor in the music department at UC Berkeley. Liderman was struck by a Richmond-bound train at 9:42 a.m. in what appeared to be a suicide, said BART spokesman Linton Johnson. 'It's still under an investigation,' Johnson said. Liderman was a fixture on the Bay Area's classical music scene since joining the Berkeley faculty in 1989. His music . . . was performed regularly both here and abroad, and his discography included almost a dozen CDs. . . . Adam Frey, the group's executive director [of the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players], said that Liderman had been expected to speak at a public run-through of the piece [on February 3] but did not appear. He said Liderman had attended a rehearsal as recently as [February 1]. . . . Johnson said there was no one else on the BART platform when the incident occurred and that the only witness was the train operator. The operator reported that he saw a man standing on the yellow tiles at the edge of the platform and that he honked several times, Johnson said. When the train came to within 5 feet of the man, he jumped in front of the train, Johnson said. In recent years, Liderman's work had been showing up on concert programs with ever-greater frequency. In March, the New Century Chamber Orchestra gave the world premiere of Rolling Springs, and in November, Cal Performances marked the composer's 50th birthday with a concert dedicated to his chamber and vocal music. Much of his music, including the orchestral work Barcelonazo and an hour-long setting of Song of Songs that was premiered in Berkeley in 2002, was influenced by the sounds of his native Argentina and by his Jewish roots. He also drew on the models of Stravinsky and Bartók, as well as more recent masters like György Ligeti and Steve Reich. Among his major compositions was Antigona Furiosa, a 1991 chamber opera that relocated the story of Sophocles' Antigone to the period of military rule in Argentina. Liderman was . . . the grandson of European immigrants. He studied electronics in high school, but soon found himself drawn to music. In an interview last year with The Chronicle, he cited a teenage encounter with the music of tango composer Astor Piazzolla as a formative experience. 'I was blown away,' he said. 'If I had to pick a moment where I thought, 'I have to become a composer,' that would be it.' Liderman attended college in Jerusalem, then came to the United States to earn a doctorate in composition at the University of Chicago. He joined the UC faculty immediately afterward. Despite feeling not entirely at home in academia, Liderman was a dedicated teacher to a generation of student composers. . . [SF Gate, 2/3/08]. Colleagues and students of composer Jorge Liderman struggled [on February 4] to come to grips with the news of his death in an apparent suicide [February 3], just one day before the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players were to premiere his Furthermore, a new chamber concerto for violin. 'I'm still kind of reeling,' said guitarist David Tanenbaum, who collaborated with Liderman on four chamber works. 'He had project after project going on.' 'Jorge's career has just been on an upward swing," said composer Edmund Campion, who taught with Liderman in the music department at UC Berkeley. 'He's been writing music and getting premieres and getting noticed all over.' . . . In a statement issued through a spokesman, Liderman's widow, Mimi Wolff, said, 'Jorge was a wonderful, kind and loving man, a brilliant composer and musician. He had an extraordinary talent for expressing himself through his music. He was a very private person, and everything he wanted to communicate to the public he did through his music.' Whatever pain may have afflicted him, Liderman's friends and colleagues said, he kept to himself. 'We knew that Jorge had problems that he'd been fighting for as long as we knew him,' said Campion. 'But he never shared them and he never complained about them. He kept his composure.' Instead, he continued to compose prolifically, including three string quartets, several large orchestral works and the Aires de Sfarad, a large compendium of traditional Sephardic songs arranged for violin and guitar. The mood was grim at the Berkeley music department office . . . with some students and staffers too distraught to comment. Liderman's is the latest in a series of deaths to strike this small composition faculty, beginning last March with the death at 57 of Professor John Thow, and continuing in December with the death of Professor Emeritus Andrew Imbrie. 'Jorge was a good and attentive teacher, with his door open for hours on end to encourage students to come in,' said ethnomusicologist Bonnie Wade, the department chair. 'He very much enjoyed teaching the craft of composition.'. . . Composer Steve Reich, whom Liderman often cited as an important influence, said, 'Jorge Liderman was a skilled composer and a delightful human being. It's very hard for me to grasp that he isn't here now. I will miss him' [Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle, 2/5/08].

