Sounds Heard: 17 More Takes on those 88 Keys

Merged image of the album covers of American Vernacular and Keeping Time

Two pianists who recently caught my attention with new releases devoted exclusively to American music composed within the last quarter century are Nicholas Phillips and Mary Kathleen Ernst. All in all, 17 composers are represented on these discs, showing that the instrument that once was a mainstay in households all across the land still has a home in the 21st century.

Performing Quality

String quartet

To me, the weird division of labor between composing works and playing concerts puts musicians in a difficult position. Performers have become new music’s coerced mouthpiece of accountability. The student summer festival provides the clearest case study for this skewed power dynamic.

Austin: Fast Fo(u)rward

Tatsuya Nakatani

Fast Forward Austin is run by three Austin ex-pats who know what the town is all about and who keep that in mind when putting this annual circus together.

So You Want To Write An Opera….

Doubt rehearsal

I admit I attempted composing for opera long ago as an undergraduate. I remember seeing the Los Angeles Opera’s production of Billy Budd in the late ’90s and then seeing their production of Peter Grimes in the early 2000s, and I was convinced I absolutely had to write an opera.

Aaron Parks: Make Me Believe a Melody

aaronparks_feature

Before his 18th birthday, Aaron Parks had released four CDs. After a five-year stint with Terence Blanchard and now 30, he participates in a wide array of musical endeavors, from his own polyglot material to guesting on an indie-rock album and collaborating with Korean-born vocalist Yeahwon Shin. In everything he does, he is fully present.

LA: A Spring 2014 Concertgoer’s Journal, Part 1

Claire Chase, flute

In March and April in Los Angeles, the concert calendar becomes impossibly saturated. These are just a few highlights from Maximum Minimalism, WasteLAnd, plus recent What’s Next Ensemble and Timur and the Dime Museum performances.

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