Willie Nelson and Lyle Lovett have been honored as the Official Texas State Musician of the Year in the past, but last year’s honoree was Conspirare founder and artistic director Craig Hella Johnson. There’s a very good reason for that.
Matthew Ritchie, currently in the midst of an 18-month stint as the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston’s artist-in-residence, presented his collaborative piece Monstrance/Remonstrance with an impressive group of collaborators including Shara Worden, Bryce Dessner, Evan Ziporyn, and David Sheppard.
Providing great performances and cultural snapshots of Austin then and now, Copland and Mexico and Brooklyn Rider gave us an inside look into where we’ve been and where we’re going.
We musicians know that silence is as precious as sound itself. But we also, like most human beings, fear the idea of a long silence. Is it safe—is it even possible—to pause our perpetual inner soundtrack and be truly alone with our chaotic thoughts, our chaotic selves?
Multimedia is a provocative tool to combat conformity, but hardly a foolproof one. Filmmaker/sound artist Ben Russell and musician Robert A. A. Lowe (a.k.a. Lichens) presented a joint show at Cambridge’s Middlesex Lounge, and that tension in the multimedia concept proved to be a running theme.
Two Big Apple bookends operating outside of the SXSW machine served to salvage an otherwise lost Spring Break. Jace Clayton was joined by narrator/singer Arooj Aftab and pianists David Friend and Emily Manzo to perform The Julius Eastman Memorial Dinner, while Brooklyn Rider played the first of two shows of their ten-day residency with Texas Performing Arts.
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.
The No Idea Festival started its second decade of improvisation with six shows over a four-day period in Austin and San Antonio. Founder Chris Cogburn assembled another amazing collection of performers this year, drawn from across the country as well as Mexico.
The idea that 21st-century new music is stylistically agnostic might be somewhere between a truism and an extrapolation, but Boston’s Equilibrium Concert Series actually comes pretty close to that ideal.
While his background is as academically rigorous as it could possibly be, Tod Machover’s compositional work, as well as his instrument and software design, leans in a direction that can certainly be described as approachable to a broad audience. This was on display in the recent production of his Pulitzer-nominated opera Death and the Powers by The Dallas Opera.