Tuesday, January 24, 2006

An American Contemporary Music Sampler At The Library Of Congress

Library of Congress Contemporary American Music senior curator Stephen Soderberg is hosting an American Composer Portrait mini-series at the LOC, this Winter and Spring.

The February 2 program features the chamber music of Roger Reynolds (a special web-site on Mr Reynolds is already available at www.loc.gov/rogerreynolds/), the March 31 concert features the chamber music of Milton Babbitt (with Robert Taub, Judith Bettina, and Curtis Macomber), and the April 12 concert features a lap-top electronic and multi-media program by Morton Subotnick. The latter two concerts, at present, feature pre-concert discussions hosted by Mr Soderberg. (I assume that there will also be a pre-concert discussion for the Reynolds event, as well.)

On February 17, Peter Schickele delivers the Louis C. Elson Memorial Lecture on the history of the string quartet, titled "STRING QUARTET: THE DARK HORSE OF CONTEMPORARY MUSIC: How the most European-rooted musical genre has come from behind in the race to embrace diverse cultural influences."

On March 17, Mezzo Sopranos Margaret Lattimore, Stephanie Novacek, and Mary Phillips, and Guest Flutist Eugenia Zukerman perform song cycles by contemporary composer-pianists Ricky Ian Gordon and Jake Heggie, along with duets and trios by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim.

On April 6, the Turtle Island String Quartet performs. The ensemble fuses the classical quartet aesthetic with contemporary American musical styles including folk, bluegrass, swing, bebop,funk, R & B, new age, rock, hip-hop, and world music.

The next day, on April 7, the Juilliard String Quartet performs the Washington premiere of 45-year–old, Argentine-born composer Ezequiel Viñao's "Loss and Silence". The work premiered in New York City last October. [Osvaldo Golijov is another 45-year-old Argentine-born composer based in the U.S.]

On May 19, Cho-liang Lin and Andre-Michel Schub will perform the world premiere of Bright Sheng's new violin sonata.

See the Library of Congress site for additional program and pre-concert lecture information.



What, no discussion by John Harbison on the composition of his eleven-poem Czeslaw Milosz [1911- 2004] orchestral cycle (in English), to be world premiered next month by Dawn Upshaw and the New York Philharmonic, under Robert Spano?

(Program notes to that major new work will be available in mid-Februrary at

The Vilnius, Lithuania television transmission tower, today, which was the central point of Lithuania's not-quite-velvet revolution of 1991. On January 13, 1991 (almost exactly 15 years ago) clashes between Soviet troops and unarmed Lithuanian civilians occurred, leaving 13 dead and many injured. This further weakened the Soviet Union's legitimacy, internationally and domestically, leading to its dissolution later that year.

Some of the poems set by John Harbison in his 2005 Czeslaw Milosz orchestral song cycle, to be premiered by Dawn Upshaw and the New York Philharmonic under Robert Spano, were composed in Vilno, Poland (Vilnius, Lithuania today) during the unsettled 1930s.

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