Articles by Dan Visconti
This collection of Bermel’s music provides a helpful point of entry for those curious to know just what has made this composer so consistently stand out: his music’s fusion of quasi-minimalist beat-based sensibilities with a dizzying diversity of popular and/or indigenous sound sources from across the globe.
Last week it was finally time to hear my very first piece for wind ensemble premiered at Virginia’s Shenandoah Conservatory, the first of many milestones on my outsider’s journey into the Wide World of Winds.
It’s remarkable how often people’s opinions of Jennifer Higdon’s music seem—for better or for worse—to be formed based on her fantastically successful orchestral works. A new release showcases a more intimate collection of chamber works that are unmistakably Higdon but which explore different reaches of her musical interests.
An undogmatic, uncommitted, exploratory spirit is one of Joseph Byrd’s chief virtues as an artist. Although it’s easy to see how this same quality makes him difficult to pin down in our increasingly soundbyte-based world.
I’ve recently taken over directorship of a music ensemble in the Washington, D.C. area, and it’s remarkable how many relics of the composing world appear totally transformed when donning the “hat” of artistic director. So far, one of the most interesting things about this new role has been the way it tends to shed light on certain composer habits.
I hope that this country’s major orchestral institutions will pay attention to how much the orchestra can be expanded given just a little extra rehearsal time, and throw their immense budgets behind the kind of initiative that the American Composers Orchestra has bravely supported.
Most Americans have never seen anything like Cateura, Paraguay, a city built atop a sprawling landfill in which most residents subside by foraging, repurposing, and selling useful bits scavenged from the trash. And most readers would admit that this seems like a highly unlikely location for the formation of a community orchestra.
Finished products are great, but if we living composers have anything to offer that dead dudes like Beethoven cannot, surely it’s the creative process itself. Why can’t workshopping a new composition be an important community event?
Sumeida’s Song was completed in 2008, when composer Mohammed Fairouz was only 22 years old. Taking inspiration from Tawfiq al-Hakim’s play “Song of Death”, the opera follows Alwan (Mischa Bouvier) as he returns from Cairo to his hometown in Upper Egypt.
Drawing on his work from the decade spanning 1997 to 2007, composer David Keberle’s new album, Caught in Time, showcases six chamber works that blend microtonality, extended performance techniques, and rich textural writing into spacious soundscapes for 21st-century ears.