Author Archives: Isaac Schankler

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.

Vicki Ray Reflects on 20 Years of Piano Spheres

Vicki Ray

The Piano Spheres concert series, a Los Angeles institution dedicated to expanding the repertoire for the instrument, was a risky proposition at first. But the LA new music community has changed in the past 20 years, and the series has evolved right along side it.

Sounds Heard: Some American Albums

Some American Albums

In the wake of the many “Best of 2013” lists floating around, I wanted to highlight some recent album releases worthy of your time and attention. I didn’t select them for this reason, but it occurs to me that they each say something interesting and distinct about what it means to make American music right now.

A Drone Too Long

Isaac Schankler

I can’t remember exactly when I first became interested in musical drones. It was like a switch—one day I didn’t get it, the next I couldn’t get enough of it. The trouble comes when I try to integrate or incorporate this music into my usual modes of listening or composing.

Rhythm and Restlessness

Isaac Schankler

Between sparse ambience and dense texture are the rhythms we can typically make sense of, and this is the territory that most music explores. But I’m sometimes sympathetic to the modernist mission, the manifest destiny that wants to find new lands. What is the furthest we can go, in either direction, without entering completely inhospitable terrain?

Music for Angelenos, by Angelenos

An overview of Los Angeles (composers!) at Walt Disney Concert Hall

This Tuesday, the Los Angeles Philharmonic finally took the leap and programmed a concert of works all by Los Angeles composers—Sean Friar, Julia Holter, Andrew McIntosh, and Andrew Norman. It was an extremely eclectic program that showcased the range and depth of talent here.

Invisible Cities: Choose Your Own Opera

Christopher Cerrone’s Invisible Cities

At LA’s Union Station last Sunday, I saw composer Christopher Cerrone’s opera based on Calvino’s novel, also called Invisible Cities. The production managed to be at once extravagant and subtle, with the audience listening to the live performance on wireless headphones while wandering freely through an actual, historically scenic train station.

Fear of Simplicity

Isaac Schankler

Maybe simplicity is complicated because the difference between a simple idea that is banal and a simple idea that has depth can be extremely subtle. Maybe we can’t tell, at first, which is which. But then, why should this be any different than complexity?

Cage’s (More Than) Ten Thousand Things

Ten Thousand Things

A new release of Cage’s The Ten Thousand Things (I Ching Edition) is an incredibly clear demonstration of the unexpected and delightful confluences that result from chance-based procedures, and in many ways, I can think of no better introduction to his music.

Gloriously Messy Lodging: Zappa’s 200 Motels

Frank Zappa’s 200 Motels in LA

Frank Zappa’s 200 Motels is a glorious mess. In some ways this makes it the perfect thing to put on to celebrate the 10th anniversary of LA’s Walt Disney Hall and its already turbulent history. As for the score itself, it is—how should I put this?—spectacularly over-orchestrated, bordering on near-cacophony with unsettling frequency. I mean this as a good thing.