Developing a career as an artist carries a certain pressure to project inevitability. So Percussion is in the fortunate position of now having a stable career and an established vision. Writing now, I can’t think of how any of this would have happened without David Lang.
“My approach was that, instead of genre, we should talk about community,” Vijay Iyer told a near-capacity crowd that filled a local community center in Ojai, California, on a hazy but pleasant Thursday afternoon in early June. The audience had gathered to get to know Iyer: a celebrated composer, improviser, pianist, and bandleader, and the music director of the 2017 Ojai Music Festival. What distinguished a community, he explained, is that it is intergenerational, and continually renewing. The resulting aesthetic, he said, might be one of “openness, welcome, and tolerance.”
The idea of a communal gathering has been branded and monetized, while the term “experiential” more often than not refers to a successful interaction an attendee might have with a branding or sponsorship presence at any given festival. MASS MoCA has proven an ideal environment for Wilco to curb this trend and create a small utopia every other year because they share the same belief that thinking as a fan first reaps a holistic engagement and interaction all its own.
Composer Robert Paterson and librettist David Cote’s Three Way is, generally speaking, about sex. Or, to be precise: sex with an android, power games between a dominatrix and her piggish client, and erotic confusion among four couples in masks and robes at a suburban swinger party. In advance of their BAM engagement, we invited Paterson and Cote to interview one another about how and why they wrote such a charming opera with such a naughty title.
I’ve been writing music criticism since I graduated college in 2012, but about a year ago I made the decision only to review concerts with at least one woman (or trans or nonbinary) composer on the program. I was tired of attending concerts featuring exclusively the music of white men, and tired of frantically sifting through concert season announcements that came in the mail, only to find a single token white woman amidst a sea of white men. People around me were perplexed.
Music director Alan Gilbert offered a courageous and nonconformist program with the New York Philharmonic on May 19. Part of his final Farewell Concerts, the evening offered a majority contemporary repertoire, balanced with a safe classic.
Joan La Barbara will turn 70 years old in June, but shows no signs of slowing down. La Barbara will premiere her new song cycle, The Wanderlusting of Joseph C., at Roulette in Brooklyn on May 24. The song cycle breaks with La Barbara’s usual style of vocal abstractions and moves firmly into the realm of language.
Making music today must be about nothing less than asserting moral force. It must be about how we — we who have so much and who live so fully — can act responsibly in a world where so many have so little. It must be about the voices too faint to hear.
University curricular reform doesn’t typical ignite fiery internet controversy. But last month, when The Harvard Crimson reported on the adoption of a new undergraduate curriculum at Harvard, the classical music corner of the internet—composers, performers, theorists, musicologists – briefly erupted in intense discussion. As a musicologist and professor myself, I wanted to learn about the background behind these changes, what they mean for students, and the implications of the controversy for our field.
Du Yun was chilling out in a Dubai bar after a long day of networking at Culture Summit 2017, when her phone suddenly went berserk. From one friend or colleague after another came the same message: The Chinese-born American composer had just been awarded the 2017 Pulitzer Prize in Music for Angel’s Bone, her challenging, provocative, and stylistically groundbreaking opera. By phone from Shanghai, she spoke about the experience.