With the leaves soon to change color and start dropping from the tree branches, it’s primetime for concert-going. October’s not-too-hot-not-too-cold vibe plays host to quite a few unsung holidays: Columbus Day, United Nations Day, and—suck-up of them all—National Boss Day (October 16 info). I’m sure all those holiday’s could use some musical accompanyment, but the real fiesta this month is definitely Halloween. John Zorn and his buddies are getting into the spirit (October 31 info). However, fearing a repetition of last year’s shootings—crazy, right?—the poor souls in San Francisco had their annual All Hallows Eve celebration canceled. The problem is that in Fog City, Halloween is more widely celebrated than Christmas—ah, you marvelous heathens!—so I’m sure a lot of folks by the Bay feel a little jilted, Grinch-style; all dressed up and nowhere to go. But let’s not dwell on such negative setbacks. Instead San Franciscans can take solace in the world premiere of Philip Glass’s latest spectacle, Appomattox (October 5, 10, 14, 16, 18, 20, 24 info). While the opera’s subject matter tackles the impact of America’s Civil War—no jack-o’-lanterns here, kids—you can still dress up like a princess and there’s very little chance of gang violence erupting at the opera house.
If you’re in Seattle, check out the Earshot Jazz Festival (October 19 – November 4 info). Ahmad Jamal (October 19 info) kicks off the diverse roster of events, which includes Gino Robair’s I, Norton (October 20 info), an event described as a “mobile guerrilla anti-opera.” Coming from a composer-percussionist who once released a record featuring his solo Styrofoam stylings, I suspect you can rest assured that his improvised opera will be one raucous pageant. Also, it seems that the Emerald City has been keeping a little secret from me: the Chapel Performance Space at the Good Shepherd Center. Nonsequitur director, composer, and sound artist Steve Peters manages to keep the place well stocked with adventurous musicians, such as improvising processed accordion laptoper Andrea Parkins (October 18 info).
People always talk about blurring the boundaries and such, but leave it to Mills College and CalArts to throw an anniversary party where it’s actually hard to tell if, in fact, the two institutions aren’t really just one indivisible entity. The celebration in question is billed as Mills College Center for Contemporary Music at 40, and features works by faculty members of both schools—all of whom have had a stint as either student or teacher at Mills. The concert takes place first on CalArts’ home turf at REDCAT (October 14 info) and again the following week when the Mills campus plays host (October 21 info). Gee, I hope Wesleyan doesn’t feel left out.
And speaking of the American experimental tradition, can you believe that a John Cage piece is getting its New York City premiere this fall? You can blame Canada for recasting Cage’s A Dip in the Lake (October 12 info), originally conceived for Chicago’s urban landscape, and creating a realization starring Toronto. Okay, actually blame the Electronic Music Foundation and their annual Ear to the Earth festival (October 12 – 20 info) for bringing the piece to New York, as well as other concerts and sound-walks lead by members of the New York Society for Acoustic Ecology.
Just when you though you knew about every single composers collective out there, up pops another one: Random Access Music teams up with the VIM: TriBeCa concert series in order to bring you a program called Breaking Down the Beat (October 18 info). Joyously advertised by a photo of a New York City trashcan, the concert features works like Rhythm and Movement for the Awkward by Allen Schulz and David Fetherolf’s Ein unzussammenhängendër Zussammenhang—AltaVista Babel Fish Translation…forgedaboudit.
If you happen to be in New England right now, you’re probably tired of overhearing conversations about the beautiful foliage. Remedy the situation by listening to music. There’s sure to be a hushed crowd at Alea III’s 25th annual International Composition Competition (October 7 info). In American Idol-fashion, six new compositions battle it out head-to-head and at the end of the concert, the winner is announced. Due to professional affiliations, I’m rooting for American composer Byron Weigel. Best of luck!
Now here’s a festival that everyone can listen to, preferably on headphones: le Placard (website). Dubbed the nonstop streaming festival, le Placard makes a pit stop at The Lab in San Francisco for two 12-hour sets (October 13 – 15 info). Although details on how to tap into the stream of music are a bit sketchy, even suggesting that some nice person in the site’s chat room might pass you the current link, it might be worth making some new cyber friends in order to eavesdrop in on the sonic high jinks.