Tuesday, October 17, 2006

American Composers Michael Gordon And Michael Hersh Employ Different Artistic Strategies To Approach Horror Of September 11, 2001

Sunday, October 22, 2006, 7:00PM

George Washington University's Lisner Auditorium presents

Kronos Quartet

David Harrington (violin), John Sherba (violin), Hank Dutt (viola) and Jeffrey Zeigler (cello)

This perfomance will include pieces featured on 2005’s You’ve Stolen My Heart: Songs from R.D. Burman's Bollywood and 2000’s Caravan, as well as unrecorded works from German industrial band Einsturzende Neubauten and composers Dan Visconti and Ram Narayan.

Additionally, Kronos Quartet will perform the DC premiere of Michael Gordon’s The Sad Park, a four-part piece featuring recordings made between September 2001 and January 2002 of children from the University Plaza Nursery School in Lower Manhattan.


Derek Charke / Cercle du Nord III *

Rahul Dev Burman (arr. Osvaldo Golijov) / Aaj Ki Raat (Tonight Is the Night)

Rahul Dev Burman (arr. Stephen Prutsman / Kronos) / Mehbooba Mehbooba (Beloved, O Beloved)

Ram Narayan (arr. Kronos, transc. Ljova) / Raga Mishra Bhairavi

Dan Visconti / Love Bleeds Radiant

Unknown (arr. Kronos, transc. Ljova) / Oh Mother, the Handsome Man Tortures Me

Einstürzende Neubauten (arr. Paola Prestini & Kronos) / Armenia

Michael Gordon / The Sad Park

Part 1 two evil planes broke in little pieces and fire came
Part 2 there was a big boom and then there was teeny fiery coming out
Part 3 I just heard that on the news that the buildings are crashing down
Part 4 and all the persons that were in the airplane died
Played without pause


"The 9/11 memorial has fast become a compositional cliché, but [The Sad Park], raw and ritualistic, felt necessary." -The New Yorker

Listen to the Kronos Quartet


Song cycle without words, by [Michael] Hersch
Philadelphia Inquirer

October 15, 2006

"Music speaks to the troubled times in which it was written, though the instances when it addresses its contemporary audiences with unflinching directness are special chapters in history reserved for, say, Kurt Weill in soon-to-be-Nazi Germany and Dmitri Shostakovich in Stalinist Russia.

Not so expectedly, Philadelphia-based Michael Hersch took his place among them with his two-hour, 50-part, full-evening piano work, 'The Vanishing Pavilions.' Premiered on Saturday under the auspices of Network for New Music, the piece represented a summation of the great but disturbing symphonic and chamber works he has written during the last 10 years.

The performance at St. Mark's Church also signified Hersch's emergence as a pianist. Looking a bit like an accountant at the keyboard, he conjured volcanic gestures from the piano with astonishing virtuosity. The evening felt downright historic.

The piece is so directly inspired by British poet Christopher Middleton that the 35-year-old composer and 80-year-old writer can be called collaborators, though no words were set to music. Hersch has described the piece as a shattered song cycle without words. Sections of music were inspired by lines of verse - included in the voluminous program booklet - but didn't literally reflect them. Both artists are the intuitive sorts whose work is better contemplated than explained. But some of Middleton's lines, such as 'explosions of clocks and winds without routine,' described Hersch's music perfectly.

Nothing in the music is rounded or symmetrical. Everything unfolds in open-ended, haiku-like eruptions, though built on ideas that recur throughout the 50 movements, from a lamenting, chantlike melody to passages of such speed and density you'd think the complete works of Franz Liszt were played simultaneously within three minutes.

The long-term trajectory of 'The Vanishing Pavilions' is from music of polarized extremes (like our political climate) to something more integrated, but harshly mirroring how elements of daily life that were unacceptable before Sept. 11 are confronted daily. Overtly or covertly, 'The Vanishing Pavilions' is about the destruction of shelter (both in fact and in concept) and life amid the absence any certainty. In other words, welcome to 2006.

It sounds daunting and exhausting, but the piece is actually a model of clarity and economy if you can handle the reality Hersch's music embraces. Though seemingly surreal in its collection of cantankerous non sequiturs, the music is hyper-real in its poetic projection of the random horrors of modern life. The piece also has some thrilling virtuoso fireworks - one section has huge blocks of chords that somehow echo in a distant key.

Remarkably, the piece ends with some 36 chords that ascend to a troubled heaven in a route that's direct but could only be carved by Hersch's individualistic use of inner voices. And though the music is as deeply troubled as can be, its restless directness also commands listeners not to be paralyzed by existential futility."

Copyright © 2006 Philadelphia Inquirer, All Rights Reserved.

Source: Topix.net Publisher Platform (beta)

Washington, D.C.'s "Children's Peace Day" Proclamation, September 11, 2003, soon after the commencement of the U.S.-Led War and Occupation of Iraq which has killed an estimated 500,000 Iraqi civilians including thousands of Iraqi civilian children.

Photo credit: International Child Art Foundation. With thanks.


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