February 4

NASA beams the Beatles's Across the Universe across the galaxy to Polaris. Madrid, Spain. "'Send my love to the aliens,' Paul McCartney told NASA. . . . Apple was happy to approve the idea because it is 'always looking for new markets,' [Martin] Lewis said" [Associated Press, 2/2/08]. Furthermore..., a chamber concerto by Liderman for violinist Carla Kihlstedt and the San Francisco Chamber Contemporary Music Players. Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, CA. "A sorrowful mood, vague but pervasive, lingered in the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Forum during Monday night's concert by the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players. The only thing that could dispel it was music as bright, vivacious and downright beautiful as Furthermore... . . . In the lobby before the concert, music-lovers -- those who'd known him personally and those who only knew him through his irresistible scores -- greeted each other ashen-faced, with consolatory hugs and murmurs of disbelief. In brief remarks near the beginning of the concert, music director David Milnes called Liderman's death 'both a terrible personal loss and a terrible artistic loss, because the second half of his output is not to be.' . . . In one of the work's wittiest passages, right before the end, the violin launches into a sultry, sinuous burst of tango melody. But the ensemble doesn't get the memo and keeps churning out quasi-minimalist patterns, which now seem endearingly inapt. . . . Even the violinist's cadenza -- a semi-improvised affair that brought out Kihlstedt's most limpid and heartfelt playing -- is in the nature of a conciliatory gesture. . . . [T]here were still other rewards in this program of mostly American music. Clarinetist Carey Bell and percussionists William Winant and Christopher Froh joined forces for a gorgeous, still-voiced rendition of Morton Feldman's functionally titled Bass Clarinet and Percussion. . . . Steven Mackey's Indigenous Instruments, a three-movement quintet from 1989, wrapped facetious and rhythmically punchy free-for-alls around a slow movement that is probably the most alluring music I've ever heard from this composer. Exploring the same oscillating thirds that infuse the first movement, the music unfolds in slow, austere clouds of sound, trippy but never vague. . . . Violinist Graeme Jennings played Brian Ferneyhough's Intermedio alla Ciaconna, followed by Froh's account of a vibraphone solo from Philippe Manoury's Livre des claviers" [Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle, 2/6/08].

Merce Cunningham, at 89, begins offering his Monday night class online. New York, NY.

February 5

Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Otto Ketting's De Aankomst (The Arrival) and Sergei Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 3. Carnegie Hall, New York, NY.

February 6

Ground breaking for The Musical Instrument Museum. Phoenix, AZ.

Royal Concertgebouw orchestra in Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 5. Carnegie Hall, New York, NY.

February 7

San Francisco Symphony in Gyorgy Ligeti's San Francisco Polyphony, Bela Bartok's Piano Concerto No. 3, and Dmitri Shostakovich's Symphony No. 6. Davies Hall, San Francisco, CA.

February 8

Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in Benjamin Franklin's Quartet No. 2, Henry Cowell's Quartet Euphometric, Louis Greenberg's Four Diversions, George Antheil's Sonata No. 2 for Violin, Piano, and Drums, and Amy Beach's Piano Quintet. New York Society for Ethical Culture, New York, NY.

Budapest Festival Orchestra in Bela Bartok's The Wooden Prince. Avery Fisher Hall, New York, NY.

February 9

Marin Alsop conducts the Boston Symphony in Igor Stravinsky's Firebird Suite and Steve Mackey's Time Release. Carnegie Hall, New York, NY.

Joan Kwuon and Andre Previn in Sergei Prokofiev's Violin Concerto No. 2 in A. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY.

Manhattan Sinfonietta in The World of James Tenney: Tenny's Harmonium No. 7, Henry Cowell's Ensemble, Larry Polansky's Shma: Fuging Tune in G, and Michael Byron's Awakening of the Birds. Merkin Concert Hall, New York, NY.

The Villa-Lobos Event. Zankel Hall, New York, NY.

February 10

50th Annual Grammy Awards, including a citation for Herbie Hancock's River: The Joni Letters. Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA. "[A] spectral duet . . . found . . . Alicia Keys trading verses with Frank Sinatra . . . in a performance of Mr. Sinatra's 1955 hit Learnin' the Blues. . . . 'Sinatra looked pretty good for 150, didn't he?' Prince asked an appreciative audience [N.B. - The crooner, born 1915, would be 92 - ed.] [The New York Times, 2/11/08].

Terry Riley's Remember This O Mind performed by the American Composers Orchestra. Annenberg Center, Philadelphia, PA.

Manhattan Sinfonietta in The World of Milton Babbitt: Babbitt's Ars Combinatoria, Arnold Schoenberg's Herzgewachse, Christopher Buchenholz's In Just, and Jonathan Dawe's Symphony of Imaginary Numbers. Merkin Concert Hall, New York, NY.

Budapest Festival Orchestra in Bela Bartok's Bluebeard's Castle. Avery Fisher Hall, New York, NY.

February 11

Ernest Bloch's Avodath Hakodesh (Sacred Service). Central Synogogue, New York, NY.

Jean-Frederic Neuburger performs Dmitri Shostakovich's Prelude and Fugue No. 14 and 15. Weill Recital Hall, New York, NY.

February 13

Midori and Mac-Andre Hamelin in Toru Takemitsu's Between the Tides (with cellist Johannes Moser), plus the Miro Quartet in the composers A Way a Lone. Rose Theater, New York, NY.

