With my antennae more or less permanently oriented toward music and the arts, the defining mood of this year’s commencement season has been realism. This is a year in which, it seems, society is determined not to let students of the arts out into the world without making sure they’re painfully aware of what awaits them.
Spiritual Sketches, the new recording by tenor Lawrence Brownlee, is, in essence, a showcase for singing; and Brownlee’s singing is worth showcasing. But it was the arrangements, by pianist Damien Sneed (who also performs), that really caught my ear.
Giver of Light takes chances, and if not all of them pay out, still, it’s a lot better than cautiously going through the motions. It’s the sort of piece that Guerrilla Opera is made for: original and a little bit speculative, in need of realization to hone in on its identity.
I come to generalize about an entire cohort of composers, based solely—sample size be damned—on the Boston Modern Orchestra Project’s May 17 concert at Jordan Hall.
Not surprisingly, Paul Fromm made the production of new music into something resembling the wine business. He took the same approach to music that he did to wine: cultivate relationships with the producers, invest up front, and endeavor to get the subsequent delivery, whatever the quality of the vintage, into the marketplace.
Music is at once the most anti-social and social of the arts, the solitary pursuit of proficiency—practice, composition, study—only manifested in extroverted gestures directed towards and among collaborators and audience. Trust and generosity are, in music, not really sentimental qualities. They’re the currency, the supply chain, the raw materials.
Mohammed Fairouz’s Anything Can Happen—which was given its Boston premiere on March 17 by the Back Bay Chorale, one of the work’s co-commissioners—is a piece of music in which multiple strategies for communicating connotations of seriousness are utilized with unusual skill.
One of the barometers of new-music status in Boston—anywhere, really, but especially here—is whether a group’s concerts feel as much like networking events as performances. BMOP is in that strata; the Boston Composers’ Coalition is, as of yet, not.
“Brando Noir,” the concert mounted on January 29 by the New England Conservatory’s Contemporary Improvisation department, bounced in and out of sync with the cinematic dynamic.
One of the passing revelations of the Callithumpian Consort’s concert in Jordan Hall on Saturday, January 26, was that exactly where along the absolute/programmatic continuum a piece is situated can, in fact, make or break the piece.