TT 262: Two weeks out from Sono! fest
+ quick notes on Martin Amis, Sun Ra, and Carmina Burana
Sono Fest! at Soapbox Gallery curated by Ethan Iverson
June 6 -18
Individual concerts $25
There are two hour-long concerts every night at 7:30 and 9, more like jazz practice than classical convention. We expect to turn the room over (there are only 60 seats) so most of those who are performing formally notated works will probably play the same program twice.
Jimmy Greenfield’s piano is the best in Brooklyn.
Tues 6 Ethan Iverson duo with Miranda Cuckson
Wed 7 Ethan Iverson duo with Chris Potter
Thurs 8 Miranda Cuckson
Fri 9 Taka Kigawa
Sat 10 Timo Andres
Sun 11 Sam Newsome + Sylvie Courvoisier
Mon 12 Momenta Quartet plays Alvin Singleton and Meredith Monk
Tues 13 Judith Berkson
Wed 14 Marta Sánchez
Thurs 15 Aaron Diehl
Fri 16 Scott Wollschleger
Sat 17 Han Chen
Sun 18 Robert Cuckson first set, Ethan Iverson second set
coda: June 23: Mark Padmore with Sarah Deming and Ethan Iverson, Songs of the Earth
Notes from the curator:
Tuesday, June 6 Ethan Iverson duo with Miranda Cuckson showcases my admiration of formal composition in the American grain. Our repertoire includes mid-century violin sonatas by Louise Talma and George Walker, alongside an Elegy by another particular favorite, Peter Lieberson. To round out the program, I’ll also play my recent Piano Sonata, which I have recorded for my next Blue Note release. (More on Miranda below, she appears four times in the festival.)
7 Ethan Iverson duo with Chris Potter After the first night of formal composition, I will relax into the second night’s improvised excursions featuring a brilliant and versatile avatar of modern jazz, saxophonist Chris Potter. The set list will include whatever we feel like playing that evening…
8 Miranda Cuckson delivers the most challenging music in a forthright and engaging manner. when she plays microtonal pieces by high modernists, one can hear Miranda sing the blues. If I had an unlimited budget and resources I’d present the New York City premiere of the violin concerto Georg Friedrich Haas wrote for her; as it stands, I will enjoy her sublime solo program, which will include J.S. Bach’s C major Sonata BWV 1005, Stewart Goodyear's Solo, and Iannis Xenakis’s Mikka S.
9 Taka Kigawa is famous for legendary programs of contemporary music in unlikely spaces. A few months ago, I was on assignment in somewhat random circumstances and suddenly realized Taka Kigawa was sitting right in front of me. For much of this list I am calling in favors…but in this case I now owe Mr. Kigawa one. He will perform the complete set of Pascal Dusapin’s stunning piano etudes.
10 Timo Andres fits the bill: he’s a true composer-pianist of the old school, a proper virtuoso and a major voice in composition. To my delight, Timo has offered to play his program of Joplin Rags and Chopin Mazurkas. I have also insisted that he include a few of his own remarkable rhythmic and poetic piano pieces, which someday will be thought of as classic Americana.
11 Sam Newsome is a regular collaborator of mine in the score to Pepperland for the Mark Morris Dance Group, which we have performed together over 60 times. Hidden in plain sight, Sam is one of the freshest musical minds in New York. He mastered straight-ahead jazz, playing solid tenor for Terence Blanchard in the ‘90s, before changing to soprano and adopting a decidedly avant-garde approach, incorporating extended techniques and developing a language for solo saxophone. At Soapbox, Sam will play solo and duo with innovative pianist, improviser, and composer Sylvie Courvoisier.
12 The Momenta Quartet (Emilie-Anne Gendron, Alex Shiozaki, Stephanie Griffin, Michael Haas) has recently released a wonderful recording of Alvin Singleton quartets. I have interviewed Singleton and regard him as one of the true living masters, with the four string quartets being a major contribution to this hallowed form. Momenta will play Singleton’s quartets no. 2 “Secret Desire to Be Black” and no. 4 “Hallelujah Anyhow” at Soapbox, alongside Meredith Monk’s lovely “String Songs.”
13 Judith Berkson: singer, pianist, composer, cantor. My first exposure to Judith was at a rare NYC concert by the late Joe Maneri, an epic event that lives in my mind as one of the finest avant-garde jazz gigs I’ve ever seen. Judith has diverse capabilities. She creates electronic re-toolings of Robert Schumann; her solo ECM album Oylam is hypnotic; when she unleashes her full cantorial vocal style, the hair on the back of my neck stands up. This program will include Schubert lieder and Berkson’s own electroacoustic pieces.
