Entries by Steve Smith

Conversation: Harold Meltzer and Paul Appleby on the Art of Text Setting

On March 26 at National Sawdust, the composer Harold Meltzer will celebrate his 50th birthday with a program of two substantial recent works. Meltzer sat down recently for an interview conducted by the acclaimed tenor Paul Appleby, a longtime colleague, who questioned him thoroughly regarding his musical development, textual inclinations, compositional influences, and creative process.

Conversation: Kathryn Spellman Poots on Iran, Integration, and Nowruz

“When you look at the Muslim populations in different Western countries, every Muslim community in every Western country has a different experience, based on the way that religion is situated within that country’s frame,” Dr. Kathryn Spellman Poots observed during a recent interview. Rather than examining those differences closely, she says, Islam too often is characterized as a singular source of fundamentalist oppression and sectarian violence, a view that results in prejudice and irrational fear, as well as heavy-handed attempts at erecting barriers to no one’s benefit.

Conversation: Sarah Kirkland Snider and Nathaniel Bellows on Unremembered

An hourlong cycle of 13 songs for three vocalists, chamber orchestra, and electronics, ‘Unremembered’ is the most extensive project to date from the composer Sarah Kirkland Snider, who collaborated with an old friend and renewed acquaintance, Nathaniel Bellows, a noted poet, novelist, singer-songwriter, and illustrator. Now touring the piece, Snider and Bellows sat down recently to trawl through memories of ‘Unremembered.’

Early Audition: Jasper String Quartet, Unbound

Among the top young string quartets now working the chamber-music circuit worldwide, Philadelphia’s award-winning Jasper String Quartet has made a habit of mixing canonical classics and freshly created fare. For its newest album, Unbound, the group opted try something novel, and to make a statement in the process.

Performance Response: Dave Douglas Metamorphosis

Reading down the list of collaborators Douglas assembled for the New York debut of Metamorphosis at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Appel Room on March 3, you knew instantly this would be no risk-averse affair. Alongside Douglas in the front line were trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith and saxophonist Oliver Lake, each an iconic bandleader who hailed from one of the formidable regional collectives that fomented stylistic revolutions during the late ’60s.

Musing on the fate of music journalism.

National Sawdust has not only taken a keen interest in monitoring and evaluating the current state of music journalism and criticism from its inception, but also more recently has pursued an active role in fostering its continued health. We talk regularly with journalists, critics, institutions, and other influential figures about the state of our collective affairs – now, we’ll be sharing some of those conversations with the reading public.

Performance Response: Sarah Davachi

Just because an event is inconspicuous, it does not follow that what’s transpiring is inauspicious: a point handily illustrated by the performance that Sarah Davachi, a Canadian composer and electronic musician, presented in her New York debut at Trans-Pecos on February 28. For the fortunate few dozen in attendance, the music lived up to Davachi’s sizable, well-earned reputation.