Entries by Steve Smith

In Review: R. Andrew Lee and Sophia Subbayya Vastek

Change appears to be coming, in some form or another, to Spectrum, the intimate Ludlow Street performance space that over the last five or so seasons has provided a home base for fascinating musical voyages spanning an unusually broad range of styles.… Perhaps because of that hovering uncertainty, a pair of recent recitals by the pianists R. Andrew Lee and Sophia Subbayya Vastek seemed brushed with a sense of anticipatory valediction.

Sarah Cahill: What I Learned As a Music Critic, and Why It Still Matters

Dave’s Coffee Shop on Broadway in Oakland was always the destination for me to meet a deadline. I started going there soon after becoming the classical music critic for the East Bay Express, an alternative weekly, in 1985. After a concert, I would take the bus to Dave’s, open all night, and sit at the counter and order fried eggs and corned beef hash – the kind that comes in a perfect oval patty, and looks and tastes like dog food – and endless refills of coffee. I would sit there and write out the whole review by hand, and then take it home and type it up on my ancient Royal typewriter. It could be five pages or eight pages – however long was necessary to go into great detail and depth.

A time for change.

Springtime is here, and with it comes the implementation of the first major changes in this journal since we launched last October. We’ve worked hard during the first six months of producing The Log to establish a place and a precedent for vivid conversations with and among artists, strong and pertinent essays on topics of broad interest, timely news, and constructive criticism.

R. Andrew Lee: Maximal Minimalist on the Facebook Frontier

Ask any musician who makes a habit of playing so-called minimalist music, in any of the various shades and permutations of that term, about the secrets to success; the answer likely would involve qualities like patience, stamina, perseverance, and faith in the value of the undertaking. Look at the burgeoning career of R. Andrew Lee, a pianist and pedagogue whose sterling reputation largely resides in his exemplary performances and recordings of minimal music, and you see precisely the same qualities in play.

Harold Meltzer and Paul Appleby: 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.

Kathryn Spellman Poots: 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.

Sarah Kirkland Snider and Nathaniel Bellows: Memories of 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.’