14 Marta Sánchez has a bright future. I have written liner notes for two of her records and dig David Murray’s current quartet with Marta in a heavily-featured role. Her intricate and contrapuntal jazz compositions are in the modern style, but, crucially, they are also informed by the long musical lineage of her native country, Spain. At Soapbox Marta will premiere a new set of etudes for prepared piano.
15 Aaron Diehl has grown into being not just a pianist of the first rank but an ambassador across several disciplines. Aaron swings Gershwin with the symphony, he smartly updates James P. Johnson and John Lewis for the modern taste, he casually deals out correct Bach at a recital, and rages into atonality with Tyshawn Sorey at the club. One of a kind.
16 Scott Wollschleger possesses an ear for fresh notes, and delivers them in a slow and almost terrifying manner: Morton Feldman meets Thelonious Monk meets H.P. Lovecraft. His pianist is the stellar Karl Larson, who will supply mostly solo Wollschelger for the first set, with Miranda Cuckson joining on viola for one piece. In the second set, Miranda will play a Wollschelger violin premiere; other solo and chamber music will include Miranda, Larson, John Popham and Kevin Sims.
17 Han Chen is a major virtuoso and has carved out a vital place in the NYC scene. When Thomas Adès gave a master class at New England Conservatory several years ago, I cancelled my own NEC students in order to go check it out. Chen played Adès’s “Traced Overhead” and the composer told him, “You play it better than me.” The whole Naxos recital of Adès by Chen is simply marvelous. At Soapbox, Chen will play “Traced Overhead” alongside further masterpieces by Berg, Corigliano, and Ravel.
18 (first set) Robert Cuckson is another great NYC composer who lives a bit below the radar. When Miranda told me her dad was really good I demanded aural evidence, and, of course, Miranda was right. His style features long form structures that unfold in an unforced manner, high on lyricism and swept with chromaticism. For Father’s Day, Miranda will join a cast of elite chamber musicians including Haodong Wu, David Ordovsky, and Blair McMillen for a set of flute, violin, viola, and piano music.
18 (second set) Ethan Iverson To conclude the festival I will play a solo set of surprises, undoubtedly influenced by all the sounds I’ve taken in from the previous two weeks. Dancer Reggie Parker also plans to make an appearance….
June 23 Mark Padmore is visiting America to join the summer session of Marlboro Music under the direction of Mitsuko Uchida. On his way to Vermont, Padmore will be stopping by Soapbox to give his Songs of the Earth program, featuring lieder from Britten, Schubert, Ives, and many others, alongside poetry from Mary Oliver, Lawerence Durrell, Philip Larkin, and many others. Sarah Deming will recite the poetry and I will play the piano. We performed this program last season and it was a hit with audiences; it also an extremely rare opportunity to hear Padmore in such an intimate space.
RIP Martin Amis. I read four Amis books: Success, The Information, Night Train, and The War Against Cliché, and can recall them all quite clearly, which is hardly the case of all the books I read in my twenties. Looking at the obits, I'm tempted to go back and refresh the set.
At the time, I thought The Information was the best of these four, a really stunning and unexpected work of comedy, and in its way one of the saddest books I know.
Dan Kois has an interesting piece on “The four-month scandal that made Martin Amis the center of the literary world.”
God bless Sun Ra, who came to the earth yesterday in 1914. Years ago, Reid Anderson showed me "Springtime in Chicago," recorded in 1956. James Scales plays alto, Ra is on piano (and a bit of early electric keyboard). In affect it suggests a "sweet" or "society" band (like Guy Lombardo) gone surreal. Amazing track.
Tootie Heath tells a Sun Ra/Chicago story, probably from the same era as “Springtime.” After being busted for possession of marijuana, and before being pushed in the back of a police cruiser, Herman Blount turned, looked the arresting officer right in the eye, and said, "This is the unfriendliest planet I've ever been on."
Thanks to Tom Myron, I finally glanced at the score of "O Fortuna" from Carmina Burana by Carl Orff. The piece is ever-present in the culture and at times the worst sort of cliché, so I've never really taken it seriously before. Due respect to Orff for:
— writing a memorable melody
— using fascinating instrumentation (two pianos playing the same thing must be from Stravinsky's LES NOCES)
— creating a few genres of music in a single stroke (minimalism, holy minimalism, Hollywood medieval battle cue, etc.)
The Carlton Beer ad is very good.