February 14

Joshua Bell and Jeremy Denk in Sergei Prokofiev's Violin Sonata No. 1 in F Minor. Carnegie Hall, New York, NY.

February 15

Olivier Messiaen's Turangalila-Symphonie. Carnegie Hall, New York, NY.

Meredith Monk. Symphony Space, New York, NY.

February 16

San Francisco Contemporary Opera in Horsewomen of the Apocalypse: The White Horse. Mark Alburger's Flying Out the Mouth (Harriet March Page) and White Horse Suite, and music of Cynthia Weyuker. St. Gregory of Nyssa, San Francisco, CA.

Anton Webern's Six Pieces for Orchestra and Alban Berg's Three Pieces for Orchestra. Carnegie Hall, New York, NY> Carnegie Hall, New York, New York.

February 17

Alexander Zemlinsky's Der Zwerg (The Dwarf) and Viktor Ullman's Der Zerbrochene Krug (The Broken Jug). Los Angeles Opera, Los Angeles, CA.

February 18

Bill Kaulitz and Tokio Hotel. Fillmore, New York, NY.

Juilliard Orchestra in Rolf Wallin's Das War Schon!. Avery Fisher Hall, New York, NY.

February 19

Da Capo Chamber Players in Alla Borzova's Merry Hour, Louis Karchins Gods of Winter, and Paul Salerni's Speaking of Love and Bad Pets. Merkin Concert Hall, New York, NY.

Foo Fighters. Madison Square Garden, New York, NY.

Jennifer Higdon's Concerto for Orchestra. Mannes College of Music, New York, NY.

Soyeon Lee, in a dress made of recycled juice containers, in Huang Ruo's Divergence: For Piano and Speaker (recycled from the composer' concerto for five players) and Sergei Prokofiev's Piano Sonata No. 7. Zankel Hall, New York, NY.

February 21

Enrico Rava and Stefano Bollani. Birdland, New York, NY.

The Magnetic Fields. Town Hall, New York, NY.

Berkeley Symphony in Dmitri Shostakovich's From Jewish Folk Poetry. Zellerbach Hall, Berkeley, CA.

February 22

American Voices, 1750-2008. Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in Charles Ives's Piano Trio, Alan Louis-Smith's Vignettes: Covered Wagon Woman (From the Daily Journal of Margaret Ann Alsip Frink, 1850), and music of Anthony Philip Heinrich and Louis Moreau Gottschalk. Society for Ethical Culture, New York, NY.

Kronos Quartet in Gary Leport's Night of the Vampire, Clint Mansell's Requiem for a Dream, Fernando Otero's El Cerezo, Aviya Kopelman's Widows and Lovers, John Adams's Fellow Traveler (based on an aria from Nixon in China), Jacob Garchick's Lullaby, and the traditional Iraqui Oh Mother, the Handsome Man Tortures Me. Zankel Hall, New York, NY.

Bern/Klucevsek Duo. Trinity Center for Urban Life, Philadelphia, PA.

February 23

St. Luke's Chamber Ensemble in Dmitri Shostakovich's Piano Trio No. 2, Sergei Tcherepnin's Regenerations, Igor Stravinsky's Elegie, Joan Tower's For Daniel, and Olivier Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time. Chelsea Art Museum, New York, NY.

Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, including music from Igor Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress. Metropolitan Opera, New York, NY.

February 24

Markus Groh in Gyorgy Ligeti's Fanfares and Arc en Ciel, Gyorgy Kurtag's Jatekok, Erwin Schulhoff's Five Etudes de Jazz, and Franz Liszt's Sonata in B Minor. Frick Collection, New York, NY. "The . . . Liszt arrived . . . almost as an apology for any inconveniences suffered earlier" [Bernard Holland, The New York Times, 2/26/08].

February 25

Juilliard Quartet and Gilbert Kalish in Ralph Shapey's Piano Quintet and Elliott Carter's Piano Quintet. Peter Jay Sharp Theater, New York, NY.

Eric Clapton / Steve Winwood. Madison Square Garden, New York, NY.

Pierre Boulez conducts the Chicago Symphony in Matthias Pintscher's Osiris and Bela Bartok's Piano Concerto No. 3. Carnegie Hall, New York, NY. "Boulez . . . happily leaves the three B's and most of the M's and S's of the standard repertory to other conductors" [Bernard Holland, NYT 2/28/08].

Joshua Schmidt's The Adding Machine. Minetta Lane Theater, New York, NY.

February 26

Pierre Boulez conducts the Chicago Symphony in Luciano Berio's Quatre delicaces and Igor Stravinsky's Petrushka. Carnegie Hall, New York, NY.

February 29

Network for New Music in Ten for Carter, piano pieces for the composer's 100 years, plus his Triple Duo. Settlement Music School, Philadelphia, PA.