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Souvenirs: Lost and Found

C. Debussy, G. Faure, Z. Kodaly and C. Chaminade, Le Salon de Musique, April 2, 2017— Years ago, while employed in the television industry, we purchased thirty antiques for possible use in a production. These 18th and 19th century furniture pieces—huge armoires, elaborate partner desks, chifferobes, secretaires and vitrines—haunted a dark corner of a stage for months until they were returned to the seller, never used. But while they sat gathering dust, these former possessions of Europe's elite fascinated me. In time I thoroughly searched every nook, cranny and drawer looking for possible hidden compartments, hoping to find a lost bit of hidden history—a story by Oscar Wilde, a letter from Napoleon, a score by Mozart—tucked … [Read more...]

Coursing Towards Twelve Tone

Quatuor Diotima, Schoenberg, Webern, and Berg, String Quartets, Jacaranda February 25th, 2017— The Diotima Quartet is an anomaly in the 21st century. Witnessing their precision, concentration and commitment in action serves as the perfect antidote to the off-the-cuff remarks, half baked ideas, reactionary reflexes, and incomplete sentences that marked and marred the beginning of 2017. Quatuor Diotima, in it's present incarnation, includes Yun-Peng, violin I, Constance Ronsatti, violin II, Franck Chevalier, viola and Pierre Morlet Cello. Soprano Elissa Johnston joined for the Schoenberg String Quartet No. 2 and Contralto, Adrianna Manfredi, concluded with the Berg Lyric Suite. Released in 2016, … [Read more...]

Strings on Fire

 Mark Menzies: from the islands...to fragments, REDCAT, February 6, 2017 —                                     REDCAT's February 6 concert, "Mark Menzies: from the islands...to fragments", was quirky, ambitious, lengthy and rewarding. At the outset, not all of the 240 seats were occupied; after intermission, another 50 were empty. Even for those of us who love music, two hours of solo violin/viola was daunting. But the more one focused on Mark Menzies—his calm demeanor, the skills he employed to navigate complex music, the remarkable range of sounds emanating from his instruments—the more involving the evening became. He also had a couple of … [Read more...]

The Russian Evolution

S. Rachmaninoff, P.Tchaikovsky, A. Arensky, D.Shostakovich, S.Taneyev, Le Salon de Musiques January 8, 2017— Despite its often dark past, the "Russian Bear" has blessed our eyes and ears with great beauty, from the architecture of St. Petersburg palaces, onion domes on Orthodox churches, painted religious icons and the contents of the Hermitage Museum to Faberge's bejeweled Easter eggs and the enduring novels of Tolstoy, Dostoevsky and Pushkin. Following his 1837 death, it was Pushkin's tales that provided inspiration for a century of artists who created perhaps his country's greatest gift to the world--music. A partial list of notable composers who were born or writing in 19th century Russia includes Glinka, … [Read more...]

Romantic Respite

R.Strauss, X.Schrwenka, R.Schumann, Le Salon de Musiques November 6, 2016— One hour of daylight was taken from us on November 6th in the annual turning back of clocks.  Only two days later, the presidential election would rob almost exactly half the country of the candidate they hoped would win. Depending on one's political persuasion, it would be either the best or worst day in a long, long time. But on Sunday, the 6th, the outcome could only be guessed at, prayed for or feared. One thing, however, was certain: the entire populace, left or right or center, had definitely experienced more than enough pundit-pontificating, TV commercials, flyers in mailboxes, exhorting robocalls, tense arguments and an endless barrage … [Read more...]

Soul Sok Séga

Various Artists, Strut Records, 2016, LP or CD The geography of African diaspora music is most often thought of in trans-Atlantic terms: blues and jazz, soca and reggae, rumba and lundu. With a nod to North African styles on the Eurasian shores of the Mediterranean and Red Sea, the limits of cultural influence are sealed. But we often forget that the traffic in humans also went east, with slave communities on Mauritius, Réunion, Rodrigues, Agaléga, and beyond. These Indian Ocean islands are distant from the current of world events, and even far from seafaring routes. Nevertheless, historical African, European, Chinese, Arab, and Hindu communities have formed and, over the centuries, culturally synthesized Séga music is the … [Read more...]

Earwitness

March 10th saw REDCAT present another innovative, mixed-media performance by the Canadian artist Eve Egoyan. The evening featured three ingenious, interactive videos and four contemporary piano pieces entitled Earwitness "an umbrella name for projects conceived by Eve Egoyan that explore a hybrid art form, where sound and visual elements become equal creative partners". The concert was an exploration into auditory insight and visual complexities. A serious and prolific pianist, Egoyan commissioned all four of the selections heard at REDCAT. Ten of her eleven released CDs contain modern music written by an international array of living composers. Her remaining disc is devoted to Erik Satie's century-old miniatures , predecessors … [Read more...]

Synesthesia

CITY OF LIGHT: MESSIAEN WITH THE ST. LOUIS SYMPHONY, LA Phil GreenUmbrella, Feb. 2, 2016 — The Los Angeles Philharmonic is honoring French composers this Spring in a "City of Light" concert series. In a related Green Umbrella presentation on February 2nd, a sold-out, Disney Hall audience was mesmerized by a multi-media performance of Olivier Messiaen's ethereal music. The late composer's 90-minute "Des Canyons aux Etoiles" (From the Canyons to the Stars) was played with admirable clarity by visiting members of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, guided by its energetic conductor, David Robertson. Enhancing the modern, near-mystical score was a visual celebration of the music--projected photos, videos and special lighting … [Read more...]

An Interview with Bruce Licher – A Graphics Composition

Introduction and Three Part Conversation with TQ's Aram Yardumian and Graphic Artist-Musician Bruce Licher —   Prolegomenon, Part One, Part Two, Part Three Generously shared, below are selections from Bruce Licher's personal archives of his graphic design and letterpress art. . Flyer for the event at the Los Angeles Museum of Art for the performance on November 8th, 1980, featuring Bridge, Neef, Arrow Book Club (Urinals-related experimental rock combo), films by John Talley-Jones, Brent Wilcox and Bruce Licher, along with metal performance Front cover of a fictitious NEEF LP created by Bruce Licher in a silkscreen printing class at UCLA Slash magazine review of Project 197, along with an ad … [Read more...]

An Interview with Bruce Licher – Part 3

Introduction and Three Part Conversation with TQ's Aram Yardumian and Graphic Artist-Musician Bruce Licher  — Prolegomenon, Part One, Part Two, A Graphics Composition   Aram Yardumian: It’s hard for me to talk about the films without having seen them—I realize there is a  Sordide Sentimental video version of your work, it's difficult to find, but I’m interested in how you think the films fit into your overall aesthetic trajectory. Bruce Licher: Early on in my college days I was really fascinated with the industrial aesthetic. I was interested in Throbbing Gristle and the others, but more than that it was the old factories and there was just an aesthetic about that. I think a lot … [Read more...]