FULL PROGRAM FOR THE SONO FESTIVAL
Sono Fest! at Soapbox Gallery
(all sets repeat at 7:30 and 9 unless otherwise specified)
Tues 6 Ethan Iverson (piano) with Miranda Cuckson (violin)
Louise Talma Violin Sonata
Peter Lieberson Elegy
Ethan Iverson Piano Sonata
George Walker Violin Sonata
Wed 7 Ethan Iverson (piano) with Chris Potter (tenor sax)
standards + originals
Thurs 8 Miranda Cuckson (violin)
J.S. Bach C major Sonata BWV 1005
Stewart Goodyear Solo
Iannis Xenakis Mikka S
Fri 9 Taka Kigawa (piano)
Pascal Dusapin Etudes (complete)
Sat 10 Timo Andres (piano)
Robin Holcomb Wherein Lies the Good
Frédéric Chopin Mazurka Op. 24 no. 2
Scott Joplin Magnetic Rag
Chopin Mazurka Op. 17 no. 1
Joplin Gladiolus Rag
Chopin Mazurka Op. 59 no. 3
Joplin A Breeze From Alabama
Chopin Mazurka Op. 24, no. 4
Joplin Euphonic Sounds
Chopin Mazurka Op. 56 no. 1
Joplin Paragon Rag
Timo Andres Wise Words
Andres Honest Labor
Sun 11 Sam Newsome (soprano sax) with Sylvie Courvoisier (piano)
solos and duos
Mon 12 Momenta Quartet Emilie-Anne Gendron (violin) Alex Shiozaki (violin) Stephanie Griffin (viola) Michael Haas (cello)
Alvin Singleton Quartet no. 2 “Secret Desire to Be Black”
Meredith Monk String Songs
Alvin Singleton Quartet no. 4 “Hallelujah Anyhow”
Tues 13 Judith Berkson (piano, voice, electronics)
Berkson electroacoustic pieces
Wed 14 Marta Sánchez (piano)
new etudes for prepared piano
Thurs 15 Aaron Diehl (piano)
Fri 16 Scott Wollschleger (composer)
Karl Larson (piano)
Music Without Metaphor
Brontal No. 2
Brontal No. 6
Brontal No. 11
Brontal No. 12 (NYC premiere)
Secret Machine No. 4
Secret Machine No. 6
Larson + Miranda Cuckson (viola)
Soft Aberration No. 2
Larson + Cuckson (viola)
Lost Anthems (NYC premiere)
Kevin Sims (percussion)
Fish of the Sea (NYC premiere)
Secret Machine No. 7 (World premiere)
Cuckson (violin), Larson (piano), John Popham (cello)
Sat 17 Han Chen (piano)
Alban Berg Piano Sonata Op. 1
John Corigliano Etude-Fantasy
Thomas Adès Traced Overhead
Maurice Ravel Gaspard de la nuit
Sun 18 Robert Cuckson composer 7:30 PM
Haodong Wu (piano)
Objets de vertu
Wu + David Ordovsky (flute)
Lines from Vergil
The Ballad of Camden Town
Miranda Cuckson (violin) + Blair McMillen (piano)
Boat of Ra
Six Piano Pieces
Cuckson (viola) + McMillen (piano)
Fantasia on a Song by Delius
Sun 18 Ethan Iverson (piano) 9 PM
program to contain unlikely surprises including dancer Reggie Parker
Fri June 23
Mark Padmore (tenor) Songs of the Earth w. Sarah Deming (narrator) and Ethan Iverson (piano)
Poetry and lieder dialoguing with humanity’s relationship to nature
Billy Collins - As if to demonstrate an eclipse
Franz Schubert - Im Abendrot
Mary Oliver - Mysteries, Yes
Gustav Mahler - Ich atmet’ einen linden Duft
Kathleen Jamie - Perfect Day
Aaron Copland - Nature, the Gentlest Mother
Hanns Eisler - Sprinkling of Gardens
Robin Robertson - Keys to the Door
Gabriel Fauré - Prison
Philip Larkin - Going, going
Reynaldo Hahn - Chanson d’automne
Tansy Davies - Destroying Beauty
Seamus Heaney - Clearances
Benjamin Britten - The auld Aik
Charles Ives - The Cage
Rainer Maria Rilke - The Panther
Rebecca Clarke - The Tiger
D H Lawrence - The Snake
Sally Beamish - O Hoopoe
Wallace Stevens - Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird
Charles Ives - Housatonic at Stockbridge
Franz Schubert - Die Mutter Erde
Hayden Carruth - Essay
Ralph Vaughan Williams - Nocturne
Mary Oliver - When Death Comes
Gustav Holst - Betelgeuse
Thomas Hardy - To Meet or Otherwise
Franz Schubert - Frühlingsglaube