It’s not easy to get a date on Valentine’s Day. But who the hell cares, because there are a ton of new music concerts going on to console our eternally bleeding hearts. So if you’re feeling blue about love, rip the Band-Aid off right now and find out what’s going on during the annual love-fest that bankrolls florists and chocolatiers everywhere, not to mention Hallmark.
In San Francisco, those who want to escape the prix fixe menus and restaurant reservation frenzy can head to The Luggage Store to hear some intense improv delivered by clarinetist Michael Marcus and brassman Ted Daniel, a.k.a. Duology (February 14 info). But if you really want to stick it to the greeting card industry, as you sulk in brokenheartedness, the gig for you is in NYC at the Knitting Factory: Diamanda Galás presents her Valentine’s Day Massacre (February 14 info). Ah, the joy of homicidal love songs, performed with some serious conviction. Everything’s coming up roses.
With all that nonsense out of the way, let’s, ahem, leap into the goings-on during Black History Month—seriously though, makes you wonder why The Man chose the shortest month of the year for this designation. Stick, meet short end…but I digress. Here in New York, February busts out of the gates with a bunch of stuff worthy of hungry ears. Foremost on the list is Joanna Newsom, backed by the Brooklyn Philharmonic (February 1 info. Update: new show added on January 31 and tickets go on sale January 16). Bravo to the Brooklyn Phil for programming concerts that don’t induce the side effects of NyQuil.
However, another exciting event is brewing Uptown as Miller Theatre hosts a George Crumb portrait concert which includes the composer’s Appalachian-tinged Unto the Hills performed by singer Daisy Press and So Percussion (February 1 info). The program also includes Music for a Summer Evening (Makrokosmos III)—cue record-breaking blizzard here.
I promise to talk about something besides New York City in the next paragraph, but I have to get something off my chest first. There’s a great gig memorializing violinist Leroy Jenkins at a new venue that took forever and ever to build—trust me, I live across the street, and it was an inactive construction site for years. But finally, after enduring the occasional jackhammer and the sight of that ugly PVT-slatted chain link fence, we’ll get to hear the likes of Wadada Leo Smith, Myra Melford, Thomas Buckner, and Flux Quartet pay tribute to the late free jazz legend at the Dweck Center (February 9 info).
In the South, there’s a conference going on has nothing to do with the presidential primaries. It’s the Society of Composers, Inc. National Conference hosted by the Georgia State University School of Music in Atlanta (February 20 – 23 info). Expect a little networking, cocktails, and a lot of music. Also in the relative vicinity, we find the North Carolina Computer Music Festival (February 25 – 26 info). Although all the details aren’t on the web quite yet, two concerts and a panel discussion will lay down the digital 411 on today’s laptop scene.
Across the pond, the folks in Glasgow are going to get a taste of the American South as well during the experimental arts festival known as Instal (February 15 – 17 info). An event called Golden Cherry Ball combines the avant-folk outfits Golden Road and Cherry Blossoms (the latter known for their kazoo stylings) and should prove interesting (info). And in the Netherlands, Morton Feldman gets a four-day festival devoted to his music (February 7 – 10 info).
In Chicago, composer and violinist-vocalist extraordinaire Carla Kihlstedt presents her new costumed musical performance Necessary Monsters at the Museum of Contemporary Art (February 29 info). Oh, and speaking of costumed performance, I, for one, am looking forward to Blevin Blectum getting all gussied up in some whacky threads for her audio/video extravaganza Gular Flutter at The Stone (February 21 info). And with her come some old cohorts from the Bay Area electronic music scene of yore: Jay Lesser (February 22 info), Wobbly (February 22 info), and Matmos (February 23 info). West Coast represents! Well, at least one of them still dwells within the left hand side of the map.
And in the Golden State itself we find an interesting festival called Music Beyond Performance: SoundImageSound V (February 1 info). But California isn’t just laptops, video projectors, and 5.1 surround sound systems. For something unplugged, try Earplay’s “Unorthodox Journeys” concert (February 11 info). This show features a world premiere composition by Aaron Einbond and works by Feldman, Festinger, Martha Horst, and others.
Besides the heart-shaped boxes, February also signals that it’s time for the Bang on a Can People’s Commissioning Fund Concert (February 13 info). This year the lucky composers are: Tristan Perich, Erdem Helvacioglu, and Ken Thomson. But you don’t have to be in New York to get your Can-on. The All-Stars are bringing their signature marathon concerts to San Francisco (February 9 info) and Baton Rouge (February 28). Reminder: Half-off chocolates sale at Walgreens on the morning of February 15.